Rogue. The Journey to Power, Compassion, and Wisdom
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There are some villains who seem so innately suited to heroism that even company writers, not just fans, long so much to see them fill such a role that the characters soon ARE filling the role people desire. Magneto is far the first, though even Dr.Doom has stepped up to the plate as need has historically required, but perhaps the most inevitable case is that of the young woman many now call Anna Marie, better known as Rogue of X-Men fame.
I've seen relatively few threads about her for some reason, despite the fact that she is revealed as a favorite, if not the favorite, of perhaps a third of all the comic fans I personally know.
I plan to begin correcting that today, for there are few characters whose arc I've enjoyed more over the years, and the sheer versatility of Rogue's original power set has allowed writers an excuse to "tour" the Marvel Universe while telling an eclectic "Coming of Age" story. So, without further ado ...
Rogue made her first appearance as an unknown but remarkably powerful young woman running ambush missions for Mystique. Even before we get our first glimpse of her, she has effectively taken down Carol Danvers, better known then as the redoubtable Ms. Marvel. Summarily she takes down Captain America with ease. She then targets The Mighty Thor, catching him at a vulnerable moment:
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Source Avengers Annual #10
Pausing here because the above was and is a "time capsule" moment for a lot of people, Marvel Comics staff included. A villain with the power of Thor?
What would that mean?
Well, the original story gives a partial answer, even as the heroes desperately move to distract Rogue from what the likely answer right there would have been.
It must have been an unsatisfactory answer to some, for Marvel would more fully explore the question more than a decade later:
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Source: What if ...? #66 v2
Story: "What If Rogue Possessed the Power of Thor"
I text this in 2018 amazed at how much the world has changed. In point of fact, for instance, this story, not Avengers Annual #10, was the first time I learned Rogue had history that predated her membership in the X-Men, indeed I learned of the character largely through the animated series of the early 1990s, and not the comics at all. What a time to be a fan! Every Saturday you could look forward to the characters you'd read about in books coming to life on your own home screen!
Fortunate thing, too: the source material these television programs were based on were EXTREMELY hard to find. Internet was in its infancy then, research had to be conducted largely through phone and shop-to-shop searches through steadily vanishing stores. Perhaps worse still was that, if you DID know where to look, your search often ended with the mere sighting of a book cover. Origin stories were a plastic-sealed rarity sellers were unwilling to allow perusal of without purchase, usually for a fee of $5 to $10 or more.
The search was often fun, especially if you were blessed enough to have family or like-minded friends taking you, but it is hard to relate just how unthinkably much more access people have in the present digital age, than the world of 25 years ago.
At any rate, going back to the story, W.I.66 gives us the chance to see what our title character COULD have accomplished mainstream save for happenstance and some heavily implied restraint.
Rogue's debut ended with her fleeing with Mystique in mainstream continuity.
Along the way, though, Rogue took on or out Ms.Marvel, Captain America, Thor, and Vision.
Not too shabby for a first-time showing ...
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Source: Avengers Annual #10
For the curious, Iron Man's "Good grief!" exclamation was consternation at a formidable giant fire construct by Pyro, one of Mystique's still-fighting operatives.
As for Mystique's mysterious government access, that would be explored the first time Rogue formally fought an X-Man team ...
... in Uncanny X-Men #158.
Interestingly, Logan (Wolverine) and Carol Danvers (Ms.Marvel) are revealed to have legitimate military pasts, even decorated ones, as I showed many weeks earlier in my comicbook trivia thread in the "Versus" forum.
Raven Darkholme, on the other hand, reveals herself not only as Deputy Director of the Defense Advanced Research Agency, but as Mystique:
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Villain-turned-hero characters often take a long time to evidence even a hint of their future conversion. There are of course retcons nowadays to violate that state of affairs, but that is precisely what they are: retcons -- CHANGES to actual original published history.
