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Nov 20

Marauders #2 annotations

Posted on Wednesday, November 20, 2019 by Paul in HoXPoX

Oh, all right then. I’m not guaranteeing to keep these up, but let’s cover this one quickly. As always, this post is full of spoilers, and page numbers are from the digital edition.

COVER / PAGE 1. The Black King and the White Queen in a drawing room, pushing models around a map of the far east. Emma seems to pushing a model of Kate Pryde and her boat towards a model of a cartoon bomb. The place names on the map are all genuine except for what appears to be “Hellfire St[raits]”, which seems to lie between the cities of Xiamen (in China) and Kaohsiung (in Taiwan).

PAGES 2-3. The recap and credits. The title is “The Red Coronation”. The small print hasn’t changed since last issue.

PAGE 4. A data page with another slightly redacted memo from the US Naval Intelligence agent tasked with keeping track of the Marauders – there was one of these in issue #1. Largely, this explains that after issue #1, the Marauders headed for Tokyo, took out a whaling vessel on the way, did some partying, and then stole a pleasure craft to go after a Madripoor-registered vessel. Presumably this is the Marauders going after Black King’s rogue ship on Emma’s instructions, as referenced later in the issue.

Madripoorian flags. Given Madripoor’s notoriously lax attitude to, well, everything, it’s hardly a surprise to learn that it’s a nation used as a flag of convenience.

The FBI. Curiously, the memo ends by changing subject and complaining about a lack of co-operation from the domestic US intelligence services, who haven’t even provided something as basic as a list of Krakoan gates in the USA. This seems like a plot point – we’ve yet to find out why the US was so relaxed about instantly signing up for Xavier’s deal, or handing back Sabretooth during House of X.

PAGE 5. Emma Frost makes an offer to the Stepford Cuckoos, which they turn down.

We don’t see what she offers them, but it’s evidently a position in the Hellfire Club. (Presumably it isn’t the position of “Lord Imperial”, since she goes on to say that she’s leaving it vacant until she gets Sebastian Shaw in line.) Emma seems to be rather more cynical about Krakoan stability than the Cuckoos are; of course, she doesn’t live there.

Emma’s costume. Emma is wearing a costume with a feather effect over her right shoulder and all down her right arm. It might be coincidence, but the anonymous main bad guy in X-Force also wears clothes with a feather pattern on the right arm. (Emma is wearing this same costume in the cover, which is by a different artist.)

PAGES 6-7. Emma meets Sebastian Shaw at the Hellfire Trading Company’s London offices and gives him a dressing down for straying from his remit.

The building is overgrown with Krakoan trees on the outside, but the interior is more notable – it seems completely normal. Are they putting on a show for the Krakoans as much as for the humans?

Shaw is meant to be supplying Krakoan drugs to approved black market purchasers but seems to have been diverting the drugs to richer countries for quick money. This only really makes sense if the mutants aren’t currently able to keep up demand. We see in the next scene that the approved black market purchaser was a country that can’t publicly deal with Krakoa due to its instability and domestic politics (or at least someone who lives there).

PAGES 8-14. Flashback: The Marauders take out Shaw’s rogue ship.

Not a particularly challenging fight for the Marauders, since the opposition consists of a bunch of random sailor thugs and long time D-lister Batroc the Leaper, who does his best but knows a lost cause when he sees one. Kate rebuffs his attempts to cut a side deal, but otherwise treats him with reasonable grace. Note, though, that Storm is already muttering about Pyro’s casual attitude to the “kill no man” law, and worrying about the group’s habit of wandering off with boats.

After this flashback, the Marauders must return to Russia, meet up with Colossus, rescue a bunch of mutants, and bring them all back to Krakoa, as seen in X-Force #1. Then they apparently go back to Taipei to meet with Bishop, who was already there last issue investigating a disappearance. (You can also do it by having X-Force #1 take place before this issue’s flashback, but that means the opening memo is no longer referring to the Batroc mission – which works, but isn’t as satisfying.)

