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Jun 8

Marauders #3 annotations

Posted on Wednesday, June 8, 2022 by Paul in Annotations

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

MARAUDERS vol 2 #3
“Extinction Agenda, part 3”
Writer: Steve Orlando
Artist: Elonora Carlini
Colourist: Matt Milla
Letterer: Ariana Maher
Design: Tom Muller
Editor: Jordan D White

COVER / PAGE 1: The Marauders, surrounded by Shi’ar soldiers.

PAGE 2. Delphos and Erik the Red discuss the plot.

The light show that they’re watching is presumably their teammates’ ongoing battle with Cassandra Nova, which we’ll join on page 4.

Issue #2 ended with the Marauders floating in space and Xandra wavering about what to do, while Delphos and Erik stood behind her. As we see later, Xandra gave orders for the Marauders to be brought aboard. It’s a little odd, then, that Delphos continues to say that Xandra is “cowed”, but it seems to be true as a generality.

“Infinity’s End.” This seems to be an upcoming event, also referenced by Mephisto in Avengers #55.

Cal’syee is Deathbird’s real name.

PAGE 3. Deathbird fights the Brood.

When we saw her briefly last issue, she was fighting some kind of elephant people; it seems she’s having to fight a series of villains.

“An echo of our hollow-boned past.” Deathbird is supposed to be an evolutionary throwback to an earlier form of Shi’ar, hence the functioning wings. We’re told later on that this evolution wasn’t entirely natural, and that the Kin Crimson had a hand in it.

PAGE 4. Cassandra fights Betel and Pr!z.

The attack on Cassandra by a Kin Crimson assassin isn’t something we saw on the page last time round, but evidently took place during the brief period when she seized control of the Shi’ar Empire while impersonating Professor X, in New X-Men vol 1 #122-126. Cassandra says that she learned from her assassin about the ten “shames” which the Kin Crimson suppress; however, we were told last issue that not all of this information is known even to the Kin Crimson themselves, so she may be exaggerating when she says she “know[s] it all”.

PAGE 5. Recap and credits.

PAGE 6. The Shi’ar take the Marauders aboard.

“The beast” is Cassandra; the Shi’ar have been calling her that throughout the arc.

PAGES 6-9. Cassandra kills Betel and Pr!z.

Betel is a Hodinn, as established in the previous issue, which means he’s one of a race of “sentient stars” (whatever that means). That’s presumably why he collapses under his own weight without the benefit of a containment suit.

The Wet Skin was mentioned but not explained last issue; apparently, it involves the Kin Crimson exploiting a “symbiote” to weaponise their own blood. The symbiote itself apparently gets lobotomised to stop it exercising any control over the end result. While it’s not stated outright, a “symbiote” in Marvel normally means the Klyntar from Venom. This particular symbiote was apparently a mutant; we’ve had occasional mutant aliens before (such as Warlock).

PAGE 10. The Marauders make plans.

“Sprite’s Pirate Club.” Cassandra also called Kate “Sprite” in issue #1. It’s her original rookie codename.

I really don’t understand what Aurora is doing here. Are we saying that her super speed powers allow her to think at superhuman speed? Because that feels like it should have come up before, and isn’t the point of Somnus’s dreamscape already that time is passing more slowly for the Marauders than it does in the outside world?

PAGES 11-13. The Marauders break free.

Note that Gladiator’s position is closer to “not now”, and while Bishop tries to talk with him, the rest of the team just keep on fighting.

Lupak. That’s the race of the Imperial Guardsman called Fang – the Wolverine-like one.

PAGES 14-16. Cassandra confronts Gladiator.

Cassandra is being very tendentious in claiming that she didn’t kill the two Kin Crimson members. She caused their own bodies to kill them.

PAGE 17. Xandra gives the Marauders an audience.

Delphos has the puzzle box – we saw it in the opening scene.

PAGE 18. Data page – the opening entry in the Kin Crimson’s Chronicle, apparently a book bound in the flesh of one of their members. This is, effectively, the secret history of the Shi’ar. Sharraka doesn’t seem to have been mentioned before.

The Xorrians. An obscure alien race from Thor #215, claimed to be the genetic origins of all humanoid races. The Kin Crimson seem to be suggesting that they actually helped races become humanoid.

The Acanti are the “space whales” once used as enslaved starships by the Brood, from Uncanny #156 and subsequent issues.

