Steve Orlando, Eleonora Carlini, and Matt Milla inject new life into the team Marauders in the first issue of their new series. With introductions out of the way, they get right to the adventure, drama, and messiness of it all as the team and their newest, most genocidal member Cassandra Nova blast into space to find the remaining members of the first generation of mutants. Along the way, Orlando continues to show his talent for excavating characters from the Big Two’s past while putting his own spin on staples like the Shi’ar Empire. Seriously, the first scene features a character that debuted in Inhumans; not the well-loved Paul Jenkins/Jae Lee series, but the Rafael Marin and Jose Ladronn one from 2000. However, Marauders #1 isn’t just cameos and throwbacks, and Steve Orlando and Carlini create an adventurous team dynamic with a bit of a dark side that sets it apart from the other current X-teams.
Eleonora Carlini’s manga-infused approach to the art in Marauders plays up the emotions and action up to 11. She combines traditional superhero figures with cartoonish faces and high energy layouts culminating to a double page splash of the Marauders’ new ship in flight. Carlini’s cartooning especially works in tense moments like a reaction shot to Kate Pryde introducing Cassandra Nova as the final Marauder. Even though it’s been obvious that she’s joining the team (Plus the justifications in the data pages.), we get to share in the surprise and even get a laugh from Somnus, who doesn’t know who she is until reading her mind and then going all glowstick on her. Along with the intense facial expressions, Milla goes big and loud with his color palette in a matter befitting a team with characters who project psychic energy into daggers, absorb it and throw it back, or phase through it to name a few. However, there’s a lot of red from Jean Grey confronting Cassandra Nova to the big finale of the issue that blows the series’ status quo up big time.
Like any good superhero book, Marauders has a lot of action from its first page to a space battle where Kate Pryde tries to phase into the mental equivalent of adamantium. However, in the gaps between missions and team construction, Steve Orlando and Eleonora Carlini continue to build up the personalities of the various Marauders. As the newbie, Cassandra Nova is the focus of Marauders #1 with everyone from psychics Jean Grey and Psylocke to team leader Kate Pryde trying to get a read on her and see if she’s actually cured. There are all kinds of panels of her looking at the reader basically saying that putting her on the team was a bad idea even if she’s connected to the mystery box that Kate found.
However, other characters get their moments in the sun like Akihiro and his relationship with his ex Somnus and current partner, Aurora, who are trying to help him overcome the pain of being tortured by Brimstone Love in the previous issue. Carlini turns in a splash showing that this torture and a desire for revenge is the first thing on Akihiro’s mind, and he plays a secondary role in the action with Psylocke and Bishop leading the way in the space fight. However, Somnus and Aurora play roles on the Marauders beyond being there Akihiro. For example, Somnus is making up for literal lost time by going on adventures with the team, and his face close-up on the glass watching Earth fall back in the distance reminds me of the first time I read a comic with the X-Men in space. Orlando also uses the data pages to add depth to the characters without detracting from the story and mystery and brewing space opera even though it would have been even more entertaining to see Dr. Nemesis and Mr. Sinister debate Cassandra Nova’s mutant-ness on panel.
Marauders #1 is full of adventures, flawed, yet badass queer characters, and also features intrigue and deep cuts from the Marvel universe in a nice action mystery package. The team has a focus, but Orlando and Carlini aren’t afraid to explore interesting rabbit trails along the way.
Story: Steve Orlando Art: Eleonora Carlini
Colors: Matt Milla Letters: Ariana Maher
Story: 8.7 Art: 8.3 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy
Marvel Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review
Purchase: comiXology/Kindle – Zeus Comics – TFAW