The X-Men have no enemies like them. The Marauders – the most brutal mutant villains ever to stalk the Earth!
The Marauders were introduced in the classic Mutant Massacre plotline, but it wasn’t until Uncanny X-Men #350 that we finally saw their origin – one further fleshed out in the more recent X-Men Origins: Gambit.
We now know that Remy Lebeau’s powers were flaring out of control, and an accidental burst of kinetic energy during a duel led to his being banished from New Orleans. The Cajun charmer and master thief found his way to a man who promised to fix his broken powers.
As payment for his assistance, Sinister had Gambit gather a motley crew – a group of brutal killers, who he named the Marauders.
Gambit really didn’t know what he’d gotten into. The Marauders were Sinister’s kill-crew, assembled to commit an atrocity that would make X-Men history. In the Mutant Massacre plotline, this terrible group of killers slaughtered their way through the sewer-dwelling Morlocks, and soon clashed directly with the X-Men, X-Factor, Power Pack, and even Thor!
The Marauders are composed of some of the most brutal, hardened killers the X-Men have ever encountered.
- Sabretooth, introduced as a villain in an issue of Iron Fist, made the transition over to the X-Men books as part of this arc. The character needs no introduction, but his presence surely indicates the scale of the Mutant Massacre storyline!
- Malice, who Sinister once claimed he viewed as his second-in-command, is a bodyless psychic being that rejoices in possessing others. In more recent comics, she’s cropped up as a digital being who possessed Omega Sentinel.
- Arclight, a super-strong mutant who generates shockwaves.
- Blockbuster, a physical powerhouse who withstood punches from Thor (although he still fell to the might of Mjolnir).
- Harpoon, who uses bio-energy to charge his projectiles to lethal effect.
- Prism, a crystalline being who can deflect and reflect most forms of energy.
- Riptide, a man who spins around in a terrifying vortex, launching shuriken from his body at tremendous speed.
- Scalphunter, a “technomorph” who can form technology out of himself – including any weapon.
- Scrambler, a mutant whose power is to disrupt biological systems – including mutant genes and powers.
- Vertigo, whose power enables her to leave others reeling.
In the depths of the Morlock tunnels, these Marauders confronted the X-Men to lethal effect. Angel was left pinned to a wall, ultimately losing his wings; Kitty Pryde was trapped in a phased state for some time; Colossus was briefly crippled; Nightcrawler was left in a bad way; and even Wolverine was almost killed, his healing factor disrupted by Scrambler!
For their part, the X-Men were forced to go to greater lengths than they had ever done before. Even Colossus was forced to kill.
Terrifyingly, though, for all the X-Men battled relentlessly against the Marauders, they would just keep coming back. Years later, we learned the secret; Sinister had taken genetic samples, and could clone the Marauders at will. For Sinister, his front-line recruits are brutal, lethal, and easily replaced. He has also imprinted a sense of loyalty within them, ensuring they remain under his control.
In the build-up to Messiah Complex, Sinister forged an alliance with the Acolytes, and even succeeded in getting Gambit to work alongside him. But that didn’t work out well for him; Sinister’s body was killed by Mystique, his consciousness saved by his insane science.
Now here’s the twist: although Sinister is back, some of his labs have been left exposed. Magneto – who was running the school during the Mutant Massacre, and who exposed Gambit’s role in Uncanny X-Men #350 – has uncovered one of these labs. In his series, Magneto has enjoyed getting bloody revenge upon the Marauders; and then he’s reprogrammed them, using Sinister’s own conditioning. The Marauders are now his own front-line troops against those he deems to be a threat to the mutant race!
It’s an amazing turn of events, and one that I consider so very fitting. As we build towards Axis, Magneto – who we know plays a major role in events, and goes up against the Red Skull at least once – has an army of his own.
And I wonder – now, years later, we know that Sinister had the Marauders slaughter the Morlocks because he recognised that his science had created them (see an earlier blog on the Dark Beast for more info). How will he react to Magneto stealing his Marauders?