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Subj: Rogue & Gambit #2
Posted: Fri Feb 16, 2018 at 12:22:32 pm EST (Viewed 242 times)
Two days ago I finally got my hands on a copy of Rogue & Gambit #2.
p.1: Synopsis page.
p. 2-4: Rogue and Gambit undergoing "couples therapy", they reference a whole lot of events from their tumultuous past. Interesting how Gambit is shown to use Rogue's involvement with other men at times when she and Remy had broken up as points against her (OTOH the scenes of Gambit carrying on with other women that Rogue brings up AFAIK happened at times when he said he was committed to Rogue). Apparently he thinks Rogue owes it to him to stay celibate when she's not with him. Gambit even brings up the chaste, innocent kiss on the forehead Joseph gave to Rogue after building a machine that enabled her to touch whomever she wanted as something to blame her for.
p. 5: Dr. Grand asks them about when they first met. Rogue and Remy disagree about what their first meeting was as it happened during and after the fight against the Shadow King on Muir Island. Now canonically (but discounting R&G #2) Rogue and Gambit were shown in the same panel for the first time in the Muir Island Saga epilogue (X-Factor #70, group shot of everybody on the final page). The first time they were shown standing side by side was in X-Men vol. 2 #1 (Danger Room session), and the first time they were shown talking to each other and flirting was in X-Men #3, when they were Magneto's prisoners and had been given a mind-altering DNA modification by Moira MacTaggert. So why the retcon?
p. 5-6: Flashback. What Rogue considers her first meeting with Gambit occurs off-panel during X-Factor #70. Rogue is in a torn costume following her fights in UXM #280, and Gambit offers her his trenchcoat. Rogue says she is looking for Mystique. This does not smoothly fit in X-Factor #70, where Rogue is first seen sitting by the sea in a new suit and reacts with hostility when Mystique seeks her out (not the other way around).
p. 7: Gambit starts talking about how "the earth, it moved" for them the preceding night, something Rogue can't remember because it happened while she was under the Shadow King's control. It emerges that while under that control she could touch Gambit without absorbing his powers and memories. Since "the earth moved" - thanks "For Whom the Bell Tolls" - is one of the most well-known euphemisms for an orgasm (usually, as in the context of Hemingway's novel: a female orgasm) it is not surprising that Rogue is shocked and asks Gambit if he meant they had had sex.
p. 8: Gambit backpedals and says "nothing unseemly" happened. However, he reacts to Rogue's relief with the words: "I'll try not to be offended." Offended that she is relieved that she did not have sex while under a villain's control? Really???
At that time Gambit was still a more unsavoury character than he later became, and also a womanizer. What reason is there to assume that he seriously would use the words "the earth, it moved" to describe a mere kiss? Is he telling the truth? After all, even much later, after he had taken some strides towards developing a conscience, we saw Gambit using emotional pressure and deceit to get into Rogue's pants (the infamous "sex in chains" sequence in UXM #348-349) and by that point destroying any reason to trust him on anything. Also, it does not help that, although he clearly remembers more of what happened than she does, Gambit indicates that his memories are incomplete too (p. 7, panel 2).
At the end of the scene Rogue rushes off to consult Professor Xavier, obviously on the possibility of controlling her power. (In the comics of the time - not just X-Factor #70, but also during Rogue's subsequent appearances in X-Men vol. 2 etc. - no such consultation occurs on-panel.) Gambit shows how he thinks the world revolves around him by commenting to Dr. Grand that this just one more occasion where she ran away from him.
p. 9-10: Rogue and Gambit in the present, after the "therapy session", sneaking around on Paraiso Island and talking. Rogue is angry at him for revealing what happened before the flashback to Dr. Grand, to which Remy disingenuously replies "You wan' me to lie, chère?"
