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Ahoy Muties! Gerry Duggan on Kitty Pryde, X-Men pirate, and her Marauders
She's been a student, teacher, and leader with the likes of the X-Men, Excalibur, and the Guardians of the Galaxy. Now, in the Dawn of X, Katherine "Kitty" Pryde has stepped into a new role: pirate captain of the Marauders. Along with Storm, Iceman, and Pyro, she and her new X-team have sworn to protect and rescue endangered mutants around the world.
Post-House of X, mutants all around the world have a new home on the mutant island of Krakoa. Even though the X-Men are more powerful than ever — mutants now have use of a worldwide teleportation system via the island, can be reincarnated, and have started distributing Krakow drugs to mankind in return for recognition of their sovereignty as a nation — mutants are still feared, hunted, and imprisoned around the world. Enter the Marauders.
During Marvel Comics' recent House of X, Kitty Pryde, a mutant who can phase through almost anything, is shocked to learn she's the only one of her friends who can't use the gateways of Krakoa. Ever resourceful, she sets sail with Lockheed, bound for Krakoa. After delivering whiskey, cigars, and other essentials to Wolverine, she's contacted by Emma Frost, who offers Kitty a chance to make some money while effecting change.
Fun, exciting, and nostalgic, Marauders is "X-Men at sea" and so much more.
Writer Gerry Duggan says the idea was born when planning was being finalized for Jonathan Hickman's House of X refresh. This week, Duggan spoke to SYFY WIRE about pitching the book, where the idea for pirate captain Kate Pryde came from, and what we can expect from the would-be Red Queen as she navigates treacherous waters.
An avid comic book fan from a young age, Gerry Duggan worked in a comic shop in middle school and cut his teeth on the shop owner's original run of X-Men books. After working on a few indie projects at Image in the mid-2000s, Duggan joined Marvel in 2013 to relaunch Deadpool. Since then, he's written Hulk, Uncanny Avengers, Nova, and Guardians of the Galaxy.
Duggan says he was "electrified" after Jonathan Hickman pitched House of X to Marvel editorial on a retreat last year and wanted to help with the storytelling.
"I pitched the book and the title to Jonathan, [Marvel editor] Jordan [White], and Marvel EIC C.B. Cebulski after I thought about Jonathan's X-Men story for a while," he says. "I know I would have been heartbroken not to find a story I could tell in parallel to his. Some of my favorite ideas in Marauders, and really across the line, come from him or our editors. It's a very collaborative environment. We're a writers' room within a larger writers' room, and really our only goal is to have fun. Fun is infectious throughout the process and ends up on the page."
Even though Marauders includes much larger and serious set pieces in the world of the X-Men (including the mutant-drug trade and mutant trafficking), the book is fun and familiar in a way that calls back to the Claremont and Byrne X-Men run Duggan grew up with. Emma Frost's proposition to join the Hellfire Corporation echoes the White Queen's effort to recruit Kitty back in X-Men #129, Kitty's first appearance.
According to Duggan, he also pulled inspiration from another classic X-Men issue, Uncanny X-Men #153. In the wake of a battle with the White Queen, the X-Men are cleaning up their house in Westchester. While others are winding down the day, Kitty tells Illyana Rasputin (Magik) a fairy tale using the X-Men as characters.
"The DNA for Marauders has been around since X-Men #153," Duggan says. "This was the comic I lived and died by month in and month out as a kid. I think if I could pick one superpower to have it would be Kate's, and after years of writing gun-fu for Deadpool, it's been a delight to write some ninja stuff for her."
"I think my prep work goes back to 1987, and I wouldn't begin to know how to untangle it," he adds. "There was a version of Kate's combat scene from the first chapter rattling around in my head since she trained in Japan."
Over the course of Kitty Pryde's 40-year existence, she's bounced around the Marvel Universe, even going on extended hiatus a handful of times. While Kitty, aka Shadowcat, aka Kate, has also held several superhero roles, Duggan says, she's become something more with the Marauders.
"She's been a teacher, and a mentor before, but that's not really what she is now," Duggan says. "My favorite moment of the first issue was the huddle before the fight. Her, Storm, and Iceman breaking down the fight before it happens and then executing that plan. She's on a boat because ... it's either that or be at the mercy of a teleporter. She's doing critical work for the betterment of her people, and yet — she's left behind. It's a fertile place to have some fun."
Moving forward, Duggan already has 12 issues written and a little more planned beyond that, which is quite a feat since everything in the Dawn of X line, from New Mutants to X-Men, X-Force, Fallen Angels, and Excalibur, is, at least, tangentially connected. With Marauders #2 out this week and with #3 coming out on December 4, Duggan says he's eager for X-fans to see what the team has planned.
"There are plans upon plans upon ever bigger, more secretive plans," he says. "The reason X-fans are feral is that the plans are really damn great. It's fun to see the hooks in deep right away. The Dawn of X titles have the benefit of having been produced at roughly the same time."
As Captain Kate Pryde moves closer to working with the Hellfire Club in Issue 2 of Marauders this week, Duggan says he'll be expanding on the dynamics of the burgeoning mutant corporation. Additionally, he says the expanding cast of characters (which now includes Bishop) is something he's looking forward to having fun with, especially Storm.
"Storm's an interesting one; she has very personal reasons for beginning this journey," he says. "She has some very big stories on the horizon both in the X-world and beyond."
Duggan adds that "a bell rung in X-Force #1 reverberates in Marauders #2 this week."
"It's a little bit of extra reading work, but honestly it's inspiring to read the scripts and always a great moment when I get to type 'Hey, this is great — what if ...' in our private chat under a script," he says. "Adding to the fun is the true reward. That, and sweet, sweet money."
Spoken like a true pirate.