SPOILER WARNING: This article contains spoilers for Mr. and Mrs. X #5 by Kelly Thompson, Oscar Bazaldua, Frank D’Armata and VC’s Joe Sabino, on sale now.
When it comes to mutant powers, few X-Men have abilities with as storied a history as Rogue. Initially, she absorbed the powers and memories of those she touched, and if contact occurred for too long, it could result in death for the victim. Diehard Marvel fans recall she once absorbed Ms. Marvel's powers, abilities actually maintains tot his day, including flight, superhuman strength and invulnerability.
Now, in Mr. and Mrs. X #5, the Southern belle's journey takes a new road, with her powers evolving in a way that it makes her a walking, talking weapon of mass destruction.
Recently, Rogue gained the ability to turn her powers off and on at will, along with manipulating how intense the absorption process is; she could render her targets comatose, slightly unconscious, or even kill them if she saw fit. In Uncanny Avengers, though, she lost this control, and by the start of her and Gambit's new series, she was wearing a power-dampening collar as the couple embarked on a space honeymoon.
The titles first big story comes from the discover that the Shi'ar Empire was hunting the daughter of Charles Xavier and Princess Lilandra: Xandra. With Rogue and Gambit protecting Xandra while helping her harness her powers, the Imperial Guard came for the girl, determined to force her to take over Shi'ar throne, as is her birthright. The last issue saw the Starjammers come to aid Rogue and her husband. and the ensuing fight got out of hand with Xandra and Rogue seemingly blowing up in front of everyone.
Issue #5 reveals that mid-fight Xandra decided to fake their death by giving the impression they overloaded each other while trying to combine forces. Rogue went along with it, as desperate times called for desperate measures, not giving any warning to Gambit as she touched Xandra so they could both disappear in an explosion. It seems Xandra needed Rogue to help power her up even more for the ruse to work.
In the aftermath, things change big time for Rogue. While Cerise (Xandra's caretaker) tends to her, Gambit argues with Rogue about scaring him like that, making it clear that marriage is about both partners communicating, always. Rogue sees the error of her ways, but it goes south when Gambit, who's some distance from her, collapses. His powers are being drained by Rogue, who is also absorbing the abilities and memories of Cerise and Xandra from afar. Rogue has no control over her mutant abilities, and it's only when Gambit gives her the power dampener that she's able to stop harming her friends and herself, as Rogue is clearly being overwhelmed.
Just like that, Rogue's powers have leveled up to the point where she could rob hundreds of mutants of their abilities by just being in the vicinity. She asks Xandra for help, as the new twist is the result of their powers combining earlier, but the youngster says that short of a lobotomy, she can't fix Rogue. This is part of her evolution; Xandra just sped the process up by unlocking it prematurely, albeit by accident.
It remains to be seen whether Rogue's friends and family will be able to help her; after all, this isn't something wearing gloves can fix. Currently, the question is how long and how effectively her power-dampening collar can inhibit her, especially if she continues to evolve. Rogue is experiencing the most lethal power-up she's ever undergone, posing one of the biggest challenges of her life.