PAGES 19-20. Xandra rejects Delphos.

Last issue Xandra was minded to follow Delphos’s advice to avoid a war, but for whatever reason her attitude has changed. Perhaps she’s growing more sceptical of how far she can rely on anything Delphos is telling her. We established earlier in the issue that at least some of the rank and file Shi’ar soldiers are a bit sceptical about the Kin Crimson and see them as a bunch of fanatics, so it’s not hugely surprising that nobody else sides with Delphos. One gets the impression that Gladiator’s instinctive sympathy for the Kin Crimson has worn thin rather quickly as well on actually meeting them.

PAGES 21. The Marauders head for the Krag.

The Krag is a Shi’ar prison which previously appeared in Excalibur vol 1 #69-70. Those issues are not on Unlimited because they’re fill-ins and therefore a very low priority for collection. In the original story, Cerise is imprisoned in the Krag, and Rachel and Kylun break her out. It’s described as a “pan-dimensional prison” and depicted as a bit of a wasteland.

PAGE 22. Data page on the Krag. It alludes to the “pan-dimensional prison” stuff, and suggests that the technology was stolen from “a crude pan-dimensional probe”, which feels like a subplot.

The Fraternity of Raptors, bless ’em, are Darkhawk villains with a somewhat similar backstory as a hidden order of Shi’ar zealots. The Kin Crimson see them as idiot rivals. The name “Talon-A” is probably intended as a reference to the name “Talon-R” used by Robbie Rider (Nova’s younger brother) when he was a Raptor. However, “Talon-R” was the name that Robbie insisted upon using instead of “Talon Rider”, so it didn’t seem to be a historic Raptor thing.

PAGES 23-24. The guards kill Xandra.

I mean, Cassandra sees this coming, so surely everyone else does and it’s a psychic illusion, right?

PAGE 25. Trailers.





Bring on the comments

  1. GN says:

    Infinity’s End (or the God Quarry as Lemire introduced it) is actually a place – the supermassive black hole at the centre of the Earth-616 universe.

    In Jason Aaron’s Avengers run, he introduced the idea that the Multiversal Avengers have built a base there – Avengers Tower. Mephisto (currently at war with the Avengers) wants to destroy that tower so he plans to attack Infinity’s End, hence the reference in Avengers 55.

    For the purposes of this issue though, I think the Kin Crimson just wanted to toss the Marauder into the black hole.

  2. Jenny says:

    The symbiotie is a preexisting character; he was forcibly bonded to Raza of the Starjammers in Mike Carey’s stuff, I believe. The Black Bug Room is also a preexisting thing, it was seen in E for Extinction as a psychic attack on Scott.

    Cassandra continues to be the highlight of the series

  3. Si says:

    I thought the Black Bug Room was something unique to Cyclops’ messed-up brain, like a subconscious memory castle for his more negative, self-loathing thoughts or something.

    As so often is the case, it’s hard to know exactly what Grant Morrison was on about. I don’t know if he’d have been familiar with the song Black Bugs by Regurgitator, but it fits the theme.

  4. GN says:

    In New X-Men 116, the bugs tell Cyclops that ‘Everyone has their own black bug room. This is yours, Scott.’ So Orlando is still playing by the rules.

    It must be some kind of psychic condition that telepaths can enforce on their victims.

  5. Si says:

    Yeah, but that *might* be just saying “everybody has a bit of darkness.” It’s like if a comic showed the two wolves that live in every person and Jean Grey has to give one of them a can of psychic dog food.

    It might also be a literal room with giant, rotund black beetles that can talk, or symbolism for the uum as described in “Waynker’s Book Of Arcane Symbolism” that Grant Morrison happens to own.

    That’s what I mean, I wasn’t being rhetorical, I was wondering what the room actually is, or was originally.

  6. Chris V says:

    I’m pretty sure that the Black Bug Room was supposed to be a metaphor for depression, and was unlike the White Hot Room.

  7. Krzysiek Ceran says:

    I’m pretty sure Orlando isn’t the first one to use it after Morrison, though I can’t remember where it popped up.

    Cassandra being a monster remains a highlight of this series so far. But how far the Marauders are willing to tolerate it might soon become its breaking point.

  8. Si says:

    I think Whedon used the Black Bug Room, and it was Cyclops again.

