Jay & Miles X-Plain the X-Men

191 – Unconscionably Sexy (feat. Kelly Thompson)

In which writer Kelly Thompson joins us to talk Rogue and Gambit; Antarctica is Earth’s answer to the Blue Area of the Moon; Kelly unfreezes one of the great X-romances; Rogue has walked a mile in everyone’s shoes; you should probably not take romantic cues from fictional characters; Gambit should always wear hot pink; and continuity is fundamentally messy.


  • What happened in Antarctica
  • The Trial of Gambit
  • Rogue and Gambit
  • Narrative tension vs. growth
  • Dueling accents
  • Kelly’s defining Rogue and Gambit stories
  • The cool-versus-creepy line
  • Making deep cuts accessible
  • The evolution of Rogue
  • The future of the X-line
  • Favorite costumes
  • Equal-opportunity objectification
  • Fundamental contradictions of continuity
  • Hawkeye team-ups
  • Date night with Rogue and Gambit
  • MTV’s Are You the One
  • RomCom hybrids

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  1. Such a fun interview! KT shows such sensibility with her take on bringing in all these decades of continuity (it’s messy). And I couldn’t agree with her more about Rogue, I too missed my sassy flying brick!

  2. Kelly is so awesome, and I’ve really been enjoying ROGUE & GAMBIT a lot. It’s a lot more thoughtful a take on their relationship as I’ve seen in a while.

  3. YES!

    It drives me crazy when couples get together and suddenly there is nothing interesting about them anymore. What couple never has any problems? C’mon, if characters had chemistry to start with, it should still be there together.

  4. Kelly is SPOT ON for writing this couple and this mini has been such an enjoyable read. The anticipation level for each issue is crazy! Hopefully we will see more of her on future X-books and that the response to this mini will encourage Marvel to finally give Gambit and Rogue the full exploration and development they deserve.

  5. Gambit has always been polarizing, some love him, some hate him. I love him. He’s a Cajun badass

  6. Okay, I gotta pick up this series. I was hesitant for the exact worry about how Rogue’s been getting less and less my ideal Rogue for a while…but Kelly seems right on with how she was explaining her thoughts.

    My brother and his wife watch Are You the One? religiously, have had me watch it, and it is as delightfully stupid as Kelly made it out to seem. And I love the idea of Rogue and Gambit eating it up over, like, pizza hut or something.

    TV Rom Coms – I love Crazy Ex Girlfriend (though I guess it’s more of a deconstruction of the Rom Com), The Good Place (also mentioned on this ep and by one of the folks from Brooklyn 99), and You’re the Worst

    As for movie rom coms – Love, Simon! (And I know a bit too much about cheaply made, super-cheesy gay rom coms available on Netflix)

  7. This is the best interview episode you have done. There was so much explaining of the characters and delving into their history, something that can be less talked about with past guests.

    Really hope you can have Kelly back, especially your idea as having her as guest expert for a normal episode. Can you guys get Christina Strain next? She was really good on the Battle of the Atom podcast.

  8. Terrific episode, thanks!

    I may have no personal interest in Rogue and Gambit as a couple, but that shouldn’t preclude other people from enjoying it (Well, I mean, it SHOULD, but as I haven’t achieved world domination yet, so it is what it is 😉 ).

    Kelly, whose work I have enjoyed greatly in other titles (Thank you for “Jem and the Holograms”!) clearly knows and loves the material and it comes through in the discussion!

  9. I’m glad Marjorie Liu’s take on Gambit from her X-23 run got a mention, even though it was right at the end of the episode – for me it’s one of the best uses of the character, period. She took Gambit to a new place – and honestly, she might be the only person who has done that? Every other significant Gambit plot thread seems to be revisiting old plotlines.

    I’m enjoying Rogue & Gambit, it’s very fun and very well written, but, well, it goes right back to the oldest plotline of all, doesn’t it? Though at least it forces R&G to look critically at their relationship, which is something.

    I’m a fan of Rogue and Gambit, but I’ve never been a fan of them as a couple. They are fantastic when they’re flirting, but terrible when they’re actually together. Though the fact that they’ve never been written well as a steady couple doesn’t mean they can’t be written well as one.

    But they’ve really never been written well as a steady couple. Actually, they’ve been pretty dismal. (I think Peter Milligan’s run might have been their lowest point?) One of the thing I really liked about Carey’s run was that he aimed to pretty definietly split them up for good, which benefitted both of them.

    Buuut my main point was supposed to be about Gambit. I love Gambit, ever since I first saw him on X-Men TAS. But I have trouble coming up with comic books with or about Gambit that I think were actually good. Carey’s run is one (there’s not a lot of Remy in it). Liu’s X-23 had some fantastic Gambit. But apart from that? In comics from this century? Nothing else comes to mind.

