RSS Feed
Nov 22

Mr & Mrs X #1-5: “Love & Marriage”

Posted on Thursday, November 22, 2018 by Paul in x-axis

That’s really the title of the book, then?  Because Rogue & Gambit was a perfectly serviceable title, and Mr & Mrs X sounds like a regional quiz show from 1982.  Maybe that’s just a British thing.

Effectively, this is the second arc of a series that began with the Rogue & Gambit mini – which re-established them as a couple – and which now continues following their impromptu wedding in X-Men Gold (which is rightly expanded on in issue #1).  It’s not a bad idea for a series, at least once you’ve got people to care about the couple again.  There haven’t been all that many superhero books based on a married couple with equal billing – on their own, rather than as part of a wider team – so the dynamic is relatively fresh.

Rogue’s struggled in the past to carry a solo series, but Gambit’s worked better in the role.  Still, at least in the early going, you don’t particularly want stories drawing on Gambit’s solo villains.  That’d undermine the equal billing.  You don’t really want them hanging around with the X-Men either, since then it’s a team book.  Solution: send them off to space on their honeymoon, and then chuck a mission at them.  That way, they get parity.  There’s a downside, of course – you get a story that neither of them has any particular connection to, going in.  But it’s still probably the better choice.

So we’re off in Shi’ar space, where our heroes join a whole bunch of other characters in chasing a macguffin in the form of an egg.  The thing inside turns out to be Xandra, the genetically engineered child of Professor X and Lilandra and technical heir to the Shi’ar throne, who’s fresh out of incubation but learns quickly thanks to the whole telepathic thing.  Since Xandra is very desirable for political reasons – and everyone else assumes she’s still in an egg – an array of Shi’ar agents and mercenaries are all out to catch her.  That means we get not only the Imperial Guard and Cerise and Deathbird, but also the Technet and, um… Deadpool…?

Okay, Deadpool doesn’t have an especially compelling plot reason to be here, beyond the mere fact that he’s a mercenary and word gets around.  But he did have a romance subplot with Rogue over in Uncanny Avengers, which is worth acknowledging in order to draw a line under it.  And even without that, he’d clearly be the single most annoying person to gatecrash anyone’s honeymoon, which means there’s a couple of issues to enjoyment to be had in watching him irritate the leads (or rather Gambit, since Rogue both knows him better, and knows how to handle him).  He also helps keep the pace up in the first half, before Rogue unceremoniously boots him out of the story as things start to get serious.  It’s a good way of using him.

Still, this is best when it’s focussing on Rogue and Gambit themselves, and the bits when they aren’t quite on the same page.  Gambit is vaguely offended that Rogue starts giving him a speech about interrupting their honeymoon to do the right thing, as if she thinks he wouldn’t bother if it was up to him.  Rogue is smuggling Gambit’s lockpicks because people aren’t as likely to check her.  When Xandra suggests she could fix Rogue’s powers, Gambit can’t initially hide his frustration that she dismisses it out of hand – though after a bit he does accept the point that these quick fixes have never lasted before, probably because they didn’t involve Rogue actually figuring out the solution for herself.

Kelly Thompson has a good handle on their relationship, and a fairly rounded take on Gambit.  In the husband role, his own loveable-rogue tendencies are downplayed, and he knows when he ought to be deferring to Rogue’s wishes – and he does – but he isn’t especially good at concealing the fact that he would have preferred something else.  He’s a little bit aggrieved that she doesn’t treat him as the grown-up he’s never entirely been, and worries with some justification that Rogue isn’t really taking him into account when improvising her own battlefield plans.  Rogue, on the other hand, seems to be on her way back to the old “can’t control her powers” schtick, which feels like extremely well-worn territory – even cranking up the problem further, as the final issue does, feels a little like an attempt to avoid the sense of repetition.  Then again, at least this time round she’s also got a perfectly functioning power-damping collar, so at least we’re not going back to “they can’t touch”, which really would have been a backwards direction.

Oscar Bazaldua’s art is good and clean, and does well with the parade of Shi’ar C-listers who show up here; the Imperial Guard and the Technet both have plenty of visual potential, which comes out well.  He does a pretty good Deadpool as well.  It’s maybe a little antiseptic at times, and his women have a slight babyface tendency, but he can sell Rogue and Gambit’s rapport in their body language, and that’s the really important thing here.

Still, while I can see why we’re out here, I’m not sure about five issues with the Shi’ar to kick off the series.  I’ve never been especially interested in the politics of the Shi’ar Empire, and Xandra herself is a bit of a well-meaning naive cipher.  The story works when it’s a backdrop for Rogue and Gambit’s relationship, but the actual A-plot of everyone chasing after Xandra isn’t all that gripping in its own right.  Nor does it have any particular resonance for either Rogue or Gambit, aside from the passing connection of Xandra potentially being able to fix Rogue’s powers.  I guess she’s also a vague echo of Professor Xavier’s successful marriage, but does that really go anywhere?

