By Steve Morris
Last time round I had the chance to look a little at Sebastian Shaw, and the way that the powerful are able to live differently from everybody else around them. Reading the series through to date, what becomes clearer with each issue is how the mutants are starting to learn that more and more than they’ve ever been able to before. The data pages tend to focus on how the US Government is dealing with the arrival of Krakoa and the Dawn of X – and what becomes increasingly obvious is that they aren’t dealing with it at all. Because they’ve been given medicines by Xavier and mutants have withdrawn off their map, they’ve cut funding to their mutant departments and stopped caring about the whole thing. The reports we read in the data pages seem to emphasise month after month that the remaining members of their mutant-orientated secret service teams have no money, no resources, and don’t hear back whenever they request help.
There has always been money within mutantkind, but now we’re seeing every mutant suddenly leap up the class system and find out what it means when they can buy favour from the system. It means being left alone in a way they’ve never experienced before – which leads to, yes, lots of parties in their Glastonbury field, but also a consistent levelling of the playing field. At the start of this issue, Storm arrives to rescue a group of young mutants in Brazil who are being blocked from accessing Krakoa. Typically this would lead to a fight scene or some wrangling about diplomacy – here Storm gets to just do what she wants: namely electrocute the bigots and rescue the kids without a second glance. What are Brazil going to do about it?
Storm doesn’t bat an eye about stepping on “sovereign” land – and Pyro spends the entire scene merrily singing 80s power ballads – because the traditional power schemes are no longer interested in the mutant problem. This is a poor comparison because I’m politically naive – but it feels like there’s a comparison which could be made between Krakoa and it’s medicines against real-world countries which have oil. If there’s an important resource involved, the typical concerns seem to not matter so much anymore for politicians. Money and power spin the wheels, and Krakoa now has both of them to hand.
That gives the X-Men time to be proactive for others in a way they’ve never really had chance to previously. When a minority group have to spend all their time proving they deserve to not be constantly persecuted, they have less time to actually go out and live the lives they would want to live; finally here we get to see what the X-Men would do if they didn’t have to live defensively. Bishop and Kate spend the issue exploring a curious lead which Bishop has been investigating, and although it leads them to launching a propaganda move against a group of anti-mutant extremists, it’s really just a chance for them to explore a mystery they’re interested in. There’s a missing persons case which Bishop wants to pursue, and a building in Japan with a secret room he can’t see into. They have the time and the resources, so now he can just… investigate it.
Marauders is very clever about the way it uses its cast of characters. They each have their own thing going on, but Gerry Duggan takes care to make sure that he’s using them as a support network for one another. In the other data page of the issue, we see that Bishop is not just working with Kate because she’s a friend and ally – he’s also using it as a chance to see what kind of headspace she’s in. In turn, he reports that back in a text message to Beast, who in turn suggests Bishop should consider accepting her offer to join Hellfire. The team-up allows the creative team to run a fun heist storyline, but it also shows the emotional support which runs between the characters and the ways they’re independently working alongside one another.
Interestingly, though, you could also argue the opposite: that they’re a support network who could actually be strangling each other. Neither Bishop nor Beast call her “Kate” but instead go by “Kitty”, which gives you a bit of a suggestion that they still think of her as being a kid. Speaking of children, though, we find out here that Bishop’s mission eventually leads to the appearance of what’ll possibly be the ongoing enemy of the series – Homines Verendi, a renamed version of the Hellfire kids who showed up in Jason Aaron’s era of the X-Men. After rescuing their missing person (who turns out to be a mutant-worshipping fanatic whose wife is a very rich and powerful anti-mutant presence who didn’t want her spouse to show her up) it leads the wife to seek out the Hellfire kids for their help.
The Hellfire kids are really not very good characters, so we’ll have to see how they work within the series. But thematically you can see why they’d be the choice. Not only does it mean the series can build up two separate groups and then set all the members against each other, but it gives the newly-established power of Krakoa to clash against the traditional monied power of the Hellfire kids. Each of them were born into wealth and power so know nothing but the easy life – the X-Men have only just started to learn what it’s like when you’re allowed to live your own lives the way you want to, so the dynamic between the two groups could be fascinating once they have the chance to interact directly.
Having said that: they’re really bad characters, so let’s take that with a pinch of salt.
Marauders #4: The Red Bishop
Writer: Gerry Duggan
Artist: Lucas Werneck
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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