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May 5

Marauders #2 annotations

Posted on Thursday, May 5, 2022 by Paul in Annotations

As always, this post contains spoilers, and page numbers go by the digital edition.

MARAUDERS vol 2 #2
“Extinction Agenda, part 2”
Writer: Steve Orlando
Artist: Eleonora Carlini
Colourist: Matt Milla
Letterers: Ariana Maher & Clayton Cowles
Editor: Jordan D White

COVER / PAGE 1: Erik the Red and Cassandra Nova… fighting psychically, I guess? Cassandra is drawn with two superimposed faces.

PAGE 2. Lockheed finds a pile of bodies.

Or rather, what looks to be a single body made up of other bodies.

Lockheed is traditionally Kate’s pet/sidekick, but he didn’t appear in the previous issue and I don’t think he was mentioned.

The Order of X are presumably the owners of the church building that he’s exploring, given the illuminated “X” sign outside and the “X” on display in place of an altar. They’re a mutant-worshipping cult who emerged in the aftermath of Professor X announcing the creation of Krakoa in House of X #1; it’s been suggested in some stories that they may have been damaged in some way by the Professor’s worldwide telepathic message, and at the very least it had a big impact on them.

PAGES 3-4. Delphos briefs Xandra.

Delphos identifies her order as the “Nobles of the Kin Crimson”. Their function is apparently to suppress various events from Shi’ar history which, for one reason or another, are deemed too damaging to become public knowledge; we’ll come back to that. Her claim that the Order have been recognised by previous regimes seems to be confirmed by Gladiator, who’s been there all along; Xandra is a relative newcomer to the Shi’ar, raised elsewhere, which presumably explains why she doesn’t share everyone else’s cultural acceptance of the Kin Crimson. (That raises the question of what Vulcan knows about them from his own time as Shi’ar Emperor, but he wasn’t there long, so maybe it never came up. Then again, Vulcan’s back story involves him being assigned as a slave of Eric the Red before he escaped to Moira, so he might know quite a lot.)

As in the previous issue, Delphos refers to her predictions not as premonitions but as “preconceptions”, a word which would normally imply something rather more negative and closed-minded.

Delphos appears to have told Xandra the truth about “the First Blood Spilled”, given the data page on page 14. On the other hand, she also tells her that Deathbird’s rescue is in hand, and the cutaway panel – which seems to show Deathbird fighting three elephant-men in Kin Crimson style armour – doesn’t exactly support this. The implication seems to be that the Kin Crimson were responsible for Deathbird’s abduction in Secret X-Men #1.

“The First Blood Spilled” is evidently something only to be spoken about in cryptic terms, which is handy. We’re told directly that it’s something that the Shi’ar’s ancestors did, and Xandra believes that it would spark a war with Earth. Given the reason the Marauders are coming – to hunt for survivors of a first wave of mutants predating Arakko – one has to assume it’s something to do with the exploitation of ancient mutants. Presumably it also has an ongoing dimension, since it’s hard to believe that Xandra would anticipate war over a piece of undiscovered history.

“They fought for me, Delphos.” Various issues, but most obviously X-Men vol 5 #7, when the X-Men put down a Stygian uprising.

“For a genetic throwback…” Deathbird has long been described as a Shi’ar “genetic throwback”, because she still has full avian features that the Shi’ar have mostly lost by evolution. In other words, she’s a mutant, but she tends not to be called that.

PAGE 5. Recap and credits.

PAGES 6-11. The Marauders fight Eric the Red.

Eric the Red was a villain from the early Claremont/Cockrum issues of X-Men in the late 1970s, now being revealed as a member of the Kin Crimson. Despite the way Kate talks here, his battles with the X-Men were long before her time.