Then again, I generally do find Shi’ar stories an unwelcome detour, so it could be just me.  The Rogue/Gambit couple does work here, so there should be plenty of good story material once we get back down to Earth.

Bring on the comments

  1. Anya says:

    I like the book, but the title is odd. I think it’s supposed to reference the movie, Mr and Mrs Smith, but still, why really? The character bits are definitely the high point of the story.

  2. Brian says:

    I can sort of understand the title as part of initial swerve in soliciting the book — when everyone assumed it’d be a Kitty/Piotr title — but I agree that it’s an odd fit now. There are enough situations of false titles during solicitations changing to their real ones upon release that I don’t get why the book couldn’t have been later revealed to actually be Rogue & Gambit V2 (even using Mr. & Mrs. X as the title of the first storyline instead?).

  3. Moo says:

    Yeah, I’m not keen on the X-Men doing space opera either but personal taste aside, this was an odd choice fof opening storyline for a book where the angle is meant to be “they’re married”.

    I’d have played the married thing up more by giving the newlywed heroes a more conventional honeymoon on earth and then stir things up by having them run into a pair of newlywed villains. Or something like that.

  4. Taibak says:

    Cerise really has been oddly successful at sticking around, hasn’t she? Seems like she gets wheeled out surprisingly often for such an obscure character.

  5. Ian says:

    I enjoyed this story a lot–although I remain annoyed at Rogue’s reversion to her power incontinent model–but I wonder if this story might had not worked better if it had included the Shi’ar scavengers /scrap collectors from Mike Carey’s run in the antagonist role. They’re fun to have around, have an existing connection to Rogue and Gambit AND Professor X, and their presence in the story where she finally got control back would have given it all a nice sense of symmetry.

  6. Ian says:

    I liked this story alright, even though I’m still really annoyed at Rogue’s reversion to her “can’t control powers” state, and don’t care for her reasoning here for dismissing the offer for control. Like, disabled people aren’t expected to get a handle on their disability entirely on their own, so the idea that she needs to do so feels off. But then, that’s not Kelly Thompson’s fault; she’s making the best out of the poisoned chalice she was given.

    I do wonder, though, if it might have helped the story to include the Shi’ar scrap collectors / scavengers from Mike Carey’s run in the story. They’re fun characters with an existing connection to both Rogue and Gambit (and Professor X), and their role in the story where Rogue first got control of her powers would have added a pleasant bit of symmetry.

  7. SanityOrMadness says:

    @brian

    It was solicited as “X-CLASSIFIED” (with no details, not even a creative team). It was only officially announced as “Mr & Mrs X” at the same time it was announced it was a Rogue & Gambit book.

    I think it’s mostly a case of “we want X” in the title…

  8. Brian says:

    @SanityOrMadness: Ah, I thought it started that way, but was announced under this title before the wedding-switcheroo occurred. I might be mixing up solicitation memories and rumor memories in my head. Either way, it’s a bad name.

    @Moo: I’m reminded of Spider-Woman giving birth on a space station while fighting Skrulls. How does that match Jessica Drew’s MO?

  9. Voord 99 says:

    The title sounds like the sort of thing that sounded good in a meeting, and they went with it, and then…

    I don’t have a problem with space opera, and juxtaposing Rogue and Gambit, neither of whom are natural fits for the genre,* with it is the sort of weird superhero mashup that can work well for me. But I wonder how much more value is left in the Shi’ar, specifically, at this point. Not to say that there aren’t good stories to be done with them – you can always get something out of star-spanning dynastic intrigue soap opera -, but I tend to feel that it’s less as an X-concept than in spinning the Shi’ar off into their own thing, as in War of Kings.

    In other words, Rogue & Gambit in Spaaaace! is fine. But maybe a different part of Marvel space. Have them honeymoon on Knowhere and pal around with Cosmo or something like that.

    *Although Gambit and the Starjammers seems straightforward.

  10. Moo says:

    @voord

    My point was that, if you’re going to launch a series with a pair of married superheroes and you want to play that angle up (which Marvel plainly does, given the book’s title) shouldn’t the very *first* storyline be more specifically *about* Rogue and Gambit and the fact that they’re married?

    And what’s the plan here anyway? Rogue and Gambit just having completely random adventures but with added marriage banter? They could do so much more with this. I’m not suggesting have them move into the suburbs for domestic adventures involving wacky neighbors but it seems to me they could do a lot more with the married superheroes angle.

