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The Great Rogue Costume Debate

by  in CBR Exclusives Comment
The Great Rogue Costume Debate

Welcome to CBR’s first ever installment of VS! The concept is completely simple, the amazing Brett White and I will pit some things (sometimes many things) against each other, weighing the pros and cons of each. Sometimes it will be serious, sometimes it will be for fun — but mostly it will be for fun. And at the end of each, you can vote in a poll for whichever thing you prefer, or possibly just to spite us.

This week, we begin in the most logical place possible for people of Brett’s and my high-minded and finely refined tastes: debating the very many versions of our collective favorite superheroine Rogue’s costumes over the years! Not all of them, though, as we’re not sure any human could actually handle all of her costumes.

Obviously, this is one of those super-serious posts.

Kelly Thompson: So, I’m not a big fan of any of these, and I know you love the Orange Tunic, so I expect some exciting debate on that point. I like some things about Original Rogue — the cut of the neck to accommodate the hood and that it has an almost asymmetrical vibe in the way the coat/top works. The boots annoy the hell out of me though.

Brett White: Orange Tunic is so preposterous and so not one of Rogue’s colors that I kinda love it. It’s like the Rolling Stones going disco — it works because it shouldn’t. This particular iteration of the original Rogue suit I’m lukewarm on. Paul Smith knocked it out of the park in the issues when Rogue first joined the team, so those I’m down with. This one is so much green.

Kelly: I guess one of the things I like about Original Rogue is that it doubles down on green — I mean, it is fully committed to being green and probably really helped establish Rogue’s signature color. With a few notable mostly-missteps, it’s stayed her color, and that’s probably thanks to the boldness of the green in this first iteration.

Brett: Oh yeah, green is definitely Rogue’s color, and that makes a lot of sense. Green is usually a villainous color, and that reflects Rogue’s bad guy past, and it kinda demonstrates how green she was when she first joined the X-Men. Green Jumpsuit Rogue is sporting some “9 To 5”-era realness and — man, Kevin Wada or someone could make this work. Otherwise —

Kelly: That’s a great point about villainy and green — and I’m glad they didn’t ditch it when she “went good.” That said, I despise Green Jumpsuit Rogue and thought I could never love it — until you said Kevin Wada, and you’re right. He could totally make it work, I bet. Still, it looks nothing like a superhero costume, and also doesn’t address Rogue’s vibe or power set. From this drawing, and forgive me if I’m remembering this inaccurately, but those don’t look like gloves you can take off to actually use your power, you know? Orange Tunic Rogue is better on that point since she can take her gloves off — but it’s really impractical as a superhero costume. How do you even raise your fists to punch the crap out of someone with sleeves like that?

Brett: I’m just now realizing how much that Orange Tunic looks like something found in Dorothy Zbornak’s closet.

Kelly: [Laughs] Stop thinking up all the best jokes, Brett. C’mon.

Kelly: Obviously this is where the magic begins to happen!

Brett: My favorite Rogue costume of all time is in this batch. So, you know, it’s all downhill from here, sugah.

Kelly: I’m a big fan of all of these, to be honest. My favorite is actually Green & Black One Piece Rogue, but I can admit that it’s flawed in the same way that Green Jumpsuit is when it comes to the gloves. But it was often drawn by Marc Silvestri and it just looked gorgeous. I am swayed sometimes by pretty things, okay!?

Brett: This statement I’m about to make proves how ridiculous comics are: I feel like the green bustier one-piece is too formal of a look for Rogue. See? That’s preposterous. But it’s how I feel. I like it, sure, but it’s a little more Beyonce and not enough Joan Jett. That’s why I prefer Belts & Booties or Bikini Bottoms Rogue to the One Piece. They’re more rock and roll!

