THIS REVIEW OF ‘MR. & MRS. X’ #1 CONTAINS MINOR SPOILERS.
By Don Alsafi. For a character who would eventually become one of the X-Men’s most steadfast and well-known members, Rogue first burst on the scene in an unusual way: as part of Mystique’s Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, in 1981’s Avengers Annual #10 (by Chris Claremont and Michael Golden). The very next year she showed up in Chris Claremont’s Uncanny X-Men for the first time, and joined the team not long after.
On the other hand, Remy LeBeau—the mutant known as Gambit—wouldn’t debut until the summer of 1990, the creation of Claremont and a then-rising artist who was just starting to make waves: Jim Lee. Gambit’s incessant swagger and background as a thief marked him as a bad boy and a wild card—but maybe that’s what initially drew the now-reformed Rogue to him from the start.
While their attraction and budding (or occasionally doomed) relationship may have begun in the comics, it’s a good bet that many Rogue & Gambit fans today came to know the characters and their romance via the 1990s X-Men animated series which ran for five years on Fox. Saturday morning cartoons can, at their best, be a perfect distillation of what young superhero fans love, condensing action and intrigue and compelling character moments into an economic 22-minute package. More than one working comics professional first fell in love with superheroes through that medium and today have the opportunity to bring that same passion for these characters to a whole new generation of readers. These two star-crossed mutants being no exception.
And oh yeah, Rogue & Gambit are married now. Who ever saw that coming?!
Written by Kelly Thompson.
Art by Oscar Bazaldua.
Colors by Frank D’armata.
Letters by VC’s Joe Sabino.
Two of Marvel’s freshest new talents. Kelly Thompson first became known in the comics world largely through her She Has No Head! comics column which started in 2009. She then began her first professional comics writing gigs in 2015, starting with IDW’s Jem and the Holograms comic (based on another beloved cartoon from decades past), and soon after writing such well-received Marvel books as A-Force, Hawkeye—and, oh yeah, this spring’s Rogue & Gambit miniseries.
Oddly enough, artist Oscar Bazaldua first made a splash in that same year of 2015, illustrating Space Goat’s Evil Dead 2 comics. He then graduated to the big leagues as the regular artist of the Miles Morales-starring Spider-Man comic, for what would turn out to be Brian Michael Bendis’ final year writing this Ultimate Spider-Man.
This is not the first time we’ve seen a new book launched with talented creators who have only been working in the comics biz for just a few years, and it should serve as inspiration for those would-be writers and artists who might never imagine themselves someday working for one of the Big Two. Thompson’s career trajectory of columnist-to-writer is especially notable, in fact, as it mirrors another well-known writer’s leap from digital essays to the printed page—after all, that’s how fan favorite Gail Simone built up her initial fanbase, as well!
A honeymoon that’s out of this world. In the last month, comics readers were surprised by two highly-touted superhero weddings which both failed to come off: That of Kitty Pryde and Colossus in the pages of X-Men Gold, as well as the near-miss nuptials of Batman and Catwoman just two weeks later. XMG, however, at least offered readers an unexpected bait-and-switch when wedding guests Gambit and Rogue decided to co-opt the unused X-wedding and make it their own.
The first half of Mr. and Mrs. X #1 thus shows us the wedding that did come about (since what appeared in X-Men Gold was simply a story-ending twist, and not the focus of that particular yarn). It delivers on the typical wedding-related elements you might expect—like a particular mutant showing up as the “something blue”. Our cocky Cajun then decides he’s going to take Rogue on the most ambitious honeymoon ever, by booking them on a trip into space… which works right until team leader Kitty Pryde calls them up to task the couple with the Vitally Important retrieval of the latest cosmic McGuffin.
Warm, approachable and attractive. Fairly or not, for years the X-Men books have had a reputation of being impenetrable. (The popular shorthand is that to read an X-Men comic you have to have always been reading X-Men comics.) Impressively, Mr. and Mrs. X is entirely accessible! You can’t quite go into it knowing nothing, or never having heard of these X-characters before… but that’s not who this comic is aimed at. Rather, it’s for those who grew up on Rogue and Gambit—in the comics, sure, and especially the cartoons—and yet, refreshingly, it doesn’t assume that all those picking this up will have been keeping track of every last detail of what the X-books have been up to for the last 20 years. You don’t have to know who Bling is, or have ever heard of her before; you just have to understand (as the dialogue makes clear) that her power is something which can help with providing the suddenly-needed wedding rings.
On the visual side, the pairing of Oscar Bazaldua (primarily a digital artist) and colorist Frank D’armata make for a very attractive book; in particular, the pastel hues used in the opening pages do an impeccable job recalling David Marquez’s gorgeous art from the X-Men Gold wedding issue. And Bazaldua further impresses with his talent for depicting both the character-driven storytelling in the first half, as well as the sci-fi/superhero action which takes place in the latter. Add in Thompson’s great affinity for these two characters—which is nothing short of infectious—and the book feels as if the entire creative team are just having the most fun ever.
The start of an all-new adventure together. One of the things that make superhero comics so enjoyable is when they occasionally defy expectation, and go places you might not have foreseen. What would a married Rogue-and-Gambit comic look like? Well, maybe you’d expect them to start with a more mutant-centric story, or a road trip visiting their respective homes of Mississippi and New Orleans. What readers probably didn’t expect was to have this kick off with an intergalactic snatch-and-grab. And yet that’s exactly what we get!
Gambit and Rogue have had their ups and downs. Times when their love for each other was new and exciting, and times when it brought them nothing but pain, frustration and grief. But they’re older now, and wiser, and over the years have come to know and accept what they bring to each other, and bring out in each other. For better or for worse.
And now? Now they’re ready to have some fun.
Fortunately for us, that goes for the readers, too.
8 out of 10