Jay & Miles X-Plain the X-Men

245 – Natural Causes

Art by David Wynne. Wanna buy the original? Drop him a line!

In which Rogue flouts air traffic regulations; Jay is very sorry for how badly he butchers Gambit’s accent; stealth is directly proportionate to how loudly you dress; Rogue and Gambit win the gold in Pairs Punchin’; Candra is a big jerk; you should ABSOLUTELY NOT remove an impaled object; Rogue busts through some tropes; and we have complicated feelings about the Ultimate universe.


  • Rogue’s biological parents
  • Marvel New Orleans
  • Brood Trouble in the Big Easy
  • Rogue/rogue disambiguation
  • Rogue #1-4
  • Bella Donna Boudreaux
  • What may or may not happen if Rogue kisses a Transformer
  • Cody Robbins (again)
  • Natural causes
  • Supervillain funeral crashers (again)
  • Inverse Ninja Law (Law of Conservation of Ninjutsu)
  • The Bill the Pony incident
  • Relative culpability
  • Nature vs. nurture
  • Tante Mattie (Mattie Baptiste)
  • Candra’s new threads
  • How long it takes to drive from Westchester, NY, to Caledcott, MI
  • How Jay learned to love Gambit (but not to stop worrying)
  • Gris-Gris
  • Lapin
  • Fifolet
  • Punching hallucinations
  • Questa
  • Knives as superpowers
  • Inversions of several gendered superhero tropes
  • Closure
  • The limits of intent
  • Magnetos’ (sometimes) kids’ hair
  • Whether we’ll cover Ultimate X-Men

NEXT EPISODE: Spiky boys, yelling!

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  1. Reading this one did not make me want to go back and read the Gambit miniseries. But it didn’t make me not want to, either. Basically, this miniseries is forgettably OK for me, writing that’s in one eye and out the other, with decent art by a Mike Wieringo who was still getting to where he would be a few years later.

    But I’m impressed by that breathlessly hypetastic “Finally! Because you demanded it…First issue collector’s item!” on the front cover of #1. Attaching that to this quiet little throwaway miniseries for the hardcore Rogue/Gambit fans is a real time-capsule from 1995.

    Me, I have to wonder if this sort of thing would work better as a subplot within the main X-Men books. Follow Rogue and Gambit off on their own adventure as the B-plot to balance the A-plot of the rest of the X-Men angsting about whatever they’re angsting about at the moment. That’s a natural soap opera technique (one that Claremont used), for “comic’s greatest superhero soap opera.” Absolutely standard for TV at the time too, of course.

  2. I confess I’m less forgiving than our hosts about making Rogues first miniseries be not about her plot, but the third chapter of a Gambit story.

    True, she didn’t have a lot of backstory at the time, but this would have been the perfect time to GIVE her some, rather than the somewhat clumsily handled Cody appearance being tacked on to yet another round of Gambit’s by now slightly stale plot in Nawleeins. (If you didn’t care about the world of Teeves and Assassins by now, this wasn’t likely to change your mind.)

    I’d much rather a Rogue miniseries focused on her and her place in the world, not how her relationship with a male character can be used as a back door to expand HIS story.

    1. Could it not be read that Rogue’s story isn’t her past, but her future, and she is hoping to possibly share that future with Remy. His past and its ramifications are the world she is pushing into. His story is much more about letting go of his past and finding a new family, and so the two of them dealing with his past, to create their future, seems about right?

      I don’t need a whole new slew of badly sketched out characters, powers and incidents cluttering Rogue’s life. With Cody here, then Mystique and Carol and her time as a villain, then her shaky time getting used to being an X-man and being a part of that family, I don’t need a Wolverine-level of history for every character. What has happened in the past for Rogue isn’t the point, it’s her future that’s more interesting and, for her, something she actually CAN control.

      1. Except by dragging Rogue into this story it kinda did saddle her with a slew of badly sketched out characters, the Teeves and Assassins are mostly a generic crowd and not ones that have any resonance wuith her.

        I think it’s more about whether it should have had anything to do with Gambit at all. his story is HIS story, not hers and this is her mini-series, not his.

