Since issue #6, Kate Pryde has been afloat in the ocean surrounding Madripoor and I have diligently refused to believe that her death could possibly be real, despite Russell Dauterman’s cover reveal for issue #11. Marauders #8 rips away my hope and tears me apart with the raw emotions of the most powerful mutants unleashing their anger in the wake of Kate’s murder.
Stefano Caselli (artist), Edgar Delgado (colourist), Gerry Duggan (writer), VC’s Cory Petit (letterer), Russell Dauterman & Matthew Wilson (cover art), Tom Muller (design)
February 19, 2020
In the last issue, Gerry Duggan teased and tormented readers eager to learn of Kate Pryde’s fate after she was thrown out to sea to drown by Sebastian Shaw. The issue played out like the scenes of a movie you wanted to skip to get to the heroic rescue you know must be coming, but you also know that there are too many important details at play to miss. Marauders #8 seemingly begins this way again, taking the time to, of all things, give us a tour of Krakoa’s Mars manufacturing facilities. Having had to come back to these initial pages once I worked my way through the emotional onslaught that followed, I could better appreciate the significance of this quiet moment of industry automated by Forge’s many tinkerings with what Krakoa has to offer. Here, Emma Frost walks children through the facilities where they make the drugs for humans. “The humans get longer, better lives,” she explains, “we get peace.” The dramatic irony is not lost here as Emma introduces the children to the more mature concepts that they must take with them as they grow to become the future caregivers of Krakoa.
But the tour is soon interrupted with a psychic message to Emma from Bishop, who infiltrated the Homines Verendi ship in Madripoor last issue and reveals the ghastly reality of Kate’s demise. It’s at this point you realize that we haven’t even gotten to the opening credits of this issue yet after such a long cold open. But from here on in, the creative team rip and tear through the issue, careening from one powerful emotional reaction to another, beginning with Emma’s breakdown. Emma Frost is made of ice and diamonds. We know she does have a heart, but to see these moments when her guard falls…
And this is just the beginning of the torrent that affected me far more than I had ever expected. Up next is Iceman. The juxtaposition of him unleashing his powers in cold, calculated fury — expertly portrayed with Edgar Delgado’s icy blues and Cory Petit’s thunderous sound effects on top of Caselli’s illustrations — against Emma’s collapse is poignant. It’s because of Emma that Bobby began to understand and access the true potential of his mutant abilities, and the scenes draw me back to the cover of The Uncanny X-Men #314 where Emma is once again collapsed on her knees, but in Bobby’s body.
Being in other mutants’ bodies is a thing for Emma. It’s one of the reasons why Storm has every reason to hate her, considering Emma used a body-switching trick on Storm all the way back in The Uncanny X-Men #152. Given the nature of this issue’s cover, their showdown is not unexpected, but this is where Duggan and Caselli truly shine. Dauterman’s cover implies violence and struggle, but what we get is all the justification I need to finally buy that Emma Frost statue to go along with the Storm statue on my shelf. We know what Storm’s emotions can do to her in the face of grief, having seen them unleashed after Logan’s death. Which means we know that she’s keeping them in check here — and Emma knows it too but is willing to take the punishment. Duggan writes the two women with the maturity and raw pain that the interaction deserves. There is also humour as well as heart. And there is hope.
Bishop provides a necessary counter to the reactions of the other mutants. As a soldier trained in a harsh future, this reality of this situation is nothing new to him — though, for some reason, he doesn’t know what “shelter in place” means. I guess his future didn’t require active shooter training like our present does. His responses to Emma are measured as he prepares her for the mental visuals of Kate’s demise. He feels the same pain and understands what the others are going through, but he remains focused throughout the extraction process.
The issue rounds off with the casual machinations of the perpetrators of Kate’s murder. The Black King is bringing yet more players into the game, neither of whom are any kind of good news — and Mr. Sinister knows it, saying as much in the Red Diamond data page interlude. Sinister’s teases are meant to lighten the mood of a heavy issue, but after such an emotional jaunt, they feel as misplaced and uncomfortable here as a clown at a funeral.
Marauders‘ turn to the darker side of X-storytelling is no surprise, and Duggan has done his job well in taking readers on this ride. We still don’t know what Kate’s lack of access to Krakoa means for her future, but Duggan’s Marauders keeps me clinging on, desperate to find out.