    Which brings me finally to my main point. Gambit is the mysterious rogue (lower case ‘R’) with his mysterious past and roguish ways. And he’s presented with enough style to pull that off (as there’s not a lot of substance to him).
    Then the mysterious past gets revealed. Whatever you think of his Marauder/Mutant Massacre past or the Antarctic trial, it had to happen. It was a logical continuation of the ‘mysterious past’ bit.

    So then he’s cast away, then he comes back and proves his worth again. Now, I’ll be the first to say that this part of his arc wasn’t good (the whole possession thing and… I don’t know, it was weird) – it wasn’t executed well. But it has been executed. The mysterious rogue has been cast away, there was a penance, he proved his worth again, he was accepted by the X-Men – again.

    Where do you go from that? Because in my opinion, Gambit as a character hasn’t moved from that point ever since. His story basically ended there, and ever since he’s just been in the background (even when he was the main hero of a book). Because, what else can you do? It’s either another round of will they/won’t they with Rogue, which has been done plenty of times, or, even worse, another Thieves Guild story which never ends well. And what even is the Thieves Guild? Gambit has been their leader, I think more than once, but what does he actually do when he does that? What do they do? The whole TG thing is dead weight.

    So. To summarise. After we’ve learned Gambit’s dark secrets, after he atoned for them and was accepted back into the X-Men, nothing interesting has been done with the character. His relationship as X-23’s mentor/friend was the only new, interesting thing that happened to him in this century. I wish it was followed upon by anyone. Maybe once he joins the Red team next issue.

    And all those problems come from his character archetype. The dangerous rogue who you can’t trust, even though he might have a heart of gold. Because, at some point, he gets… I don’t want to say ‘housebroken’, but… He gets accepted, he looses whatever edge there was to him. And after that the writers need to do something else, something new with that character, and that hasn’t happened to Gambit. (Basically, the same thing happened to Han Solo in the old Star Wars Expanded Universe novels, which turned him into Leia’s grumpy househusband.)

    1. Those are interesting observations.

      Disclaimer: Gambit is a character who just doesn’t land for me. For me, he’s that awful ‘90s Kewl character that everyone normally hates. But for some reason people just love this one. (Maybe he does have mutant charm powers, and they work on the reader. :))

      But I think you do a good job of getting across his original appeal, and why it comes with an expiration date. I’d cautiously advance (bearing mind that I wasn’t there for the ‘90s and only know Gambit’s backstory in outline) that a problem here is that when the Mysterious Secret Past was revealed, it didn’t contain anything that would do a good job as a plot engine for the next phase of Gambit’s character and keep him going, and that’s what he needed — to become the former rogue who’s grown up but keeps having his past catch up with him.

  10. Kinda off topic but are there any other prominent Cajun characters in comics? As a half Cajun/French-Korean who grew up in “Cajun country” I do love Gambit but also wish we had a less… let’s say absurd, representative besides Remy and Leatherhead from Ninja Turtles and the occasional highly inaccurate hoodoo adept. Hell, even Vampire the Masquerade tends to do a better job… but anyway, I really loved this episode

    1. Killer Croc has, on occasion been given a very “bayou” accent, but I don’t think that’s been very influential on his character.

  11. As for Rouge, it seems like she and most other X-Women like Storm have been dulled in the wake of (modern) Emma as the “mean girl” and Kitty as the “good girl all grown up” molds and how the new female characters who have followed in these two camps have tended to be colored in these two veins exclusively (all snark and morals); and this modern duality seems to take individuality away from classic characters with very distinct personalities that were not dominated by their gender… such as Storm and Rogue.

    Yeah, they have gotten many short runs where they actually have character and I love them, but when they show up in, say, a crossover or event or series arc where they are so often only in the background they are all regulated to “bad girl”, “good girl”, or “strong female who doesn’t talk or do so much”… so I guess this rant is saying I love what has been done with Rouge by Kelly Thompson, ya know, giving her a personality again, and really, REALLY wish Storm would get one again, too. Kelly Thompson, will you please please please write a series with Storm in it one day? Please?

  12. Gambit’s problem in the last 10-15 years is that once the “big bad secret” was answered and he and Rogue had their extinction level event, no one knew what to do with him. I get that he was not everyone’s favorite character and that he was pigeonholed in the creepy “that dude”. However, he could drive more plot and development with his what’s next story.
    His next logical step would be to find his birth family, learn about his family history and perhaps find out why he was stolen/abandoned.
    Instead he’s been treading water, using tired old pick up lines that were cringe worthy 30 years ago and not developing beyond the lessons he learned.
    Hopefully the writers can take the threads that Kelly has left and follow then to great new arches

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