Such is not the case for Rogue. Her conscience shows great signs of development early on. Dazzler #22 will allude to skirmishes she supposedly had with the X-Men prior to Uncanny X-Men #158, but that is a fiction even in the comic world OF fiction. There were none with any group prior to her debut in Avengers Annual #10. Uncanny X-Men #158, as we've just seen, was her 2nd fighting appearance. Her 3rd however, was in a two-part story I learned of only recently: Rom, The SpaceKnight #s 31 and 32.
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Conflict, The Dazzler.
With the sentiments expressed in the previous showing, you'd expect to see a lot of conscience wrestling beginning to take place with Rogue.
Although it's reasonable to expect, what we SEE as readers in Rogue's next few appearances is a seeming zeal for the cause of Mystique, which even Mystique herself does not share, and not that of Rom the SpaceKnight, and Rogue's target is a young mutant woman named Allison Blair. Actually there are some psychologists who would tell you this is exactly what we should be seeing; Rogue is trying to reconcile her past loyalties as she is now afraid of losing them.
She thus acts opposite her true desire. Alternately, the specific targets of Angel and Dazzler can be understood as fear and frustration from Rogue: she wants to be just like these people -- beautiful, famous, rich, heroic, accepted -- yet thinks it an unattainable pipe dream at this point for herself. Actually, in her second encounter, she admits to wanting at least a portion of what Dazzler has and tries to take it in perhaps the most literal way possible.
This dramatic interlude of apparent backsliding takes place in the pages of Dazzler #s 22, 23, 24, and 28.
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Source: Dazzler #22
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Sources: Dazzler #s 23 & 24
Rogue's accidental encounter with Allison quickly leads to an obsession with her.
In the second engagement, Rogue rather easily takes down Iron Fist and Luke Cage in succession. She could literally crush the former, and knows it. Even in her anger, however, she opts to let him off lightly.
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Source: Dazzler #24
When I first read this story, with the dialogue of a previous issue being as singular as it was when Alison was informed who her visitor was, I thought the "sister" might be Rogue in disguise, using her membership in Mystique's "Sisterhood" as half-truth. In point of fact the visitor is who she says she is, and Rogue, who soon comes knocking, uses that fact to bully Alison.
Dazzler realizes she is not any real match for Rogue in a close-quarters encounter, and so, angry though she is over Rogue's unfair involvement of Dazzler's family, wisely subverts her own anger and instead goads Rogue into chasing her. I am a little curious as to what the message is that the author intended readers to interpret regarding the gaze between Rogue and Alison (Dazzler) 's sister, but it's academic. Rogue soon catches up to Dazzler. Despite her best effort and use of environment, Rogue quickly gains upper hands over Alison, who seems to be afraid Rogue will break her wrists and then kill her.
In point of fact, Rogue does neither and instead releases her grip and tells Alison she has wanted to experience the Dazzler's power for her own ever since she first saw it. Despite her obsession, tough talk and threats prior to this (and certainly issues later) Rogue has now established a pattern of relative mercy and restraint. She does not truly seem interested in killing or even harming Dazzler in any serious way. Or anybody else for that matter. Her desire instead seems to be to conquer Dazzler, and, though she talks of being superior to Alison, BECOME Dazzler to whatever extent possible.
Of course, Rogue still has a lot to learn.
Luke Cage and Iron Fist are able to get the drop on Rogue in her distraction.
She expresses surprise that Dazzler and her team don't try to maximize damage on the other side though given a chance.
In truth, even at this point, that's no longer Rogue's modus operandi, either, if indeed it ever was.
For all intents and purposes, Rogue's career as a villain ends with the following story. The famous storyline of her seeking the X-men due to her Carol Danvers haunted and tortured psyche will follow, but, as a deliberate agent of any sort of lawfully wicked plans, delegated or self-initiated, this is it.
The opening was a great surprise to me.
Fans of Rogue often love displaying her physical strength.
Indeed, there is such a culture of it that Marvel Comics itself identifiably mined a fan site and modeled a scene of Rogue grappling with Juggernaut for use in TubeJug's latest foray against the X-Men in Uncanny Avengers #29.
Yet in more than 20 years of following the character, I can honestly say I'd never seen the following till this year, though it's one of the most imaginative and visually impressive strength showings I've seen to date:
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A handstand press up into a single-arm hold.