In the original stories, he’s just portrayed as a regular agent of the then-emperor D’Ken, sent to stop Lilandra from making contact with the X-Men and overthrowing D’Ken’s rule. However, the implication of this story is that he wouldn’t have been wandering around in Kin Crimson gear if there hadn’t been something more pressing – the Kin Crimson’s professed agenda seems to be limited to matters which they consider culturally existential threats. Eric seems to be saying here that the reason he was assigned to Earth in the first place was to make sure that the mutants didn’t learn anything about something or other to do with the Shi’ar, a task which required no work from him at all until Kate came into possession of the mysterium box in Marauders Annual #1.

It has to be said that for someone who has supposedly devoted his life to keeping dangerous state secrets, Eric seems remarkably keen to tell the Marauders to their face that they’re on the verge of uncovering dangerous state secrets.

The Hard Skin. This is new, but it’s evidently the technology that Eric was using to make energy barriers at the end of the previous issue. Normall, when you’ve got orders of space cops making solid light constructs with the power of their mind and they only come in one colour, Green Lantern is being referenced – but see also below re Cerise.

“Déguédine.” “Hurry up”, in Quebecois French.

PAGE 12. Data page about the Hard Skin.

D’Bari III. D’Bari is the star that Dark Phoenix destroyed in X-Men vol 1 #135, killing the entire D’Bari race. However, those guys lived on D’Bari IV, and besides, they didn’t have anything like the powers mentioned here. There’s some implication that the Kin Crimson may have killed them all off.

Cerise. Cerise was a member of Excalibur during the Alan Davis run. Her back story involved her being a Shi’ar soldier who deserted rather than fire upon innocents. She had red energy projection powers too, so the implication seems to be that she’s connected with the Kin Crimson too.

PAGE 13. Xandra and Gladiator.

Gladiator basically tells Xandra that the establishment keep some things from the ruler so that they needn’t be distracted by them. The core of this whole idea seems to be that the Shi’ar have a horrific imperial past which is kept suppressed by a conservative establishment who believe (perhaps correctly) that it would be damaging to Shi’ar self-perception and interests. Xandra’s complaint that the decision ought to rest with the throne might carry a bit more weight if she was actually elected.

PAGE 14. Data page. An exchange among the members of the Kin Crimson.

Pilgrimm. Pilgrimm was a demon from the Ru’Tai race who fought the X-Men circa X-Men vol 2 #75. He has no obvious connection to this arc, but it seems equally unlikely that Orlando would hit on the same name by chance.

The Hodinn. Supposedly a race of sentient stars. A last survivor of the race, calling himself simply “the Hodinn”, appeared as a member of the Imperial Guard in X-Men: Kingbreaker and was killed. However, another Hodinn showed up as an Imperial Guard member, G-Type, in Realm of Kings: Imperial Guard #5. The context seems to suggest that either Betel or Pr!z is the Hodinn involved in the Kin Crimson.

The Ten Shames are mostly just names at this point. However, Emperiax the Red was the author of the previous data page, and apparently the inventor of the Wet Skin (whatever that is). Birj was the home planet of Terrax, a former herald of Galactus; it was wiped out by the Phoenix Force in the 2011 one-shot Point One.

PAGE 15. Gladiator and Xandra head for the Roc.

Gladiator claims that the Kin Crimson haven’t shown themselves in centuries. But Gladiator would have seen Eric the Red during the battle over the M’Kraan Crystal in X-Men vol 1 #107-108. Is he lying?

The Roc is Xandra’s warship.

Delphos seems pretty happy that Xandra is shaken by all this – is she hoping to get rid of Xandra, or just thinking that this is a sign that Xandra is falling into line?

PAGES 16-20. The Marauders fight Eric the Red (cont.)

The two Kin Crimson nobles who show up in this scene – the dragon and its rider – are Betel and Pr!z, who said on the previous data page that they were on their way to help Eric. Eric also names them towards the end of the scene. If either of these guys is supposed to be a Hodinn, it must be the rider – and indeed the cross symbol on his face is somewhat reminiscent of G-Type’s costume.

“My own brother asserted himself better in the womb.” Cassandra is referring to the fact that the unborn Charles Xavier killed her in the womb, though she survived as a disembodied mind.

