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411’s Comic Reviews: Marauders #1, The Batman’s Grave #1, More

October 24, 2019 | Posted by Jeremy Thomas
Marauders 1

Hello and welcome to 411mania’s weekly Comic Book Review! Each week we’ll be serving up a warm dish of reviews (and previews) from Marvel, DC, and anything else that captures our interest. What did you pick up this week? Let us know in the comments.Want to write a review? If you can write at least one review a week, consistently, email me at [email protected]!  

Marauders #1

Review by Jeremy Thomas
The Dawn of X relaunch of the X-Men titles has been, it’s safe to say, quite a success so far. Last week saw the arrival of X-Men #1, which began the steps into the post-House of X/Powers of X world for Marvel’s mutants. As good as that book was, it was mostly concerned with setting the status quo for a small collection of the Marvel Universe’s characters. There are still a ton of questions that have not been answered, particularly regarding how Krakoa and its guests/inhabitants will be interacting with the world at large.

Fortunately, Marauders is here to begin answering some of those questions. Gerry Duggan takes Jonathan Hickman’s ball and, alongside his sometime Deadpool collaborator Matteo Lolli, runs well past the boundaries of Krakoa. In fact, the first issue takes place almost entirely outside of the living island-cum-mutant homeland, with the few scenes on Krakoa literally taking place on its shores. Kitty Pryde learns, rather abruptly, that something is keeping her from accessing Krakoan gateways and thus she can’t teleport onto the island. This gives Emma Frost the opportunity to offer her the position that was alluded to in Powers of X #5 – someone who can travel delivering Krakoa’s pharmaceuticals to the outside world, but can also smuggle mutants who are trapped in hostile countries out and get them to their new homeland.

One of the first thing that is evident about Marauders #1 is that while it doesn’t quite have the mind-blowing worldbuilding of Hickman’s books, it does have them beat on one thing: heart. Those X-fans who may have thought Hickman’s X-Men are too cold or impersonal will have no such concerns about the team in Marauders. Duggan has always excelled at giving his characters plenty of warmth and personality, and this one has that in spades. Kate (not Kitty anymore) is a smooth continuation of where she was when we last saw here in Mark Guggenheim’s X-Men Gold, but it also feels like a fresh start for the character.

Kitty has always had a complex where she felt like she didn’t quite fit into the team. She was too young when she first arrived, too old for the New Mutants, felt constantly betrayed during the Fatal Attraction era and distanced herself to the role of teacher more recently. The only time she felt like she belonged was with Excalibur. Her isolation from Krakoa fits that to a T. However, it’s also very empowering from a narrative aspect, as it allows Duggan to give her the spotlight as the leader of this motley band of pirates.

That flies for the other characters as well. The way Kate selects her team is spectacular, and the lineup itself is intriguing, to say the least. It’s a collection of misfits, which is very core X-Men, but we’ve never seen this particular team together and its lot of fun right away. Kate and Storm’s relationship is always a delight and Bobby and Pyro play off each other well. Bishop’s role isn’t directly connected yet, but he introduces what looks to be the serial element of the plot involving some mutants disappearing from their homes in the countries that are not friendly to Krakoa.

That bit is important too because as I mentioned, Marauders is the book that takes the first steps into the greater Marvel Universe since early House of X. We learn how several nations are reacting to this new development and it’s predictably awful on those governments’ part. In her appearance here, Emma has a line about how they’re turning the traditional pirate vocation of slavery on its head to become liberators. In a lot of ways, that’s more of an X-Men mission statement than we’ve seen yet. This promises the potential for plenty of interaction with the Marvel Universe at large and I for one can’t wait until this group runs into some established superhero groups.

Duggan’s scripting and dialogue are helped along quite handily by Lolli, who does a very serviceable job here. There are sequences where he appears to be heavily channeling an amalgamation of House of X and Powers of X artists Pepe Larraz and R. B. Silva, which lends a visual cohesiveness with the other books. He’s also fantastic in handling expressions; the scene in which Kate painfully learns that she’s not able to use the gateways speaks volumes just in the art. Add in some delightful Tom Muller info pages which keep up Duggan’s lighter, somewhat more humorous tones and everything clicks here.

Make no mistake: this is an oddball team, and the lighter, more swashbuckling tone may seem a bit at odds with the more sterile and high-concept ideas that Hickman is playing with. But it works. Nothing about Marauders #1 feels like it wouldn’t exist within the same world that the Summers family and their weird moon-based family from X-Men #1 live in. X-Men fans have been taught to love the outcasts over the years, and the crew of the Hellfire Trading Company are the outcasts among the outcasts in some ways. That gives us a lot to love while serving the important role of bringing Krakoa (and its stories) to the rest of Earth-616.