Against the resistance of untold thousands of pounds of force from an incredibly thick bus-sized spring. I'd wager future Capcom digital animators happened upon something like this; fans of the Street Fighter Alpha series will note the remarkable similarity between Rogue's powerful press-up here, and the handstand "kick" super of characters Cammy, Juli, and Juni.
That comment about locomotives was no throwaway, either.
Some Marvel writer DEFINITELY kept THAT idea in mind ...
Back to the story. Rogue's obsession with Dazzler reaches its zenith and finally results once more in an open physical confrontation ...
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Dazzler versus Rogue.
Some people may wonder the completeness of Rogue's defeat here.
Besides her heart not being committed to her goal, though, it's equally true that 1980s Dazzler was far more than some B-list singer (or even an A-list singer). Her ability to disrupt even the semi-wary was such that Dazzler counted She-Hulk and Juggernaut among her victims. There's little shame to being taken by someone with the kind of win/loss record Alison earned during this era.
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It is somewhat difficult to ascribe motive to Rogue during her early appearances, though the overriding sense is one of a basically good but angry young teenager searching desperately for guidance lashing out at the world in frustration.
After her inevitable induction into comicdom's most famous fighting team of mutants, in fact, Rogue will even say HERSELF that she was crazy.
This view seems to have been endorsed by Marvel early on AND throughout retcons. One mentioned earlier is particularly revealing of how troubled she is and gives a good hint of why that is and what she REALLY wants, actions aside:
Source: What If ...? #66 v.2
As alluded to just a little bit ago, Rogue had reason to debut as villainous; some of them quite good. Just being a standard because the story demands it would have done the trick, or evil, or a youth, but Rogue has the added misfortune of being under the tutelage of Mystique. It's also plausible that the multitude of people she's presumably contacted before now have made her unbalanced.
One thing I've not seen covered many places before, however, is the fact that the person Rogue's familiar "Supergirl" a la Claremont power set came from was arguably quite messed up herself, and, even barring that, almost sociopathically ruthless. Carol Danvers. She makes note of this herself in that X-Men #158 encounter. If we were in any wise to understand she'd have failed to end Mystique in earlier times here, later Marvel writers didn't think so. In Ms.Marvel #9, we get a glimpse of her rage, intensity, and unbalance:
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... but in Ms. Marvel #10 we are made to understand just how dark an avenger Agent Danvers actually is:
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Regardless of the reason for her past actions, Rogue reveals herself as rather unique in how early on she tackles her demons.
Whether it is youthful rage she needs to surrender, the tutelage of Mystique she needs to undo, the unhinged ruthlessness of Carol Danvers she needs to reject, the machinations of Mastermind Jason Wyndgarde she needs to outmaneuver, or even simple guilt she needs help in facing, Rogue very soon finds herself drawn to the one place she believes can help, and will ...
IF she can survive facing Carol Danvers again ...
It is strangely appropriate the "re-match" shown a post ago features a scene in space. Look what happened in the first and wonder at what may have been intended as Rogue's true durability for these first years!
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Sources: Uncanny X-Men #s 170 & 171
As shown in a previous post, Rogue's induction into the X-Men was an understandably rough and rude one. Nevertheless, Rogue proved she was serious about her reform.
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The order of Rogue's saves following her intro to the X-Teams is intriguing.
Wolverine was effectively the first X-Man Rogue fought in Marvel's original history sans retcons; it is Wolverine she first saves from death, and Wolverine's bride-to-be, Mariko, whom Rogue makes the conscious decision to protect even at the price of Rogue's own life.
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Source: Uncanny X-Men #173
Rogue saves Cyclops, Professor X, AND Storm in the next 2-issue arc.
Interesting to see the visual representation of her catching Scott;
not rushing up to meet him, though she and Storm were flying upwards a moment before, but drifting down with Scott in her arms even as Storm continues to ascend, as if young Anna Marie instinctively knows she must give way to safely decelerate Cyke to protect him from injury.
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Cyclops, along with whoever programs the X-Men's Danger Room, shows a LOT of respect for Rogue's physical prowess.
