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Jan 7

Marauders #10 annotations

Posted on Saturday, January 7, 2023 by Paul in Annotations

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

MARAUDERS vol 2 #10
“Here Comes Yesterday, part 4”
Writer: Steve Orlando
Artist: Eleonora Carlini
Colour artist: Matt Milla
Letterer & production: Travis Lanham
Design: Tom Muller

COVER / PAGE 1: A Psylocke pin-up.

PAGES 2-4. Kate and Amass fight Stryfe.

When we left off, Amass had been captured by the Unbreathing. Kate disappeared earlier in the issue but (as pointed out in the comments last time) the implication was that Amass had used their powers to absorb her. That was also hinted at on page 22 of the previous issue, when Amass told himself to “stop talking to yourself – someone might think it’s strange”.

That implication is confirmed here, and also explains why “Amass” recognised Stryfe when he unmasked at the end of the previous issue – presumably that was Kate talking.

Stryfe’s plan here is apparently to alter history by engineering a conflict that will destroy all breathing creatures and leave him free to shape history. (He doesn’t explain how he’d be able to retain control over the Unbreathing, but he’s obviously got influence over them now, so fair enough.)

Stryfe recognises Kate, though he calls her Kitty. At this stage, it’s impossible to say where any particular story fits into Stryfe’s personal timeline, since he’s become rather like Kang – his appearances could take place in virtually any order from his point of view, and there could be all manner of divergent Stryfes wandering around on top of that.

At any rate, Amass does the heroic sacrifice thing by trying to absorb Stryfe in order to let Kate escape. Stryfe simply vanishes from the story after this point.

PAGE 5. Data page, covering the mechanics of Kate’s escape from the Unbreathing’s base. Apparently they prefer to go by Darkbuilders; it makes sense that their name for themselves wouldn’t define them by something they don’t do.

PAGE 6. Kate alerts the Marauders.

Presumably she’s contacting – or trying to contact – Psylocke or Cassandra here.

With the best will in the world, the art on this page is just unreadable. I have literally no idea what is happening in the last two panels, and I’m not exaggerating.

PAGE 7. The Marauders and Grove fight Arkea.

PAGE 8. Recap and credits. I’m not sure why Crave and Amass (but not Theia) are shown with red highlighting – maybe it’s supposed to be Crave and Fang, to signify that they’re both dead? Amass certainly doesn’t die fighting Stryfe – we see him again later in the issue.

PAGE 9-11. The Marauders fight Arkea and Sublime in the birthing sea.

We were told last issue that Arkea had infected the Thresholders’ “birthing sea”, where they spawn the next generation. Apparently for the purposes of this scene, it’s possible for Arkea to spread herself “too thin”, which begs the question of how Arkea and Sublime managed to wipe out so many mutants in the first place (as opposed to just surviving within the wider mutant population).

Bishop can use his energy absorption powers to kill things by absorbing all their energy. Fair enough, I’ll buy that as an extreme application of the way his powers are defined – especially since it turns out to be completely impractical as a method of fighting, so it makes sense that he hasn’t done it before.

PAGES 12-17. Cassandra defeats Arkea and Sublime.

She offers herself as a host body and apparently just correctly figures out that her psi-powers are powerful enough to destroy them. It’s not obvious why she didn’t do that earlier, or what’s led her to risk it and/or realise it’ll work, and it feels very “time for the plot to end now”. In issue #8 Cassandra told Amass that she knew the Marauders would ignore her warning and go back anyway, and that when they did so, “there will be no rule but my own” (whatever that’s supposed to mean). Perhaps she always had this in mind.

The puzzle box is the Seed from which the Thresholders entered the world, as explained last issue (but since it’s made of mysterium, the strong implication is that it was sent back in time at some point). At any rate, this is the same puzzle box that Kate was given at the start of Orlando’s run, but at a much earlier point in its own timeline.

I’m genuinely unclear what the characters are talking about when they mention “billions” and “trillions” – I think it’s the number of… particles of Sublime and Arkea viruses? Or something?

PAGE 18. Tempo and Theia.

We’re into the epilogue, and Theia reminds us that Amass’s plot remains unresolved. Stryfe doesn’t even get a mention and as already mentioned, there’s a nagging hint that Cassandra had a plan for when she got back here. Oh god, we’re being set up for a sequel arc, aren’t we?

