Continuing the World building in the new Dawn of X event from Marvel Comics, Marauders #3 examines one of it’s central cast and lays the groundwork for future confrontation.
The Red Queen has taken her throne and all is well within the Hellfire Trading Company. Or is it? What secret plans did Sebastian Shaw have for the company and, more importantly, the Red seat? In this new world of redemption and second chances, can Shaw find peace with his newly resurrected son?
If you think he can, then you don’t know Shaw very well at all.
Writing the Villains
The new X-Men world is built like a fantasy series with castles and ‘houses’, Ladies and Lords ruling over every aspect of Krakoan life. Like any popular fantasy world, take for example Game of Thrones, there are obvious heroes, obvious villains, and those who dwell in the grey areas. Luckily for Gerry Duggan, he has plenty of both in his cast.
This issue of Marauders is about setting up the villains in the Hellfire Trading Company and, of course, it isn’t difficult to guess who that is going to be: Sebastian Shaw. Duggan, however, refuses to let it be so clear cut and within these pages he invites you to get to know the scheming man and his lofty aspirations.
Duggan hops back in time and shows what was happening elsewhere as Emma Frost was setting up Katy Pryde as the Red Queen. This storytelling approach is a favourite of Jonathan Hickman so it’s not surprising to see other writers in the mix adopting it. It is a technique that works well, especially as Duggan is clearly sowing the seeds of future destruction. By the end of this issue, the reader has seen the two faces of the Hellfire Trading Company, and can see the trouble just over the horizon.
The Art of Pantomime
Within the art there is a lot of flamboyance and posturing. Sebastian Shaw is a larger than life, Sunday afternoon movie villain and suits the Pirate mantle perfectly. Penciler Michele Bandini understands this and gives the character a real sense of presence on the page. If he isn’t dominating the scene, then the layouts revolve around him.
Strong, heavy black lines have been inked over the pencils for the characters but a more delicate approach has been taken with the backgrounds. This makes the characters stand out, increasing their presence. Elisabetta D’Amico’s inks are designed to bring out the cast and create a theatrical environment.
The garish colors from Federico Blee is the final ingredient needed to complete the pantomime that is Shaw’s story so far. He plays the villain so majestically, so obviously, and the creative team pick this out, exaggerating his actions, playing to his strengths.
Cory Petit has the hardest role in the creative team, trying to make the lettering match the theatrical style of the art. The speeches are broken down into numerous word balloons and then placed across the pages like a string of lights down a high-street. The short bursts of speech reflects the pantomime aspect of the narrative by producing a conversational tone. There is a playful back and forth between the cast giving the entire comic a lighter atmosphere than some of the other X-Men titles.
However, there is still a darkness brewing below the surface, one that each of the creative team hint at in their own way.
Duggan and Co. are having enormous fun with these characters, creating a larger than life cast of entertainers. That sense of enjoyment is passed onto the reader making this a thoroughly satisfying read, especially in the midst of the other, more serious, X-Men comics currently on the shelf.
As this is part of something greater, the whole Dawn of X shenanigans, it does feel at times like there is more going on than what you are reading. However, this doesn’t hinder the narrative, or the enjoyment, of Marauders. So far, each issue has been both a singular read and a part of a larger adventure. You can read them in isolation or within the bigger frame work of the Marauders, or even the Dawn of X itself.