PAGE 21. Somnus brings the Marauders into his dream.

Somnus‘s back story involves him spending a night with Daken which, thanks to his dream powers, subjectively lasted years. At the moment he doesn’t have very much he can usefully contribute in a fight, but what he can do is set up these sort of meeting rooms which give people plenty of time to think out a plan. It’s a start.

Diversion: I like the idea of Somnus a lot, which is that he’s a guy who lived out a decent enough but closeted life, and now, thanks to resurrection, gets the chance to do things over in a life with opportunities that he didn’t have before. But… I don’t really get the sense that this is a guy who’s lived a full life already.

PAGE 22. The Kin Crimson battle Cassandra Nova.

Presumably their main concern is to stop her from disclosing the Shi’ar secrets, and maybe her status as a Mummudrai – some sort of Shi’ar term for an evil twin – itself has something to do with their secrets.

PAGES 23-24. The Marauders plan, and Xandra has to make a decision.

Basically, Somnus has bought them time to think while their oxygen is still there… but he hasn’t allowed for the Shi’ar showing up to just shoot them.

PAGE 25. Trailers.

Bring on the comments

  1. Uncanny X-Ben says:

    I’m liking this more than I expected, it’s a little loose but it has a nice sense of forward momentum.

    Yeah Somnus is clunky, you think he’d come across as older and wise (maybe a bit old fashioned) but he acts like a 23 year old totally fine with life and death space battles.

    I really don’t like the “actually mutants have been around forever and ruled Camelot and had a cool island empire” stuff.

    I get why they’re doing it- mutants not being new helps them hammer home the minority allegory.

    But it’s also a lot more generic.

  2. Dave White says:

    Wait, how does this all fit in with Davan Shikari swiping the Eric the Red identity from Cyclops? Is it just some massive highly unlikely coincidence?

  3. Luis Dantas says:

    Somnus describes his mental environment as an immitation of a “Seeker 3000 remake”. That is a direct reference to the sci fi feature from 1978’s Marvel Premiere #41 which was revisited in 1998. Apparently some version of it is a fictional show or movie in Earth-616.

  4. Jenny says:

    Also Khan Kingo is presumably the Eternal actor.

  5. Dave White says:

    IIRC they put out a Seeker 3000 one shot in the late ’90a just to keep the trademark alive.

  6. Ben Hunt says:

    I believe that Pr!z is the dragon. I also think he’s meant to be a P!ndyr, a race of space dragons first seen in Uncanny X-Men 265.

    Seeker 3000 was a future sci-fi story created by Doug Moench and Tom Sutton that appeared in Marvel Premiere (the color comic version) #41. The story revolves around a group of humans fleeing a dying solar system to preserve humanity. One of the characters, Phaedra, is an immensely powerful telepath that powers their warp drive. Apparently Seeker 3000 is just a movie in the main Marvel universe. The Marvel wikia suggests that Khan King is King Sunen, an Eternal who has been both a samurai and an actor.

  7. Uncanny X-Ben says:

    Yeah that’s definitely the Eternal Kingo.

    Oh man, I didn’t get the reference but I absolutely picked up the first issue of the ’98 Seeker 3000.

    And it was written by Dan Abnett!

    Orlando really does like digging deep into the old Handbook doesn’t he?

    I respect that.

  8. Mike Loughlin says:

    I had a hard time with this issue’s art. The big fight was cluttered, and the main difference between Aurora and Psylocke was a bun. The coloring was a problem,too. Just becaus.e you can bathe everything in multiple shades of red doesn’t mean you should. The scenes inside Sophie’s dreamscape were actually a re!ief. I liked a lot of the little touches in this issue, like power usages and limitations, but I thought the visuals weren’t clear enough.

  9. Jenny says:

    Anytime it’s an Orlando book, there’s a 90% chance that a proper noun is a reference to something pre-existing.

