Comic Review: Marauders (2019), Vol. 4 (Issues 22-27, Marvel)

Marauders, Vol. 4

by Gerry Duggan (writer), Phil Noto (Illustrator), Matteo Lolli (Illustrator), Ivan Fiorelli (Illustrator), Klaus Janson (Illustrator), Rain Beredo (Color Artist), Cory Petit (Letterer)

My rating: 4.7 of 5 stars

…And so comes the end of an unexpected gem!

This was a series that I don’t think anyone saw coming and fewer still saw it being a success. Even someone like me who has been a fan of a lot of the books written by Gerry Duggan did not expect a story about Kitty Pryde as a kind of modern day pirate queen with a prety rag-tag crew to be nearly as good as this eventually turned out.

Our final volume is very much a goodbye to the Marauders we knew as it tries to tie up many threads and also builds new things unexpectedly.

For a start, the first issue in this volume starts off with a bang as it reintroduces Lourdes Chantel (Sebastian Shaw’s long thought deceased wife) to the X-books who is going to play a role in this volume. If you happened to have read Classic X-Men #7 by the legendary X-scribe Chris Claremont, you might already know that she was murdered by Sentinels at the very first Hellfire Gala… Or was she?! Duggan does a fantastic job doing a deep-cut retcon for two of the characters at the core of his run on this series as he continues to redefine and refresh Shaw and the deadly Ms. Emma Frost. In fact I would go so far as to say that he has in this issue taken Emma to a whole new level, which is saying something given how he has already grown her character and evolved her more than she has been since her turn from villain to X-Man oh so many years ago!

The action over the chapters takes the Marauders on one hell of a wild ride as they travel to Ireland to help out Banshee (who is quite hilariously written in his small cameo) and with the new status quo on Arakko/Mars (a concept I’m loving by the way) they head off on a space adventure that gave us a shiny new Han Solo-esque space-pirate – Eden Rixlo – and in fact was so fun and unexpected that I don’t want to spoil it here – suffice to say that I didn’t see it coming, nor did I expect it to play out quite as it did and in a really short span, it showed how the team has grown both individually and together. By the end, we return to Krakoa and the last two issues are a kind of loving closure as the Marauders as we know them now in true Marauders fashion close out this chapter in their story and set us up to look forward to an exciting new phase for the crew and Captain Pryde. Heck, we even get one damned entertaining and hilarious cameo from Fin Fang Foom of all possible characters!

For the bulk of the volume we get to enjoy the art of Phil Noto who is most unlike your average comic artist today. By that I mean he has an uncanny (heh) gift for capturing people, i.e, his faces are genuinely textured (lines on the face, bags under eyes, etc) in a way that feels real and natural and his anatomy work is impeccable. I find his art has an almost classical painting-like feel to it which can seem both out of place in and perfect when you are reading his pages. I started to love his work through his Marvel covers and remain a fan. I will however admit that his backgrounds sometime suffer, perhaps due to the detail he puts into his characters, and his non-human characters (or morphed as with Emma’s diamond form) tend to look far… blander. By contrast, the last two chapters are a more traditional comic look courtesy of Matteo Lolli who I had not really known before but whose work here I was quite pleased to peruse. After the more emotional and slightly serious stories being told under Noto’s art, Matteo brings us a punch-up with Fin Fang Foom and the closing bits and he has a dynamic energy that is in contrast to the earlier chapters and works quite well with the high-energy writing that is the finale.

Overall, this was for me a great way to close out a series that I never expected to like – especially since I can honestly say that I was only mildly a fan of Kitty, I mean Katherine Pryde but this has made me a proper fan. She’s grown and matured and developed a great dynamic with the White Queen, becoming a Queen in her own right along the way and has surrounded herself with a new life and new people that have grown with her. Can the comic be a bit overly feminist at times? Sure, but it’s nowhere near the ham-fisted social commentary in many stories out there, in fact it does a pretty even-handed job I felt and by the end I wish there was a female word for Bro-mance because I would apply that to Kate and Emma’s relationship through the whole story that culminates beautifully here. The art was a treat and overall I am left both wanting more of the same and extremely excited for the next volume – this is without argument, my favourite X-comic in years and hands down the most fun since the HoX/PoX revamp of the comic line.

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