Description: The desert ghost-town that was once the X-Men’s HQ has been reborn as a city of the damned with only one inhabitant: Rogue. But as Professor X and Gambit struggle to reach her, they discover that sometimes one is a very large number.
X-Men Legacy 221 is a look back at several key moments in Rogue’s personal backstory as framed by the simulations of sentient intelligence and technological "mutant," Danger. The opening scene finds a bewildered Remy and Charles in an illusory Valle Soleada, a place that Remy explains to Charles as:
Me and Rogue - we used to live here, a long time back.
He’s alluding to a storyline that started in X-Treme X-Men 31, where he and Rogue took a sabbatical from the line of duty after both were grievously wounded and lost their mutant powers. The two moved into the mutant-friendly community of Valle Soleada, determined to give having a "normal" relationship a try. The fact that he refers to this time as "a long time back" may be intended to show how far from that happier time he considers them to have be now (X-Treme X-Men 31 was originally published in 2003). This trip down memory lane is interrupted by the seemingly random arrival of Nimrod, a highly-advanced super-sentinel from the future. The reasons for his presence are initially confusing since Rogue originally battled and defeated him in Australia.
X-Men Legacy 221
Fans nostalgic for Rogue’s earliest incarnation will love one particular illustration here, reproduced from Uncanny X-Men 194, where a simulated Rogue has simultaneously absorbed the abilities of her unconscious teammates, Shadowcat, Nightcrawler, and Colossus, leaving her a metallic, blue furball. Perhaps in a nod to the original, in this simulation she’s sprouted a tail, something she was previously thankful not to have absorbed from her foster brother:
Chyort! Here goes another costume! I should count my blessings. At least I have not sprouted a tail.
As violently as the battle between a phantom Rogue and phantom Nimrod plays itself out before Remy and Charles, it fades away before its completion, leaving the two men free to continue seeking the real Rogue.
Meanwhile, Rogue is reliving a storyline wherein she’s being hunted by the X-Men (reference needed). I really enjoy the way that Carey writes Rogue’s dialog. At one point, the absorbed persona of Mystique shows up to implore Rogue to give over temporary control so she can protect them from her simulated pursuers. Before she can even speak, Rogue interjects:
Oh Lord! Could this - keep until - another time? Mah dance card is full right now, Mystique.
While dance cards originated in 18th century Europe, it’s not too far-fetched to think of them being used at antebellum balls, and the phrase seemed to fit very well with Rogue’s Southern background.
In what will probably be the favorite scene of the issue for many fans, Gambit and Xavier find themselves in a simulation of Genosha, infiltrating the prison where a powerless Rogue was beaten and mishandled by her captors (Uncanny X-Men 236). In an especially moving scene, Gambit comes upon a disheveled and injured Rogue. It’s only at Xavier’s insistence that what they are seeing isn’t real that he’s convinced to move on:
X-Men Legacy 221
Meanwhile, having escaped from the X-Men, Rogue finds herself confronted with a far more brutal group of foes: the Marauders. She demonstrates a great deal of self reliance and courage, managing to disable Scrambler, Blockbuster, and Prism before being overwhelmed by Vertigo, Sabretooth, and Scalphunter. The issue ends in a cliffhanger where readers are lead to question whether an unyielding Rogue has been shot by Scalphunter.
While each Rogue-centric story - her battle against Nimrod, her flight from the X-Men, her unfortunate incarceration on Genosha, and an encounter with the Marauders - is necessarily brief and resultantly shallow, it’s still an enjoyable pageant. The historical treatment that pervades the Legacy books is applied well here, and Carey highlights a couple of memorable episodes in her life without having to fall back on the commonly chosen Carol Danvers stories. I also found Scott Eaton’s more traditional pencils to be the perfect complement to scenes which span multiple decades. Overall, this was a really great issue for fans, especially those who recall the original stories that are referenced, and it will be interesting to see how the "BOOM" effect at the end of the issue is resolved next month.
Originally created in 1998 and re-established in early 2009, Sugah & Spice is a blog devoted to Marvel characters, Rogue and Gambit of the X-Men.
Disclaimer: Rogue, Gambit, the X-Men and related entities are © Marvel Entertainment.