“Your suits are damaged. You cannot stay.” You might be wondering why this is an issue once Arkea and Sublime have been defeated, but issue #8 did say that one of the purposes of the suits was to “protect the past from today’s germs” – and tries to explain why the Threshold Three didn’t have them, by saying that they hadn’t been in the present day long enough to pick up modern day viruses. I really don’t think you can get away with that in a world that’s just been through two years of social distancing, to be honest, but that’s the official reason.

PAGES 19-21. Kate defeats Cassandra and strands her in the past.

Kate decides to give up on the idea of altering history by saving Threshold from extinction, though in fairness she did achieve the immediate goal of saving Threshold from Arkea and Sublime. Presumably the Unbreathing pose an existential threat to Threshold mainly due to the damage done by Arkea and Sublime, since the back story suggested that the Thresholders had largely driven them into retreat until they made an ill-advised decision to finish the job.

Apparently somewhere along the line Kate formed an agreement with Grove to strand Cassandra in the past in Thresholder custody, and then Somnus used his powers to wipe it from everyone’s memory until the time came to put it into action. This is all very obscure. The dialogue suggests that Emma Frost had a hand in this plan, but at the same time, Kate was separated from the Marauders before they met Grove, so she only had a chance to make an agreement with Grove between pages 17-18, at which point why bother wiping it from people’s memories? I guess we’re meant to take it that Kate already had this as a plan when going into the past, and then regained her memories and discussed it with Grove and wiped it again but… this is all over-complicated.

“You killed my father.” Kate’s father Carmen died in the Sentinel attack on Genosha which Cassandra orchestrated in New X-Men #115 (2001), although this wasn’t revealed until X-Men Unlimited #36 (2002). It’s largely been overlooked among the many, many reasons why taking Cassandra onto the team seemed odd, but Kate is essentially telling us that she only put Cassandra on the team in order to manipulate her into a position where she could be permanently disposed of. Presumably this is also a private deal with Emma, since it’s a blatant violation of the Krakoan amnesty and the Threshold excursion makes it Wonderfully Deniable.

Emma, of course, was also a survivor of the Genoshan attack – in which most of her then students died – and naturally isn’t very keen on Cassandra either.

Grove heals from her injuries in a mostly vegetative form, and turns out at the end to be the future Okkara (which means she goes on to become the island that will eventually split into Krakoa and Arakko, all as per the back story established circa “X of Swords”). This was foreshadowed in issue #8, when Amass said that Krakoa was “almost familiar”.

PAGE 22. Data page: Kate writes a letter to her late father, celebrating the demise of Cassandra Nova and somewhat explaining the plot. I really don’t see what the misdirection “crystal box” in Kate’s own mind is adding to this story, given that it doesn’t come into the plot until moments before it ceases to matter.

Jean altered Cassandra’s morals in X-Men Red #11, in an attempt to teach her empathy; per issue #1, all it achieved was to make her a fanatical protector of mutants rather than a fanatical destroyer.

PAGES 23-24. The Thresholders are resurrected again.

Since they were returned to their home time and lived out the remainder of their lives there, they are now simply dead mutants like any other, except with back-ups on hand. Therefore, they qualify for resurrection. That leaves Tempo free to pursue her relationship with Theia – though in another weird storytelling decision, Tempo doesn’t even appear on the page where they’re actually resurrected.

PAGE 25. Trailers.

Bring on the comments

  1. Jenny says:

    Yeah, I dunno. I really like Steve Orlando’s DC work but I feel like his Marvel work feels…patchwork? Maybe he’s just not a good fit for the X-Men side of stuff stuff, I liked the Man-Thing story he did well enough, but Marauders has been all over the place and the art certainly hasn’t been helpful in that regard.

  2. Michael says:

    I’m not sure how to view Kate’s and Emma’s actions here. On the one hand, Kate’s reaction was very human. And Cassandra Nova had already killed millions- like Sinister and Selene, she may have been a useful monster but at the end of the day, she was still a monster.
    But on the other hand, this was completely hypocritical of the team. Bishop probably has a higher body count than Cassandra Nova. Daken set up his half-siblings to die. Kwannon is sleeping with Greycrow, who murdered hundreds.
    The team is asking other people to forgive the killers of their loved ones and then not following through with the advice themselves. Emma murdered a bodyguard Firestar befriended. How would Kate feel if Angelica used a time machine to trap Emma in the past? Greycrow murdered the human boyfriend of the Morlock Tommy. How would Kwannon feel if Tommy used a time machine to trap Greycrow in the past?

  3. Uncanny X-Ben says:

    This book annoys me and I’m not even reading it anymore.

  4. MasterMahan says:

    Did the pacing of some of the X-books get meddled with for Sins of Sinister or something?
    What the hell was the point of Stryfe being revealed and then vanishing in 3 pages?

    What a mess.

  5. Alexx Kay says:

    On page 6, it’s panel 4/background that I can’t really decipher. I *think* it’s meant to be a wide shot of the chase scene. But what are all the speed lines(?) near the top? Or the bubbles to the right of the middle?

    That said, I found the bottom tier reasonably clear. Panel 5: Kate’s ship banks downward, sharply. Panel 6: The ship hits the surface and is blown to flinders, but Kate ejected (or just jumped out?) into a multi-exposure shot leading into panel 7, wherein she makes a somersault and then a classic superhero 3-point landing.

    This whole arc has been full of “The plot doesn’t make any sense without a lot of thought — but if you put in just a *smidge* more thought than optimal, it makes no sense again.”

  6. David says:

    This book is a mess. Too bad because it’s got one of the funnest lineups of the Krakoan era, but it’s just not good.

    Ultimately, it’s probably best not to worry about it, but it still bothers me that Morrison’s intended story for Casandra Nova was misunderstood by the entire X-office, and every subsequent appearance of the character has followed from that mistake. If anybody has the will, the version of Cassandra who first appeared in Austen’s New X-men epilogue and Whedon’s Astonishing can still be Xorn’d, but it just rubs me the wrong way in the meantime.

  7. JD says:

    Did the pacing of some of the X-books get meddled with for Sins of Sinister or something?

    That’d be weird here, as Marauders isn’t participating. Maybe it’s gearing up for whatever “Fall of X” turns out to be, but that’s still a while away.

    Marauders has taken Excalibur‘s slot as “book where I can see the ambition but ends up borderline unreadable”, which is a shame, as it was one of the most fun (if slight) books of the line under Duggan.

  8. MasterMahan says:

    So two billion years ago Kate Pryde saved Okkara’s civilization, and now she’s the only mutant who can’t use Krakoa’s gates. Is Krakoa holding a grudge over something that hasn’t happened yet? Did Nova implant some sort of petty revenge? Or are we just supposed to forget that weird little subplot?

  9. Jenny says:

    I could see the big double page spread working if you had someone like J.H. Williams or Jae Lee on art duties, but as is, I struggled to read what was going on in it.

  10. The Other Michael says:

    The idea that the twin islands evolved from one prehistoric mutant (who may or may not have been a time traveler from the far future depending on what the real origin of the Threshold civilization is) is just… wild.

    I mean, doesn’t this mean that Krakoa and Arakko should recognize Kate and the other Marauders on some level, as having interacted with them during their trip?

    Also… if modern day Krakoa evolved from this, and Sublime managed to persist over all those years, are we going to see Cassandra Nova–a billion years older, meaner, and weirder, pop up in modern time, having escaped her imprisonment? Because I doubt she’s totally written out, not with an open-ended “solution” like that.

    I feel like this time travel storyline just creates more problems than it solves.

  11. Andy Walsh says:

    It’s a small point, but for a point of reference from the real world, trillions would be the number of bacterial cells that each and every adult human has in/on their bodies at all times. So that’s a plausible number for the number of Arkea and Sublime cells involved in the battle and killed by Cassandra. Presumably they don’t have to completely replace the microbiome of a person to control someone.

    At the same time, under optimal conditions a single E. coli cell could replicate into a trillion cells in ~14 hours, so it’s hard to believe Sublime and Arkea have suffered anything more than a minor setback.

  12. Jon R says:

    I dropped the book after the first arc. Is there any reasoning given for the mix of “strand Cassandra in the past to get rid of her” and “immediately resurrect other people from that time because you can assume they’re all dead by now”?

  13. Jon R says:

    For that matter, was there any mention about the Waiting Room not being set to go back that far, since Wanda didn’t expect it would need to?

  14. Chris V says:

    As far as Cassandra Nova: first, she’s not actually a mutant, she’s a Mummudrai; so there’s a question if Cerebro would have recorded Nova’s mind. Secondly, there’s also the question of if she can die. Nothing in the comics has given the impression that it’s possible to kill Nova, so it is believable that Cassandra Nova could survive a billion years.

  15. Jon R says:

    Oh yes, I forgot the part where she’s not actually a mutant. Carry on, nothing to see here!