PAGE 15. Emma tells Shaw that she’s already appointed the Red Monarch.

Shaw apparently had his own candidate in mind, and is furious to learn that Emma had already unilaterally filled the seat before his return. (More on Hellfire Club structure later.) Throughout this issue, Emma assumes that Shaw would have tried to appoint his mistress, but it’s not clear that she’s right. Chances are we’ll see this character later when Shaw appoints them to a role under him instead.

PAGE 16-22. Bishop tells the Marauders that Xavier is dead, so they get drunk and have tattoos done, before travelling to London to get their vessel.

Professor X was killed in X-Force #1. Iceman’s immediate response is that the Five will be able to bring him back in the usual way, but everyone seems to recognise that it’s not so straightforward given Xavier’s own role in the cloning process.

Kate’s drunken partying here is really pretty out of character, but maybe spending long stretches at sea with Pyro has that effect on you. Pyro, for some reason, decides to get a skull tattooed on his face – not the sort of thing he’s ever shown an interest in before – and nobody else thinks it might be a good idea to stop him. It’s all… kind of weird.

Gateway. Gateway was the silent teleporter who opened portals to let the X-Men travel around the world during the late-80s Australian era. It’s not very clear in the art here, but he spins a bullroarer when he uses his powers. Kate’s inability to use the Krakoan portals seemed to be the rationale for the pirate set-up, but access to Gateway effectively makes that academic – she’s here now because of her role on the boat.

PAGES 22-25. Emma and Shaw argue, and Kitty reveals herself as the Red Queen.

Shaw’s “long history of hedging bets against mutantdom” primarily consists of his involvement in making Sentinels for the US government, but Emma was an ally of his for a lot of that period.

PAGE 26. A data page about the Hellfire Trading Company management (?) structure. Basically, there’s meant to be a Lord Imperial at the top, with White, Black and Red monarchs beneath, and Bishops and Knights below. Currently, only the monarch and the White Bishop roles are filled.

Traditionally, the Inner Circle of the Hellfire Club had a chess theme, which meant black and white. However, Warren Ellis’s Excalibur run in the mid nineties showed the London version of the Hellfire Club having black and red kings and queens; perhaps the colour change happened when the American branch was formed. For what it’s worth, the Red Queen in Ellis’s story was Nightcrawler’s mother Margali Szardos.

How appointments to these roles work is unclear; the suggestion seems to be that Emma could somehow appoint the Red Queen unilaterally, as long as she did it before Shaw took office. It seems that in the absence of a Lord Imperial, they have to vote. Of course, comic book company law is not exactly renowned for its grounding in reality.

Lord Imperial. The idea of a “Lord Imperial” who was the true leader of the Hellfire Club worldwide started cropping up in later Claremont stories. For most of X-Men history, the Lord Imperial was apparently a nobody called Sir Gordon Phillips, who may have been a figurehead; he finally appears in Uncanny X-Men #388 and gets in three lines of dialogue before being murdered by Sabretooth. However, Uncanny X-Men #452-454 have Sebastian Shaw and Roberto da Costa fighting for the title, and Claremont also established evil telepath Elias Bogan as a former Lord Imperial in X-Treme X-Men.

“Accolades”. This rather archaic term for the granting of an honour is also being used over in Excalibur – though it’s properly applicable to knights, not bishops as shown here.

Christian Frost. Emma’s telepath brother, originally introduced in passing in Grant Morrison’s New X-Men run, but given a much more extensive role in the Emma Frost solo series and the recent Iceman book. He’s not the most stable person in the world, but Emma probably wants to keep him under her wing.

PAGE 27. The Krakoan read NEXT: QUEEN. And yes, that’s Professor X in the background art, which is the solicited cover art for issue #3. Or someone wearing his helmet, at any rate.

