Essential Rogue and Gambit - Ultimate X-Men

Ultimate X-Men is an alternate universe that moves the first appearance of mutants, and the formation of the X-Men, to the present day (as opposed to the 60’s). It’s Marvel’s attempt at starting fresh; by taking familiar characters and shifting their lives 40 years later or so, they are able to make them more...modern. And by starting over from the beginning, it follows that it should be easier to attract new fans. Or so the theory goes. There are several different Ultimate titles in the Marvel universe, ranging from Spider-Man to the Fantastic Four, and they all seem to enjoy an amount of popularity.

In Ultimate X-Men, Rogue is originally part of Weapon X, and then a member of the Brotherhood of Mutants, before she decides to join the X-Men. Gambit appeared early on in a two issue arc as a “street urchin” who takes it upon himself to look after an orphaned little girl. Although he’s approached by Storm and Professor X, he declines their offer to join the X-Men. And he isn’t heard from again...until issue #50, when he comes for Rogue...

 



Issue - Ultimate X-Men #50
Summary - It’s a day off for the X-Men – a few stay behind at the mansion and find their own ways of blowing off some steam, while others opt to visit Coney Island for games, rides, and cotton candy. As the night progress, they split up: Wolverine and Storm go for a walk on the boardwalk, Dazzler and Colossus wander, and Iceman, Rogue, and Shawdowcat head for the rides. Unfortunately, when Rogue leaves the other two to use the ladies room, Iceman (who she’s dating) kisses Shadowcat. Rogue is understandably upset when she comes across them, and punches Shadowcat. Enter Gambit. He picks a fight with Iceman, and the rest of the troops come a-runnin’. He grabs Rogue, then uses several charged cards to unhinge a Ferris Wheel. While the others help bystanders, Wolverine faces off against Gambit. They fight for a while, but Gambit gets the drop on him, shoving his broken staff in the other man’s mouth and charging it...then drags Rogue away.
Significance - Up until this point, Rogue and Gambit have already appeared in Ultimate X-Men separately...this is the first time they actually meet. It’s perhaps not the ideal situation, but honestly, who could resist a tall, dark stranger with frizzy hair and glowing cards? Seriously...

 


Issue - Ultimate X-Men #51
Summary - Rogue wakes up in a dark room, Gambit playing solitaire nearby. He tries to, well, make nice with her, but is unsuccessful. Her hands have been placed in special “handcuffs,” so he is confident that she won’t be able to use her powers. When he sits close to her, she leans forward and kisses him, absorbing his memories and powers. Meanwhile, the others have split up to find her. Wolverine is following Gambit’s scent, with Storm close behind. Iceman has decided to try and track down Rogue himself, despite Wolverine’s orders to go back to the mansion. The others have returned to the Institute, and are waiting to see if the combined efforts of Professor X and Jean can determine Rogue’s location. Rogue, however, is doing pretty well on her own. Using Gambit’s powers, she knocks him out, then fights her way through a group of thugs. Unfortunately, she finds herself trapped when she blasts her way through a wall and discovers that she’s on one of the top floors of a skyscraper. This is when the mysterious Fenris twins finally make an appearance. They explain that they want her to join them as a spy, use her powers of absorption to aid them in keeping their company ahead of its competition. She is reluctant to become a part of their team, but is tempted when they claim that they can help her gain complete control over her powers. Elsewhere, Storm has finally caught up with Wolverine, who confesses that he sees Rogue as a little sister because they’ve had the similar experiences with the same bad people. Storm tries to comfort him, and they kiss.
Significance - There’s some minor bonding between Rogue and Gambit in the beginning - mild flirting, and what seems like sincere assurances of Gambit’s noble intentions...of course, there’s also the kiss she uses to absorb his powers. In the process, she gets to see some of his more painful memories of the past, which may lead her to understand him a little better...

 