Kelly: No, I can see that. Rogue does need a little bit of punk rock to her — my favorite iterations always embrace the punk. I like the idea of the belts on the Belts & Booties Rogue, but it honestly doesn’t go far enough in that look to become a favorite of mine, and I don’t dig the booties. But points to it for starting us off in the punk direction, though. Bikini Bottoms Rogue is a bit ridiculously sexy with its off the shoulder-ness and bikini bottoms and heeled boots, but like the one piece Silvestri drew a lot and I really liked Rogue at this time, so I associate good stories with it. Still, I’d never want to go back to it. It was of its time and fun and beautiful — but its time has passed.

And now, here we are. Leather Bomber Rogue, aka Jim Lee Rogue. This is, of course, the one most people know thanks to it being used in the high-profile Chris Claremont and Lee “X-Men” #1, and used on the Animated Series which brought legions of fans to comics — including both of us, I believe, correct?

Brett: Yep! That cartoon got me into Marvel Comics (I’d read one or two Batman issues and a few G.I. Joes and ’70s “Star Wars” at that point) and made me an X-Men fan for life — specifically a fan of Rogue and Gambit. I firmly believe that the ’90s X-Men cartoon, more so than with any of the other members of the cast, distilled those two down to their coolest parts and let them loose. Rogue was the team’s muscle and was so cocky and cool and aggressive and sassy all at the same time.

Kelly: Yep. My teenage heart beat for Gambit and Rogue, and it was all launched by the animated series ‘ship. I’m hugely fond of this one for nostalgia reasons, and the introduction of yellow was fun, plus the bomber jacket, so of it’s time, sooooo cool. But with distance and time — it’s not my favorite look as there are some overly fussy elements for me. While I like Rogue in a jacket, if I have to pick between jacket and hood, I vote for hood, which I know are fighting words.

Brett: THIS IS WHERE WE VERSUS! I still think this is the best look she’s ever had; I mean, it’s also possible (definitely possible) I’m so far down a nostalgia hole that I’m on the other side of the planet. I love it, period, forever and ever, amen. I get that it’s a lot of look — hip belt, headband, leather jacket, big boots with straps. Somehow, I dunno, it just works. Maybe it’s because this is the Rogue whose personality I enjoy most — loud and confident and take charge. The costume itself is loud and aggressive while not being dark. Plus, jacket jacket jacket jacket jacket! I prefer jacket to hood, and I could probably work up a deep reason like, “The hood represents something she can hide under.”

Kelly: Yes, I dig the jacket but if I have to choose between jacket and hood — and you kinda of do — unless you go hooded jacket — a world in which everyone wins! — I pick hood because it really fits Rogue’s personality and power set. The ability to cover up and hide is just stronger with a hood, no matter how iconic the jacket it. I remember being so pleased that she had a hood in the first X-Men film. Sooo pleased.

Kelly: Shi’ar Space Rogue doesn’t bother me so much, but only because it was clearly intended to be a temporary costume. She was in space; here was a suit she wore. End of story. It ends up feeling like a pretty significant look for her because there was a big Rogue/Gambit storyline going on around this time and they were stranded after coming back from space so it didn’t go away immediately. If she had stayed in this costume or it had come back, I would hate it with the heat of a thousand suns, though. Pink is definitely not Rogue’s signature color. Also “vacuum-sealed ass maximizer” would apply here — see, already useful in its variations!

Brett: Ditto. yeah, this one screams “I lost my luggage on vacation in the Shi’ar empire” which is… kinda what happened? This one also became immortalized because they made an action figure of it! It was the second Rogue toy that’s been made, and, come to think of it, that makes it one of the 3 Rogue costumes that have been turned into figures. Jim Lee’s design is everywhere, this one, and then: Darkest Timeline.

Kelly: Yeah. Talk about not a signature color. Darkest Timeline Rogue. Red and Black make literally no sense for the character. I get that they wanted to try something new, but I wish they’d had some respect for the green. You spend decades building it up as her defining color, and then you just throw literally everything out. You can be innovative and do something new without throwing the baby out with the bathwater, right? Hell, even the haircut sucked. Thigh highs and a weird pseudo thong? Just, no.