  10. Ryan T says:

    Kin Crimson certainly appears to be a King Crimson reference (which itself doesn’t appear to be a direct reference to anything else, per their wiki)

  11. MasterMahan says:

    Kingdom Come had a King Crimson who used the same big red demon design as Brimstone Love. But I doubt that’s Orlando is referencing.

    I do agree on Somnus. It’s a great character concept, but he shouldn’t act as young as he looks.

  12. Joseph S. says:

    Wasn’t Cerise also with Xandra in the arc where she debuts / hatches?

  13. Krzysiek Ceran says:

    She was. As far as I remember Mr & Mrs X, she didn’t play a big role in the story, though.

    Well, last issue I was uncertain about the art. This issue I’m sure I don’t like it. Or rather – I like the art, I like the cartoony style and portrayal of characters, but I think it doesn’t fit this story. It works for Cassandra – making her an exaggerated frog-woman somehowe fits – but when Marauders face off against Erik and his copies, some of them look like characters from Peanuts and… I don’t think that’s what Orlando’s aiming for with the story?

    Anyway. I appreciate the random continuity pulls, but I want to like it way more than I actually do.

    (And I do want to like it because I either like the characters or at least think they have potential).

  14. MWayne says:

    Orlando can be a little hit-or-miss for me, but I quite like what he is serving up here.
    Unfortunately, the art is actively interfering with my enjoyment of the book. I tried to give the benefit of the doubt after the first issue, and as KC notes above, the art works better when it is making Cassandra Nova creepy and whatnot. Also, the art sells the comedy on those “humorous aside” moments where Aurora Makes comments to Somnus about Daken. But generally this style is not to my taste for an X-title. The faces are the same, the fight scenes were chaotic and too muddled, it’s just not working for me.

  15. Rareblight says:

    I strongly believe that the Wet Skin is just X-genes taken from first generation human mutants, just like Hard Skin is taken from indigenous people of D’Bari 4. Hence all those experimental human mutant Shi’ar hybrids.
    Shi’ar was basically playing U-Men.

  16. Uncanny X-Ben says:

    Rareblight- That seems likely right?

    I wonder if it will tie into the origins of the Imperial Guard/Super Guardians?

  17. Rareblight says:

    @Uncanny X-Ben

    I would not be surprized if it does, but if I remember correct, Superguardians have their race’s common abilities rather than being mutates or mutants of their species, right?

    Also, I hope Orlando address Deathbird’s missing child, it is been ages, and even with her all ruthlessness, Deathbird is a mother afterall. I am sure she misses her child.

  18. Mike Loughlin says:

    “I would not be surprized if it does, but if I remember correct, Superguardians have their race’s common abilities rather than being mutates or mutants of their species, right?”

    Yes, most (possibly all) Shi’Ar Superguardians come from planets in which their people share a common ability, and the best join the Imperial Guard. They’re a winking homage to the Legion of Superheroes, which uses that set-up for most of its members.

  19. Omar Karindu says:

    Mike Loughlin said: Yes, most (possibly all) Shi’Ar Superguardians come from planets in which their people share a common ability, and the best join the Imperial Guard. They’re a winking homage to the Legion of Superheroes, which uses that set-up for most of its members.

    They also have a few members that seem to have special powers for their species, such as the Cosmic Boy analogue Electron, who is Shi’ar; and Smasher, whose powers come from their goggles.

    This is probably a reference to the Legionnaires who got their powers accidentally, like Lightning Lad and Ultra Boy (Smasher’s analogue). there’s some blending, of course; Cosmic Boy’s powers are a species trait in the Legion comics.

    I wonder if this means Impulse/Pulsar (Wildfire), Starbolt (Sun Boy), and Titan (Colossal Boy) and some of the others are mutates rather than just having species-generic powers, as this would fit their Legion counterparts.

    I imagine it’s also tough to keep up the Legion analogue element, given the constant reboots of the Legion of Super-Heroes characters.

  20. Jenny says:

    Yeah, Electron as I recall was a mutant Shi’ar according to the old handbooks, dunno if that’s the case anymore though.

