Ma Cherie: Star-Crossed Love Between Rogue and Gambit

Let’s face it--entertainment has changed. I mean, there are tons of low-quality television programs out there. There always have been and there always will be. But I feel like there are some very high quality ones in recent memory too, aren’t there? Arrested Development, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Office, Community, Modern Family, 24, Battlestar Galactica, Lost.

I’m not saying every episode of the aforementioned series is stellar. I’m just saying that the bar is set higher these days.

I think it’s the same way with comics. The hardcore science fiction focus is always going to be there. But nowadays, I think comics are written with a broader audience in mind. Many ongoing series almost feel directed to me, as if they WERE an hour-long primetime drama. E magazine actually writes reviews on them. You can almost imagine the shot in the last panel before they cut to the credits. And the supplementary characters that round out a superhero’s life get much more screen time.

Now there are plenty of women who like comic books just because they like comic books (just ask Gail Simone, right?). Still, when I was a kid, I didn’t know that many women who were really drawn to reading Captain America or Iron Man.

But X-Men. Women read X-men! Lots of them dug it, back in the 90’s before comic books had even really ‘broken out’ into the mainstream media and Comic-Con was a big deal. I think in part this was due to the high number of female heroes that took the lead in X-Men. Truth be told, memorable, female superheroes are still few and far between. But X-Men had a slew of cool, hardcore female heroes.

But what drew the rest of the female readers in?

It had to be Gambit and Rogue.

It surprises me how far afield these two characters have sort of fallen from this comic. Because for a while there, the two of them really seemed like the reason to read this comic book. Marvel must have had a few employees who were reading romance novels because that’s how covers with Rogue and Gambit looked. You know, like the ones you see in the grocery store with some guy in a field cradling some woman.

And let’s face it, these two characters were cool and we wanted to see them work it out. Once they got rid of Rogue’s weird, punk-rock haircut and gave her that southern gal appeal, she really became one of the book’s most beloved characters. She was tough and heroic and vulnerable.

You really sympathized with how hard things were for her, how much her powers cut her off from other people. On top of that, she had a history with the Brotherhood and the Avengers that she might not ever live down. The X-Men gave her a second chance and you really wanted to see her get her life back.

And Gambit? I always thought his mutant power and the deck of cards thing was slick.

Let's face it though: Gambit is basically every woman’s fantasy. He’s that bad-boy turned good who just maybe is going to turn it all around and settle down because you--ladies--are the one he really wants to be with. I mean, it sounds trite and in reality the execution of allowing this character to evolve from an X-Men ally whose loyalties you could never quite be sure of to a hero and, possibly, a stellar boyfriend was well done. But yes Marvel knew what sold to women at large here.

So we all liked Gambit and Rogue. And we liked this idea that the most womanizing man imaginable was going to give it all up to be with a woman he might never be able to touch but would always love. Because love conquers all and all that.

Of course, no Marvel relationship would be fun without drama.

The problem is? There’s this certain tipping point where Marvel relationships get destroyed because of drama. See, I don’t think Peter and MJ should break up. And I don’t think they should kill off Mr. Fantastic and have the Invisible Woman be a single mother (this happened). AND I DON’T THINK THEY SHOULD HAVE BROKEN THESE TWO UP EITHER.

It always seemed like in one parallel universe or another Rogue was leaving Gambit for Magneto and Gambit would be intolerably damaged by this. The Rogue and Magneto romance is interesting, I admit, and there’s a dedicated fanbase out there who loves the idea that these two would be together. Of course, I think the whole Mystique raised Rogue thing, coupled with the Magneto started the Brotherhood thing, leaves me feeling a bit creeped out by Magneto and Rogue. But hey.

There’s was something going on here that felt sort of like Rogue was going to end up with Magneto because, for the greater good, that actually sort of helped Magneto balance out and be less of a terrorist. Rogue felt like the world needed her to be with Magneto more than it needed her to be with Gambit. Or something like that.

But of course, down the line, that wasn’t the death of these two either it seemed. It was the sudden transition of Gambit as a lovable rogue with a checkered past and heart of gold to a perpetrator of genocide along with Sinsiter and the Maurauders that really just put Gambit on the outs with everyone. Something about this connection never felt right to me and of all the origins they had to cook up to make Gambit’s past bad, this just seemed over the top.

Nowadays, it’s never very clear to me what Gambit is trying to do and who he works for. Rogue was featured in the short-lived (but I think, excellent) X-treme X-Men, but hasn’t had much press since. I’d love to see these two return to the fold in the current line-up of X-Men. Only time will tell if this happens…