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Apr 25

Mr & Mrs X #7-10: “Gambit & Rogue Forever”

Posted on Thursday, April 25, 2019 by Paul in x-axis

While most of the X-books are quite literally off in their own little world (and boy, that’s going to be a lot of storylines all finishing at once in a couple of months…), we still have secondary titles continuing as usual.  So here are four issues of Rogue and Gambit in the Mojoverse.

Mojo’s not an obvious choice of villain for these two.  Yes, he’s an X-Men bad guy, but he doesn’t have any more specific link to these two, and like Arcade, he’s the sort of wacky novelty villain who can wear thin rather quickly.  So it’s probably for the best that writer Kelly Thompson only devotes an issue and a half to traditional Mojo hijinks before moving on to something with a bit more substance.

Still, he’s an overbearing presence, and this continues the book’s approach of dragging Rogue and Gambit into alien environments.  It does keep them apart from the other X-Men, but it also makes their role in their own book rather reactive.  This one also keeps them apart from each other for half the story, and while they’re certainly given equal prominence in terms of page count, it’s more a Rogue story, since it follows through on the question of why she’s struggling to control her powers.  Gambit gets to display his commitment plenty, but the bottom line is that his role is largely to chase a macguffin and provide some action while Rogue is looking inward.

Mojo is back in the Mojoverse again, but X-Men: Black – Mojo hasn’t been forgotten: his brief attempted dalliance with a human girl has left him convinced that his audience wants love stories.  He settles on Rogue and Gambit, since not only are they familiar to him, but they rank highly on social media.  (Also, Spiral puts the idea into his head.)  So in the usual way, Mojo sets about trying to do Rogue and Gambit in assorted genres, all of which fall apart rather rapidly, since not only does the plot keep getting derailed by macguffin-chasing, but Rogue’s powers always end up going out of control in the end.  I’m not quite clear how all that’s meant to work, given that it seems to all be taking place in their minds, but okay, we can hand wave that one through.

Even allowing for the built-in Mojo-ness of it all, this part of the story feels unfocussed.  Partly, it’s hard to get that worked up about a mission which we all know isn’t “real”.  But the genre pastiches are limp.  At best they’re generic; the longest one, which is ostensibly a parody of Moonlighting but doesn’t bear much resemblance to it (or to noir, which Mojo claims he’s going for), feels more like a regular X-Men story after the first page or so.  I have my doubts about how well the art sells the genre shifts, too; Oscar Bazaldua is a pretty good costume designer, and not at all bad as an action artist, but spartan on background and atmosphere, and colourist Frank D’Armata seems to be doing a lot of the heavy lifting in making the scenes visually distinctive.

While Gambit is chasing the plot along, part 3 tries to establish why Rogue has always had trouble with controlling her powers, in a series of flashbacks to key moments and relationships from her life.  Most of these are the standards, though we also get her brief body-sharing with Simon Williams from Uncanny Avengers.  And then we get a scene about the time she was assaulted by prison guards in Genosha when her powers weren’t working, which isn’t quite such a standard reference point.  I’m not entirely sure about the way that reference plays out.  The basic idea here of the issue seems to be that Rogue has always been, in various ways, afraid of other people getting close to her, and so she subconsciously won’t control her powers to provide an excuse for keeping other people away.  As a take on Rogue, that works fairly well; it’s an inversion of the traditional tragic angle for her powers, and it plays nicely with Gambit’s role in the series as her husband.  How well the flashbacks actually illustrate that point is more debatable.

The Genosha scene comes from Uncanny X-Men #236, which came out in 1988  and doesn’t exactly get mentioned very often.  The original story, broadly speaking, indicates that the guards groped Rogue and that she found the experience so traumatising that she wound up having to let the Carol Danvers persona take over.  It’s played mainly as a convenient plot device to let “Carol Danvers” appear for a few issues, and it’s the sort of thing you might well see as worth revisiting from a modern perspective.  But it wasn’t any sort of turning point in terms of Rogue and her powers – what actually happened was that Carol stayed in control for the rest of the story, and then the next arc was the Inferno crossover – and I’m not convinced that it works in the “key to her psyche” role that the story tries to give it.

