Carol Danvers and Rogue have one of the most complicated relationships in all of comics, filled with regret and trauma. The new trade Captain Marvel vs. Rogue gives an incredible all-encompassing look at the dynamic between the two women and how it’s changed over the years.
Avengers Annual #10
Of course any trade collecting Rogue and Carol stories would have to include Avengers Annual #10, the story that started it all. The weird thing about this issue is that it feels like it starts mid-story, showing Spider-Woman dive in and rescue Carol from the ocean. It’s fun to see the Claremont style writing in his prime, seeing the Avengers square up against Mystique and the Brotherhood. It’s clear that Claremont had a goal with this story, attempting to fix all the horrible problems caused by Avengers #200. And he does a good job, showing Carol’s pain over her rape at Marcus’ hands and her lasting anger towards the Avengers for not saving her. Her time with the X-Men that follows is extremely interesting and it would be cool if modern stories remembered they had a bond and were once quite close.
It’s not a Rogue/Carol story that much — it’s a Carol story, though Rogue does get some licks in on Steve and other noticeable heroes. It’s hard not to empathize with Carol here, a character who has been through so much and continues to get a raw deal.
Uncanny X-Men #158
This is another Claremont era classic, though for most of this story you wonder what it’s doing in this trade as the story focuses mostly on Kitty and the other X-Men. Then suddenly, Carol encounters Rogue for the first time since Avengers Annual #10. Carol faces off with Mystique, who has disguised herself as Nick Fury, adding more fuel to the Carol/Mystique rivalry that’s fun to read in its own right. Cockrum’s pencils are great per usual and Claremont does an incredible job at writing Carol as a woman who is quite tired of being hurt and just wants to start a new life.
Uncanny X-Men #171
This story opens up with one of the most iconic Storm panels of all time, showcasing her speech to the Morlocks after she won control of them from Callisto. The glimpses of Carol’s family dynamic here almost make it feel as though we’re reading another character, given the complex relationship she would later be shown to have with her father in her own solo runs. This is also the first time in the trade that we get to see Carol as Binary, and it’s also the issue where Rogue shows up at the X-Men’s door wanting to join their ranks and repent for her past. Simonson’s pencils are great as usual, and Claremont introduces the kind of juicy character drama his stories are so well-known for when Carol leaves the X-Men, not wanting to be near Rogue.
Uncanny X-Men #269
This is the last issue in the trade written by Chris Claremont, this time featuring pencils by Jim Lee, making for a gorgeous issue overall. The book opens up with Rogue, now a seasoned X-Man, getting some grim news about Mystique nad Destiny. Carol approaches her, saying they have “unfinished business” and Rogue books it, running away from her. Rogue retreats to the Savage Lands, lamenting her loss of Carol’s powers. Though in the Savage Lands, Rogue is haunted by a zombified Carol who she dukes it out with, feeling guilt over her past actions as she’s no longer the woman who originally stole Carol’s power. This issue does a lot of good work to show how far Rogue has come since her early days, even if the situation with Carol will always be complicated.
Ms. Marvel #9
This issue comes from Brian Reed and Mike Wieringo’s seminal run on Ms. Marvel. Here, Carol is approached by Rogue, and Carol says it best: they buried their differences but they have never been friends. This issue is significant because it’s the first time we really ever see Rogue and Carol work together and it’s kind of fun, this awkward dynamic between them. They try to take down an AU Carol who has shown up with the sole purpose to kill Rogue, forcing Carol to intervene and save Rogue’s life. It’s some great character drama and it does a lot of good work for both women’s characters, forcing them to answer uncomfortable questions about each other. Carol’s inner monologue gives some new perspective into the original fight with Rogue, showing just how scared Carol was in those moments. In many ways, Carol’s conversation with her AU self reads like Carol facing her own demons — it’s really great stuff.