        Her outlined personal history is fairly low key, true, but one of her biggest problems is not her past, but the past of all the people she has had in her head.

        It’s been implied more than a few times that her past is fairly unclear to her because she’s had so many memories come and go into her head (and in Carol’s case stay there) that she’s not sure which memories are her’s and which aren’t. To me that’d be a story worth telling, her trying to find the truth of her own specific personal past so she can face the future as herself, not the patchwork of other people she sometimes fears she is.

        It would be a very different sort of a story to this one, but it could have added depth to Rogue as a person that this doesn’t, and at least it would been a Rogue-centric story, not the tail end of someone else’s.

        1. You raise a troubling point. Gambit is being treated as the sun character, and Rogue is orbiting him.

          And is it a more general problem with Rogue in the X-books at this point? We have here a character who was prominent in UXM for several years, during which her most important and interesting relationships and history were with other women: Mystique and Destiny on the one hand, and Carol Danvers on the other.

          In this era, what’s the first thing one would say to describe Rogue as a character (after not being able to touch other people, obviously)? I have a horrible feeling that it would be that she’s Gambit’s not-girlfriend. Certainly, that seems to have become her defining character relationship.

          In a way, it was inevitable that impossible romance would be a feature of a character with those particular powers. (No reason why it had to be heterosexual, though.) But I don’t think that it needed to become Rogue’s “designated subplot” to this extent, the be-all and end-all of her character, and it sort of leaves a bad taste in the mouth that this is happening to a female character who *wasn’t* built around relationships with men.

          1. –(No reason why it had to be heterosexual, though.)–

            I think Marvel Editorial would have absolutely ensured it was, remembering the hoops Claremont had to jump through to get Destiny and Mystique together, and the whole “Northstar isn’t gay, he’s a half-elf” thing over in Alpha Flight.

            1. Well, to be fair the original Northstar-is-explicitly-gay* thing that they tried to take back was (I understand) in 1992. So not too distant in time from the beginning of Rogue and Gambit Forever. But I suppose that was (a) making explicit something that had been made so obvious that it barely counted as implicit and (b) was in a much less high-profile title where you could get away with more.

              So, yes, let me correct that to “No reason why you couldn’t have put it off for just a few more years until we reached a point at which the impossible romance was same-sex.”

              Any more than that, and I’m opening the door to “But Gambit was the Sensational Character Find of 1990, the sexy and charming thief who was everyone’s favorite, so of course there was no way they wouldn’t want to set him up with some other character, and it had to be either Rogue or Psylocke.” I’m keeping that door firmly shut. 🙂

              *I’ve never read that particular issue of Alpha Flight. I probably should — I’ve heard that it was hilariously over-the-top in how it handled the reveal, and that might amuse me.

  3. For me, the best Ultimate X-Men stories were the Brian Vaughan’s run. Ok, that and the X-Men’s appearances in Ultimate Spider-Man. Vaughan’s run had a wonderful nod to “Corsair,” a fun take on Scott & Jean’s teenage relationship, and taught me the German word “weltschmerz.” And the always fantastic Stuart Immonen drew a decent chunk of it, too.

    Overall, I felt like Ultimate Spidey achieved exactly what the Ultimate books were designed to do. Like Batman: the Animated Series, it distilled years of narrative into a cohesive ongoing serial. And it was just funny and emotional and engaging.

  4. I’m surprised the choice-making ending will be called back with Gambit and Sabretooth much later on. Never knew until today they were referencing this story.

  5. If no one has mentioned it yet, Bill the pony died in the 1978 Bakshi “Lord of the Rings”, it’s fairly traumatizing with Sam calling out “Poor Bill!” I can only assume that this might be what Miles was thinking of when he assumed Bill died in the other adaptions.

  6. Wait, I’m not entirely up to date on things, but I am in the process of buying Ultimate books. Who is it that I need to avoid on Ultimate X-Men? I mean, one doesn’t need to get into the details, if it feels like I am here for gossip. I trust Jay implicitly, so just a name will do.

  7. Oh wait. Nevermind my previous inquiry message. It’s Millar, right? I completely blanked him from my brain because of him being a British Nationalist and hateful Brexiteer. Of *course* he’s also all the other things.

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