Marauders #5: Women’s Work Is Never Done

Marauders #5: Women’s Work Is Never Done

The Hellfire Club was founded on sexism that even Emma Frost herself subscribed to in her own way, but things have changed. In Marauders #5, the Black King is trying his petty best to keep the women in their place, but the Red and White Queens have got things well under control. Marauders #5 Federico

The Hellfire Club was founded on sexism that even Emma Frost herself subscribed to in her own way, but things have changed. In Marauders #5, the Black King is trying his petty best to keep the women in their place, but the Red and White Queens have got things well under control.

Marauders #5

Federico Blee (colorist), Russel Dauterman (cover artist), Gerry Duggan (writer), Matteo Lolli (artist), Tom Muller (design), VC’s Cory Petit (letterer)
Marvel Comics
January 1, 2020

Ice Man uses his ice powers while Christian Frost stands behind him on the ship wearing a robe

Marauders #5 kicks off the new year with another stunning cover by Russel Dauterman, this one featuring Iceman showing off his abilities with Christian Frost looking on and looking cool. Inside, the story continues where the cover leads, with Bobby wearing the comfy robe instead, while Christian looks stunning in a white suit accented with a long golf scarf. What their relationship may be, we can only speculate based on the hints provided, but Christian does seem to have his finger on the pulse of Bobby’s concerns about Kate’s continued lack of access to Krakoa. He refers to Bobby and Storm as Kate’s Secret Service bodyguards, working to keep her safe from a permanent death—and maybe from herself too, as we continue to see her not far from a bottle of alcohol and having moments of melancholy over Krakoa’s denial.

But Kate is holding fast, taking her place at the table where the Hellfire Corporation discuss further plans. Christian and Shinobi Shaw have taken their seats as the White and Black Bishops, respectively, but the power dynamics remain firmly with the White and Red Queens who outvote Sebastian Shaw’s attempts to send the Marauder on a milk run he refers to as “women’s work,” while his son takes his ship, the Upstart, on business in Madripoor.

Kate and Emma are on the same page at the negotiating table, but at the Red Keep, where Kate has invited Emma to hang out, we learn that their relationship has developed into something more. No, I’m not talking about romance (yet). I’m talking about a friendship that comes complete with warm hugs while Kate smiles, blissfully wondering what it would have been like if she’d gone with Emma instead of Charles Xavier for mutant schooling when she was thirteen years old. Well, Kate, I suppose Emma wouldn’t have had to mind-rape your friend Storm, switch bodies with her, and kidnap you. But hey, Dawn of X is all about bygones being bygones.

Emma and Kate’s relationship had already warmed into some level of grudging respect after Astonishing X-Men, but this new BFF status is, well, weird. (And it seems to have caused Emma to increase her plastic surgery visits to make sure she looks as young as her colleague.) Still, one of the things Emma has been severely lacking in her character development is a strong female friendship. The trouble is that all of Emma’s established female relationships come with significant baggage that relates back to her villainy. But other major franchises are turning murderous foes into friends and lovers, so why shouldn’t Kate, the woman who named her new team after an old enemy team that severely harmed the X-Men, completely forgive Emma?

I’m keeping a close eye on the creative team when it comes to how they portray Storm on these pages. She hasn’t had a lot of valuable content being tossed her way in a while, so I latch on to the few panels I can get. In the last issue, we got to see her in her regal weather goddess finest. Here, when her powers are temporarily stripped away, the creative team finally remembers that Storm is far more than her mutant abilities in battle. Whipping out a vibranium blade, Storm goes on the attack with the kind of brutal physical combat efficiency that only Kate has gotten to display in this series so far, while Storm has appeared in the background being unceremoniously tossed around. Marauders #5 remembers that Storm has been a battle arena champion and twice defeated the Morlocks’ leaders in knife fights. Fighting for the lives of mutants being imprisoned and prevented from accessing Krakoa are stakes no less high than any of her previous battles.

Though Storm is very brutal here, and in other issues has displayed very low levels of tolerance for fools, this portrayal is not as out of character as it might seem. Dawn of X has introduced many changes in how we are expected to view the X-Men and how they view a world that has and will continue to hunt them to extinction. If Storm has had it up to here with dealing with bullshit in the name of keeping mutantkind safe, I’m okay with this being the point the X-Men have finally reached in their evolution.

The info pages in Marauders #5 have, to this point, been amusing insights into the frustrations from the X-Desk as human intelligence agencies attempt to figure out and get ahead of what Krakoans are up to. This missive has a very different tone. This series is focused on Kate, but it’s also giving us glimpses of what this new mutant status quo means for humans looking in from the outside. Here, [redacted] has experienced the unexpected and extremely emotional benefits of the mutants following through on their word to provide Krakoan drugs to humans. [Redacted] knows that, based on this recent experience, they may now be compromised, but they still have a job to do. The difference is that it’s not just about telling on the Krakoans anymore, but recognizing that maybe the Krakoans aren’t all that bad and that the information they have might be useful in Krakoan hands. Because Homines Verendi, the children formerly playing at Hellfire Club life, are out to get the mutants. And they aren’t afraid if a few humans hundred are sacrificed in the process.

Up to this point, Marauders has been the fun book in the new Dawn of X series, and it still maintains that high level of snark and style, but there’s a bit more emotional weight to this issue. It’s only a matter of time before Captain Kate and the Hellfire Corporation find themselves in (or create their own) troubled waters, so it’s left to be seen where the waters will fall.

Wendy Browne

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