  11. Anya42 says:

    I think the name was revealed (or found out) a little bit before the wedding issue, like a week or so, maybe? Because I remember some people talking about if it was going to be a kitty/colossus book, but then they were also ‘suspicious’ when Kelly Thompson was listed as the writer (because she had just done the R+G mini.)

  12. Brendan says:

    I quite liked this. The unexpected setting leans into the chaotic natures of the protagonists. Deadpool was good without overwhelming the story in Deadpoolness. Count me as one of the people opposed to Rogue’s power reversion. And I’d argue this was about Rogue and Gambit’s relation. Not so much a will they/won’t they, or Gambit being a ‘scoundrel’, or “I canna turch yoo Remy!” old school Rogue. But more like they’re trying to make their marriage work, but haven’t got it all figured out yet.

  13. Anya says:

    Agreed. Despite my complaining about the name, I do like the book.

  14. Ben says:

    Yeah, like the book but I’ll be glad to head back to Earth. I can pretty much do without space X-Men. Props to Thompson for writing a good Deadpool, which is hard.

  15. Si says:

    I don’t know, the name sounds okay to me. A bit unusual, but not totally out there. It delivers the message that this is a fun book about a pair of newlyweds.

    I suspect it’s a name aimed at female readers, like a romcom kind of title. Which itself may be misguided, but there you go.

  16. Psycho Andy says:

    I rather enjoyed this story, and thought Thompson had a pretty decent handle on the characters, even if they feel a bit more like the 1990s animated versions than more recent comic interpretations.

    But, I am so personally sick of Deadpool right now, that I almost dropped the book entirely. It’s not Kelly Thompson’s fault, she did a perfectly serviceable job writing him. It’s just an effect of popular characters being overexposed. But everything picked back up once Wade was out of the picture, and I DID enjoy the other guest stars, so I can’t complain too much — maybe someone out there can’t stand Cerise?

    Either way, this remains on my pull list for the forseeable future. I hope it continues being fun.

  17. PersonofCon says:

    I won’t be reading this until it’s out on MU, but for my own curiosity–was the Gambit v Deadpool miniseries mentioned at all?

  18. PersonofCon says:

    Referenced, rather. I’m not expecting explicit footnotes from comics these days.

  19. Moo says:

    “I suspect it’s a name aimed at female readers, like a romcom kind of title.”

    I dunno. I think if Marvel were consciously trying to aim this series at female readers, they’d do something irretrievably stupid like get Greg Horn to do T&A covers or possibly a Milo Manara cover depicting Rogue with hydraulic ass cheeks.

  20. ron says:

    I’m okay with the name.

  21. Joseph S. says:

    Just a reminder, Marvel did have Milo Manara draw Rogue in the X-Women one shot. https://books.google.com/books/about/X_Women.html?id=3aE7DwAAQBAJ&printsec=frontcover&source=kp_read_button

    Anyway, I too am enjoying this series. Thomson is a good writer, good pacing and dialogue. Plus, Technet. Come on. And while I agree on the female baby face I really enjoyed the art as well. Especially that Gambit & Deadpool sequence.

    Which series did we see a Gambit – Deadpool team up again? Oh yeah, Deadpool V Gambit: The “V” is for “Vs.” They actually make a good pair, good chemistry. Better than Cable and Deadpool I think. But not enough to last beyond a 5 issue series, was nice to see them interact again, and resolve the so Rogue kissed Deadpool conversation from the Rogue and Gambit mini.

    As far as the Shi’ar are concerned, Brunajers post-Deadly Genesis arc kind of left the Shi’ar in shambles. Aaron got some mileage out of Kid Gladiator in W&tXM and the Shi’ar gods in Thor but mostly it’s been a mess since Gladiator took over. I can see using this series to set up a new status quo. Has the added bonus of a Joe Mad Rogue & Gambit call back. Marvel has been developing the Cosmic side of the line more since GotG took off so about time the Shi’ar got a reboot. And if we’re going to have too many x-books might as well have a cosmic one. Admittedly the mutant metaphor works less in space but we have so many classic x-men in space stories that it’s part of their DNA. Plus Space Pirates.

  22. wwk5d says:

    That is one soft-porntastic cover.

    I’m enjoying this series as well so far. It’s nice to see Rogue and Gambit as a functioning, angst-free couple. Plus, I don’t seem to have an aversion to “X-teams in Space” stories that others seem to have. Well, as long as it’s a good story. The X-men Blue/Venom team-up was horrible.

  23. Si says:

    Are the Shiar not wrapped up in the whole Raptor storyline going on in the Infinity and Nova books? I might have just assumed because raptor=bird=shiar.

Leave a Reply