Marauders #3: Black King to e7

A person exits a Krakoan birthing pod. They are surrounded by X, Storm, Bishop, and Ice Man, who are all ready to attack.

Marauders #3

Federico Blee (colorist), Russel Dauterman (cover artist), Gerry Duggan (writer), Matteo Lolli (artist), Tom Muller (design), VC’s Cory Petit (letterer)
Marvel Comics
December 4, 2019

The X-Men are very familiar with working with their enemies on various teams for the greater good, but Dawn of X’s new status quo means that everyone is forced into a whole nation of getting along with each other. While the Krakoan facilities offer enough space for everyone to move around fairly freely and thereby avoid each other, there’s still reason to be concerned about working and living side-by-side with enemies and abusers, but so far, this concept has only been addressed in passing. Even the name “Marauders” speaks to a traumatic past in mutant and X-Men history, and it’s strange that Kate chose it given what she herself suffered at the hands of the mutant group led by Mister Sinister. This may well be on Kate’s mind, along with a number of other things, as we’ve seen in the previous issues, but Marauders #3 isn’t exactly about Kate and any concerns she might have, so I need to be patient and allow the pieces of this new way of being fall into place in their own time.

In the last issue, the White Queen thoroughly trounced the Black King in a game of real life chess, and, unsurprisingly, he’s not going to let that stand, especially when he’d already had his own plans in place. But Marauders #3 opens with a brief step back in time to reveal Sebastian Shaw’s initial play for the empty throne of Red Monarch: his own son, Shinobi Shaw. 

A person exits a Krakoan birthing pod. They are surrounded by X, Storm, Bishop, and Ice Man, who are all ready to attack.

Setting aside their previous desires to kill each other, Sebastian introduces his son to the new world and his plans for Shinobi’s place within it. Though he has some of his own business to attend to, Shinobi seems content to go along with the plans. Dinner, coordinated displays of power, and a tour of the new facilities give us a pleasant reunion of father and son, but villains gotta villain, so it comes as no surprise when the Black King reveals that he’s got something up his sleeve.

A book that involves Emma Frost should be fashionable, and, though she is missing from the issue, style still plays its part — more so given the Hellfire Trading Company’s hierarchy. It’s notable that, after our initial introduction to the resurrection process wherein the reborn were presented in their rebirthday suits, the Black King promptly dresses his son in a stylish dark gray suit. Shortly thereafter, he dresses Shinobi in red, in accordance with his plans, only to have to revisit this later when the story returns to the present where, as we know from the last issue, Kate Pryde has been appointed the Red Queen, thwarting Sebastian’s original plans.

Thankfully, I don’t have any complaints about washed out Black characters in this issue. I’d like to say that this is because colourist Federico Blee and the editorial team that let the last two issues slide have since learned their lesson, but the reality is that there were no Black characters in this issue. This means that I can, breathe in deeply, rub my temples, and push down my disappointment over the continued poor representation for marginalized characters, in order to focus on the rest of Blee’s work as a colourist. Because, other than not knowing how light and colour works on dark skin tones, Blee’s colours are phenomenal. The irony is that he seems to truly love working with lighting. From the morphing colours of a sunset sky, to the sickeningly vibrant shock of Tokyo nightlife, to soft, moody lamplight, Blee’s work with light and shadow makes every panel striking.

House of X visual mastermind, Pepe Larraz, has revealed how he shaped the look and feel of Krakoa, and it’s breathtaking to see how each subsequent artist brings a new piece of the world to life. Here Matteo Lolli introduces us to the Hellfire Bay where the Red Keep, Blackstone, and the White Palace reside. Each stronghold not only reflects the colour of their respective monarch, but it also embodies their personality, physical attributes, and mutant abilities, while also incorporating the twining foliage of Krakoa.

The three castles of Hellfire BayThe informational interludes in Marauders remain amusing as the “X-Desk” at Langley continues to track the Marauders and their actions. They have intercepted a few messages here and there that are helping them piece together some details, but, while entertaining for us, it seems like the intelligence agency is still scratching their head, continually falling one step behind Kate and her team.

The Shaws’ interactions in Marauders #3 press the story forward, but this issue is a prime example of visuals and design elements — both subtle and overt — working in beautiful harmony with the words to deepen the intrigue in this stunning game of chess. All the pieces are on the board now, and I can’t wait to see the next move.

Wendy Browne

Wendy Browne

Publisher, mother, geek, executive assistant sith, gamer, writer, lazy succubus, blogger, bibliophile. Not necessarily in that order.