Rating: 9.0 out of 10

Heartbeat #1
Preview by Steve Gustafson

BOOM! Studios is proud to reveal a first look at HEARTBEAT #1, the premiere issue of the new original five-issue series by comics creator Maria Llovet (Faithless, Loud), a dark, violent, decadent, disturbing story, in which life, death, blood, and love are inextricably intertwined, available on November 20, 2019.

Eva, a high school outcast, finds herself witness to a horrible secret: the most popular boy in school enjoys the taste of blood and will kill to get his hands on it. Horrified and intrigued, Eva lets herself be pulled into Donatien’s macabre world. He offers the escape she has been looking for…but how much is Eva willing to betray her moral code in order to find something that gives her life meaning? And will she—or Donatien—ever find redemption?

Morbid Museum #1.1
Preview by Steve Gustafson

Say hello to Barbra Macabre – the reanimated supermodel who wants to give you a Halloween to dismember!   In the tradition of Creepshow and Tales from the Crypt, Barbra invites you to tour her Morbid Museum with three tales of terror told in a rhyming style that’s like an EC Horror Comic written by Dr. Seuss!  Outright Geekery called Barbra’s debut “a successful and fun first outing” and First Comics News podcast awarded it their “Pick of the Week”!

And if you buy and read a digital copy of Morbid Museum #1.1 then send Barbra your feedback that gets printed in issue #1.2, we will send you a free copy of our San Diego Comic Con Exclusive edition of Barbra Macabre’s Morbid Museum #1.1 autographed by cover and interior artist Al Milgrom and writers Darin Henry & Dashiell Burton!!  

Bloodborne #16
Preview by Steve Gustafson

ACCLAIMED HORROR MYSTERY TEAM ALES KOT AND PIOTR KOWALSKI unearth the bloody climax of this latest story. Darkness falls and madness reigns, as the Great Ones awake at last! 

Marauders #1

Review by Andrew Dang
IG: DvngAndrew    

X-Men fans, the honeymoon is over. The very moment this new status quo is in the hands of another writer, I’m quickly reminded why I stopped reading comic books for so many years. Gerry Duggan’s first outing of the Marauders comes off as childish, goofy, and lacking any of the stylish sci-fiction that has made Hickman’s run so interesting thus far.

Your enjoyment of this comic will likely hinge on whether you accept the stark departure in tone from Hickman’s work. Personally, it feels very campy to me. Iceman, who was one of my favorite characters as a kid, comes across as annoying and his character seems trapped behind the fact that he’s gay now. Perhaps I’m not qualified but his portrayal just seems to lack any nuance. Furthermore, the last time I was reading comics, Iceman and Kitty Pryde had a bit of a potential romance, and that would have been nice to see that revisited here but I guess that never happened? Oh well, no need to get into that now.

It was at page 12 when I questioned if I had the fortitude to finish reading this issue. I really enjoyed Kitty (or Kate now) Pryde’s story arc in Joss Whedon’s Astonishing run, but here I found little of interest other than one fairly well-done action sequence. The premise has potential, but I have little faith this series will turn into something I’ll look forward to. Here’s hoping the other titles turn out better.

Rating: 3.0 out of 10

The Batman’s Grave #1

Review by John Pumpernickel 

I want to make this quick. If you need to know if you should buy The Batman’s Grave #1 I’m going to make it really simple for you. Yes. Stop reading this and go and buy this as soon as you can. 

This book is stunningly written and beautifully illustrated. Warren Ellis with Kevin Nowlan and Bryan Hitch take Batman and present a completely fresh and vital story that you don’t want to put down. This is a must-read story for any Batman fan that feels that the most forgotten aspect of the character is that he’s the World’s Greatest Detective. 

From DC’s promo: The World’s Greatest Detective must try to inhabit the mind of a murder victim to solve a case-without filling the empty grave next to those of his parents. Can Batman imagine the life of a corpse with a half-eaten face without dying himself?

Warren Ellis and Bryan Hitch, one of the most legendary creative partnerships of the modern age, reunite in this maxiseries about life, death and the questions most are too afraid to ask.

This book nails so many aspects of Batman that you wonder how a story and presentation like this hasn’t been done before. It’s a celebration of Batman and a reminder that even as long as he’s been around, there are still great stories to tell with him.

Go into this book spoiler-free as possible. The art set up is cinematic in nature and the ending will stick with you. 

Rating: 9.0 out of 10

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