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The Invitation

My X-Men #81 Rant

After what we've seen Joe Kelly do with the X-Men -- Maggott and Marrow especially -- I was really looking forward to his take on the Rogue/Remy reunion.

I was sorely disappointed.

Let me make this clear right now that while I'm not anti-Remy & Rogue, I'm not necessarily for them, either. What I'm against is any kind of work, be it fanfic or canon, that because they are a couple lumps them together and treats them as objects, doing neither of them justice. What I am for is quality work that treats Rogue -- and whoever her love interest is -- as separate individuals with personalities and pasts of their own who are allowed to grow even as they are within the relationship.

That isn't happening in X-Men #81.

Frankly, while reading the book, I felt as if I had been sucked into the seventh level of fanfic hell, so to speak. This is not meant to offend any fan-fic writers or fans, by the way. I love fan-fic -- hell, I archive tons of it and write some of my own -- but some of the dialogue here seemed to have been culled from some of the worst of the sappy Rogue/Remy fics out there.

The dialogue was choppy and didn't always fit, and some scenes, while individually may have been cute (i.e. Rogue and Gambit's first meeting at the dock, where Gambit nearly blows his own hand off), just don't work within the framework of the story -- and with the characters themselves as they should be right now.

The characterization especially seemed really off to me in this issue, with the exception of that of Wolverine (I did enjoy the exchange with Kitty about past loves).

Storm's relationship with Gambit is sidestepped even more in this issue than in Uncanny X-Men #361. Here, her only comment regarding Gambit is "I can only wonder how Rogue must be feeling." In this case, forget about how Rogue is feeling -- how is Storm feeling about this? Ororo has known Gambit longer (and maybe better) than any of the X-Men; why is it that their close friendship is now reduced to mere acquaintance?

And Rogue and Gambit seemed completely out of character here in regard to each other. What should have been some serious antagonism was reduced to mere "loves me/loves me not" kind of tripe. These people are not teenagers acting on their first crushes. They're adults, and they have more than a little history together.

Rogue left Gambit to die in Antarctica. End of story.

Regardless of what was going on in her mind, regardless of how many times she went back later to look for him, she left him to die, and after what he's likely gone through in the past nine months (it was late December/early January when he left, and this book says it's September now), Remy must be not a little resentful of that fact.

Everything seems to have been written off as "Gambit made her do it," and it's really weak. Gambit's little speech about it seemed especially so:

Rogue, when you kissed me at de Trial...absorbed my absorbed my self-hate along with it. You left me because I wanted to be left...'cause I wanted to die. But the truth is...once I came face to face wit' it...I didn't want to go. I couldn't...because I couldn't bear the thought of dyin' wit'out seein' you again.

Sorry. I don't buy it. Not after what he's been through.

From "I love you -- unconditionally!" to "You ain't got no home, sugah" and beyond -- Remy has had time to think through and rationalize what happened, but understanding it doesn't erase the hope he felt at being rescued, then the sudden knot in his gut at being left behind, doesn't erase the memory of the long trek through Antarctica, doesn't erase the deals he had to make to survive and escape. Events and reasons can certainly be rationalized, but not to the extent that has happened here, with him playing puppy-faced charmer to the same woman who left him to die, regardless of the reasons.

Here, Gambit's attitude is markedly different from the one he displayed in UXM 361. There, he was bitter and, to some degree, cold toward the people he thought no longer cared about him. He said he'd always had thieving if all else failed, and all else had. A return to those who left him doesn't remove those sentiments; rather, I'd think being back would intensify them -- as evidenced by his living in the boathouse, if not his attitude toward Wolverine and Rogue.

And Rogue! One minute she's looking at him with her eyebrow raised, the next she's alternately talking to him and running away from him. And then she's gushing about how his is the only voice she wants to hear.


I'm sick and tired of Rogue (and Gambit) being objectified when they're together in a book. Rogue is upset. Gambit chases after Rogue. Rogue is getting her butt handed to her by a lameass villain -- to the point where Remy has to be the knight in shining armor. When they're played like this, it does neither of them justice.

By the way, two comments on the damsel in distress bit --
Rogue's invulnerability. The time was that Rogue would be hit by a knife and the knife would bend (i.e. UXM 173) rather than cause her any damage.
2: With training from Wolverine and the X-Men, as well as whatever she picked up from Carol, Rogue should be a fairly expert fighter, compared to the woman who hears voices in her head.
3: Power-ups and power-downs -- Ain't they just so conveenient?

Rogue's own behavior toward Remy through this was as unrealistic as his. She felt angry and betrayed when she first learned of his secret, and that, combined with the self-loathing he was feeling at the time she kissed him at the Trial, led to her abandoning him, they say. Yes, the intensity of the feelings most likely faded as his influence did (although it goes against everything previously established about her powers to say that she could use Gambit's powers and feel his influence even after he had regained consciousness), but going back later doesn't make up for the fact that she left him there.

She's already said that she can't forgive herself for not having been strong enough to fight his influence (and she did say before the trial that she loved him unconditionally). Add to that the likelihood that there probably is some leftover anger and resentment about his not coming clean to her earlier (which, IMHO, would have saved everyone a WHOLE lot of trouble). Throw in a pinch of how she used to feel about him (both before the Kiss in XM #41 and when he rescued her from the Phalanx in UXM #343. And don't forget to add a dash of memory of their interlude (whatever your interpretation of it) between UXM #348 and 349. Rogue's got angst and plenty of it, so why is she playing hard-to-get, second-guessing even the gift of a white rose ("White lilies are for death -- that go for roses, too?" Sorry gal -- I think white roses actually mean purity), and telling him he has no right to make judgements of her?

Well, at least she's fully clothed. In her last big emotional confrontation with Gambit (XM 45), there wasn't much left to the imagination as she tore her way through Seattle. (And, yes, I know there was a Big Emotional Scene (TM) or two in UXM 350, but that issue wasn't all about Rogue and Gambit. XM 45 was.)

This story would have worked much better if it was tightened up and sent through a couple rewrites (although the published copy reads itself like a forced rewrite -- Kelly's dialogue has never been so awkward). Keep the team interludes. Toss the villain -- she was completely unnecessary. This story was touted as being the Rogue/Remy reunion, for better or worse, and it should have been just the two of them, trying to work out their issues maturely over a cup of coffee (or sitting on a roof, whatever the case may be) rather than spitting out their gripes in frustration as they fought against the Villian of the Month (TM). Their worst enemies are themselves -- play that up rather than throw in a lame baddie they can defeat in mere minutes. If only fighting their own inner demons was so easy.

But then again, judging from this book, I guess it is that easy. But it shouldn't be. <sigh>


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