The world is abuzz with X-Men stories and Marvel’s Marauders #2 hits the shelves this week with promises of high adventure and daring do. Mutant Pirates and Big Business are strange bedfellows, but this is the Dawn of X and anything is possible.
Going into this issue and two thirds of The Hellfire Trading Company’s directors seats have been filled leaving a single spot left open. Sabastian Shaw believes he can strong-arm his choice into that seat but Emma Frost has other plans. In fact, Emma Frost has all the plans and they are slowly unfolding for all to see.
A Cutthroat Business
Marauders #2 is a comic in two haves. The first half is set in a boardroom at the heart of The Hellfire Trading Company. The second half is on the open seas, where Kate Pryde and her boat of merry mutants are doing all the right things but not necessarily in the right way.
Gerry Duggan hops from one location to the other creating a series of narrative beats, each building in dramatic tension as the pages are turned. He skips backwards and forwards between the action using one scene to add relevance or emphasis on the previous one. The narrative structure allows Duggan to break up the more conversational scenes with some action but it also provides opportunities to contrast characters.
Each of the three central characters are compared within this issue. Duggan uses the story to demonstrate personalities and the clashes that are inevitable later down the line. By the end of this issue you know exactly what to expect from Frost, Shaw, and Pryde.
One of the highlights of Marauders is the witty banter between the characters. Duggan effectively uses conversation within action sequences without changing the pace of the fights. Short, snappy soundbites are built into the movements of the characters as they interact verbally and physically on the page. The script has the humour but the artwork provides the timing, especially the placement of the lettering by Cory Petit.
As the comic opens the speech balloons create a solid and steady thread through the images, leading the reader through the back and forth of Frost and Shaw’s conversation, When the action hots up, the placement of the balloons becomes more erratic in the panels, signifying the movement of the characters and the chaotic nature of the fights. The visual element helps to set the tone for each page and sequence, allowing the reader to digest the scenes more naturally.
Art of the High Seas
Matteo Lolli has a smooth and fluid style of inking giving the panels an easy flow through the pages. His attention to composition within a panel and the page layout add to this fluidity in appearance. Lolli concentrates on the movement of the characters and their physical interactions, allowing the script to add most of the personality. This approach works because artist and writer complement each other; providing what is required from each of them.
A lot of the detail on the page comes from the color work. Federico Blee adds depth to the scenes and has a flair for bringing out the drama. He uses an array of bold colors and isn’t afraid to cover a page or panel. At times this produces a sense of chaos but then he’ll pull most of the color from a panel highlighting the action within it.
This issue is all about the appointment of the Red Queen and there is a foreshadowing of that throughout thanks to Blee’s use of the color red on pretty much every page. There is a bright splash of red as a constant reminder to the reader where this story is going.
With a lot going on in the Mutant world at the moment it can be difficult to keep up. The beauty of this issue of Marauders is that you can pick it up with no prior knowledge and still enjoy it. Duggan’s script is inclusive in every respect and the art style is easy on the eye, putting any reader at ease.
Major things are happening in the narrative, and references are made to the larger X-Men universe but at heart, Marauders is a good old fashioned pirate romp with added mutant shenanigans, in both senses of the word.