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Rogue's entire backstory explained

The enduring appeal of the X-Men can essentially be attributed to two basic aspects of their stories. First, the parts where guys with knives on their fists just cold wreck giant purple racism robots and say things like "You took your best shot — now it's my turn!" Second, and just as important, is the idea that having fantastic powers can sometimes come with a terrible cost and a history that you can never truly outrun, no matter how hard you try.

We all know who best embodies that first one, bub, but while the tragic nature of the second is reflected in countless comic book mutants, there's no question about who's made the most compelling arc out of it. It's the sweet tea-sippin', super-strong, literally untouchable pride of Caldecott County herself, Rogue. Her path to superheroism was marked by heartbreak, regret, and even a stint as a villain battling the Avengers — and like everyone else who lives at Charles Xavier's house, it can be pretty complicated to sort through. Get ready, sugah, because it's time for Rogue's entire backstory.

G.R.I.T.S.

As you might've already guessed from the fact that she's usually written with the most intensely over-the-top southern accent this side of Benoit Blanc, Rogue's story begins way down in Caldecott County, Mississippi. She was born to parents named Owen and Priscilla, and while they were hippies to the point of living on a commune and driving around in a VW Beetle painted with daisies, they didn't actually name their infant daughter after a Dungeons & Dragons class.

Instead, they gave her the name Anna-Marie, although readers didn't know that for decades after her first appearance. In fact, we still don't know her parents' full names or what her last name was before she was married — a missing puzzle piece that hints at the mystery that defined her character. "Anna-Marie" would only be revealed in 2004, and while her missing moniker still has a little intrigue left to it, it should probably stay that way. At this point, unless the name on her birth certificate turns out to be "Anna-Marie Von Doom-Thanos," any reveal is bound to be at least a little anticlimactic.

The "Rogue" name came much later. After Anna-Marie's mother died, she was raised by her Aunt Carrie, and while Carrie was dedicated to the future X-Man, her inability or unwillingness to show it led Anna-Marie to believe she was unwanted. That led in turn to Anna-Marie running away several times, which prompted the nickname that would stick with her for the rest of her life. What she actually did have from birth, it seems, is the distinctive white streak that runs through her hair. While it's occasionally depicted as being a side-effect of using her mutant power — as in the 2000 X-Men movie — the origin flashbacks in 2004's Rogue #2 show that she literally had it since birth.

Kissin' Cody

For Marvel's mutants, the development of their powers is often tied to a metaphor about going through puberty. Sudden changes to your body, uncontrollable emotions, and the feeling that what you're going through has never been experienced by another human being are all experiences that we all know from growing up. For the X-Men, though, they're usually heightened and mixed in with stuff like bone-claws and concussive force blasts that shoot out of your face.

The moment that Rogue's powers first appeared definitely fits that mold, to the point of seeming like it's a little bit on the nose, even for the X-Men. After all, it happened during her first kiss, which is about as far from subtlety as you can be while still technically being a metaphor. In this case, young Anna-Marie was smitten with a boy named Cody Robbins, and stole a smooch at the exact moment that her powers manifested. Rogue absorbed Cody's life force and his memories, and was forced to deal with the trauma of suddenly having someone else in her head while Cody fell into a coma. Horrified at what she'd done, and realizing that she couldn't control her ability to absorb the energy of others with even the slightest touch, Rogue ran away.

Cody remained in a coma until both he and Rogue were well into adulthood, but this is the Marvel Universe, and no piece of someone's dark past remains out of action forever. After joining the X-Men, Rogue struck up an intense relationship with Gambit, which was slightly complicated by the fact that Gambit was still technically married to Bella Donna Boudreaux, who was also the leader of the New Orleans Assassins Guild. After the first time this particularly deadly love triangle clashed, Bella Donna kidnapped Cody from his hospital bed and using him to lure Rogue into a fistfight to the death. Sadly, Cody was killed during that incident, although Rogue got to go inside his mind and make peace with his soul before it moved on to the other side, because sometimes the weirder parts of a superhero universe can be pleasant.

Mama Mystique

Rogue ran away from home after putting Cody in a coma, but it wasn't long before she found a new family — or, to be more accurate, before a new family found her. Rogue had only been on her own for a short while before she was approached by the shapeshifting mutant Mystique, who offered up an exciting new job opportunity: joining up with the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants.

Mystique had been led to Rogue thanks to a prophetic vision from her wife, Destiny, and essentially gave Rogue her own take on Charles Xavier's recruitment speech. After demonstrating her shapeshifting powers, Mystique told Rogue that she was a mutant like her, and took advantage of Rogue's loneliness to bring her into the fold. For the next few years, Mystique would be Rogue's surrogate mother, caring for her until she was old enough to be put on the front lines of supervillain activity. As Rogue would say herself in X-Men Unlimited #4, "she had me trussed up in uniform and sluggin' it out against Ms. Marvel, among others. Not exactly the nurturing mama Ah always guess Ah pretended she was."

That dialogue, incidentally, was spoken to Nightcrawler, who also happens to be Mystique's son, making the two X-Men long-lost half-step-siblings. Considering that the team also includes people serving alongside their own future children — multiple future children, from different futures — that's hardly the weirdest relation the X-Men have ever run into.

Fightin' them 'Vengers

She's spent far more time — and become far more popular — fighting alongside the good guys than she ever did fighting against them, but Rogue originally made her debut in 1981's Avengers Annual #10 as a supervillain. She was pretty good at it, too. In that first appearance, she single-handedly defeats five of Earth's Mightiest Heroes, including their heaviest hitters: Captain America, Thor, and Iron Man.

The story opens with the moment that would come to define Rogue's life as a supervillain and drive her to seek redemption as one of the X-Men. After realizing that she'd need a significant amount of superhuman muscle to free the imprisoned members of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants — including her "beloved friend" Destiny — Mystique sent Rogue on a mission to power up by attacking one of the Marvel Universe's most powerful heroes. The target was Carol Danvers, better known today as Captain Marvel, who had retired from superheroism after suffering through one of those regrettable comics that we're all better off not talking about.

Rogue ambushed Carol in San Francisco and absorbed her powers, but she didn't stop once she was charged up. Instead, she held on, draining Carol's energy to the point where she was nearly dead, permanently stealing her powers in the process. With that done, she dumped Carol off the Golden Gate Bridge in an attempt to finish the job, and then went off to beat up Captain America, Thor, and Iron Man in the same day, something very few big baddies have ever managed to do. The only reason Carol survived her plunge into the bay was that Spider-Woman happened to be gliding by at the time and stepped in for a rescue.

Meet the X-Men

The X-Men have a tendency to switch sides more than other superheroes. Virtually every member of the team has spent at least a little time fighting against their comrades, whether it's because they were possessed by a world-shattering cosmic force like the Dark Phoenix, or because they were briefly turned into a vampire by Dracula. Looking at you on that one, Storm.

With that in mind, it makes sense that Rogue's first encounter with Professor Xavier's merry mutants saw them on opposite sides. The most notable thing about that appearance in Uncanny X-Men #158, however, doesn't come from the scenes where she throws down with Wolverine and Storm. It's because at the time, the X-Men were on a mission at the Pentagon with the United States Air Force's own Colonel Carol Danvers. After literally bumping into Rogue in the hallway, Danvers immediately recognized her and, wanting revenge for Rogue's attempt at ending her life, grabbed the nearest guard's pistol and unloaded the full magazine into Rogue at point blank range.

Alas, Rogue still had Carol's old powers, making her invulnerable enough that bullets weren't really a problem. Rogue was, however, eventually "defeated" when she absorbed Storm's power and found it to be too much to handle. She accidentally conjured up a tornado that quickly got out of control, sweeping her away in a dizzy spiral like a supervillainous Dorothy Gale. Not exactly her proudest moment.

...Hope you survive the experience

Rogue continued to be a villain for the next few years — including a weird stint picking fights with Dazzler, of all people — but by 1983, it all became too much. Her permanent absorption of Carol Danvers' powers came with Carol's memories, and the conflicts between her own personality and Carol's were driving Rogue to dissociate, straining her even more on top of the isolation and paranoia that were inherent in her mutant abilities. In desperation, she turned to the X-Men, showing up on their doorstep and begging Charles Xavier to help her sort out her fractured mind.

While Professor X was willing to hear her out, the X-Men themselves were far more reluctant to embrace their former enemy. Nightcrawler, famously one of the more forgiving X-Men, even went as far as to say that her constant mental anguish was "an apt punishment for [her] crimes," and when the professor chided his students for not being fair to her situation, he replied, "Is there any reason why we should be?"

Even worse, at the time, the X-Mansion was also home to — wait for it — Carol Danvers, who had returned from a trip to outer space not only re-powered, but significantly upgraded, with cosmic powers that made her far stronger than she had been before. When Carol came home to find the person who stole her powers and threw her off the Golden Gate Bridge sitting in the living room, she hit Rogue so hard that she literally wound up in orbit. Fun fact: considering how much more powerful Danvers was at this point than she had been when Rogue stole her powers, there's no reason to think that she knew Rogue could survive being punched into escape velocity, or that she would've cared if she did.

Carol goes rogue

Despite the X-Men's objections, Carol Danvers' burning desire for revenge, and even Nightcrawler's threat to leave the team if she was allowed to stay, Rogue was eventually accepted into the ranks of the X-Men. The convincing argument came from Professor X himself, who pointed out that if the team could come to terms with Wolverine's violent past, then Rogue's relatively minor offenses shouldn't be a problem. "At least with us, she has a chance for a better life," said Xavier. "Deny her and we condemn her outright."

While that was a pretty good argument, Carol was understandably unconvinced, and left the team permanently. The two characters would never really resolve their differences, maintaining what was at best an uneasy alliance when the situation called for it, and occasionally finding themselves fighting against each other. Part of the reason their situation was so difficult to resolve was that "Carol" still existed within Rogue as a sort of alternate personality that would occasionally take over in times of stress. This was eventually resolved when the Carol persona emerged as a rotting corpse wearing Ms. Marvel's costume that was eventually destroyed by Magneto, because people in comics have a weird way of dealing with trauma.

Even weirder? The orbital uppercut isn't the most extreme reaction that Carol Danvers has ever had to seeing Rogue — well a Carol Danvers, anyway. A version of Carol from an alternate dimension who called herself Warbird found herself bouncing through the multiverse, and dedicated herself to killing every version of Rogue in every universe she encountered. Warbird's mission of revenge was even further complicated by the fact that the Carols of those worlds would fight her in an attempt to protect Rogue, leading Warbird to kill dozens of versions of both herself and her most hated enemy before she was finally stopped in the core Marvel Universe.

Swamp Rat romance

Rogue's career fighting to defend a world that hates and fears her alongside the X-Men was typically tumultuous. In addition to the usual supervillain fights, she also had to deal with Carol's personality emerging from her after her worst experiences, frequent battles against her own surrogate mother, and even a stint where she lost her powers and hung around with Magneto in the Savage Land while wearing a torn-up bikini. Also, she played a whole lot of super-powered basketball. The '90s were wild.

More than anything else, though, Rogue's life as an X-Man was defined by one of the book's most compelling superhero soap operas. When she met Gambit, the Cajun ex-thief whose touch can make anything explode, the two characters had instant chemistry. Gambit's slightly sleazy charm — literally one of his mutant powers — made him come off as a would-be ladies man with a core of sincerity in the mold of a heavily accented Han Solo, and Rogue's plaintive yearning for the touch of a loved one, coupled with the fear that it would be as deadly to him as it was to Cody, gave comics its greatest will-they/won't-they relationship — one that had readers addicted.

Since both of these characters were X-Men, it won't surprise you to learn that things got even more complicated as time went on. They both had mysterious pasts that were haunting them, and in Gambit's case, it involved both a vengeful ex-wife and a time spent working for Mister Sinister, where he facilitated an event that would become known as the Mutant Massacre. Despite her own villainous past, Rogue couldn't bring herself to forgive him. The difference was a matter of honesty: Rogue had always been up front about what she'd done, but Gambit kept his past a secret from everyone, including her.

Mr. and Mrs. X

When a superhero comic announces that there's going to be a wedding, there's about a 50/50 chance that it'll actually happen. For every Reed Richards and Sue Storm, whose wedding went off without a hitch (so to speak) thanks to a veritable army of superheroes making sure no villainous wedding crashers showed up, there's Batman being left at the figurative altar or the Flash having his fiancee erased from the timeline right before the ceremony.

With that kind of track record, fans were understandably wary when X-Men: Gold #30 hit shelves in 2018 with the promise that Kitty Pryde and Colossus were finally going to tie the knot after being an on-again, off-again, dead-sometimes item for nearly 40 years. Sure enough, when it came time to put a ring on it, Kitty instead turned intangible and bailed, leaving a whole X-Mansion full of guests feeling pretty awkward — and giving a couple of them a window of opportunity that they weren't expecting.

Since they already had a cake, a ring, a crowd full of their friends, and even a Rabbi hanging around to perform the ceremony, Rogue and Gambit decided that they shouldn't let it all go to waste. Gambit popped the question, and with Kitty and Colossus giving their approval, they were married on the spot. All things considered, this might be the best thing that ever happened to the two of them. Anyone who's ever paid for or planned a wedding will tell you that just showing up to find that someone else has already done the hard work of setting it up is a best-case scenario.

The relationship was definitely aided by the fact that Rogue had finally gained complete control of her powers and, since she turned out to be a little more traditional than you might expect, a last name. The happy couple got the spotlight in their own new series, Mr. and Mrs. X, but as for whether they're in it together for the long haul, that remains to be seen. If superhero weddings are 50/50, the actual marriages have even longer odds.