Welcome to X-Men: Bland Design, the weekly column that answers the question: "What if Ed Piskor had no art skills, a juvenile sense of humor, and less classic material to work with?" This week there are
six five X-Books on the stands, which will cost you a total of $25 $21 to buy and, thanks to modern decompression techniques, take roughly ten minutes to read (if you read slowly). If that seems like a waste of time and money, you can keep your money by reading our recaps for free. We make no promises about the use of your time, however.
X-Books on sale this week include Rogue and Gambit #2, Spider-Man vs. Deadpool #27 (why is there a Spider-Man/Deadpool comic?), Iceman #10, X-Men Gold #21, and X-Men Red #1.
Additionally, Venom #161 crosses over with X-Men Blue for the Poison X event, so we'll be covering that as well. Strap in! We're starting with Rogue and Gambit!
Rogue and Gambit #2
Writer: Kelly Thompson
Artist: Pere Perez
Colorist: Frank D'Armata
Letterer: Joe Caramagna
Cover: Kris Anka
Here's what you need to know about Rogue and Gambit so far. The on-again-off-again lovers have been sent to an island retreat providing counseling for couples to investigate reports of missing mutants. Gambit is very interested in rekindling the romance with Rogue, but Rogue is reluctant. Rogue can't touch people without stealing their memories again. At the retreat, they encounter some mutants who are too happy, and so must be being mind-controlled. The issue ends with Rogue and Gambit strapped down to operating tables.
Rogue and Gambit #2, the second of a five-part mini-series, picks up a little after that cliffhanger. Rogue and Gambit are in the office of Dr. Grand, presumably the doctor in charge, who they met last issue. Grand apologizes for the "lab tests," and wants to get started with the couples therapy. How do you explain decades of romantic history between these two in a short therapy session? Like this:
The doc is a little overwhelmed by this, so asks them to start at the beginning. The problem is, Rogue and Gambit can't agree on what that beginning is. Rogue tells a story of meeting Remy during the Muir Island Saga, which occurred back in Uncanny X-Men #278-280 and X-Factor #69-70, at the tail end of the Claremont era, right before Uncanny X-Men was split into two books. We get a flashback from Rogue's memory, mostly sarcastically mocking the skimpy torn-up outfit Rogue was wearing in the issue. Funny stuff. In the course of their flashback conversation, we learn that Gambit remembers an intimate encounter with Rogue from the night prior, which Rogue mostly doesn't remember because she was under the thrall of the Shadow King. They both were, technically.
When the flashback ends, Rogue and Gambit are crawling through the ventilation system for some reason, trying to break into the lab from issue #1. There's a suspicious level of security around the lab for a wellness retreat. While Gambit is picking the lock on the air grate, the pair talk about how they feel a little better after the therapy session earlier. Is that the effect of the therapy, or something more sinister? They get to talking about their first meeting again, giving us an opportunity for Gambit to tell his side of the story in another flashback.
Now we learn about Rogue and Gambit's meeting the night before the first flashback. Rogue, under the control of the Shadow King, wants to fight Gambit. Gambit, thinking Rogue is hot, wants to fight her too. One thing leads to another, and…
What Gambit said during their first flashback was correct. Rogue was able to kiss him without activating her powers, apparently due to the abilities of the Shadow King. As you can see. Ahem. We should give them some privacy.
Back in the present, Rogue and Gambit make their way into the lab. Gambit admits he knows why Rogue doesn't like that memory — she was being mind-controlled, and had no consent — while for Gambit, it was love at first sight. That's a problematic beginning to their relationship, for sure. Rogue notes that Gambit's libido is so strong, he was able to break free of the Shadow King's mind control to remember making out with Rogue. Gambit says it's his love for her, not his libido.
They seem to be making some progress in repairing their relationship when suddenly, the door opens and a group of mutants, presumably under mind control themselves, attack. A battle ensues, and Rogue and Gambit are knocked through a wall by a fireball-throwing mutant, where they discover tables covered with unconscious, naked bodies hooked up to tubes. Back in Dr. Grand's office, Grand and her accomplice, a cloaked woman named Lavish, who may or may not be an existing X-character (there are too many to keep track), are watching them on video feeds and know exactly who they are. The issue ends there.
Rogue and Gambit are fan-favorite characters who, for us personally, have been sullied in recent years by bad storylines and the fact that Rogue has been hanging out with The Avengers, all of whom are assholes and it tends to rub off on characters who associate with them. So far, this mini-series, with just the right amount of nostalgia combined with a modern take on their relationships, is working wonders for restoring their image. We'd read this as an ongoing (or a core X-book with this creative team) in a second.