The way in which he takes her down is ingenious, as is his use of Rogue to help defeat this particular incarnation of "Dark Phoenix" ...
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Rogue proved herself heroic, or at least nobler and kinder than the average villain, after only her first 2 or 3 appearances. She proved herself worthy of the team to Wolverine's satisfaction on their first adventure, as shown on the previous page, and saved the lives not only of Wolverine and Mariko, but, in relatively quick succession, Cyclops, Xavier, and Storm.
Still, there remained some lingering doubts about her loyalties.
She cottoned to her new adoptive family, yes, but, what would happen if an attack came, not from neutral villains, but her old adoptive family?
Readers did not have to wait long for an answer; the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants launched a 2-pronged attack against the X-Men just weeks after Rogue's "adoption" ...
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The attack on Peter, deadly though it was, was only a distraction.
Ultimately, the target was Xavier ...
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Happenstance (and Marvel's creative team) has Rogue's character arc occurring against the backdrop of a secretive, and more than somewhat pernicious, move by the Morlocks. They frame the apparent suicide of a street urchin as the death of youngest X-member Kitty Pryde. There are disturbing hints the death was in fact murder of the young girl, and indeed, one thing the X-Men do consider as a possibility is that the young girl was killed by a 3rd party. However, they initially believe the Brotherhood responsible, and would have gone after that group for revenge were it not for Logan sussing out the plan.
Ultimately, the interaction with the Morlocks leads to the salvation of Colossus, who agree to allow the X-Men use of their healer. This is in exchange for the promise by Kitty to wed one of their love struck own, mainly because Morlocks leader Callisto thinks the arrangement emotionally satisfying revenge against X-Men leader Storm, who has demonstrated love and care for Kitty equal to that of any adoptive mother for her daughter. Striking at Storm's "heart" as it were, even as Storm literally did when she dueled and won against Callisto in single combat. The unsung hero who makes this possible, however, is the convert from the rightly-maligned Brotherhood who put Peter at Death's door. This is a full circle transaction that cements Rogue's place with the X-Men. She has defected from her own group, saved the lives of several of her new family, stood up to her mother, and now, for a second time, agonizingly endures a near-lethal experience to reclaim someone from Death.
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Rogue's recent showings against Juggernaut and heavies like Graviton were what prompted me to create this thread.
One, I have not seen a respect thread in a LONG while that has anything more recent for her than about 5 years ago.
Two, I was struck by how cyclical some of these encounters have become. In some cases it seems as if modern writers are paying tribute to their "fathers" and "grandfathers" by showcasing gems from 20 to 30 years ago.
Reminded me of how awesome characters like Rogue were even back then.
In some cases, they might have been even more so.
I'll probably settle into a more standard mode of respect thread posting after my next few submissions, but I wanted to show how remarkably consistent the restrained, hopeful, helpful character of Rogue has been, even from her days as a stock villain character who had little reason to display such humanity.
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The X-Men are a team of globetrotters.
Unfortunately, many of the villains they fight are world-travelers, too.
So, it should come as little surprise that, for all their business in New York, the X-Men next find fanfavoritespar Marko during a journey to the UK:
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Well, at least one of them next found Juggs ...
(Full-team engagement will follow soon, though.)
The showing above by team-separated Alison Blaire underscores the claim made last page -- it was NOT a shameful thing for Dazzler to get the better of you in the 1980s, however unlikely she presented as a combatant. Even at low power levels, lost, disoriented, and on the verge of collapse, she would overachieve like nobody's business.
Unfortunately, she WAS at the end of her rope there, alone, lost, tired, and without a significant power source. Though she brought Jug to his knees there, he eventuality recovered and overtook her, and now having no reserves, expended the utmost of the little remaining power she had, and dropped so exhausted from the effort that Jug mistook her for dead and regretfully buried her. Thankfully, Dazzler's power is such that she eventually was able to slowly absorb just enough ambient sound energy to prayerfully send a shot up through the ground that her searching teammates noticed before she blacked out again, almost certainly for the last time ...
