In Review: Rogue & Gambit #1

Rogue and Gambit are on a mission at a getaway paradise that might lead to them rekindling their relationship.

The covers: Six different frontpieces for this first issue. The Regular cover by Kris Anka has Rogue in the foreground, flying at the reader, pulling back her right to deliver a powerful punch. In the background is Gambit, throwing four playing cards forward, with one just whizzing past Rogue. The perspective on Rogue looks wonky to me, so I passed on this one. The Daniel Acuna Uncanny Avengers Variant features several character, but no Gambit. This covers sports the Human Torch, Thor, Wasp, the Scarlet Witch, Wolverine, Captain America, Rogue, Sunspot, Deadpool. Cable, and Havok. It’s nice, but really should have both characters on the cover. The next Variant is by Bilquis Everly & Mat Lopes and is the cover I chose to accompany this review. A large image of Rogue has the hero flying forward and to her left. She looks fantastic, is colored brilliantly, and stands out against the capital building, which is almost wholly white. I love this. Yes, Gambit is not on this, but Rogue looks sensational. Mike McKone & Rachelle Rosenberg have created the cover I purchased: the Legacy Headshot Variant. This features a close-up of Rogue’s head that’s similar to the illustrations that appeared in the upper left corner of Marvel comics in the 1980’s. She looks incredible with her hood up and just a tuft of white hair showing. Steve Skroce & Dave Stewart have the penultimate Variant. A good accompanying piece to the Everly and Lopes cover, this features Gambit flying towards his right. He looks great, with some glowing cards in his right hand and his staff behind his back in his left. The background is a typical building in New Orleans on Mardi Gras, complete with cheering people and confetti flying about. The image is a little dark, as it’s colored to be night. Set in the day would have had this looking perfect.  There’s also a Blank Sketch cover that features only the title and price at the top, allowing a fan to get an artist to create a one of a kind cover or get the issue’s creators to sign it. This is a great idea for a cover, but on its own, it’s not that great. Overall grades: Regular B-, Uncanny Avengers Variant B, Everly Variant A, Legacy Headshot Variant A, Skroce Variant B, and Blank Sketch cover C

The story: I haven’t read a Rogue comic book since the early 1990’s. I was a die hard X-Men junkie, but I grew tired of the team when they ended up in Australia and Gambit joined. I admit that I’ve never really cared for the Cajun. I picked this book up simply to see if my version of Rogue was the same as I remembered her or was close enough. Kelly Thompson begins this issue by showing six different moments in the life of this heroic pair, leading to a double-paged spread of the twosome fighting against shattering glass. Each shard shows the couple either in love, dating, or fighting. The text for these three pages is as follows: “If time is a circle then everything happens at once.” After the page of credits, the scene moves to Ciudad Paraiso where three mutants are running down a street at night. The trio has to hide in an alley because one of them has injured their foot. They pause and one states that she has almost no power left, with another stating, “Same for me, but I’m still not going back there.” What this obtuse dialogue means is unrevealed for a character with glowing blue eyes appears. “No. You are not.” A blinding blast of light hits the three and they fall to the ground, their eyes a clear white. Their unseen attacker says, “From the looks of it, all three of you have completed the program.” This mystery is left for later, as the story then moves to the Xavier Institute for Mutant Outreach and Education in Central Park, New York. What the mutants are doing made my heart sing and I was taken to my childhood by their actions. After this fun sequence, the motivation for the story is given and Rogue and Gambit are off on an assignment. The couple’s banter is fine, with each getting the upper hand fairly equally. The penultimate page sets up the cliffhanger well, and it’s a funny line that ends the book. Thompson had enough that was familiar to keep me engaged and enough that was new to make me want to continue reading. Ms. Thompson, you’ve gained a reader. Overall grade: A-

The art: Pere Peréz is a solid artist on this book. The mutants on the run and their discovery on Pages 4 and 5 is good, with the antagonist nicely hidden in silhouette and the blast that it makes extremely powerful looking. I liked the empty eyes of the villain’s victims. Rogue’s first appearance on 7 is great and her foe looks awesome. I really like the layout of panels two through five on this page, with Gambit looking exceptionally well drawn, intercut with Rogue in action. The large panel that spreads from 8 to 9 is from an excellent point of view. The action on the rest of the page also looks good, with the panels done in horizontal slashes to make the action quick. The introduction of the character on 12 is fine until the third panel where she’s as stiff as a board. After this, she really comes to life on 13. Peréz moves the point of view around really well on 14, creating some terrific emotions for the pair. The reactions he gives the twosome in the first three panels on 15 is the best, as the background is the same in all three panels, but the characters’ movements and emotions change beautifully. The look of worry on the title characters’ faces in the third panel on 17 foreshadows possible problems. Tension is nicely created on 19 as Peréz pulls dangerously close to the characters, suggesting that intimacy is soon to occur. This leads to a great visual punchline that the dialogue increases on the final page. Though the characters are only in action for four pages in this issue, I was impressed with how the characters looked and the well rendered settings. Overall grade: A-

The colors: The first page that features several images of this couple’s past has the heroes brightly colored, while their background is entirely white. This is a slick misleading bit of work by Frank D’Armata who has an explosion of colors on the next two pages as the glass shatters. The two pages that has the frightened trio in the streets is dimly colored to create the night, but D’Armata keeps the imagery bright enough so that every element of the panels can still be seen. I really liked the coloring of the second panel on Page 3, where discretion was needed and D’Armata used just that. The next four pages have a lot of green as Rogue is in action and quite a bit of violet for Gambit’s contributions, as well as the colors of their large foes. The remainder of the book is colored very softly, as those colors evoke an island getaway. I’m hoping that in upcoming issues the colors get much brighter, at least when the action occurs. Overall grade: B+

The letters: VC’s Joe Caramagna creates narration, scene settings and character identifiers, dialogue, and words spoken quietly, but not whispers. I was happy to see that the narration was a different font from the dialogue; that’s always a good sign of a strong letterer. However, I don’t understand why the font used to identify characters on Page 7 is exactly the same as the scene settings. It might have been done to associate the characters more closely with the shown location, but this doesn’t play out with all the other characters. A different font should have been used for the characters. The dialogue is good and easy to read, while the quiet words near the book’s close have the dialogue come off very realistically. Overall grade: B+ 

The final line: Rogue and Gambit are on a mission at a getaway paradise that might lead to them rekindling their relationship. I loved Rogue, thought Gambit was okay, (That’s my personal bias) and the visuals were good. Barely any physical conflict in this issue, so I’m hoping for some more next issue. I’ll definitely continue to see what happens next. 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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