I definitely would not have predicted Gerry Duggan and Matteo Lolli’s Marauders would be my favorite “Dawn of X” X-Men comic in 2019 – particularly ahead of two Jonathan Hickman written series with X-Men and New Mutants, but it very much has held steady as the comic most clearly filled with purpose, humor, and vision. Marauders feels like a book that knows where it wants to go, and how it wants to utilize the new status quo of Krakoa and House of X for a successful long run.
Today I’ll answer:
+ What the last two issues tell us about Marauders vision
+ Who the heck is Shinobi Shaw
+ Who the heck are those kids claiming to be ex Hellfire Club!
My Notes From the Review!
The clearest direction for Marauders so far is that Duggan, Lolli and company are most interested in the Hellfire Club politics and power dynamics than the ostensibly teased hook of a mutant pirate vessel led by Kate Pryde.
The pirating is very much in play, but it’s secondary to the machinations of wealthy, powerful, scheming former villains, and that’s actually fascinating!
As a result, the pirate crew is given short spurts of focus over the past few issues, allowing displays of power (in the case of Storm) and displays of idiot humor (Pyro offering beer to refugee kids).
Whereas issue #3 is all about Sebastian Shaw’s power schemes – more on those in a moment – Marauders #4 blends Kate and Bishop solving eastern mysteries with unexpected Hellfire twists and turns. Even during their investigation into the “disappearance” of an individual being used to foster anti-mutant hostility Kate remains on Bishop’s case about accepting her offer to join her Hellfire squad as her – very on the repeatedly broken nose – Red Bishop.
So yes, there’s action and exploration of the world outside Krakoa – such as kate and Bishop’s discovery of the “Lady Deathstrike maid service” – but the real hook here is the Krakoan power struggles and what it means for the status of the X-nation.
Who the heck is Shinobi Shaw
Marauders #3 dives into these power plays with Sebastian Shaw’s efforts to resurrect his son Shinobi Shaw – dead by his own hand prior to House of X – as his Black Bishop. As the Hellfire power players put together their loyal supporters, it’s interesting to note that both Emma and Sebastian have chosen family with their first announced picks. Neither are particularly known for their deep familial ties, although this is doubly true in Sebastian’s case, where his relationship with his son is rooted firmly in a neverending quest to subjugate and kill the other!
Since he’s a lesser known X-character I’ll also take a moment to talk about Shinobi Shaw.
Shinobi debuts in X-Factor #67 and right out of the gates is seen draining his father’s wealth, trying to use his mutant ability to control his own density (think Vision but only the body-density bits) to give his dad a heart attack, and then blowing up the Shaw estate. Happy Father’s Day!
Shinobi has played at Black King of the Hellfire Club although more often than not his clearest rival is in fact the return of his father. There’s a particularly strange family dynamic between the two where they simultaneously want to kill the other, but are also proud of the strength in their family name that they would be able to succeed. With dad’s like this who needs enemies?
The big issue ending is Sebastian’s attempts to manipulate Shinobi for his own ends.
This feels destined to blow up in Sebastian’s face, especially considering we’ve already seen Shinobi is beholden to some mysterious outside entity, but for the time being he’s trying to use Shinobi’s anger against Emma and Kate Pryde.
Who the heck are those kids claiming to be ex Hellfire Club!
Marauders #4 ends with an even more surprising entry into the Hellfire legacy sweepstakes, with the reemergence of Kade Kilgore and the Homines Verendi (which from what I can tell translates to something like “The Feared Ones”).
During Jason Aaron’s run writing Wolverine and the X-Men, he introduced a new youthful Hellfire Club led by Kade Kilgore. Kilgore and this new Hellfire Club is part of Marvel’s comics tradition of making genius intellect pre-teens, like Valeria Richards, although of course in this case they are pure evil. The other members seen here are Maximillion Frankenstein, Manuel Enduque, and Wilhelmina Kensington.
Each member represents powerful wealthy bloodlines, in a new even more bloodthirsty model. Importantly they’re also all human and either hate mutants, or enjoy profiting off anti-mutant weapons manufacturing. The difference seems negligible.
Why is this all so compelling?
At the heart of these storytelling choices, there’s a throughline connecting Krakoa and the Worlldd of X to money power and shaping the globe. It’s in the way Jonathan Hickman writes Sebastian Shaw speechifying like a character out of Black Monday Murders, in the way X-Force #4 includes a data page with the shell corporations of Professor Charles Xavier, and of course in the way the main players in Marauders see the world.
One of the aspects I find most interesting about Marauders is this is very much not how Kate Pryde sees the world. She’s been dragged into these games of finance and backstabbing because she ran into a Krakoan brick wall. I’m very curious to see how shrewdly she’ll be able to play in these spaces that Sebastian and Emma have lived in.