ROGUE & GAMBIT #4
Writer: Kelly Thompson
Artist: Pere Pérez
Colorist: Frank D’Armata
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Release Date: 4/4/18
Rogue & Gambit must face each other, and themselves, to stop Lavish from stealing their powers forever.
Plot: Lavish unleashes all of the past Rogues and Gambits in an attempt to overpower the two. She wants their powers and will stop at nothing to get them. In fighting the golems, the couple relives some of their more painful memories.
Story: Rogue & Gambit #4 ups the emotional stakes as this miniseries continues to deconstruct the iconic relationship. Kelly Thompson’s decision to have them see inside of each other’s heads and feel the pain they’ve caused one another adds a brand new depth to the story. This new angle helps the story from becoming repetitive to the earlier therapy sessions and, to use therapy terms, feels like a “real breakthrough.” Thompson proves that these psychological stories can work for more than just your darkest, most brooding characters if you have the right writer with the right idea (and yes, Thompson is the right writer).
The editor’s notes point back to some past issues so interested readers know where to go for the respective storylines. Personally, I love it any time a writer can work in old canon without being beholden to it, a tricky thing to balance in comics. For longtime fans of the characters, it’s nice to see how this miniseries refers back to their long history but also builds something new between them.
Of course, this is a Rogue and Gambit book so we do get a healthy dose of humor. Rogue trades some hilarious barbs with Lavish, the newly revealed baddie, including making a joke at Emma Frost’s expense. I enjoy the meta-commentary about them waiting for her monologue where she reveals her motivations and plan. Miniseries usually have the problem of not developing the villain and this exchange is almost a friendly inside joke to the reader about that.
Art: If Kelly Thompson gets credit for reaching into the annals of X-Men history to select the best Rogue and Gambit stories, that credit is two-fold for artist Pere Pérez who then draws all the past forms of Rogue and Gambit. The amount of research that went into this book is impressive, and you feel transported to the different eras of X-Men in this book. (That wedding scene!) Frank D’Armata’s colors also play an important role in this of course, as his colors also work to capture the distinct look of each story’s era.
The action scenes of them fighting the golems are exciting and I continue to love how he draws Gambit’s powers. I also appreciated the creative panel layout use that helps spotlight some of the individual fights within the madness. Frank D’Armata’s colors are especially important here as well because the panel hues (green and red) denote which real person is fighting.
I was most excited to see how much emotion is packed into this book, something I felt was lacking in earlier issues. This is a heavy story, with two people having to reckon with the hurt they’ve caused another, and with every glance, or look away, Pérez captures the weight of the story.
Verdict: It’s hard to find a miniseries that finds the perfect balance of plot and character development in so little time. Rogue & Gambit has defied those odds, and issue #4 perfectly sets up the series for a grand finale. Longtime fans and new readers alike will love this tribute to the characters and their relationship in an issue that makes you laugh and cry. I can’t be the only reader hoping this series leads to writer Kelly Thompson taking on more X-Men stories in the future.