p. 11-13: Another flashback shows what happened before the first. This one is set off-panel before Rogue's first appearance in UXM #279. There's a bit of a mistake on p. 12 when Rogue says she doesn't understand what Gambit is saying in French (as if "vous êtes une créature magnifique" was that hard to guess). As a matter of fact, Rogue speaks French fluently, and this goes back to her childhood in the Mississippi bayou country (vide X-Men/Alpha Flight #1). Flashbacks by convention generally tend to be truthful (exceptions proving the rule), so it would be nice if we now saw that "nothing unseemly" happened to add weight to Gambit's claim.
p. 14: No such luck. The scene cuts away after the kiss, and cuts like that are often visual shorthand for "off-panel sex follows", so we don't know if Gambit is telling or even knows the full truth. Actually, the second flashback does not do anything to change what was already apparent enough from the first one. Had Gambit not gone into details, as Rogue wanted, it seems unlikely it would have made any difference to the session with Dr. Grand.
p.15: Back in the present. Gambit says he treasures this memory because for him it was love at first sight even for her it was just more mind control. He apparently does not realize the full implications of what he is saying (something like this: "I don't care if your being mind-controlled by a super villain or your own woman, I'm primarily interested in your body anyway.") Furthermore, Gambit says that his new-found love for Rogue enabled him to overcome the Shadow King's control, meaning that in the flashback he was his own master while Rogue was one of the Shadow King's thralls.
In a thread on the Avengers Board we just talked about on how creepy it was when in What If? #114 Captain America married Rogue while she was under the control of the persona she had absorbed from Carol Danvers. This is comparable; the situation is not even all that removed from reality, it is the psi-powered equivalent of a man coming across a woman who was put under hypnosis or drugged by someone else, knowingly takes advantage of her predicament (kissing, maybe more) and after she regains her faculties is all surprised that she doesn't find it exciting or romantic when he tells her about it. And yet the scene is written as if Rogue was being unreasonable and had to apologize for how she felt about that "first meeting". Is Kelly Thompson intent on reverting Rogue to her 1990s persona when she was mostly defined by her role as Gambit's meek and clingy girlfriend? I sure hope not.
When you go back to the final parts of the Muir Island Saga that happen after the retconned-in second flashback, i.e. UXM #279 (last five pages), X-Factor #69 and UXM #280, you'll see that Gambit is under the Shadow King's control throughout. Considering that Rogue was only freed from his control after becoming separated from Gambit (shot by Forge with a scrambler gun in #279), it does seem very likely that the two only parted ways after Amahl Farouk had once again made Gambit his puppet, and there's no telling what might have happened without Gambit being able to remember it afterwards. As Rogue said on page 5: "when the Shadow King is involved, all bets are off."
Let's look at continuity. If Gambit was as smitten with Rogue as he is shown in the two flashbacks in R&G #2, why did he give her such a wide berth afterwards? In X-Factor #70, when he gets the news that Charles Xavier is well again, he passes it on not to Rogue but to Polaris (Rogue gets the news a few intermediaries on). And why does he spend so much time in X-Men vol. 2 #1 making pretty eyes at, sweet-talking to and finally kissing Jean Grey (only to discover that she had been replaced by an exploding Danger Room 'bot) instead of talking to Rogue? Why does the "poolside X-Men" centrespread poster that goes with the D and E variant of X-Men #1 show Gambit embracing Jean Grey and Stevie Hunter from behind and not interacting with Rogue?
p. 16-20: Obligatory fight scene, nothing to see here, please move along.
p. 21: Ominous posturing by Dr. Grand and a hooded woman. The end, to be continued.
General observation No. 1: R&G #2 makes it two issues running of completely ignoring Rogue's relationship to the Human Torch in Uncanny Avengers and after. Rather striking as this issue came out the same week as Avengers #679, where Rogue looks utterly devastated when she receives bad news of what happened to Johnny...
General observation No. 2: Some post-2000 storylines made me more amenable to Rogue/Gambit as a romantic pairing, but so far this limited series is reminding me of why I considered that relationship so unhealthy and (sometimes more than) borderline abusive in the 1990s.
General observation No. 3: During the first flashback Gambit jokingly suggests that mind control might be good. I'm beginning to wonder if Kelly Thompson meant that seriously.