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In the years to come, Rogue will formally lead the X-Men and related teams, as well as become regarded as a well-respected teacher of young mutants, as Charles, and Sean, and Logan before her.
Rogue presents a strong profile of what a leader should be like even in this era, though, and few show her ability to think strategically, prioritize, and coordinate with otherwise directionless partners going on KNOWN variables than the following:
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Source: Uncanny X-Men #218
Rogue had a lot more to overcome psychologically than people probably realize.
Just being a teen is tough, but being cursed with a condition that makes touching and interacting with people in the normal way impossible?
Being shunned by the family and friends you grew up with?
But when one considers the kind of murderous mentor who adopted Rogue, or the kind of basket case she unwittingly "borrowed" the psyche of afterward ...
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It's interesting to note how cyclical these stories are both large and small scale.
Large scale? The fight featured in this origin story of Rogue gaining her familiar Chris Claremont's "Supergirl" powerset has Ms.Marvel (Carol Danvers) previewing the action Rogue herself will see when she fights Graviton decades later.
Small scale? The Pierce/Ms.Marvel Leland/Ms.Marvel skirmishes here are a prequel to what readers originally saw when Wolverine took on these members of the Hellfire Club.
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Ms.Marvel's fights give us a unique opportunity to see what Rogue at what most fans probably think of as her "base" level is capable of, even as here where she takes on Pyro and Avalanche:
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Graviton, though powerful and cinematic as all get out, is very obscure;
Let me not then let the overall established chronological structure of my thread prevent me from showcasing someone like that in the midst of showing mad and gravity-controlling villains -- there'll never BE a more natural segue:
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Source: Uncanny Avengers #27
(Volume 2? Right now I don't know if there was an Uncanny Avengers series before the one that featured this incarnation of the team.)
It was somewhat strange to me to discover stories like this were actually retcons.
Any fan who is a modern reader of Rogue or who watched her TV debut will be very familiar indeed with this woman who overcame the "demons" of her mentor and her victimized predecessor. Strange to think people had to wait roughly 10 years before they saw a proper on-panel depiction of this fateful fight:
Ms.Marvel vs. Rogue
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Source: Marvel Superheroes #11
Rogue has been trained to detect and resist certain forms of telepathic attack:
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Rogue's use of the techniques taught her by Professor X enable her, first of nearly all her Avengers teammates, to detect and break a villain's mind control.
Interestingly, it also puts her into conflict with the SECOND Ms.Marvel, Kamala Khan.
Note that "conflict" is a better word choice than "fight" as Kama would have only prayer to help her against Rogue in a true battle.
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Rogue, opening a bank vault (one-handed?) with impossible ease ...
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Source: Uncanny Avengers (2016) #5
Wanted to see if I could isolate the images on a page with mobile.
Possibly underscoring just how thick the metal of the vault she broke was.
Rogue is a superlative lifeguarder.
So much so that I'm toying with the idea of seeing if, in her early appearances, she has fewer, comparable, or more saves than either Supergirl or Superman.
Again, I first encountered Rogue as the beautiful, helpful, flying tank from the X-Men show, for which the following was a typical display:
But such was a true image of her even a decade earlier, regarding the woman she CLAIMS she was trying to kill before joining the X-Men:
And it proved true even regarding people she actively wanted to clobber.
Rogue had no great love for Spiral for instance:
Yet wasted no time in redeeming her life from sure death when the following presented (with perhaps a little help from Fred Dukes, aka The Blob) ...
Rogue could be counted on to be altruistic, in other words.
The following scene is quietly awesome in how it illustrates that above statement
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Somewhat strange to see the way of cycles nowadays.
A randomly ordered selection of UA29 featuring Juggernaut versus Rogue illustrates the strange mix of upgrade and downgrade.
Note that, unlike their Edinburgh encounter, Rogue now, or at least very recently, had/has the power to send Juggernaut flying unless he's concentratingly set for her punch.
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Source: Uncanny Avengers #29
I had some scans of Rogue experiencing what it is like to be Ororo a little ways back. Until I re-locate those:
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