Throughout its first six issues, Marauders has consistently been my favorite Dawn of X book in the new X-Men lineup, both delivering on the promise of post House of X innovation and the energy of X-Men comics set in the broader Marvel Universe.
My Notes From the Review!
Issue #6 concludes the series first arc, revealing the Hellfire power plays of Sebastian Shaw and the potential impact that will have on Kate Pryde and her sailing Marauders. Impressively, the issue by Gerry Duggan and Matteo Lolli also solidifies Marauders as the X-Men comic most thoroughly integrated into the non-mutant parts of the Marvel Universe, with a variety of surprising character inclusions.
Today I’ll answer:
+ Who are the Marvel Universe villains introduced in this issue?
+ Can Kate Pryde be resurrected?
+ How Marauders has neatly threaded a story perpetually grounded in the Krakoa era of X-Men
Please note spoilers for the discussed issues may follow.
Marauders #6 begins where issue #5 left off, with the Marauders walking into a trap set by Hominus Verendi (aka Kade Kilgore and the kids formerly known as the Hellfire Club during the early 2010’s Wolverine & The X-Men). In this case, Verendi has put a variety of villains together to take on Kate, Pyro, Iceman, Bishop, Storm and Lockheed, and they range from X-Men deep cuts to Jack Kirby and Stan Lee creations from Silver Age Fantastic Four.
The first I’ll cover is an X-Men deep cut, the X-Cutioner, who is less well known than both an X-Men storyline (X-Cutioner’s Song) and Thor/Avengers villain The Executioner. Like Duggan and Lolli’s inclusion of Shinobi Shaw, X-Cutioner is another post-Claremont early 90’s X-Men character introduction, a former FBI agent named Carl Denti who wields alien (likely Sh’iar) technology (or in some cases Sentinel tech – really anything recovered by/used against the X-Men). Denti debuted in Uncanny X-Men Annual ‘93 with a cover teasing “Where Walks the X-Cutioner,” and he set out to avenge his FBI mentor’s death at the hands of “evil mutants.”
In some ways, X-Cutioner is like a Punisher for evil mutants, or at least he starts that way, specifically hunting down Mastermind for his crimes. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that many of X-Cutioner’s initial targets were members of the Hellfire Club, given Hellfire’s obvious impact throughout Marauders. This includes of course, Emma Frost, who X-Cutioner tried to assassinate around the time of Uncanny X-Men #310. As you’d expect, he was unsuccessful.
The X-Cutioner’s costumed partner in crime is known as the Hate-Monger, who was introduced in Fantastic Four #21 as actual Adolf Hitler. Since that time, various creators have made it clear the Hate-Monger persona is a clone of Hitlers, but either way the intent is a blend of Nazi, Klan, and evil incarnate.
You can tell Kate is particularly shook/infuriated by Hate-Monger’s presence, as she should be! It’s worth remembering that Kate is one of Marvel’s most prominent Jewish characters, and the mere presence of a villain this vile is an affront to her culture.
Much like Red Skull, Hate-Monger’s hatred knows relatively few limits, extending to any racial minority as well as mutants. He’s actually even more offensive than your run-of-the-mill mutant-genocide proponent, and that takes doing. The history of the Hate-Monger is beyond insane – at one point during a SHIELD 50th Anniversary special he tried to assassinate baby President Obama – but suffice to say if he’s around, he’s the absolute worst.
A couple other villains I’ve already touched on in some capacity throughout Krakin’ Krakoa that show up: Donald Pierce of the OG Hellfire Club (“Dark Phoenix Saga”) and Chen Zhao, the Chinese anti-mutant conspirator we’ve seen in the pages of Marauders leading up to this point.
I particularly enjoy the inclusion of Pierce, who I would say is best known for getting his Cyborg arms cut off / ripped off in what was clearly the most acceptable form of violence John Byrne could get away with during the early 80’s run with Chris Claremont. At one point, Pierce defeats Colossus by letting him rip off his arm and Piotr freaks right the heck out.
Anyway, neither Pierce nor Zhen are any more effective in Marauders #6, getting swiftly tossed into the drink.
The most mysterious villain introduction is Yellowjacket, a miniaturized Verendi accomplice injected into Pyro’s innards by the X-Cutioner.
Historically, Yellowjacket has been most commonly tied to Hank Pym (when he’s had enough of calling himself Ant-Man and may or may not be on the verge of a mental breakdown), but even with Hank’s well documented struggles, I don’t think he’s on the side of mutant exterminators.
For my money, the more likely player is Eric O’Grady, aka the Irredeemable Ant-Man (in the 2006 series by Robert Kirkman and Phil Hester), aka Black Ant.
O’Grady is a former good-for-nothin’ SHIELD agent who steals Ant-Man tech, and has most recently been seen operating as a mercenary alongside Taskmaster in books like Secret Empire and another Nick Spencer written title, Amazing Spider-Man.
The general disregard for morality, and the flippancy of Yellowjacket’s report talking about Christian Frost’s incredible wardrobe all point towards the possibility that this could be O’Grady. Given his general incompetence, though, it’s very possible that Yellowjacket is simply another player, someone like previous Yellowjacket Darren Cross, or even a mutant-hating regular who now has access to this technology. After all, the proliferation of mutant power dampening tech has been a major trend throughout Marauders.
In addition to all this Marvel Universe connection insanity, the other major moment in Marauders #6 is Sebastian Shaw stepping out of the shadows and revealing he orchestrated the entire attack in order to murder Kate Pryde (and possibly Lockheed, but boy do I hope not).
Shaw confidently asserts – he is, if nothing else, a confident asserter – that Kate’s inability to use Krakoan gate technology will somehow limit Krakoa’s famed resurrection protocols. He references Iceman and Storm’s clear desire to stick by her side as evidence for his theory that Kate is perhaps one of the only mutants who can’t be brought back.
Now, I’ll be honest, I see a lot of wholes in Shaw’s rationale. Yes, Kate can’t use the gates, but we’ve seen her set foot on Krakoa back in Marauders #1. So it’s not like Krakoa is rejecting her very presence.
Likewise, we don’t – yet – have reason to believe Mister Sinister doesn’t have a copy of her genetic material, or that Professor X hasn’t made a backup of her “essence” via Cerebra. I’ve seen some theories – floating around here in the Youtube comments of the CBH Krakin’ Krakoa series – that one of the Wolverine: Adamantium Agenda tie-in issues referenced a surprising exclusion from Sinister’s mutant database. This would certainly allow for an out to keep Kate from resurrection protocols, but I don’t think the X-line will move this direction for two reasons:
1)Taking away Kate Pryde’s mutant gene would be frustrating as hell, and lead to no end of controversy
2)I really think Shaw would have taunted her with this knowledge if he had it
3)Oh and three, why on Krakoa would Professor X keep this a secret?
The biggest question to me is whether or not Kate will remember that Shaw tried to have her murdered. We know Professor X makes backups of every mutant 1x per week, but unless he just happened to be in the process of doing so moments before Kate’s drowning, it seems to me like she wouldn’t actually know who killed her when resurrected.
That said, I love that Shaw can never stop playing the Hellfire Club games where he fights his own mutantkind for profit! Look back to his debut in the Dark Phoenix Saga and you’ll see the exact same thing as he explains to Nightcrawler he’s most interested in using the X-Men so he can literally sellout mutant genetic engineering.
In Marauders, Shaw is equally driven by greed, taking out the Red Queen as part of his plot to “own” seats on the Krakoan council and increase his own power.