  21. Mark Coale says:

    Presumably, the Imperial Guard was started after 3 of them saved a space billionaire, not sure who the MCU analog for RJ Brande would be. Maybe it was them saving the Shiar ruler, who ever that was at the time.

  22. Uncanny X-Ben says:

    What if the Empire seeded different servitor species with specific mutant powers to have an endless stream of Super Guardians?

  23. Mike Loughlin says:

    Omar: … And then there are the non-analogous Imperial Guard members Byrne introduced because he didn’t like the Legion and didn’t want to continue the tradition, the big baby. If I worked for DC in 1980 I would have made Legion equivalents of Warstar, Manta, Earthquake, and Hussar just to spite him.

    Anyway, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Shi’ar manipulated other aliens or seeded worlds with enhanced colonists – like M’Onel/Valor did in one version of Legion continuity- in order to develop Superguardians. They’re federally into being Space Colonizers.

  24. Jon R says:

    Swiping the Erik the Red identity could just be that Davan was looking for something to use in his first appearance to fit in with the locals, did a media search for things in his favorite color, and decided he liked Erik the Red better than Scarlet Witch. Afterwards he kept the look because it fit him. It’s not like there aren’t other Shi’ar in red, including Guardian. As long as he kept being a big lunk, no one was probably going to think he was a member of the secret cabal of people who happen to like Crimson.

    The art wasn’t great, but I’m happier with the writing than I was last issue. At first the plot of the Shi’ar having a secret sin related to mutant-kind left me cold, but expanding it into a whole list of questionable things they’re keeping quiet made it work better for some reason. If they’re all around the Shi’ar generally snatching up species and using them to engineer technology, that could be interesting.

  25. YLu says:

    “Presumably it also has an ongoing dimension, since it’s hard to believe that Xandra would anticipate war over a piece of undiscovered history.”

    Cassandra does claim those first mutants are still alive and still prisoners of the Shi’Ar to this day.

    @Mike Loughlin

    Byrne deserves dunking for dozens of different things, but I don’t see how not wanting to continue another creator’s in-joke is one of them. Manta’s got an A+ design.

  26. Thom H. says:

    I have to agree that Manta looks pretty great. Also, she’s basically opposite Shadow Lass, or at least that’s how I shoehorn her into the LoSH-analog concept.

    If you squint, Earthquake could be Blok with better powers.

    Hussar is Lightning Lass with a whip and bad hair.

    I’m sure I could figure out Warstar, too, but I’m too tired.

  27. Mike Loughlin says:

    YLu: it comes down to me liking the in-joke & Byrne deliberately spoiling a thing I like. He’s done worse, and it doesn’t make the Dark Phoenix Saga less of an all-timer. I just wish he would have gone along with a fun thing I like instead of thumbing his nose at it. Manta and Warstar have good designs, though.

    Thom H.: commendable effort, but the Byrne characters don’t have the same powers as any Legionaires so they don’t work for me.

  28. YLu says:

    Warstar is Duo Damsel.

  29. Mike Loughlin says:

    YLu: “Warstar is Duo Damsel”

    Oh, I like that! That also implies there used to be a third robot that got killed along the way, either a much bigger one for C’Cil to ride around on or a tiny robot the lived on B’Nee’s head.

  30. Thom H. says:

    @YLu: Thank you! Yes.

  31. wwk5d says:

    “I have to agree that Manta looks pretty great. Also, she’s basically opposite Shadow Lass, or at least that’s how I shoehorn her into the LoSH-analog concept.”

    Funny enough, they already have a Shadow Lass equivalent (2, in fact, as the original was killed off).

    New X-men also gave us their Duo Damsel equivalent, Schism.

    This was a step-up from the first issue. Still not a fan of the art, but the story is becoming a bit more interesting. Not quite up there with Red or Immortal yet, but still better than Knights of X.

  32. Omar Karindu says:

    Thom H. said: If you squint, Earthquake could be Blok with better powers.