Issue - Ultimate X-Men #52
Summary - Wolverine and Storm briefly argue about the idea of getting romantically involved, but the discussion is cut short when he picks up Gambit’s scent, and he leaves her behind to follow it. Rogue is still unconvinced with the Fenris twin’s assertion that they can help her control her powers, so they offer to prove it to her. After fitting her with a new uniform, Gambit picks a fight with her, egging her on until she slaps him across the face. She is shocked to discover that she hasn’t absorbed him, and seems to seriously consider their offer of employment. Back at the mansion, the younger X-Men argue while the older ones prepare the X-Jet. Professor X and Jean wander the astral plane in search of either Rogue or Gambit’s signature...until a mysterious voice prompts them to focus their attention on the Empire State Building, where they finally pick up the slight energy of four mutants. In the meantime, Rogue ultimately decides that she has to learn to control her powers herself, so she declines Fenris’ offer. The twins claim that she has already agreed to join them by putting on their outfit, and blast Gambit with an energy discharge when he defends her decision. They continue to try to reason with her, but Gambit regains consciousness and uses a charged card to destroy the chip in her suit that is suppressing her powers. She absorbs the twins, and she and Gambit begin to fight their way out of the building. As they near freedom, they are faced with one last obstacle – Wolverine, who is waiting to slice and dice Gambit...
Significance - The Fenris twins may prove that they have the means to inhibit a mutant’s powers, but more importantly, Gambit proves that he is a good man. His willingness to work for Fenris notwithstanding, he will not allow them to force another to join them. He defends Rogue automatically, without a thought, in spite of the threats he receives. And then he frees her of her costume’s suppression abilities, so she can use her own powers against his (former) employers. What a guy...

 


Issue - Ultimate X-Men #53
Summary - While the rest of the X-Team faces off against the Fenris twins, Wolverine goes after Gambit in the lobby, despite Rogue’s protests. In the end, the X-Men let the Fenris twins go because they won’t be able to prove that they actually did anything wrong...and Rogue is forced to pull a gun on Wolverine before he kills Gambit. He tries to reason with her, but she silences him with a number of hurtful accusations that force him to reevaluate who he really is. Storm arrives, but Wolverine is convinced that he doesn’t belong with her – or the X-Men – and runs off. Rogue encourages her to go after him, which she does, but not before calling Rogue out on her cruel outburst. Feeling guilty, Rogue tries to convince Gambit to leave before the others arrive. Instead, he stays and tries to talk her into going with him. She’s reluctant to accept his offer for any number of reasons, but he changes her mind with a kiss...a kiss the X-Men walk in on. Iceman is crushed and Cyclops informs her that it’s time to go. But Rogue has made up her mind to stay with Gambit, so she thanks the team for their rescue attempt, then disappears into the rain with her new man. Everyone else is left speechless...
Significance - Even in this alternate universe, there still exists a strong bond between Rogue and Wolverine...which makes it all the more poignant when she’s willing to blow him away to save Gambit. Granted, there’s that super-convenient healing power he has, but still...it takes a lot to pull something like that on someone you care about. Her little speech about how monstrous he is...well, that was a bit much. But perhaps somewhat understandable considering the circumstances. This is an important issue because it affirms that Gambit cares about her as a person...and is unconcerned with her inability to touch him without absorbing him. In fact, he uses this to his advantage, to let her see that his intentions are pure...well, as pure as they can be. He wants to be open and honest with her, in addition to prove that he’s able to take the power drain. No wonder he wins out over Iceman...that’s not even a competition, really...

 


Issue - Ultimate X-Men Annual #1
Summary - The X-Men are in the middle of a Danger Room session when Professor X is informed that Juggernaut has escaped, and is most likely searching for Rogue, who testified against him. Unfortunately, the professor doesn’t know where she is, so he can’t warn her...and where she is, is Las Vegas, helping Gambit break into the vault of one of the Fenris twin’s casinos. Although the vault is full of cash, Rogue is only interested in stealing a “magical” jewel. Gambit is skeptical about its powers, but is willing to participate in anything that will annoy his former employers. After they successfully lift the jewel, they boldly walk out of the casino, making sure the cameras will record their departure so the twins know exactly who took their precious possession. They make it out the door only to be faced with Juggernaut, who apparently wants Rogue back in his life. Gambit attacks him, but is thrown across the street. Juggernaut tries to convince Rogue to run off with him, saying that he loves her, that they belong together...he forces her to absorb him until Gambit returns, at which point the two men fight again. Gambit manages to blow up his helmet, then uses several playing cards to make a building collapse on the both of them. Rogue races to the wreckage, using the strength she absorbed from Juggernaut to dig Gambit out. He’s still alive, barely, and asks for one last kiss before he goes...she grants him his wish, and he dies in her arms. Three days later, alone and scared, she calls Iceman at the Institute. They don’t talk for long because her phone card runs out...we see that she’s by herself in a phone booth, her eyes black and red, the card in her hand glowing...
Significance - Rogue and Gambit are quite a pair. They get along, work well together, and seem to enjoy each other’s company...but, just like in every other Marvel universe, their good times never seem to last long. I would have liked to have seen more of their adventures together, but I don’t dislike this ending. It’s sad, but it somehow fits. Now, if only she didn’t return to Iceman and have sex with him while she still had Gambit’s powers (and her own had yet to return). That’s just...in bad taste.

 

Uncanny X-Men X-Treme X-Men X-Men: The End X-Men Misc Gambit Rogue X-Men: Evo