Ironically, it was news of Rogue’s recent death in the pages of Uncanny Avengers that spurred my decision to resurrect Sugah & Spice. I was playing online in Marvel Heroes a couple of weeks ago when I saw another player make reference to Rogue’s death in social chat. Naturally, I immediately minimized the game and frantically Googled, “Is Rogue dead?” The last issue of Uncanny Avengers I had read was #5, so I had a lot of catching up to do — starting with the pages where Rogue kills Wanda and is killed by the Grim Reaper and working my way back through the issues leading up to that event.
Rick Remender’s stint on Uncanny Avengers has had its pluses and minuses. Overall, he tells a compelling story (the scene where the Red Skull uses his newly-stolen mind control powers to incite everyday people to murder was great, as are pretty much every scene featuring the Apocalypse Twins). Nonetheless, I was very disappointed with his portrayal of Rogue; most of the time, she seemed to be included purely as a foil to the more level-headed (!) Scarlet Witch. Rogue blames Wanda for Cyclops’ decision to murder Charles Xavier, and, after the House of M, doesn’t trust her not to cause further damage to the world’s remaining mutant population. For her part, Wanda argues that mutants, including Rogue, have brought much of their own persecution upon themselves by continually seeking to define themselves as “other.” What might have been an interesting debate between two equals instead degenerated — over and over — into name-calling and threats.
Rick Remender explains why he’s written her this way in a recent interview with CBR:
Then in “AvX” the mutants lose Professor X. I wanted to show the repercussions of that in one particular person and that was Rogue. Like many of us do when we’re experiencing guilt or mourning she reverted back to who she was, which was an angry person. So for me, as I analyzed that, it made sense for Rogue to be the one because of her past, whereas Logan is trying the road of the samurai. He’s trying to make good because of the responsibility on his shoulders. That was why I always said Rogue kind of becomes the Wolverine.
Writing Rogue as Wolverine is going to be a hard sell for most fans, male or female.
Painful mischaracterizations aside, as I said, the storyline itself is interesting, with multiple warring factions providing an ample source of conflict for our heroes (and with each other). To summarize the major actors in the story arc:
|With tensions between mutants and humans at record high levels, the Avengers Unity Division is formed with the hope of providing a positive example to the public of mutants and humans working together. Borrowing from both the Avengers (Thor, Wasp, Scarlet Witch, Wonder Man) and X-Men teams (Rogue, Wolverine, Sunfire) and lead by Cyclops’ younger brother, Havok, tensions between would-be teammates boil over and schism the team within the first few issues.|
|A Nazi groomed by Hitler himself and long-time adversary of Captain America, the Red Skull hates many things. The latest target for his hatred is mutantkind. Stealing the corpse of Charles Xavier, he extracts a part of the world-class telepath’s brain and fuses it with his own, granting him incredible telepathy and mind control powers. We learn from several sources throughout the series that he will eventually use these powers to drive humanity to a mutant-hating frenzy, resulting in the internment of mutants in mutant concentration camps.|
His hope of becoming the next heir of Apocalypse thwarted by the births of Uriel and Eimen, Kang the Conqueror despises mutantkind as a threat to his rule of Earth. Using his powers of time manipulation and under the auspices of preparing them for their exalted status as heirs of Apocalypse, he expends considerable effort torturing the Apocalypse Twins, going so far as to consign them to the mutant death camps of the future.
|Twin siblings Uriel and Eimen were born of a union between Warren Worthington and the Pestilence Horseman, Ichisumi. Originally thought to be the next heirs to Apocalypse, they were spirited away through time by Kang and, upon their eventual return, killed a Celestial just as he was about to bestow the mantle of Apocalypse upon Genocide. Each twin possesses some form of chronomancy, abilities which they use to pursue their goal of safeguarding mutantkind by rewriting Kang’s intended future and transporting all mutants — willing or otherwise — to a new homeworld. Lacking the power to do this themselves, they seemingly manage to sway the Scarlet Witch to their cause by presenting it as an opportunity for redemption for her actions at the end of the House of M story arc.|
|The Four Horsemen are allied with the Apocalypse Twins, Uriel and Eimen, who brought them back from the dead: Sentry, Banshee, Grim Reaper and Daken. They are determined to prevent anyone — human or mutant — from interfering with the Twins’ plans for mutantkind. Having been slain by his father, Daken takes particular interest in torturing Wolverine. Rogue accidentally killed Grim Reaper in Uncanny Avengers #5, having underestimated the power she had absorbed from Wonder Man. He, in turn, kills her in Uncanny Avengers #14.|
In Uncanny Avengers #14, the Scarlet Witch has lead the Apocalypse Twins to believe that she will go along with their plan to forcibly abduct and relocate the mutant population from Earth to a new homeworld. However, she plans to summon the mutants of Earth — not into the stasis units that would keep them immobile — but onto the ship fully conscious and able to battle the Twins. Naturally, none of this has been communicated to Rogue who arrives and murders Wanda in an effort to prevent what she believes will be another disaster on the level of House of M. Her efforts to stop the (not-actually-evil) spell are for naught, however, since Wonder Man sacrifices himself to provide her the necessary energy to finish.
Rogue’s death at the hands of the Grim Reaper is gruesome as she is first impaled by Reaper’s scythe and subsequently electrocuted. (I think Steve McNiven secretly wanted an excuse to draw an electrocuted skeleton because COOL.) At the time of her death, Rogue had imprinted Wolverine’s bone claws. You might think she would also have been in possession of his phenomenal healing factor, but – thanks to recent events in Wolverine’s own title – he doesn’t presently have a healing factor. Given the nature of how Wolverine has been depowered – viral infection – it’s unclear whether his healing factor is simply being suppressed or if his DNA has been altered in a more permanent fashion. Only in the former case would I expect that Rogue would still have been able to imprint his healing factor, a power so strong it’s allowed Wolverine to come back from near-disintegration. Logic aside, I’m sure they’ll find a way to return both Rogue to life eventually, whether it requires Wolverine’s healing factor to be retroactively declared to have been “dormant” or time-travelling.
It’s always jarring to witness the death of a beloved character, but I find myself particularly frustrated at what felt like deliberate character assassination leading up to Rogue’s death, like she was written to be completely unrelatable/unlikeable so that her death would be more acceptable to the reader. Wanda’s death, on the other hand, was tragic because a) she was trying to outsmart Uriel and Eimen and b) she had just found true love and a path to redemption with Simon. I have to admit that, as anxious as I am for Rogue to not be dead, I hope she is resurrected in a different title under a different writer.
- Interview with Rick Remender at Multiversity Comics
- Remender Creates a New Marvel Universe in “Uncanny Avengers” at ComicBookResources.com
- Death Knocks Three Times for Marvel’s “Uncanny Avengers” at HollywoodReporter.com
- Death Panels: Does Mortality Matter in Superhero Comics? at Comics Alliance