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.
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
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
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.
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 mind...you 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
1: 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
3: Power-ups and power-downs -- Ain't they just so
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
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.)
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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