Marauders is a series that has continuously treaded water for far too long while far too often stepping on the wrong side of various serious topics in almost glib or smug ways that do more harm than good. The art team does a good job bringing the energy up within these pages, even if the art style and part of the story heavily clash in tone.
Just like most other mediums, there are times where comic books can come to an end leaving the audience in a stunned type of silence. Sometimes that silence is built off of something truly unexpected or epic happening that caught the audience off guard. Other times that silence is more because one is just not certain what the heck they just read.
Welcome to Marauders #23.
After the really distasteful previous issue that missed the mark entirely with serious topics, this one tries to go for some lighter stuff but it just comes off as bizarre and misses a lot of marks again as well. Gerry Duggan is doing some inspired and fun stuff over in X-Men, but every time in Marauders that he attempts to tackle people or stuff outside his good-sized wheelhouse it falls painfully flat and often borders or crosses the border of offensive.
Here we have Banshee dealing with a bunch of groups trying to rip off Krakoan black market medicines (you remember, the mission that the Marauders were supposed to have despite spending forever in Madripoor only) after the supply chain got slowed down following stuff during the Hellfire Gala. These groups are poor stereotypical caricatures of the Russian Mob and the Irish Mob as well as the new Reavers who apparently are going everywhere now.
Because she lost the election but there was like for her, Tempo is here alongside Kate Pryde and Jumbo Carnation and Emma Frost as the Marauders that answer Banshee’s call. The fight is just bizarre (Jumbo’s inclusion and dialogue are just baffling on many levels) and these characters do not feel like a natural group at all. That could change over time but there is no indication that will happen as the plotline with this medicine issue is wrapped up in no time. Honestly, this book has been in a holding pattern of sorts for most of the last year and keeps dropping potential long-term plot ideas or things only to blow through them instantly and go back to idling.
Then there is the continuation of the Wilhelmina storyline that started during the Gala and took a turn last issue, one of the serious topics that was handled very poorly. There is nothing “feel good” about this poor attempt to have one group of women help another woman get revenge on an abuser. It falls right into the “We’ll make this character grow and stronger by revealing abuse then have her overcome it” trope which is overused and has no place in stories at all. It’s gross.
Not to mention the fact that this entire moment was forced upon Wilhelmina by the Cuckoos, who forced her to recall these suppressed memories and pushed her into this confrontation that she never asked for. These are the areas that Duggan attempts to say something about complex topics out of his wheelhouse and riffs on them in the largest and worst way possible. Especially since Duggan seems to think it’s clever to tiptoe around the subject and leaves it vague in a way that makes the reader fill in the blanks likely with incorrect assumptions or stereotypes.
On the art side, we have Ivan Fiorelli stepping in alongside Rain Beredo. This isn’t a slight, but there is an almost cartoonish/animated quality to Fiorelli’s artwork alongside the bright palette that Beredo provides. In a way, it adds more of a fun air to this issue than it probably deserves with the cliché and one-note nature of the main fight plotline. On that same note, it feels out of place with the Wilhelmina part of the story, but that isn’t either of these artist’s fault.
There are some really nice panels and layouts that feature the possible new team lineup and the action is really fluid and framed well. This could be a fun art duo on a book that has more of this almost comedy-like bent to it on a regular basis. Not when tackling subjects like the second plot of the book or some of the darker realms that this book has traveled in the past and likely will again in the future.
Cory Petit continues to bring that strong lettering presence to the book, and just like with the Klaus Janson pages from the last issue his lettering work seamlessly shifts to fit whatever tone the artists are bringing to the table. Banshee has a lot of comedic energy here, a real change from the more dour version we had in the years prior to the Krakoa era, and the bubbles and font take on a light and fun air too. As do the big fun SFX that really do remind me of the comic SFX from the old 60’s Batman TV show intro.
Overall this is another issue that continues the treading of water that this series has been doing and hits so many wrong notes. There is a bit of fun to the first plot, but it feels inconsequential really and a lot of plot holes have to appear to make it even work (making the Krakoans look ridiculous to have drugs just out there unguarded like that where anyone can waltz in). Then there is the second half which is just wrong on all accounts.
Marauders #23 is now on sale in print and digitally from Marvel Comics.