Rogue and Gambit #1 is belligerent sexual tension distilled in a single issue of a comic book beginning with artist Pere Perez and colorist Frank D’Armata’s double page spread of Rogue and Gambit’s relationship over the ages. Writer Kelly Thompson, Perez, and D’Armata have oodles of fun with one of the Marvel Universe’s finest “will they, won’t they” pairings. In her plot, Thompson goes full almost fan fiction, loses the superheroics, and has this not so starcrossed pair posing as a couple on retreat while they’re secretly investigating some mutant power surge, then outage. Like Thompson’s other Marvel books, it’s pretty funny even though Perez’s art is a tad on the mid-1990s X-Book generic side.
It’s a shame that such sparkling dialogue and flirtation as well as a cool fight scene featuring X-Men heavy hitters Rogue, Psylocke, and Armor gets stuck with middle of the road art. When it comes to gestures, Pere Perez is fine. The proximity between Rogue and Gambit increases while they’re flirting, and Gambit gets really close to Rogue when she talks about her powers going on and off. But his faces are hit and miss ranging from some great Rogue scorn as she sees that their retreat lodging only has one bed to Kitty Pryde’s rictus as she sends Rogue and Gambit on their mission with some pretty smug dialogue from Thompson. Also, Perez makes some questionable storytelling choices like using weird perspective on a Danger Room battle than looks like he ran out of panel space and had to make Armor and Psylocke two inches tall. (I legitimately thought Armor had picked up size changing abilities.) And there’s also the fact that he frames a panel from the POV of Rogue’s crotch for no reason.
However, Kelly Thompson’s quirky plotting, fun and occasionally sexy dialogue, and Frank D’Armata’s 90s era X-Men color palette meet cool modern restraint make Rogue and Gambit #1 worth reading. From the first couple pages, it’s a book with an identity and purpose: working out the tension in the long suffering relationship between Remy LeBeau and Rogue. Even though there’s mind control and weird energy stuff, Rogue and Gambit #1 is a cross between two friends spending a lot of time together and examining their feelings about each other, or a separated couple taking a vacation to relax and find out where they’re at. And there’s plenty of jokes along the way about X-Men gossip and Deadpool’s kissing abilities, which totally made me want to check out Uncanny Avengers.
Even though this is technically a solo book, Kelly Thompson knows what makes the X-Men tick: splashy action, soapy, yet in-depth relationships, and outsider metaphors. Rogue and Gambit #1 hits on all three with one hell of a retro Sentinel Danger Room duel where Gambit tries to rescue Rogue, but hey, she has super strength. Then, there’s the Rogue and Gambit intense sexual tension that turns all the X-Men around them into either gossip columnists or fan fiction commenters as well as Kitty Pryde settling into the dry wit and slightly manipulative “Professor X” role as team leader. Finally, Kitty describes the place that Rogue and Gambit as kind of a re-education camp, which reminded me a lot of the toxic “pray away the gay” summer camps that are abusive and harmful to young people. And these are often out in the beautiful countryside so the idyllic surroundings don’t detract from the fact that people are being tortured and punished just for expressing their identity.
Its art is nothing to write home about, but Rogue and Gambit #1 is the hilarious, sexy X-Book to get the New Year started off right.
Story: Kelly Thompson Art: Pere Perez Colors: Frank D’Armata
Story: 8.5 Art: 7.0 Overall: 7.8 Recommendation: Read
Marvel Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review