In Review: Rouge & Gambit #2

A decent comic, but nothing spectacular.

The covers: An appropriate two covers for this second issue. The Regular cover is by Kris Anka and looks as if the pair are going to come to blows, but looking at the title characters’ faces one can tell that that’s not going to happen. Gambit is holding his trademark cards in his right hand, looking as if he’s leaping backwards. He smiles as he’s inches from Rogue’s face, who is sporting a smile as well. She’s leaping forward with her left pulled back as if she’s going to throw a punch. His costume is missing a sizable chunk across the chest, while she’s missing a sleeve, part of her left leg’s costume, with some tears along her side. The background is hard to make out, with trees and ocean seen, but it’s very sketchy. The coloring on this fine, but it’s really pale. Brighter colors would have made this book stand out. The Hulk Variant cover is by Mike McKone & Romulo Fajardo, Jr. and just doesn’t belong on this book. The Hulk is standing among some statues and busts of characters I don’t recognize. He’s got his fists clenched, ready for some fighting, but there’s no other living character in the illustration. This looks okay, but without the mutants, what’s the point? Overall grades: Regular B and Hulk Variant C+

The story: Kelly Thompson’s tale begins with Rogue and Gambit sitting on Dr. Grand’s couch, not happy at the lab tests they had to undergo to map their brains. The pair also bring up their displeasure at sharing a room. The doctor then asks if they’d like to begin. This unleashes a series of events from the twosome that is communicated to the reader very creatively on Pages 2 and 3. After hearing so much, the doctor asks for them to start with something smaller, such as how they first met. This, again, causes conflict between the pair because Rogue doesn’t really remember it. As she says, “Because when the Shadow King is involved, all bets are off.” What follows is their meeting, though if it happened that way could still be debated. The story then moves back to the present where the heroes are doing some intel and their dialogue is fantastic. This is where Thompson shines: having the characters work off each other. If she had them just sit and talk, I would have been a happy reader. Another flashback occurs, which is fine, but I’ll admit I’m more interested in the present rather than reliving, or learning, of their romantic past. There’s a solid action scene in the present which creates several questions, which are compounded by the reveal on 19. The villains also show themselves in this issue on the final page, teasing their intentions. I’m liking where the story in the present it going, but I’m not enjoying the flashbacks. However, I’m more than willing to give the next issue a look-see to see if I’m going to keep going. Overall grade: B

The art: Pere Pérez does something extremely cool in this issue: he mimics the original artwork for the two flashbacks. This may seem like a minor thing, but it really creates the feeling that one is looking at past events as they actually occurred. Pages 2 and 3 use the artwork very slickly to communicate the pair’s complaints with one another to the doctor and the reader. It’s very clever and Pérez makes it work well. When the story moves to Muir Island, the art looks as though it’s from that time. These are the X-Men costumes I prefer, so it was neat to see each dressed this way. Their faces also look like they’re from that time. This just looks so cool. In the present, the two look very different, but they look as they should in a modern comic. The second flashback looks just as good as the first flashback, though the couple is much more violent in this outing. The energy that Gambit throws out looks fantastic. I’m still not a fan of Gambit, but the smile he has at the bottom of 11 wins me over completely. There’s a great explosion on 12, with the character’s reaction to it cool. After all this action, the final panel on 13 is a great surprise and Pérez pulls it off spectacularly. The villains’ charge on 15 is nicely done, with each character displaying their special attribute, with the character coming in from the top looking really neat from that perspective. The action that follows is good and is very easy to follow. The baddies’ powers are easily picked up on by the action, which has very little dialogue. I loved the trouble that Gambit encountered and the heroes’ reaction to incoming danger at the bottom of 17. The large panel that begins 18 looks really good. The full-paged splash on 18 visually tells the reader what’s been discovered, but I would have liked to have been a little closer to the characters to see their reactions. The big bads get shown on the final page and I like that Pérez shows them clearly so that when they go into action next month they can be identified easily. Pérez’s art looks good. Overall grade: B+

The colors: This book uses very light colors for the majority of pages. When first speaking with Dr. Grand, the characters and their backgrounds are very light. This is fine, I would expect a doctor’s office to be in calm, soothing colors, but it does make the visuals blur together. Even on Pages 2 and 3 the coloring seems light, perhaps due to the white background. The first tale from Muir Island has the colors soft, with light blues for the sky, light yellow on Gambit, and Rogue’s costume (what there is of it) is light. All I could think of was the coloring techniques of the 80s that tried to adjust for the rapidly changing quality in paper. Frank D’Armata does use darker colors when the pair go searching for something, but then it’s become too dark. Reality can be cheated with colors because this is a comic. The second Muir Island story has darker coloring and I prefer those pages better. The action sequence that closes the book is again very pale: this time because the setting is a dull tan. Brighter colors would have punched up the visuals considerably. Overall grade: B-

The letters: VC’s Joe Caramagna creates this issue’s scene settings, dialogue, sounds, and yells. I like the dialogue on this book, which has the characters’ voices sounding strong even when they’re not yelling. It’s a more traditional font for dialogue and it works well. The sounds on this book are great. They are huge when they need to be and they increase the action. It’s the variety of yells that are really nicely done. They are done in several different ways, showing the reader how to better hear their yells. The villains’ arrival on 15 has a spectacular roar. Overall grade: A

The final line: A decent comic, but nothing spectacular. Granted, things are only getting started, with slight teases of dangers to come. The art was the high point of the issue, though undercut by the light coloring. If one is an X-fan, this should please you. If one is seeking a major Marvel moment, this is not it. Just slightly better than average. Overall grade: B+

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Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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