Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Unremarkable Rogue Still Has Its Moments!

The Good: Moments of character, Most of the artwork
The Bad: Incredibly simplistic plot, Some very unclear artwork in the action, Suspension of disbelief for the big moments
The Basics: Rogue is a collection of the first major story for the titular character, but tells an unfortunately simplistic and problem-riddled story.

Despite generally enjoying what little I know about the character and having a crush on Anna Paquin since her first outing as Rogue in X-Men (reviewed here!), until today, I had not tracked down any Rogue graphic novels to actually learn about Rogue from the source material. Today that changed when I got in two graphic novels focused on Rogue and the first I read and am now reviewing is simply Rogue. Rogue is a trade paperback anthology that compiles all four issues of the first Rogue comic book mini-series from 1995 . . . because apparently it took quite a while to convince either readers or Marvel Comics that Rogue could carry her own title.

Rogue is an anthology that gives Rogue more of a backstory than she had been granted in the decades prior. Going into the narrative essentially blind on the character, most of the broad strokes in Rogue were very easy to pick up. The nature of the characters' powers, the ongoing feud between assassins and thieves, etc. was written in a way that was fairly accessible. Ironically, for Rogue, the title character is being used more as a pawn in a scheme surrounding Gambit than being a story where the young mutant truly thrives and is focused upon!

After flying around, messing with some National Guard jets, Rogue returns to Earth to journey to Mississippi. Before she can leave New York, though, she has to deal with would-be rapists and Remy (Gambit), whom she is now dating. Rogue tells Remy that she needs to go back to Mississippi to see Cody, the boy she kissed and put into a coma, thus discovering her mutant abilities, years ago. When Rogue goes to visit Cody, he is gone from his room and she is almost immediately attacked. To keep Cody safe, she agrees to get a message from Bella Donna, who blames Rogue for some missing memories and threatens Rogue with ending Gambit's life.

Shaken, Rogue springs into action, while Bella Donna attempts to consolidate her power over the Assassin's Guild, which she has just inherited. Bella Donna is challenged by the External, Candra, who wants Gambit when Bella Donna is through with him. Rogue rescues Gambit from Bella Donna's assassins and then heads off to New Orleans to try to stop her, without Gambit. While Gambit gets himself captured, Rogue fights her way to Bella Donna's mansion where she confronts the thief Gris-Gris and the mutant Fifolet. Despite being briefly incapacitated by voodoo powder, Rogue fights off the lackeys until she is confronted by Candra. But Candra's endgame is different from Bella Donna's; she betrays the head of the Assassins, robs both Bella Donna and Rogue of their powers and sets them against each other.

Rogue is written with a lot of dialect - both for Rogue's Southern drawl and Remy's cajun accent. The writing is clear enough that it is understandable, though there are passages that it helps to read aloud just to get the cadence's right! Far more irksome than the accents are the obvious expositions, like the writers describing Rogue and Gambit's relationship when they are first seated together talking at the bar, Harry's Hideaway. Rogue's revelation to Remy about her history with Cody is presented far more melodramatically than with realism, which is a bit disappointing.

Also disappointing is how the assassins are hyped, but have minimal impact within the narrative. Gambit surviving the legendary assassins seems dubious, as does Rogue - though at least Rogue contemplates how to defeat them using her X-Men training. For the major conflicts, though, there are remarkably few consequences - until Candra takes away Rogue's abilities (which include invulnerability thanks to what she did to Carol Danvers in the past).

That said, when Rogue is stabbed, the internal dialogue is quite good. Having been invulnerable for so long, Rogue has had a muted sense of touch and that is an extraordinarily good detail.

Alas, not all of the details in Rogue are so good or so well-executed. The artwork, for example, is very hit or miss. While all of the characters are easily recognizable, the visuals are not entirely clear when it comes to movement and action within the panels. Chief among these is during Rogue's fight with Bella Donna. Rogue commits to a course of action - ". . .this!" - and in the panel the action is not at all clear. Is she punching? She had been doing that. Is she taking a step back? Who knows?! The artwork is seriously inscrutable.

Ultimately, Rogue was interesting and accessible enough, but it was hardly a compelling Rogue solo story . . . or a story that satisfactorily revealed something new about her backstory.

For other works with X-Men, please check out my reviews of:
House Of M By Brian Michael Bendis
The Road To Civil War By Brian Michael Bendis And J. Michael Straczynski
Avengers Vs. X-Men: It's Coming


For other book reviews, please check out my Book Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2017 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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