  16. YLu says:

    Re: page 6
    To be fair, some of the confusion seems to be due to misplaced word balloons. I’m pretty sure in panel 4 the balloons are meant to trail from the vehicle at the farthest right of the image. It’s being chased by the other two vehicles (just black smudges in the background), which are firing at it.

    Then in panel 5 she phases her ship and drives it straight into the ground to escape her pursuers.

    In panels 6-7, I *think* she’s piloting the vehicle back towards the surface but unphases it at the last second, leaving it to explode in the solid matter of the ground, while she herself, still phased, is propelled by the momentum all the way to the surface, where she lands in a superhero pose. Which isn’t clear at all, but to be fair doesn’t sound like the sort of thing it’d be easy to depict in even the best circumstances.

  17. Maxwell's Hammer says:

    Which isn’t clear at all, but to be fair doesn’t sound like the sort of thing it’d be easy to depict in even the best circumstances.

    What this needed was some good old fashioned Claremontian narration. In 1984, Kitty would have been helpfully describing each action in sequence right up to the end…

    “And a three-point landing, for the win! Shouldn’t get too cocky, though. This caper is far from over!”

  18. Evilgus says:

    “this is all over-complicated.”
    Exactly. I gave up after the first couple of issues when the concept and muddled art didn’t mesh. It’s very Excalibur-ish.

    Exactly! 🙂 Another good reason to bring back captions.

    I get data pages are trendy, but to me they just lump what would have been expository information in one blank page, rather than positioned thoughtfully throughout the story. Captions enhance and clarify the narrative!

    I did appreciate the call back to Kate’s father’s death. But it’s not been referenced by her for a while. And it’s a human death, on an island of mutants. Another character could pick her up on this. That would be a more interesting beat.

  19. Jenny says:

    Some important context I’ve been informed about: apparently, the whole Threshold thing was an idea Hickman came up with but didn’t get around to developing, and Orlando was given it to use.

  20. neutrino says:

    So Cassandra Nova gives Sublime and Arkea their status in Morrison’s X-Men off panel?

    Hickman already had an ancient mutant civilization in Okkaro, so I don’t think he’d duplicate himself.

  21. neutrino says:

    The Waiting Room is supposed to scan across all time. Cassandra Nova has a mutant gene (Xavier’s) from in the womb, so she counts as a mutant.

  22. Krzysiek Ceran says:

    If the Treshold civilization evolves (as it were) into the Okkara civilization then Hickman wouldn’t be duplicating himself, just providing additional context for something he already established.

    And he does do a lot of recontextualizating in his work.

    Also, with the mysterium puzzlebox still indicating a time loop, it would turn into a neat (narratively speaking) ‘the Krakoan miracle is what made Krakoa possible’.

    Time loops in superhero comics. They’re always neat. Just ask Longshot and Shatterstar.

  23. MasterMahan says:

    I believe Orlando pointed out on Twitter Hickman’s run calls Apocalypse’s civilization the “second generation” of mutants. Which isn’t what a generation actually is, but that’s the textual support.

    As for why Sublime and Arkea became so much less apocalyptic, who knows? Maybe whatever Nova did permanently nerfed them. Maybe those Threshold idiots recreated them weaker and unable to infect mutants.

  24. MasterMahan says:

    Like @Alexx Kay said, this works if you think about the exact right amount.

  25. MasterMahan says:

    Only works if you think about it the exact right amount. Damn it.

  26. Karl_H says:

    There are some neat ideas and plot beats in here — I liked Kitty’s revenge moment with Cassandra at the end despite it being inconsistent with the treatment of other evil mutants (and possibly *because* it is).

    Ironically the plot works best when it’s under less scrutiny, but the art demands an exhaustive amount of scrutiny. A perfect storm of random splashes of color and backgrounds filled with lines. “And then! Oh, the lines! Oh, the lines! lines! lines! lines! There’s one thing I hate! All the LINES! LINES! LINES! LINES!”

  27. neutrino says:

    Hickman meant previous mutants like Selene and the other Externals were the first generation. It’s clear the Threshold isn’t going to survive the Oxygen Catastrophe. As I said, Sublime not being able to infect mutants was a big part of his arc in Morrison’s run. You’d expect it to be addressed more than an offhand remark in a data page.

  28. wwk5d says:

    I gave up on this series a few issues into the reboot…and from this post I see I haven’t been missing much.

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