Welcome, dear readers, to X-Men: Bland Design, the weekly multi-part recap column that strives to answer the question: “What if Ed Piskor had no art skills, a juvenile sense of humor, and less classic material to work with?”
It’s been a rough decade or so for X-Men fans. As part of Ike Perlmutter‘s feud with Fox over the Fantastic Four movie rights, Marvel’s greatest franchise has suffered many an indignity. Cyclops turned into a villain by writers and editors with a Wolverine fetish. The worst crossover of all time, Avengers vs. X-Men. A serious attempt to replace mutants with the Inhumans, thankfully killed by the god-awful Inhumans TV show. Greg Land. But that’s all over now (except for Land). With a Marvel/Fox deal on the horizon, the Fantastic Four can return, but more importantly, Marvel can give a crap about the X-Men again!
Each week, we aim to recap what happened in all of the X-books, make a few jokes, and struggle to survive the experience as we reckon our love for our favorite characters with what can often feel like a “quantity-over-quality” approach to comic booking.
Last week, we didn’t have time to recap the X-books due to all the C2E2 news we had to cover, which means we’ve got to catch up. To do that, we’ve got to read and recap 13 — yes, 13 — X-books in one weekend. Is that even possible? We’re about to find out!
ROGUE & GAMBIT #4 (OF 5)
KELLY THOMPSON (W)
PERE PEREZ (A)
Cover by KRIS ANKA
It’s ROGUE versus GAMBIT in a BATTLE ROYALE the likes of which you’ve never seen before!
But when saving the day means letting go of everything you just fell in love with all over again, can Rogue and Gambit do what must be done?!
Making out! Memory loss! Power swapping! Witty banter! Emotional manipulation! Monologuing Big Bads! Doppelganger Golem Clones! You want it? We got it!
32 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99
In this mini-series, the titular Rogue and Gambit have taken a trip to a tropical resort wellness clinic to investigate mutant disappearances and also work on their messed-up relationship. There, they discovered a bunch of clones of themselves, part of a mysterious plot by the even more mysterious villain Lavish.
The issue opens up with Rogue and Gambit captured and strapped down to operating tables. Rogue distracts Lavish with witty banter while Gambit picks the locks on his shackles. Lavish says she’s going to drain all of their powers for herself. She tries, but Gambit busts free and then blows her face up with his powers.
Lavish instructs her henchwoman, Dr. Grand, to get her a mutant with healing powers she can steal. Grand does, and Lavish absorbs not only his powers, but his life force and body too. It does the trick and heals her face. Rogue and Gambit try to escape, but Lavish sends her army of historically costumed Rogue and Gambit clones to stop them.
As the battle begins, Gambit smashes a Rogue clone’s face open, and we’re treated to one of this book’s signature ’90s flashbacks, this time to the wedding of Jean Grey and Scott Summers. Gambit has just won the garter toss, of course, which is good, because Rogue had already caught the bouquet. Rogue is totally falling for Gambit’s roguish charm by this point. Unfortunately, they can’t have too much fun because of Rogue’s powers.
Back in the present, Gambit is crying. Rogue smashes a Gambit clone’s head open as the real Gambit warns her not to. Rogue is immediately thrown into another flashback. Are we sensing a pattern here? The previous flashback featured caption boxes from Rogue’s perspective, but this one is Gambit’s. Rogue and Gambit are in the Danger Room at the X-Mansion, fighting Danger Room simulations of the Avengers, which include Rogue, so this one is more recent. A caption box, in fact, tells us to “see Gambit (2012) #17. Seriously? That book ran for 17 issues?
In the Flashback, Gambit loves Rogue, but he’s hurt that she blocked his attempt to join the Avengers by telling them he couldn’t be trusted. If Rogue doesn’t trust him, what good is their love?
Back in the present, now Rogue is crying. Apparently, killing clones lets them see a memory from the other’s perspective. They also apparently absorb powers from it. What’s been going on at the resort is starting to come together: as mutants talk about their problems in therapy, their memories and powers are absorbed and used to make these clones, it seems.
Our heroes grab Doctor Grand and slip into a room to escape the clones, but she’s out cold and can’t help them. It’s a perfect time to talk about feelings — and also come up with a plan. They realize they should kill all the clones, and only their own clones, so they get all their powers and memories back, but Rogue isn’t sure they should take back that baggage that’s been dragging them down. Gambit agrees that with their baggage gone, things have been great between them. They vow to make things work after they’ve gotten their powers and memories back, and they share a kiss.
Now these two lovebirds are ready to murder a bunch of clones… but not until next issue, because we hit a “to be continued” here. Is there really only one more issue of this book left? Sad. :(