Writer Gerry Duggan got in on the ground floor of Marvel's upcoming Jonathan Hickman-led "Dawn of X" X-Men line relaunch, jumping in with Marauders - a unique ongoing focusing on a crew of mutant pirates led by none other than Kate Pryde.
The series, which is drawn by Duggan's long-time Deadpool partner Matteo Lolli, has a bit of a mystery to it - like how this ragtag crew of X-Men, villains, and Hellfire Club luminaries will get along as they take to the proverbial high seas, and how their clandestine mission intersects with Xavier's new dream.
To set the stage, Newsarama spoke with Duggan about Marauders taking back that infamous mutant team name, the threats they'll face, and the most surprising parts of putting together a title with such a singular concept ahead of #1's October 23 release.
Newsarama: Gerry, when Marauders was announced, Jonathan Hickman said you pitched it very early in the “Dawn of X” planning process. What makes Marauders an essential story in the “Dawn of X” era?
Gerry Duggan: I knew walking into the editorial retreat that Jonathan had a huge idea, and I was dying to hear it because Secret Wars gave me the chance to do stories I would never have been able to do without it. Dustin Weaver and I reimagined the Novas, and Nik Virella and I reimagined the entire Marvel Universe as a western in the town of Timely.
Hearing Jonathan's X-story did not disappoint, and then I let my brain marinate on House of X and Powers of X. I loved it out of the gate, and I heard it at the perfect time as I was returning from space (and my run on Guardians of the Galaxy), and wondering what I might be doing in the Marvel Universe.
It's been an absolute blast working with Jonathan, and the other X-writers as we wrench on big ideas that will be reflected throughout the books. Comic writing is ordinarily a very solitary gig, but the collaborating on "Dawn of X" has been ongoing for more than a year.
Jordan D. White is our senior line editor, and Jonathan is our showrunner. Jonathan could not have set up Marauders any better than he did in the limited series. My job now is to take the same ginormous swings that those series did.
House of X and Powers of X were a gigantic earthquake that shifted tectonic plates. Marauders is essential because it's a series of aftershocks from HoX/PoX. And credit where credit is due: I'm writing the shit out of this book, but my two favorite big ideas for the tale are from Jonathan and Jordan, and fans will love it all because of Matteo Lolli and Russell Dauterman. I don't want you to feel my fingerprints on it.
Nrama: Kitty Pryde has always been a mutant wunderkind – but pirate captain is a new tick on her resume. What led you to put her in that role?
Duggan: Marauders' first issue is by necessity a Kate Pryde story. You'll understand why on October 23. The spotlight will of course move around - I'm well into writing the second and third arcs, and everybody is getting their time in the sun.
Even if you're waiting for Pyro and Bishop's solo, you'll understand why Kate's in the leadoff spot. She and Emma have a... complicated past. One that I'm building on, and having the most fun while doing it.
Nrama: Kitty’s got an interesting crew – Storm, Pyro, Bishop, and Iceman. How do their unique skills lend themselves to being a pirate crew?
Well, Iceman and Storm are old friends Kate can count on in rough seas. Pyro joins by chance. Bishop by invitation. They each have reasons to sail from Hellfire Bay.
Nrama: Who among the crew has most surprised you as you’ve gotten into writing Marauders?
Duggan: I was most surprised by the voices of the women initially. And now that I'm polishing the second arc, it’s Bishop. Nobody's more surprised than me that I'm enjoying writing a cop.
But if I had to pick one, it's Emma Frost. We talk a lot about building the world, but she's actually the one doing it. She's the voice in my head, and it's fun.
Nrama: On that note, Emma and Sebastian Shaw’s Hellfire Trading Company is pulling the strings. How do these two work together here?
Duggan: That's the magic. Matteo's work in the second issue with those two is perfecto. It's all new business and past grudges, and it's glorious.
Nrama: For that matter, how does Sebastian Shaw take to working alongside the X-Men?
Duggan: He's only useful because he spent his life cultivating black hat contacts. Now that the mutants need to control the price of their life-saving medicines, Shaw is suddenly useful as the black market rep. He's suddenly very useful, not suddenly a nice guy, so mutants hold fast.
Nrama: Some of the characters here are sometimes villains - so what are the Marauders up against?
Duggan: Marauders exists in the choppy surf between what Krakoa is and the rest of the Marvel Universe. Not everyone is thrilled that the mutants have a nation state and a booming economy. The first arc of Marauders is also an origin story for villains groups that will be very important. Fans, start your engines, speculators start your slabbing.
Nrama: Matteo Lolli is drawing Marauders. What makes him the perfect artist for the job?
Duggan: Matteo and I have a history that goes back to Hawkeye vs. Deadpool, and then of course he was one of the spines of the Deadpool run. He's got every gear I could wish for - dynamic action, a sense of humor, and he could leave comics and be a fashion designer. We're lucky he's aboard. I'm trying to set him up and get out of his way.
Nrama: You’ve also got Russell Dauterman and Matthew Wilson tying things together on covers. How closely do you work with them to craft those singular images?
Duggan: I'm always interested in what artists like Russell and Matt will do without me. In fact the first two covers are really both just those guys having read the script and gone to town.
They gave you a ton of information on those covers, some readers picked up on Kate being the Red Queen from those two covers. They did a brilliant job without any input from me. Recently we've batted ideas back and forth on some secret upcoming covers. Their cover for Marauders #7 leaps to mind. That's another perfect cover you'll get from Russell and Matt, another piece of world building and high fashion.
I'm grateful that they're the first thing you'll always see about Marauders. I'm literally covered in greatness. C.B. Cebulski has mutant blood in his veins, and he and Jordan have given this book everything it needs to hopefully one day become a legacy X title.
Once again, I remain very lucky in collaborators and assignments.
Nrama:“Marauders” is a name with an infamous X-Men history. How does that name’s legacy factor into how the team operates?
Duggan: The mutants are taking the name by force.
Nrama: Bottom line, what can you tell us about how this unique team fits into “Dawn of X”?
Duggan: Red sky at night, sailor's delight. Red sky at morning, sailors take warning. The universe has always been a dangerous place. The wheel of fortune has turned for mutantdom. And now everyone has a price to pay for the homeland. See you out there.