Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Re-Enter: Rogue!

OR: "Begging Your Pardon, But--Aren't You My Nemesis?"

A lot of water has come and gone under the bridge for Carol Danvers since she began taking the first steps to reclaim her life after having her memories and powers usurped by the mutant Rogue following a vicious ambush. Having achieved closure with the Avengers and severing her ties with the team, she began her recovery while residing with the X-Men--and in the process she found that, although no longer possessing the strength or powers of Ms. Marvel, her physical state still appears to be above that of a normal human. Just ask the alien Starjammers, who are also currently in the company of the X-Men and who have offered to help Dr. Peter Corbeau assess her status.

As we can see, while Carol is well on the road to becoming a vital person in her own right, there are still some demons for her to overcome--as well as scores to settle, particularly with Rogue, who remains at large along with Mystique. But a risky mission the X-Men must shortly undertake will bring her closer to a reckoning in that regard. The question is: Is she ready to face it?

Thanks to Senator Robert Kelly, Chairman of an ad hoc Congressional committee on mutant affairs, the X-Men find themselves in the position of having to take action to protect their security. Despite his life being saved by the team during an assassination attempt on him by the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants (led by Mystique), Kelly continues to use his position as well as the media to stoke the fires of paranoia and fear in regard to mutants--including the X-Men, a group he labels as outlaws. One of these media broadcasts has caught the attention of Moira MacTaggert, who recommends the X-Men's next course of action.

Since the plan involves breaching the security of the Pentagon, the X-Men would be fools not to avail themselves of the services of both Wolverine and Carol, both of whom have military backgrounds--and it's Carol who suggests how they should proceed, though Wolverine proves to be no slouch in the resourcefulness department.

Where the X-Men are involved, however, pandemonium can and often does break out without warning--and in this case, it's due to a brush in the hallway with none other than the one person that Carol Danvers craves to settle accounts with.

It's something of an oversight on the part of writer Chris Claremont that Rogue, of all people, is able to walk around the halls of the Pentagon without the slightest worry of being taken into custody. After her encounter with the Avengers, the team would have forwarded the profiles of both Rogue and Mystique to the proper authorities; and Iron Man, in particular, would have put S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Pentagon on alert, given his concerns about top-secret equipment being used by Mystique during the attack. Mystique, due to her shape-changing ability as well as her cover in the Defense Department as Raven Darkhölme, would be safe enough--but despite any credentials that she would have provided Rogue, the woman must have at least a dozen accounts of her description in any number of offices in that building that would have alerted security forces to her presence, in spite of the building's immense size and the unlikelihood of her being randomly spotted. Just look at who's bumped into her in a matter of minutes, just by chance.

At any rate, the cat's out of the bag for Rogue, who must now deal with the attack of the X-Men. And even with the powers of Ms. Marvel, she might just have her hands full with Wolverine--if not for another oversight by Claremont that puts him at an almost immediate disadvantage, an oversight brought to our attention by Rogue herself.

It's simply preposterous to propose that in all this time, Carol has never divulged to the X-Men the methods that Rogue uses to transfer another's powers and memories to herself; in fact, given her long period of convalescence with them, there's no way it could be avoided. Wolverine might not have been able to prevent Rogue from making contact with him--but the notion that he was unprepared for it is absurd.

Fortunately, neither Storm nor Carol are ones to stand on the sidelines here.

With the X-Men now loose in the Pentagon, all hell breaks loose in terms of finding them and securing the building. But Carol has also been found, by one who can walk the corridors of the Pentagon with impunity.

As for Rogue, Claremont has made her as relentless as she was when she faced the Avengers and nearly trounced them--and instead of avoiding the risk of capture by security forces, she instead flaunts her abilities and pursues the X-Men without restraint. As a result, Storm is forced to call in the reserves--but the battle only escalates.

Elsewhere, Mystique has trailed Carol to the computer center, where she prepares to introduce the X-Men's virus into the system. For reasons unknown, Mystique is obsessed with Carol's death--and to that end, she shape-shifts to the persona of Nick Fury, in order to avoid Carol suspecting her motives until it's too late. The stratagem succeeds, and nearly proves fatal.

Since we know Mystique's skill as a hand-to-hand combatant, it's a little difficult to swallow Carol being such a match for her, especially after being grazed by a bullet. And what's with these recollections of hers, so personal in nature? "...trained by the best to be the best"? Following Rogue's attack, Carol has become aware of her identity--but her past as Carol Danvers is as lost to her as her memories.

Regardless, she certainly seems motivated enough to make sure that the unconscious Mystique is dealt with, permanently. But what about the X-Men? To say that they have a fight on their hands is putting it mildly, even as Storm's stolen power reverts to its rightful wielder. The team has the will to resist Rogue--but, as battered as they are (from facing not only the power of Ms. Marvel but also Rogue's siphoning of their abilities), they're running out of options. Eventually, for the sake of their mission, they must settle for a stalemate.

I was never a regular reader of Ms. Marvel, but it wasn't my impression that she was such a powerhouse and possessed such stamina. Shrugging off lightning bolts? Threatening to reduce the Pentagon to rubble without a sweat? I don't recall even Captain Marvel being so formidable.

As for Carol, Mystique finds herself getting a reprieve this time--while Carol takes the opportunity to formally sever herself from the life she once led.

The burning question that Mystique leaves hanging in the air, of course, is: Why this vendetta against Carol Danvers? We'll settle that account in another post.

X-Men #158

Script: Chris Claremont
Pencils: Dave Cockrum
Inks: Bob Wiacek
Letterer: Joe Rosen

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