Credits: Fabian Nicieza (writer), Andy Kubert (penciler), Cam Smith (inkers), Richard Starkings & Comicraft (lettering), Kevin Somers & Malibu’s Hues (colors)
Rogue grows more agitated as she tries to unlock the secrets she absorbed from Gambit. Iceman accompanies her to Seattle, the city she now feels a strong connection to. After arriving in town, she stops at a bar near a university. Emotionally unstable, she tries to touch the face of one of the young bar patrons. Iceman stops her, which causes her to angrily fly away. Realizing that they’re mutants, the bar patrons try to attack Iceman, but Gambit suddenly arrives and stops them. Rogue heads to an abandoned theatre as Iceman and Gambit follow. Gambit goes in to talk to her. Rogue senses that Gambit is afraid that his past secret will be exposed, but she isn’t able to discern what it is. Gambit refuses to tell her his secret because he claims that the past doesn’t matter. After finally realizing that he’s losing Rogue, he offers to let her touch him again so that she can learn all of his secrets. She refuses, and tells him that she needs some time alone. Rogue leaves, and Gambit tells Iceman to take the Blackbird home. Depressed, Gambit sends a few more days in Seattle. Mr. Sinister briefly appears in front of him, telling Gambit that people can’t change who they are.
I Love the ‘90s
In a two page subplot scene, one of Creed’s aides suggests that he run for President next year. He tosses him a “Creed ’96” button. Later on in the issue, Gambit claims that Rogue gave him a “lallapalooza (sic) of a kiss”.
Like this month’s UXM, this issue has double-gatefold, prismatic foil cover. The newsstand edition didn’t have any enhancements, but I’m not sure if a “plain” version was sold in comic shops.
It’s hard to go back and view this issue in the proper context, since Gambit’s past with Sinister has already been revealed and mined for several stories in the ensuing years. Since the fan press was already running theories that Gambit had a past with Sinister, and a few hints had shown up in the actual stories, the final few pages weren’t that much of a shock back then, either. Gambit’s exact connection to Sinister isn’t actually revealed at all in this issue (and it won’t be for another five years or so), so I don’t remember this being a very satisfactory ending at the time. This is really supposed to be the big Gambit/Rogue issue, and it’s unfortunate that it’s Nicieza’s last issue of the series since handling their relationship didn’t tend to be one of his strengths. Gambit receives a ton of dark, ominous first person narration in this issue, but it’s rendered almost comic by his insanely exaggerated accent. This is an example of a typical line, “Got here quick’s’d’ Blackbird would bring me, Roguey…both t’make sure you’re okay – stop ya before y’get hurt –an t’make sure you don’ find out d’truth.” Once you get past the ridiculous accent, you can actually see that Nicieza does have a decent handle on the character. He’s genuinely repentant about his past, and wishes that he could be the snake everyone thinks he is and “shed a new skin”. It seems overly maudlin and whiny at times, especially since we don’t even know what he’s upset about, but Nicieza has the right idea.
I’m not quite sure what Nicieza is trying to convey about Rogue here, outside of “she’s crazy now”. I don’t like the way she’s portrayed in this issue, but Nicieza does at least use past continuity in his favor in one scene. The fact that Rogue used to kiss people all of the time to steal their powers is referenced, with Rogue offering the retconned explanation that this charade of human contact only made her sense of alienation even worse. Actually, it’s not spelled out that clearly, but that’s how I interpret her dialogue, which says that each touch only made her “more afraid”. This is really the only explanation for why exactly Rogue’s personality so greatly changed in the post-Claremont years, and it’s only in a few lines of dialogue. For the rest of the issue, Rogue mainly just makes the same complains she’s always made about her inability to touch people, with some added angst about Gambit’s mysterious past thrown in. Nicieza tries to spice up their lengthy conversation scene by having Rogue continually tear apart the theatre, and then get shot down by Gambit after she tries to fly away. The action does give Kubert something to draw outside of two people talking to each other, but it doesn’t do a lot to break up the monotony of the conversation. I remember being blown away by Kubert’s art in this issue, and it still looks pretty good. His art takes on a darker, grittier look here that suits the story. His acting abilities have also greatly improved since he started his run, so the characters now have less generic faces and he’s able to convey the emotions in the script more clearly. I think the art saves a lot of the story, since the Rogue/Gambit conversation goes on for too long, and Gambit’s secret is left as a mystery at the end of the issue.