Marauders teases big X-Men moments and builds anticipation for Marvel’s party of the year in an entertaining start to the Hellfire Gala crossover.

It is the formal event of the year in Marauders # 21 as the X-Men’s long-awaited Hellfire Gala, which promises big changes for Marvel’s mutants, finally begins. Teased for several months with flashes of mutant fashion and invitations to real-world celebrities, the Gala is this year’s X-Men crossover event. Within the pages of comics, it is Krakoa’s first big step on the world stage and all major players, superheroes and others, are invited. Written by Gerry Duggan and drawn by Matteo Lolli, Marauders # 21, though light in action, is an entertaining glimpse into the burgeoning mutant society filled with fascinating jokes about what will unfold in the X-Men books as they plot the events of the Hellfire Gala throughout the month of June. .

Emma Frost leads the Hellfire Trading Company to market and distribute the mutant nation of Krakoa’s innovative pharmaceuticals. At the same time, he has been funding the Marauders, a group of mutants led by Kate Pryde, who smuggle those same medicines to nations unwilling to forge links with Krakoa as a cover to smuggle out the mutants hunted back home. In recent months, Emma has been planning a massive high society celebration, the Hellfire Gala, to present Krakoa on the world stage as a united society, to forge new alliances and change the world.

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The Duggan series has been consistently enjoyed since its launch in Dawn of X. The series has followed a motley crew of mutants who travel the world on swashbuckling adventures, while also showing Emma Frost and Sebastian Shaw fighting for power over the mutant trade. All of Emma’s goals have led to this moment, her opportunity to use the power and influence she has accumulated throughout the series to set a new course for mutant society. With Krakoa, Emma sees her second chance to make amends for those she failed in the past. In his words, “One more time … for the children.”

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The Hellfire Gala, which teased it as a huge game changer for the X-Men books, finally opens its doors in this issue and while it doesn’t reveal what exactly unfolds overnight, the clues offered all the help for. generate suspense. Duggan’s greatest strength is extracting humor and drama through character interactions, and his mastery of diverse voices from across the Marvel universe makes reading the subject a pleasure. All the great names of the Avengers Dr. Doom gets together here, leading to ego crashes and playful flirting. While it is based on the meticulous worldwide construction of the X-Men line since its relaunch in House of X / Powers of X, the story is also a welcome introduction to Krakoa for new readers, just as it is for guest superheroes.

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Matteo Lolli’s art is engaging and his character’s work, in particular, brings Duggan’s funny banter and tense moments to life. This issue demands a lot from its artist and Lolli delivers, admirably composing dense crowd shots that are lively and detailed yet uncluttered. Emma is the main entry point for the celebration, and Lolli makes sure to structure her designs around her, giving readers a consistent and limited point of view. The costumes, designed through the collaboration of all the X-Men artists, shine throughout the edition and give the entire book a glamorous and elevated importance.

The large number of threads hinted at in this issue established a RashomonNighttime-style exploration offering different views of the same events. It’s an ambitious structure that takes advantage of the interconnected narratives that only exist in these superhero universes. Spinning all the X-Men titles throughout the month in one night, the moment feels genuinely important as it slowly builds anticipation. Avoiding world-ending, interdimensional bombast, Marauders # 21 is instead a crossover pitch that focuses on characters and relationships to great effect. The book’s narrative ambition and strong sense of character and purpose more than make up for the lack of superhero fights, for which there is no shortage of options. The red carpet has been rolled out for the Hellfire Gala, and you’d do well to get your ticket to the party of the year. If this first issue of the story is any indication, there is plenty of character drama and revelations to come, and Duggan has given a lot here to whet readers’ appetites.

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