X-Men (vol.2) #45 (October, 1995)
“The Enemy of My Enemy”
Writer – Fabian Nicieza
Pencils – Andy Kubert
Inks – Cam Smith
Colors – Kevin Somers and Malibu’s Hues
Letters – Richard Starkings and Comicraft
Edits – Raab, Harras
Cover Price: $3.95
I’ve long talked about this issue’s place in my own personal comics-collecting “journey”, even just the other day… but, haven’t yet written an article to discuss what goes on behind the tarted-up and up-priced cover.
So, here goes!
We open with Rogue absolutely flipping out on Iceman. They have been on kind of a road trip ever since she put Gambit into a coma in the moments before the Age of Apocalypse kicked off. He’s since woken up… but, I don’t know if she knows that. Iceman’s pretty conflicted… and blames himself for Rogue’s outburst. Worth noting, he kind of has a crush on her at this point… so, yeah, this is before the Bendis retcon. Bobby ices up to try and defend himself… but it’s no use, she smashes up an ice-construct and soars into the sky.
Rogue finally calms down… long enough to express fear that she’s “too late”. When asked “too late for what”, she says “everything”. Ya see, she managed to nyoink some memories out of Gambit’s head… and this is back when they were still figuring out his past. Rogue says plainly that she has to confront those memories… those secrets, otherwise she’ll be running for the rest of her life.
Over to Gambit, in Seattle. It’s raining, because it’s Seattle. He’s there because he knows that’s where Rogue will be headed… and he’s not keen on her learning the “truth”.
Back to Rogue, at a Bar by the University of Washington. She’s wearing very little clothes… which, isn’t ideal when her powers are based on skin-to-skin contact. She asks for a beer… and damn near every patron in the place is happy to oblige. She’s so out to lunch that she even goes to pinch one of them on the cheek — luckily, Bobby’s there to stop her… though, the drunken college kids don’t seem to appreciate him stepping in.
Rogue loses it again, and starts smashing the place up. All the while ranting about her curse of a mutant power. For a moment, it looks like she’s going to settle down… so, naturally Bobby presses her about what she learned when she kissed Gambit. This… naturally, sets her off again.
She flies through the roof… which tips off all of the bar patrons that they’re nothin’ but stinkin’ muties… as if her destroying the literal bar with her fist wasn’t enough. Lucky for Bobby, who was left by his lonesome, Gambit bursts through the wall before the drunks can attempt a dogpile. As they leave, Bobby asks if Gambit has any idea what Rogue might have learned. He’s all “yup… got lotsa ideas” — When asked if he cares to share… he’s all “nope”.
We shift over to Manhattan, where anti-mutant muckity muck, Graydon Creed is sold on the idea of running for President of the United States in 1996.
Back in Seattle, we rejoin Rogue at a dilapidated theatre. She is soon joined by Gambit and Iceman. Bobby’s surprised that Gambit knew exactly where to go, but really… should he be? Rogue is shocked to find Gambit still among the living. They talk about secrets… and trust… and love. Rogue isn’t sure she can love him if she can’t trust him. Gambit ain’t sure he can love her if he can’t touch her. Hmm… that’s not exactly the same thing…
Rogue snaps again… tells Gambit she can feel his heart pounding… it seems like he’s realized he’s finally gotten caught. She yanks the curtain rigging down on top of Gambit. He tries to reason with her, but she ain’t havin’ it. She flies off through yet another roof, Bobby gives chase.
Rogue insists that Bobby is only sticking his nose into this matter because of a recent altercation he had with Emma Frost getting into his head. He doesn’t deny that.
With this bit of a distraction, Gambit is able to hit Rogue with a charged-up section of rope. This knocks her out of the sky, and sends her back into the theatre. Gambit’s had enough… enough seeing Rogue in such a state… enough of the lies… and it looks as though he’s about to reveal exactly what went down in this theatre back in the long ago. But, he doesn’t… instead, he says that’s all been “buried”, which doesn’t really help anybody.
Rogue talks about the near-fatal kiss… the M’Krann Crystal wave doing its thing… she’d never kissed anyone since killing Cody (err, Freddie) as a kid… she couldn’t help herself. So, she’s kind of blaming herself for all this… which kinda seems unfair, doesn’t it? I mean, Gambit always seemed up for it… regardless of risk. Gambit uses his gloved hand to wipe away Rogue’s tears… even tasting one to illustrate how they can still find ways to “touch” each other.
They embrace… but Gambit pulls back. He removes his glove and holds out his hand… offering Rogue the opportunity to learn more, if she so desires. Naturally, she does not. Rogue tells Iceman that she’s leaving the X-Men for a bit… but tells him to go back and be strong. She and Gambit tell each other that they love each other… but, ya know, sometimes love ain’t enough. Rogue flies off again… this time not through a roof! Or maybe it was through the hole she already made in the roof… I dunno.
Gambit tells Bobby to go home… and informs him that he’ll back back soon after… he’s gonna stick around Seattle for a few days. He also suggests that Rogue will eventually return to the X-Men… but, probably not to him (uh huh).
The following night, while walking down a seedy street, Gambit sees Mister Sinister in a darkened alley. They exchange pleasantries… a lot of “you can’t change your past” kind of stuff, before Sinister vanishes.
What can I say? This was a great issue.
Almost in spite of the pointless “tarted up” cover, this story doesn’t go for the cheap pop. Instead, we get some progression in a story/relationship we’d all been following for years at this point. A (relatively) “quiet issue”, the likes of which we really don’t get to see anymore. Weird, isn’t it? Comics have gotten more and more “talky” and insanely more decompressed… and yet, issues like this aren’t really a thing anymore. Just an issue to collect ourselves… collect our thoughts, and kinda just get to know our characters as people. Just doesn’t happen anymore… least not in the X-Books.
If you’re reading this, well, you probably stumbled upon it by accident… or need to learn how to properly spell “crisis”, so your Googling doesn’t send you here, but also – you probably already know how this Rogue/Gambit/Sinister thing shakes out. Even back in the long ago, it was like the worst kept secret in comics. For all the rose-colored joy I have for the era, I can’t deny that they would drag things out… almost to the point where the eventual reveals couldn’t help but to fall flat. The mystery surrounding Gambit’s past… I think that might be one’a them. Still fun reading, but — I remember how this felt like it was dragging.
This is Fabian Nicieza’s final issue… which, as the letters page (below) suggests, is The End of an Era. Nicieza was the writer of the very first issue of an X-Book I bought: X-Men (vol.2) #13! I’m sure I couldn’t have told you that back then — I probably still thought Stan Lee was writing everything. Looking back, Nicieza’s writing style had a lot to do with me falling in love with these characters… and was a large part of me coming back to the shop week after week. I’d say, with this issue, he ended his run on a terrific high note.
Part of me wonders what my fandom would look like had this not come in a gimmicked package with a $3.95 price tag on it. Surely I’d not have walked away in 1995, right? Heck, maybe I’d have actually started writing about this stuff sooner… back when I had some potential, and a much better grasp of grammar and vocabulary. Back before the niche was flooded with folks who deal out “10 outta 10” reviews for their weekly pat on the head? Hmm, who knows…
Anyway, thanks for reading while I continue to wind this thing down.
(Near Impossible to read) Letters Page: