Mr. and Mrs. X #1
Written by Kelly Thompson
Art by Oscar Bazaldua and Frank D’Armata
Lettered by Joe Sabino
Published by Marvel Comics
‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10
Marriages in pop culture rarely go as smoothly as their participants would like. One of the pair has second thoughts, a long-lost lover shows up unannounced. The groom says the wrong name at the altar. In the world of comic books, this summer promised two big weddings, the union of Kitty Pryde and Piotr Rasputin in X-Men: Gold #30, and Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle in Batman #50. Neither issue delivered what was built up over many months of marketing, but in the case of the X-Men, we got the curveball of Remy LeBeau and Anna Marie become husband and wife. Following Kelly Thompson’s strong work on the previous Rogue and Gambit miniseries, Mr. and Mrs. X builds off the direction taken by the miniseries and the wedding issue, but the first chunk of this debut issue stays within the timeframe of the latter.
Thompson’s script picks up as impromptu preparations for Rogue and Gambit’s ceremony are getting underway. Compared to how Kitty and Colossus’s wedding went wrong, it’s a relatively breezy ceremony. There’s little trouble to deal with, just conversation between various attendees. Ororo, X-23, and Honey Badger help to get Gambit ready, while Rogue has a quick conversation with Illyana, but thankfully this doesn’t result in a second case of second thoughts. As a result, it’s an example of a wedding issue done right because it avoids contriving drama for the sake of plotting or regression on characters’ behalf.
One moment involving Rogue and the arrival of another character looks like it could be the thing which finally turns the day sour - the assembled audience even comments on this - but just panels later, the threat of trouble is relieved. This issue marks a major moment in the pair’s history, and ultimately speaks to the great strength of this wedding: it doesn’t get by just by having various X-characters coming as part of a splash page’s scenery, but instead emphasizes the connections forged by them all.
As a result, Thompson’s script is brimming with character-focused dialogue, but the full effect achieved wouldn’t be possible without Oscar Bazaldua and Frank D’Armata. It’s not the art team which worked with Thompson on Gambit and Rogue’s prior miniseries - the anatomy feels more malleable than consistent across every page - but Bazaldua and D’Armata are on the same wavelength, clearly understanding what kind of book they’re making. A sun-kissed sky runs overhead, giving the events of the day a warm glow. D’Armata makes use of greens and purples that marry well together without either overpowering the other. Another thing which is hard not to notice is how frequently characters are seen smiling.
There’s an inherent sweetness to the proceedings, as well as a strong sense of romance - wait until you see how they portray the couple’s first kiss as husband and wife. Once the book cuts to the honeymoon period, there’s a show of playfulness from all involved that’s not leering, but the right level of intensity for the couple and what the creative team can get away with in a Big Two comic. The second part of this issue is split between this and superhero action, so there’s not a huge amount of either, but there’s enough on display to feel confident about the team knowing how the book should play, with each of these various parts doing all they can to emphasize why their strength comes from Rogue and Gambit being together.
That’s always proclaimed as the tricky thing about marrying characters off. The idea that on-off relationships are easier to write because they run on drama and possible tension, but after a while, the ebb and flow transitions into just going through the motions, never seeking to change it up. (Especially in superhero comic books, where the looming threats of stagnation and the status quo are already well established.) This doesn’t mean that this issue serves as concrete proof that Rogue and Gambit can never be unhappy again, or have no difficulties to face in their future, but that they can get through it together.