It’s a weird one, this.  The threads don’t seem to come together – once the story moves past Mojo’s gimmickry, it kind of forgets he’s there until it needs him as someone to beat in the finale.  And Spiral’s arc likewise feels disconnected from anything the leads are up to, except on the plot mechanic level.  There are interesting ideas scattered here and there, but it’s like a bunch of mostly-formed stories going on in parallel.  Good in parts, but unsatisfying as a whole.

Bring on the comments

  1. Nu-D. says:

    I think you’re underselling the significance of the sexual assault in Rogue’s story. It came up several times in the stories following it. At one point Rogue has a tantrum because she thinks the X-Men prefer Danvers, and Ororo notes that the assault may have traumatized her and caused her to regress. I think, as with much of what C.C. was doing, it was a character arc that never fully developed because it took to long and he got distracted. But it wasn’t totally abandoned.

  2. Walter Lawson says:

    Yeah, the trauma in Genosha leads to Ms Marvel’s persona coming to the fore periodically until Rogue goes through the Siege Perilous in UXM 247. When she re-emerges in UXM 269, she and Ms Marvel are split, which ends with the Ms Marvel personality killed off. The Genosha assault actually is very important in Rogue’s history—second to the Ms Marvel absorption itself at that point.

  3. Moo says:

    Right, didn’t that lead into that stupid part of her history where Rogue’s powers weren’t working and she was actually annoyed by this but was happy when they started working again?

  4. Ian says:

    This is one of those stories I’d enjoy a lot more if it didn’t carry baggage from past stories. Granted, it’s not Thompson’s fault that “Salvage”–the Mike Carey story where Rogue first gains total control of her powers, briefly referenced here–exists, or that it was undone, but still, they happened, which means I have absolutely no confidence Rogue’s control will stick this time around–especially given Marvel’s current approach to the X-Men. This story would have needed to be significantly better than the previous one in order to feel worthwhile, but that’s not really the case; it’s fine, at best. Disappointing, given how much I welcome any attempts to move Rogue away from her “ah can’t touch anyone” default.

  5. Michael says:

    Exactly. It would be nice if Rogue gained control of her powers and the change stuck, but that uncontrolled aspect is so much a part of her character that she’ll always end up resetting to default as soon as some writer decides he liked the classic Rogue better.

    Just like no matter what, she’ll end up defaulting back to a super-strength/flight power set as well, because that was so essential to the character for decades. Everytime you try change it up–take the powers away, give her someone else’s–she’ll hit reset.

    Comics, everyone.

    But I do give Kelly Thompson lots of credit for trying to address Rogue’s length history and try to make it all work in a sensible fashion, even if was basically a headspace/fix yourself therapy session kind of story.

  6. Brendan says:

    Count me among those who prefer Rogue without control of her powers. Her lack of control is as intrinsic to the character as the powers themselves. Rogue having complete mastery is too fairytale a solution. At best, her control should be unreliable.

    However, I’m less of a fan of the stock ‘strength/flight’ supplementary powers she gets stuck with. I quite like the idea of her having a rotating ‘secondary’ set of powers. A powerset outside her wheel house, like Mr Fantastic’s for example.

  7. Voord 99 says:

    All this classic Rogue talk reminds me of a question that perhaps someone can answer for me.

    When Carol Danvers first had her own book at the end of the ‘70s, probably the single most important power for the character, in the sense of being stressed in the writing as a distinctive feature, was her “seventh sense.” Fantastically poorly defined even by comic-book standards, but it came up a *lot*. When Rogue acquired Carol’s original powers, was this one ever addressed in any way?

    Not that it would be a problem if it were simply quietly erased. It definitely had a sexist tinge: “women’s intuition” as a superpower.