Bring on the comments

  1. Chris V says:

    To be fair, the X-Men have acted pretty stupidly in the past.
    The Magneto takes over for Xavier story from Claremont (while I really love it, personally) could be seen as complete stupidity on everyone’s part.

    Magneto is being tried for war crimes.
    Xavier has to leave the planet Earth behind.
    Xavier decides that Magneto should just take his place.
    Everyone moves on and accepts it.

    This was their arch-enemy who had tried to kill them multiple times, and who had threatened to kill or enslave all humans in the near past.
    We had seen very little evidence that Magneto was interested in atoning for his past before Xavier made this decision and everyone else just blindly followed along.
    Before issue #150, when Magneto started to show some remorse, Magneto had still been portrayed as a raving lunatic even in the Claremont run.

    There was some hand-waving by Claremont about how Magneto’s mutant powers made him suffer from a mental imbalance, and that’s all sorted now.

    However, with where the X-Men franchise went after Claremont left, the X-Men were just lucky Magneto didn’t lose his mind and start ripping out Wolverine’s skeleton while he was on the team.

  2. Adrian says:

    Ha. That was pretty stupid. Good example. Of course the Magneto example is similar to this story with all the villains here instead. I think that stretches credibility a bit. It still feels worse because of some of the deeper moral implications and risks in things like resurrection , cloning, drugs and their potential side effects. It can make the story interesting if explored but it doesn’t feel like any of the titles will be doing that. I have read summaries of the books this week. A shame really. All those interesting ideas may just be window dressing.

  3. Dazzler says:

    Cherry-picking decades-old examples of characters acting stupidly doesn’t change the fact that this entire status quo is stupid and every charterer is brain dead. Multiple characters were uncomfortable with Magneto in his headmaster role. That alone differentiates it starkly from this abject hive mind nonsense.

  4. YLu says:

    I, for one, have had enough endless schisms and internecine conflict in the X-books. That well is well and truly dry. The current united front will no doubt get old if it stays static, but right now it’s such a breath of fresh air.

  5. Arrowhead says:

    Recent examples include Namor, Mystique, Legion, Sabertooth, Danger, Juggernaut… by real-world logic, these are not people who would be cautiously accepted with “reservations” and “listen punk, even if Chuck vouches for you, I don’t trust you” speeches. By real world logic, these people should be in solitary for life. By real world logic, giving any of these people even one second chance is contrary to rational human behavior at best, and at worst moronic and insane.

    I think the Magneto example is actually quite relevant as an example of “stupid” and unrealistic forgiveness, given how he cycles between villain and reluctant ally. Trusting a “reformed” terrorist to teach children in any capacity is, in actuality, a completely goddamn ridiculous proposition. Then watching him quit and return to mass murder several times, and welcoming him back again and again…

    Well, it ceases to be recognizable as plausible human behavior. Because it isn’t. And yet it happens over and over, because the narrative structure of in-continuity superhero comics requires that characters don’t learn from their mistakes, and that violence doesn’t have realistic long-term consequences. I agree that accepting Apoc and Sinister as allies is insane, but the same goes for Magneto, and Wolverine, and Cyclops.

    We can argue back and forth about which characters comiited worse unforgivable crimes… but realistically, none of them would or should be forgiven, and all that matters is the individual reader’s willingness to accept implausible behavior on a case-by-case basis. And again, that’s not really a productive conversation, because each of us draws our own line.

    Mostly, you have to laugh that we’re all so invested in an ongoing narrative that absolutely requires characters to behave irrationally, inconsistently, indefensibly – almost every ongoing series, month after month, every single issue – because otherwise the story falls apart in a hundred different ways.

    …And, I must admit, the thought occurs to me that perhaps we, as readers, owe it to ourselves to seek out entertainment that isn’t this inherently stupid.

  6. Dave says:

    Was very surprised when I eventually read this and got to the end, because it was such a quick read.

  7. Chris V says:

    YLu-I agree with this. I just wish it were explored more deeply.