    This is especially funny given the theory that Blok’s original group, the League of Super-Assassins, were the subject of fan theories that they were meant as references to the “all-new, all-different” X-Men, with Blok as Colossus. The theory doesn’t hold up all that well, but…whatever.

    Mike Loughlin said: it comes down to me liking the in-joke & Byrne deliberately spoiling a thing I like. He’s done worse, and it doesn’t make the Dark Phoenix Saga less of an all-timer. I just wish he would have gone along with a fun thing I like instead of thumbing his nose at it.

    Byrne sure does like Gladiator-as-Superman, though.

    But yes, Byrne’s preferred in-jokes are usually about old science fiction TV he likes, old comic strips, or children’s entertainment. As such, we get Beanie and Cecil references via Warstar, and the Hellfire Club being based in famous actors and riffing on an infamously boundary-pushing episode of the old ITV Avengers series. Even his first issue of Uncanny X-Men had a Mutt and Jeff reference.

    And over in his Fantastic Four and Superman runs, we see him riffing on Walt Disney by way of spoofing Neal Adams’s expanding Earth theories, giving the FF’s Richards family suburban neighbors who are all classic American comic strip characters, and revamping the Toyman for the Post-Crisis era by introducing him as a British villain come to America who was tracked here by a never-named John Steed and Emma Peel.

    wwk5d said: New X-men also gave us their Duo Damsel equivalent, Schism.

    Morrison’s New X-Men curiously created a lot of new characters, some of whom duplicated earlier analogues, such as Neosaurus for Brainiac 5 and G-Type for Sun Boy. But I’ll always love it for taking the time to create a Proty analogue in the form of Stuff.

  33. Thom H. says:

    Also as codenames go, “Stuff” is undoubtedly one of the best. Makes me laugh every time.

  34. Karl_H says:

    You could say that Stuff was distracted because it had a lot of Cassandra Nova on its mind.

    Or that at the end of Morrison’s run, Cassandra really went through some Stuff.

    But really, if you aren’t Morrison, you can’t make Stuff like that up.


  35. The Other Michael says:

    And if they cloned it, they’d have Double Stuff. (Oreos that is)

  36. CitizenBane says:

    Really not enjoying this sort of faux-anime art.

  37. Omar Karindu says:

    The Other Michael said: And if they cloned it, they’d have Double Stuff. (Oreos that is)

    Then the X-Men and the Superguardians would have to work out which group has The Right Stuff.

  38. wwk5d says:

    Way off topic, but Rest in Peace, George Perez.

  39. Col_Fury says:

    I met George Perez way back in 1989 in the basement at Chicago Comicon. I was a kid and it sounds creepier than it was when I say it like that, but he was really cool and sketched a portrait of Hawkeye. He was still wearing Hawaiian shirts back then.

    Also, RIP Neal Adams. I found out about both passings the same day.

    To absent friends!

  40. Josie says:

    “He was still wearing Hawaiian shirts back then”

    He was born in a Hawaiian shirt, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they buried him in one too.

  41. Josie says:

    George Perez was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer less than six months ago, right? Pancreatic cancer works quickly, and six months is actually longer than most people get after that kind of diagnosis.

  42. Josie says:

    Chemotherapy could’ve given him a few extra months, but it would’ve been pure misery. I can’t really blame him for refusing it.

  43. neutrino says:

    Shakiri took over Cyclops’s Eric the Red identity to gain a psychological advantage against him.

    How can there be mutants two billion years ago when there wasn’t even multicellular life on earth?

  44. Karl_H says:

    “How can there be mutants two billion years ago when there wasn’t even multicellular life on earth?”

    I for one look forward to Jason Aaron’s Avengers 2 Billion BC. Can Captain America of 2 Billion BC assemble a team to thwart the Venom/Hate Monger/Controller/MODOK/Mangog Adaptoid of 2 Million BC? It’s Merry Multicellular Mayhem in the Mighty Marvel Manner!

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