By Kelly Thompson, Pere Pérez, Frank D’Armata, Joe Caramagna
The X-Men’s history can be described as the most melodramatic soap opera in comics, filled with everything from surprise familial relations to rotating romantic couples. Mix that with defending the world from cosmic entities, things can get pretty complicated. So it’s always nice when a series takes a closer look at one of these relationships and spends time to explore it headfirst. Rogue & Gambit‘s debut issue is the beginning of an adventure that will make both casual and hardcore fans very happy, with genuine characters that find themselves stuck with each other, hopefully for the better.
While there is a general plot concerning the disappearance of mutants after they go to a couples retreat, the meat of the issue is the connection between the titular characters. An introductory splash page makes many references to exactly how much Rogue and Gambit have been through together, along with the pain that comes with these memories. Stuck on the mission with each other due to this history, they have ample time to get to the bottom of where they stand. The conflict between the two drives the narrative forward. They both act as we expect them to, with Rogue having mixed feelings and Gambit maybe coming on a little too strong.
Kelly Thompson’s strong suit is writing authentic, fun dialogue. It’s what makes her Hawkeye series such a delight to read. But Rogue & Gambit makes it clear that she’s able to take any character and make them feel truly alive. The back-and-forth between Rogue and Gambit fields many different emotions. At times its uncomfortable reading into a conversation between two people who on some level want to be together but it’s apparent that it never works out. From there, it can quickly evolve into projecting an intense love that might make it all worth it anyways. All the while, there’s still time to poke fun and involve other teammates in the mix. Thompson is able to hit all these points in succession, providing complex characters that are really enjoyable to read.
On the art side, Pere Pérez draws a really compelling Gambit. On most panels he oozes the smarmy bravado he’s known for. On others, his expressions expose the hurt figure within. The same amount of detail is given to Rogue, deviating between frazzled anger and welcoming acceptance. While a couple of supporting characters don’t have as much attention given to them, it’s clear that they aren’t the focus. Colorist Frank D’Armata doubles down on the idea that the setting is a paradise, allowing the inviting rays of the sun to radiate on the cast. He also conveys the dynamic action of the Danger Room to its highest explosive potential by using shades of purple to their fullest.
For a first issue, Rogue & Gambit does more than enough to warrant your attention. Quick entertaining dialogue and beautiful art make this a great start to a mini-series that places the interactions of its characters firmly first. For those that want a comic that goes beyond the standard superheroics and that’s on a relatable level, it’s clear that Rogue and Gambit are in the right hands.