    I think there is very much a good story here, with Xavier telling the X-Men his plan.
    They can use the promise of immortality to gain the trust of the “evil mutants”.
    The “evil mutants” will then be on an island, where they can be watched by the X-Men.
    They put laws in place and threaten them with going to Hell if they break the law, to not attack humans.

    I think it works great.
    It’s better than hiding in a mansion until an “evil mutant” goes on a killing spree, then going out to fight with the “evil mutant”, probably resulting in millions of dollars in property damage, then running back to the mansion to hide until the next attack.
    All the while, expecting that this is going to lead to Xavier’s dream coming true some day.

    Yeah, no wonder humanity hates mutants so much.
    In Rosenberg’s run, it was pointed out that the humans were glad to see mutants dying out, because it meant that they wouldn’t be caught in the mutants’ never-ending internecine wars any longer.

    A way to deal with that is to put all your mutant enemies on an island with you and keep a close watch on everyone.
    Give the “evil mutants” what they want, a place where mutants can rule.

    The story just isn’t fleshing out the story very well.
    Instead, there are all these hints about shadowy secrets and mysteries.

    It would definitely help the readers experience if something was included to show that Xavier had spoken with the X-Men, and the X-Men decided to go along with Xavier’s plan.

  8. Chris V says:

    Dazzler-Need I remind you of the status quo of X-Factor during the same period as Magneto was head master of the school.
    Talk about complete and utter stupidity.
    “We’ll pretend that we are bigots out to persecute mutants, but in reality, we’ll secretly be mutants….and, what’s that? Cameron Hodge is a mutant-hating bigot and he tricked us! What?”.

    The characters who most distrusted Xavier’s decision to leave Magneto in charge were portrayed as complete idiots.
    So, what does that say?

    Meanwhile, the characters who accepted Xavier’s decision were Wolverine, Storm, Nightcrawler, Colossus…
    You know, the most popular characters.
    By your logic, they were shown as “mindless sheep” and must be completely damaged goods.
    I don’t understand how they continued to be so popular for decades after.


    Also, in the latest issue of X-Force, Wolverine was showing some misgivings about the current set-up on Krakoa.
    It’s another example of inconsistent writing.
    Will a character be portrayed as a creepy pod-person, as a brainless dupe, or will they act normal today?
    I’m beginning to think that part of the problem is that Hickman hasn’t told the other writers exactly what the plan is, so the writers are as lost as the readers.

    Besides which, it would get boring if the entire “Dawn of X” line consisted of dialogue such as, “Gee, I don’t trust this Krakoa set-up!”.

  9. YLu says:

    @Chris V

    “Also, in the latest issue of X-Force, Wolverine was showing some misgivings about the current set-up on Krakoa.”

    That’s not how I’d characterize it. He shows misgivings about Kid Omega’s superiority complex. But, significantly, he says Xavier would have similar misgivings about it. Xavier, who this book take pains to portray as *the* soul and voice of new mutantdom. The implication is that Wolverine sees Quire’s attitude as something separate from the Krakoa set-up, not part and parcel.

  10. Chris V says:

    Not exactly, because he also points out that Quire is sounding like Magneto, and to not buy in to Magneto’s rhetoric about “mutants as gods”.
    It sounds like he supports Xavier, but realizes that there are elements on Krakoa outside of Xavier which he has misgivings about.

  11. ASV says:

    Chris V-

    One of the issues, I think, is that part of what would make a separatist island interesting in that setup is how they got there — that is, the story of how the status quo transitioned from from the staid place where it was to the new place. But Marvel doesn’t do status quo transition stories anymore, so HOXPOX merely drops us into it and provides some explanation, via Moira, for why Professor X and Magneto would think this was a good idea. This plays right into Hickman’s tics, but it’s been the case for a while. Look at the beginning of Lemire’s run, for instance, where the mansion and its residents are just in Limbo now, because.

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