As Uncanny Avengers #14 came to a head, it looks as though it might just be curtains for everybody’s favourite Southern Belle. But how has she fared as a member of the Uncanny Avengers?
When Rick Remender put Rogue in an Avengers team, he was tapping into a rich history. Rogue was introduced as a member of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, and she fought the Avengers many times.
There’s always been particularly bad blood between Rogue and Ms Marvel, after Rogue put Carol in a long-lasting coma and semi-permanently absorbed some of her abilities. You have to understand that, back at this time, the X-Men were far from legitimate – they were the outsiders, the untrusted ones. It’s telling that, during the ‘Secret Wars’ epic, the Marvel Universe initially divided into three groups – the good, the bad, and the X-Men.
Over the years, though, things had changed. Rogue became a front-line X-Man at a time when the X-Men were going mainstream, gaining some degree of control over her powers, and finally burying the hatchet with Ms Marvel. In fact, she became a noted mentor to the next generation of X-Men, particularly Hope – with whom she shared a certain bond.
Rogue had grown up – and how. The ‘90s flirtation with Gambit had come to an end, and she’d even begun a somewhat startling relationship with Magneto – irrespective of the age difference between them. At first under the careful and loving attention of Mike Carey, and then under Christos Gage, Rogue had become a stalwart supporter of Xavier’s Dream and an important figure in shaping the X-Men’s future.
And then came Rick Remender. Leaving all those years of development aside, Remender used grief at Xavier’s death to regress Rogue to a hostile, brutal figure. From the outset, her role in Uncanny Avengers was to act as the flashpoint – the spark that lit the bitter flames between the Avengers and the mutants in the Unity Team. The particular target of her ire was Wanda, who she blamed for everything that had happened.
Now, fans may or may not agree with someone holding Wanda to account; after all, the Scarlet Witch’s impact on the mutant race can hardly be said to be pleasant. And yet, the oddity of it all – that, because of Rogue’s relationship with Magneto, Wanda is actually Rogue’s family – seemed to escape Remender.
What made matters worse was the final arc Gage had written in X-Men: Legacy. Although hardly the most inspired piece of writing, it featured Rogue learning a lesson – and hoping to apply it back on Earth.
Sadly, Remender essentially forgot all of this, and regressed the Southern Belle dramatically. Sometimes it was funny, but always it was very, very deliberate.
We did get a glimpse of classic Rogue over the last few months – in Brian Wood’s superb X-Men series. This is Rogue how I choose to remember her – sassy, enthusiastic, and supremely capable.
We all know that death isn’t forever in comic books. But sometimes, just sometimes, a death can be so badly handled in terms of character development that it makes you wince. To me, this was Uncanny Avengers #14. And, sadly, while I think Wanda will be back very soon, I think Rogue is gone for a while at least.