By Steve Morris
With HoXPoX over and the Dawn of X starting, the first non-Hickman comic Marvel put out was Marauders, written by Gerry Duggan and pencilled by Matteo Lolli. With any big X-Men relaunch, it’s always fascinating to see what comes out from the satellite books – often you get a grander idea of the big picture than if you stick with the people who handed out the canvas. When Morrison came onto New X-Men, Marvel put people like Joe Casey, Judd Winick and Chuck Austen on the side-books, and pushed Chris Claremont over into the weirdness of X-Treme X-Men, for example. Brian Michael’s Bendis’ tenure saw books written by Sam Humphries, Si Spurrier, and Dennis Hopeless. The world is established by one comic, but all the other comics orbit right round it.
What a strange idea to kick off the Dawn of X era than with a comic where Kitty Pryde becomes a pirate and sails off round the world, flanked by Storm, Iceman, and Pyro? For a character who has repeatedly become the pet girlfriend of whichever author surrogate the inevitably male writer creates for her, it’s a shock to see her not only refuse to spend time living a docile life on the island – but to actively rebel against it. Also, about time, really.
Since moving back to the X-Men with Astonishing X-Men (which promptly wrote her out at the end) Kitty’s life has seen her go from girlfriend to Colossus to schoolteacher to girlfriend of Iceman to headmistress to girlfriend of Peter Quill and… well, yeah, she’s basically just been used by writers who used to fancy her back when they read Uncanny X-Men back in the 80s. Not only does Marauders offer no immediate sight of a boyfriend, but it sees Kitty actively nonconforming for the first time in what feels like decades.
It starts when she tries to walk through a portal to Krakoa, only to break her nose on the doorway as she’s refused access. That breaking point comes immediately after getting the full sales pitch from Storm and Nightcrawler – two of her closest friends – and the comic lets you see how immediately that leads her to question everything she thought she knew. There’s been a reboot and relaunch of the X-Men line, but for once that relaunch has seen her actively lose ground. Normally she comes out of these things fine, in a decent status quo and as part of the overall clockwork that makes up the world of the X-Men. This time she’s shunned, while villains and minor characters get an immediate pass onto the new island home.
That gives us a grumpy Kitty, who comes at everything from a cynical and disaffected viewpoint. While her friends are living it up and “making more mutants”, she has to come to the island via boat, the long way round, and only Lockheed comes with her. She’s two steps behind, meaning she missed out the whole of HoXPoX and now has to try and catch up. Wolverine died and came back to life? Everybody gets a personalised home built for them? How does that all work? You can feel the frustration coming off her from the start, and the character feels revitalised for it. She yells at people, she gets arsey with the students, and she starts drinking Logan’s stash.
Most importantly, she does what any disaffected mutant does: she starts listening to Emma Frost. Emma presents Kitty with some forward momentum, but doesn’t couch it in any elements of the comfortable status quo Kitty has been used to for years. She’s not on a school board, or one of the “establishment” X-Men. Emma specifically tells Kitty that this is a role which will see her go off-grid and get some dirty work done for once, and Kitty jumps for it. What makes her decide to do it? Partly it’s because Krakoa seems to have an agenda against her, but the instigating thing seems to be Lockheed, who arrives just as Emma makes her pitch. Kitty sees the only other living thing who had her back and travelled with her by boat, and she decides (in her head, at least) to accept the gig and try something different.
The rest of the issue sees her picking a random crew of characters, but again she’s caught out by an element of chaos: despite picking the most boring choices she could make in the form of Storm and Iceman, it turns out that the original Pyro stowed away on the boat and is now involved as well. When the “antics” portion of the issue sees the team fighting a bunch of Russians who aren’t letting mutants cross through a portal to Krakoa, Kitty not only gets out a lot of frustration through a far more brutal fighting style than ever before – she also has to improvise with a teammate she hasn’t worked with before.
Things start to stack on top of one another for her: she’s been abandoned by the new mutant status quo; her friends weren’t there for her; Emma’s offered her a black market job; she’s caught up in a series of random and unpredictable events, one on top of the other. And it leads her not only to change up her style and fight dirty – but to assume the name of “The Marauders” in the process. By choosing the name of one of her greatest enemies, she’s distancing herself from the X-Men and challenging them in the process.
Everything that’s come before: her decades-long appearance in X-Men comics from student to team mate to teacher to leader…. that led to her breaking her nose as the newest welcome door was abruptly slammed in her face. So now she’s trying something completely different, and flying off in a totally different direction. Farewell to Kitty Pryde, the heart and soul of the X-Men.
Hello to Kate Pryde, the first revolutionary of the Krakoan era.
Marauders #1: I’m On A Boat
Writer: Gerry Duggan
Artist: Matteo Lolli
Colourist: Federico Blee
Letterer: Cory Petit
Designer: Tom Muller
Steve Morris runs this site! Having previously written for sites including The Beat, ComicsAlliance, CBR and The MNT, he can be found on Twitter here. He’s a bunny.
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Are you kidding? This storyline is utter garbage.