Ms. Marvel #10
This issue continues the plot from the last one, opening with Carol detailing her complicated feelings about Rogue and how she isn’t as “over it” as she tries to pretend. Carol saves Rogue again after her AU self proposes they kill her together, which is really a great moment for Carol’s character. In order to take Rogue out of the fight to protect her, Carol knees her in the ribs and knocks her out –and it works, as Carol is able to defeat her AU self. While Rogue lies in the hospital afterward to recover from the minor injuries Carol inflicted upon her, Beast throws her out. The emotional complexities in these issues are great, showing how hard Carol’s life often is and the trauma she continually faces. It goes a long way to show that even when she tries to do the right thing, it’s almost as if she can never win when it comes to Rogue.
X-Men Legacy #269
While most issues in this trade have thus far been from Carol’s POV, this one is another from Rogue’s POV. Taking place during Avengers vs. X-Men, Carol and Rogue are the duo from each team who duke it out. Rogue takes some of Carol’s powers because she’s more familiar with those than Iceman’s, whose power she had been using previously. Carol is understandably upset about this, given their history and unspoken agreement with each other. While fighting, the two discuss the Phoenix Five predicament and Rogue uses Iceman’s powers on top of Carol’s own powers to get an edge on her, taking her prisoner. Gage brings up a good point in his writing here: Carol knows Rogue better than anyone else and vice versa — it’s the most interesting thing about their complicated dynamic, really.
At the end, Phoenix Illyana drops Carol into her Limbo prison.
X-Men Legacy #270
Magik says she put Carol in “a hell of her own making” and it’s immediately striking how one of her demons eerily looks like her rapist, Marcus. One has to wonder if that was an intentional choice on Gage or Baldeón’s part here. Rogue starts to feel guilty, noticing Illyana’s grip on reality slipping and she makes moves to break Carol out. Rogue says she’ll need to absorb someone’s powers in order to make it out, leaving Carol as her only option. In an interesting turn of events for the relationship between these two women, Carol allows her to take her powers, saying it’s different because this time Rogue “asked.” It’s a nice turning point for the two, and introduces an element to their relationship neither has ever really dealt with before.
Captain Marvel #4
This issue comes from Kelly Thompson and Carmen Carnero’s excellent stint on Captain Marvel, at the height of the Nuclear Man plot. Carol opens up talking about her complicated feelings towards Rogue, admitting that she knows Rogue as come a long way but she still remembers the pain she went through like it was yesterday. It’s a really interesting speech that highlights the complexities of this relationship, with Carol knowing Rogue isn’t a bad person but not being able to forget her own pain either. Nuclear Man pits Carol up against Rogue, forcing the two to fight in his arena until Carol comes up with a plan. She does the one thing she never thought she’d do ever again: allow Rogue to absorb her powers and personality again. It tests the dynamic between the two women, pushing both to their limits. Thompson is really the perfect writer to tell this story given her love for both Carol and Rogue, and it pays off.
Captain Marvel #5
Nuclear Man calls Carol’s bluff as her personality takes control in Rogue’s body and the two start duking it out. Once Carol regains consciousness in her own body, she and Rogue agree to beat up Nuclear Man together. Som is pretty much Nuclear Man’s living bomb so Rogue has to absorb his powers and after all is said and done, Rogue and Carol exchange a few words. While the two speak on friendly terms, Thompson’s writing here does a lot of work to show how far the two women have come, even if their relationship will always be incredibly complicated. And did we mention how gorgeous the artwork is?
Marvel Super-Heroes #11
This issue tells the story of why Mystique sent Rogue after Carol that fateful day in Avengers Annual #10, filling in the blanks left in by the original story. Mystique disguises herself as Carol and murders Barnett, and the story gets into some details about Carol’s character that are still relevant today, including how she steels herself to emotions and doesn’t like to be vulnerable. While it’s not the most exciting story in the trade, this issue earns its spot solely for how it fills in those aforementioned blanks of the original Carol vs. Rogue story.
Captain Marvel vs. Rogue is a fun trade that includes stories that span decades, showcasing the growth and complications of Carol and Rogue’s relationship. It’s fun to see how these women have changed and evolved, pushed each other to new limits, and will still continue to. No story in this trade feels like it doesn’t belong and each issue introduces something new to the fold.
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