  8. Moo says:


    Yeah, it was addressed in Uncanny X-Men 192. Earlier in the issue, Nightcrawler asks Rogue straight up if she acquired Carol’s seventh sense. She says she doesn’t think so. But then later in the issue when she’s fighting Warlock’s dad, she anticipates his attack and her inner monologue reads: “Maybe Nighty was right about a seventh sense. I kinda knew where, when and how Magus was gonna make his move. It’s not a conscious thing. It’s more like instinct. I react automatically and fast as lightning. Wherever you are blessed little talent, don’t fail me now.”

  9. Moo says:

    ^Two things about that:

    1. That wasn’t from memory. I found the citation on Rogue’s wiki page and then referred to my copy of that issue.

    2. I think the X-Men should call Kurt “Nighty” more.

  10. Voord 99 says:

    That’s an elegant bit of self-No-Prizing from Mr. Claremont. We can suppose that whenever Rogue succeeded at anything, there was a component of seventh sense to that — and it never needs to be mentioned ever again.

  11. Chris V says:

    Wasn’t Carol Danvers’ “seventh sense” something genetic to her Kree lineage?
    For some reason, I am remembering that.

    I guess that doesn’t matter, as Rogue can absorb a mutant’s powers, which are genetic.
    I just took it that Rogue wouldn’t really absorb that part of Miss Marvel due to Rogue not having the Kree genetics.

    So, maybe Rogue was just over-thinking things in that battle, and she never acquired the “seventh sense” power.
    Hence, why it was never referenced again.

  12. Voord 99 says:

    Well, but all of Carol Danvers’s powers in her original solo series were related to becoming a “sort of” Kree due to the Psyche-Magnitron. (Sort of – at the very beginning, her ability to fly was part of her costume, but that was eventually retconned to have been a temporary thing while her powers were developing.) None of her powers were mutant powers. So if that were a problem, Rogue shouldn’t have been able to copy her strength, either.

  13. Thom H. says:

    Which begs the question: does Rogue absorb normal people’s regular abilities when she touches them? Like, could she swim really well if she zapped an Olympic-level swimmer?

    If her power isn’t tied to genetics, then I’d say that’s fair game. Maybe it’s been answered in the comics, but I’ve never seen it.

  14. YLu says:

    The seventh sense came up again in Uncanny #350 or thereabouts. Rogue senses it warning her about something, and she even comments about how it hasn’t activated in ages but now it’s blaring at her. IIRC, it was alerting her to the nearby presence of Magneto’s base or something?

    And, of course, many a fan who grew up on the 90s cartoon are probably at least aware of it. It never appeared in-story, but the first season displayed file card-type profiles of all the characters during the credits, and Rogue’s lists the seventh sense among her powers. (Presumably because whoever wrote those got the info off the Official Handbook?)

  15. Voord 99 says:

    That must have made cartoon Cyclops feel bad. I assume his card had one line on it that read “Optic blasts.”

    While Rogue’s card read:

    This thing where if she touches someone she acquires all their powers and also their memories and it weakens them and can also make them unconscious and in fact she can put people into a coma if she touches them for long enough.”

  16. Moo says:

    My card:

    – lethargy
    – diminished life force (resulting from marriage)
    – can recall trivial info, none of which has ever been, nor will ever be asked on Jeopardy! and thus is of no use
    – unpredictable bladder
    – expert channel surfer
    – fluent in a language

  17. LiamKav says:

    To be fair, Cyclops also had:

    – geometry skills
    – lots of pouches for storing small packets of mayonaise
    – a car that could change in to a convertible (once)
    – the ability to stop anyone from having a good time from across a room.

  18. Anya says:

    To b fair, he could put lots of things in those paunches besides mayonnaise. Ketchup, salsa, chapstick, keys, they’re very versatile…

    On this issue, I did like it better than carey’s version, simply because she got to do it herself this time. Before danger set up everything, she didn’t know what was happening, Xavier figured out what was going on and Xavier ‘fixed’ her powers.

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