Written by Gerry Duggan
Art by Matteo Lolli and Federico Blee
Lettering by Cory Petit
Published by Marvel Comics
‘Rama Rating: 7 out of 10
Serving as a spiritual successor to X-Men: Gold if not an overt one, Marauders #1 brings Kitty Pryde to the mutant high seas, as she takes on a leadership role unlike any she’s undertaken before. Writer Gerry Duggan and artist Matteo Lolli deliver a solid storyline for their intangible heroine, even if they don’t necessarily reinvent the wheel in the same way as Jonathan Hickman’s megahit series House of X and Powers of X.
Since the days of Chris Claremont, writers have bent over backwards to show how Kitty Pryde is different from the rest of the X-Men, but I’d argue that the angle that Duggan has taken in Marauders makes her more sympathetic and likable than we’ve seen Shadowcat since the days of Joss Whedon. Without spoiling too much, Duggan really zeroes in on Kitty’s flaws, and seeing this one-time prodigy transform into a highly competent screw-up feels like a fun way to reinterpret the character - while Hickman’s relaunch of the X-Men were all about big ideas and world-shaking twists, Duggan’s warmer, funnier style shows readers what it’s like to live in that weird, crazy world.
Artist Matteo Lolli, meanwhile, reminds me a bit of Mahmud Asrar - he does some strong expression work with Kitty and Iceman in particular, making them the emotional centerpieces of the book thus far. Additionally, Lolli’s fight choreography with Kitty’s phasing powers is rock-solid stuff, helping her establish her leadership bonafides and reminding readers she’s not a kid, but a force to be reckoned with. Still, I do wish Lolli varied up his panel layouts a bit more - there’s a little bit of a focus on horizontal letterbox panels, which make some of the establishing shots feel a little less than immediate.
That said, if there’s anything holding Marauders back, it’s that Duggan’s singular focus on Kitty makes the actual team element of the book a little harder to swallow. Characters like Storm, Iceman and Pyro more or less just show up, rather than there being a particularly deliberate feeling behind this lineup - and unfortunately, there’s a plot element that keeps Ororo and Bobby in particular feeling sidelined. Beyond Kitty’s fun action sequence, the only other character in the series that gets even a small chance to shine is Pyro, with an unexpected but satisfying team-up that definitely secures his place in the book.
By the time you finish reading Marauders #1, this book’s high concept will click into place, and you’ll understand the idea of Kitty Pryde and her “mutant pirates” in a way that makes more sense than, say, a throwback to Nightcrawler’s 1990s era hoop earring and buccaneer boots. Admittedly, Duggan doesn’t necessarily capitalize on his page count in terms of introducing the rest of his characters, but his take on Kitty is a winning one, and hopefully as this series picks up steam, Marauders will shore up some extra goodwill for its high seas high concept.