The Black King finally makes his move in Marauders #6. It’s no surprise, really. As much as Xavier wants peace between mutants in order to ensure their future, Krakoan society remains a ticking time bomb of far too many mutants who have always had their own agenda. Emma Frost might have agreed to all of this for the children, but the Black King has always been about money and power first, and he isn’t afraid to toss in some traitorous dealings to achieve those goals.
Erick Arciniega (colorist), Federico Blee (colorist), Russel Dauterman (cover artist), Mario Del Pennino (artist), Gerry Duggan (writer), Matteo Lolli (artist), Tom Muller (design), VC’s Cory Petit (letterer)
January 23, 2020
Money and power are also on the minds of Hominis Verendi, whose trap the Marauder fell into in the last issue when it sailed to Madripoor to rescue Shinobi Shaw’s Upstart. Fighting off the X-Cutioner and Kade Kilgore, we are crudely reminded of the depth of hate and bigotry mutants face from humans as the Marauders’ winning streak finally comes to an end. They do manage to scrape through this battle, saving Shinobi and escaping back to Krakoa, but they have taken a beating, with Iceman down and Pyro unwittingly compromised. Moreover, Kate still cannot access the portals. This leaves her vulnerable when the Black King reveals himself and the strings he’s been pulling to guide the Red and White Queens right into this trap. He’s got the “half-mutant” Kate right where he wants her, and, because of her Krakoan disconnect, she may not be able to return from what he has planned for her.
This is one of those nail-biting cliffhanger moments where we wonder if our heroes will survive, but hey, this is the X-Men. Plus, when a king takes a queen in the game of chess, it involves putting himself at great risk. The White Queen is still out there and she’s not going to be happy.
Fashion continues to play a subtle but key role in Marauders, taking up the data pages that, until this issue, have been the place for human intelligence to vent over their failed attempts to figure out what the Krakoans are up to on the high seas. This time, there’s some Hominis Verendi espionage going on, with reports from one of their operatives who has infiltrated the Marauders and ends up in Emma Frost’s cabin on Kate’s ship. Apparently, Emma’s closet, even on a ship that she was on for but a moment in the first issue, is very well stocked with business suits and more revealing attire.
Marauders #6 feels short because it moves so fast through this turn in the team’s fortune. Gerry Duggan packs a lot of story into the pages despite the spare dialogue and narration. The artwork by Lolli and Del Pennino moves swiftly through the battle, then snaps back and forth in time with Sebastian Shaw’s big Scooby Doo villain reveal. We also get a shift in the narration, for the first time seeing things from Kate’s point of view as she assesses the situation and calculates the best way to keep her friends safe while taking out the bad guys. Kate’s inner monologue is countered by the literal contrast of Shaw’s white text on black narration boxes, where he reveals how he has been scheming to overthrow the Queens.
Mateo Lolli and Mario Del Pennino show off brilliant use of the mutants’ abilities. Kate remains the focus, phasing in and out and skillfully brandishing a cutlass to complement her martial mortal combat. At one point, Kate orders Lockheed to fire at will upon anyone that may try to attack the downed Iceman, once again reminding us that the X-Men are happy to circumvent the “don’t kill humans,” rule when necessary when it comes to protecting their own.
The last issue turned the tides of Captain Kate’s story toward darker shores, and this sixth issue continues to ride those waves. Things are looking dim for our new team and its fierce leader, but down and out is when the X-Men truly shine.