  9. Mike Loughlin says:

    My impression of the Black Bug Room was that it was, as Chris V said above, being trapped in depression. I don’t remember how Cyclops escaped (haven’t read those issues in a few years), but I thought the BBR was designed to be inescapable unless Cassandra let the person out.

    This issue clicked for me. I think the action was better balanced with dialogue, with the Cassandra Nova scenes being the obvious highlight. I actually liked Xandra here, especially when she asserted herself against Delphos. Tempo’s power was used in an interesting way, and her being wiped out afterward explains why she didn’t just solve the plot in 3 panels.

    As noted above, the use of Aurora was confusing. I think Carlini’s art was better here than in previous issues, but the Aurora scenes could have used more clarity.

  10. Nu-D says:

    The BBR is a visual representation of the psychic traps we build for ourselves. We all have ways that our thoughts and emotions trap us into certain behaviors and reactions. For some it’s depression, for others it’s OCD, for many it doesn’t rise to a pathology but it nonetheless exists. We develop skills and techniques to cope with our traps, to greater or lesser effect.

    Cassandra just used her psychic powers to override Scott’s coping mechanisms and lock him inside.

  11. Jenny says:

    Correction: Zzxz was created by Christopher Yost and Dustin Weaver as part of the War of Kings stuff; he was one of the Shi’ar’s Praetorians. Apparently his mutation was that he “feeds on its host’s brains rather than adrenaline” according to the Marvel wiki.

    Also, more obviously, Nova’s confrontation with Gladiator is a callback to when she made him wet himself during her attack on Xavier’s in New X-Men 126.

  12. Jenny says:

    (Don’t ask me how “Eating brains” is a mutation when Venom does it all the time)

  13. Thomas says:

    My past experience with Orlando has been dependent on how well the artist interprets his ideas. Midnighter was great, JLofA was not as good. In the build-up to this relaunch, I recall a lot of praise for the art; it just isn’t doing what it needs to do.

  14. MWayne says:

    I agree that the art isn’t doing what it needs to do, but I was less bothered by it this issue. I’m liking the characterization of Cassandra, as well as the snappy dialogue overall.

  15. Kidinfinity says:

    Cassandra being a monster is entertaining as hell. But I am unfortunately still stuck on “Where did she come from?” and “How the hell did she get on the team?”
    Perhaps I need to reread the first issue (does the text explicitly say that she has been resurrected and had her murderous impulses adjusted by the Five, or am I misremembering/making that up?)
    Has she ever appeared in an X-book since Morrison’s incredible run???

  16. Devin says:

    I think she was in the X-Men Red series that focused on Jean! I didn’t read it so I don’t know what happened with her there, though.

  17. Jenny says:

    She also appeared maybe as an illusion maybe as a real person in Joss Whedon’s stuff. It’s been over a decade since I’ve read any of it and I have no real inclination to go back, so I can’t say for sure. It is rather infamously because Whedon didn’t get that Morrison meant for Ernst to be Nova stuck in the body of the Superguardian Stuff.

  18. neutrino says:

    In X-Men Red, Jean supposedly gave Nova empathy, but it seems to have made her sadistic.

  19. neutrino says:

    Aurora and Northstar can increase their bodies’ molecular speed, but they don’t think faster. Byrne made it clear they didn’t have superhuman reflexes.

  20. Evilgus says:

    I didn’t like the “well-spoken ninja” comment to Psylocke. Had the author forgotten that Psylocke is no longer an upper crust English lady with the same accent? Seemed a bit dissonant especially given how they recently rehabilitated Kwannon and Betsy as interesting and distinct.

  21. Nu-D says:

    I didn’t like the “well-spoken ninja” comment to Psylocke.

    I haven’t read the issue, but it sounds like it also contains some subtle echoes of racism. Japanese speakers can’t be well spoken? You’re “well spoken” only if you sound like an English aristocrat?

    It sounds a lot like Biden’s 2008 gaffe calling Obama “clean and articulate.” Well, yeah, most politicians are—you only noted it about Obama because it surprised you from a Black man.

    Similarly, it’s only notable that the Japanese woman in a bikini is “well spoken” because you don’t expect it from her demographic group.

    I’m sure it’s just innocent poorly thought out writing, but it makes me cringe.

  22. wwk5d says:

    ““Waynker’s Book Of Arcane Symbolism” that Grant Morrison happens to own.”

    Waynker’s or Wanker’s? 😉

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