Marauders #13 Review

Marauders (2019-) #13Marauders (2019-) #13 by Vita Ayala
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Ruined Ta-Nehisi Coates's Work

Well, this issue was yet another crash and burn of the Ororo (Storm)/T'Challa (Black Panther) relationship. Smh. As with their marriage, Marvel decided to create a situation to ruin the only African relationship in the Marvel Universe. Don't get me wrong, Vita Ayala wrote it wonderfully, giving Storm the ultimate reason for her betrayal of T'Challa's family and country--protection of the world. Yes, of course, the world is at stake in the new X of Swords event so Storm must play her part. Not only that, she has no time to waste, including for T'Challa to grant her permission to take a sword that was created to fit this story. Oh, and of course, the sword can only be wielded by the king and T'Challa was conveniently unavailable for Ororo when she went to Wakanda seeking their assistance.

The thing is this, there were many ways this could've played out for Storm to obtain her sword needed to participate in the competition, including giving her a sword that is connected to her past and mythos instead of Wakanda's. It DID NOT have to be a story of her burning bridges with her former in-laws and ex-husband, who Ayala wrote as clearly loving Ororo and she loving them in return. But, in the end, it wasn't really Ororo's need to protect the world that led her to steal from her ex-husband and betray his family's trust but, as she puts it to Shuri: "Your brother has ignored my calls for his help because they are not convenient for him to answer right now."

So, when it comes down to it, Ayala places the blame for Ororo's betrayal at T'Challa's feet. This is also the the same man they later writes as saying: "We could have done this together, my love. I would do anything for you." A man like that would not ignore the woman he loves in one of her greatest times of need. Sorry, that just doesn't wash. Every time writers want to begin to slide away from the relationship, they pull out the same card with T'Challa--He places everything and everyone above Ororo. Come on. Give the character some credit when it comes to this woman. Let him be there for her. Let him be her rock. Him being her hero takes nothing away from her being a "strong woman." Sheesh. But no, we get the "strong black woman don't need a black man or any man trope." This type of mishandling of characters only "works" if the goal of the comic is not simply to forward a plot Ororo will play a role but to get her from under a relationship X-writers don't seem to have any interest in writing.

Coates spent four years working to unravel the mess of how the end of these characters' marriage was handled. He had them come to terms with what went "wrong" in their marriage, slowly developed them as friends again and then as lovers. Coates elevated Ororo to a goddess, using T'Challa's and Wakanda's faith in her to unlock her godhead. He gave Ororo a family in not only the royal family but the people of Wakanda. She had come to view them as her people as much as mutants. He wrote a nuanced Ororo with an appreciation and respect for her Kenyan and Harlem roots, viewing herself as more than a mutant because . . . well, she certainly is. He had her recognize her intersectionality, which is something that, for a Black woman in comics, rarely, if ever, happens. But in this single issue, Ayala disregarded most of that rich growth and development in exchange for contrived storytelling to achieve an end goal of breaking up the two most iconic African/Black characters in Marvel's history.

In the end, Ororo proclaims: "I have been protector longer than I have been a wife. I know the sacrifices that must be made. I know who I am."

Yeah, we fans of the relationship get it, Ayala and Marvel. Thanks for the bludgeon. Ororo Munroe can't be a three-dimensional character in a one-dimensional comic. She has to choose. Woman (wife) or protector? Mutant or human? Wakandan or Krakoan? Love or duty? I guess only the likes of a Sue Richards gets to try to have all of those things and more.

It's really sad and disappointing. As an African American woman, it was nice, for once, to have a Black woman and man paired in a respectful and healthy romantic relationship. Coates reestablished that and this issue tore it down.

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