Writer: Mike Carey
Artists: Humberto Ramos, Chris Bachalo
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Plot: Upon returning from Cable’s island home, the X-Men attempt to find help for Rogue who after absorbing the essence of Hetacomb’s victims, now finds that the more than 8 billion minds trapped inside her may drive her insane or kill her.
Commentary: The Marauders are back. Surely that isn’t a huge surprise if you’ve been following online interviews and solicitations for this “anniversary” issue of X-Men.
What may come as a surprise is how good this title reads. It looks as though this current arc may have enough excitement and thrills to rival Marvel’s flagship X-title.
But first things first, reading this extra-sized comic reminded me of the Marauder’s first appearance back in Uncanny X-Men #210, and I had forgotten what a masterful job Chris Claremont and company did crafting that issue which would in turn lead into the memorable mutant massacre in the Morlock tunnels.
I like some of the updates to the Marauders made by Carey here. It would make sense for Malice to “get with the times” so instead of striking at her enemies from a mirror, she invades the digital world. The other members of the mercenary squad are also recreated well in this comic. In particular, that feeling of recklessness and disregard for life is revisited in this issue with eerie similarity to the original stories presented so long ago.
I was excited reading the comic’s credits because I love Humberto Ramos’ artwork and he, along with Chris Bachalo, does not disappoint here; their pencils are enhanced by the competent coloring of Delgado and Fabela. Page 17 is a full page so gorgeous that it could be blown up as a poster. There are other scenes featuring the battles between the Maruders, Gambit and the X-Men which are as equally impressive and as visually arresting.
Another plus is the characterization between Mystique and Rogue. The writer does a great job of intensifying the dynamic between these two who have a long history.
Unfortunately, I have to dock this book for its inclusion of the “Endangered Species” back up story. It’s not that I don’t like the story. In fact, it’s quite intriguing to see to what lengths Dr. Hank McCoy will go towards staving off the impending mutant extinction. However, the first half of the tale drags on, recounting events which led to this point and cheats the reader with an unnecessarily long exposition. They say the more things change…and this story is also reminiscent of Uncanny X-Men #210 where the Hellfire Club offers Magneto and the X-Men a truce for the overall good of all mutants.
Final Word: Though this issue suffers somewhat from the weak back-up story which serves as the opening chapter to the “Endangered Species” storyline running through all of Marvel’s mutant books, it’s still a pretty good read and a good looking comic. The fact the Cajun mutant Gambit, one of my favorite characters, makes an appearance in dramatic fashion is just icing on the proverbial cake. Damn you, Marvel, for making me want to add yet another title to my already crowded pull list!
What did you think of this book?
Have your say at the Line of Fire Forum!