Brett: I think red and black were the X-TREME team’s extreme color palette. This feels one hundred percent like a uniform and not something that Rogue would choose to wear herself for all the reasons you stated. Part of me wishes Rogue would have accessorized this look in her trademark color so we could call this X-TREME CHRISTMAS ROGUE.

Kelly: X-Treme Christmas Rogue. Would watch. Moving on — thank the gods for Chris Bachalo. I love his return to the original costume, with a twist. The white really makes that all green costume work. I love the return of the hood after so very long without it. I can’t remember if the costume came back with the cape first or without, but I prefer without. The cape looks great, but just practically makes no sense for a character like Rogue.

Brett: The costume first came back during the Steve Seagle/Joe Kelly era, following Scott Lobdell’s departure. For a while artists were alternating between her Shi’ar pink outfit and Bachalo’s homage to her original suit. Then when the Mike Carey run on “X-Men” started, Bach added the cape. I’m fine with these. Honestly the problem is, I associate Rogue and her silhouette with a jacket so much that when she’s wearing the original duds, she looks incomplete to me. It’s a solid design, but — this is dumb — I keep worrying that she’s cold?!

Kelly: Cold? Really? That is — so so weird, Brett. So weird.

Brett: I know! It may be because the fabric reads as cotton to me, and for some weird reason that bugs me? I’m being ridiculous. Otherwise, yeah, this is classic!

Kelly: I’m glad you can acknowledge that you’re being ridiculous. Everyone is excited that you know that. 😉 Okay, so before we get to Rogue’s most modern and current looks, let’s take a little sidestep into some of the weird Outliers and Alternate Reality costumes:

Kelly: House of M Rogue is very un-Rogue, but for the alternate reality setting, I dig it.

Brett: Yeah, I think this is a few tweaks away from being a solid Rogue look — like replacing the navy blue for green and the white for yellow. I like the epaulettes and the high collar elements a lot; a high collar actually makes sense, considering her power set.

Kelly: And the braids are basically adorable. So, Ultimate X-Men Rogue is pretty basic with really generic elements that don’t fit Rogue well including the long hard to take off gloves. I respect the attempt to make blue Rogue’s color in the ultimate universe — but even there it couldn’t manage to stick.

Brett: More like this Rogue is basic. This design looks like an anti-design. I know there’s an argument to be made against designs being too fussy, sure, but this one has almost no personality. Between this and X-TREME, I’m now realizing that Rogue’s a character that doesn’t do team uniforms well.

Kelly: Yeah, that’s interesting. She has such personality as a character, and such a clear sense of style, jamming her into the team uniform really doesn’t play well. Ultimate Trenchcoat Rogue. Awful. You know, it’s kind of like this is just two costumes, awkwardly jammed together — trench and boots thrown onto a less impressive version of the Jim Lee costume.

Brett: This is a sidestep — and a step back — from the Jim Lee costume. I don’t get it. Honestly, this costume has always read in my head as, “The artists forgot how to draw the Jim Lee design.” I’m also realizing that I don’t see comics how artists want me to see them, sometimes?

Kelly: What’s to say about Ultimate Strangle Me Rogue? Cute drawing, but it makes no sense. The top bits are a total liability, the colors are as drab as can be, and the shoes are — I mean, are those the ugliest shoes ever? I guess at least they’re practical?

Brett: Those are some Payless shoes, for sure. Rogue, to me, is rock and roll. She’s not student body president.

Kelly: And now here we are, for better or worse, modern day Rogue!

Kelly: Though Mike Carey’s work with Rogue in “X-Men Legacy” is excellent, I hated this Chaps (and often cowboy boots) look for her. It feels really forced and dated and also just awkward — and not like a superhero. I also don’t really buy it as like, “she’s Southern so she — likes chaps and cowboy boots.”

Brett: I like everything about this costume from the waist up. The chaps and — are those flared legs?! They’re a lot much. But in general, I do like elements like cowboy boots and things in her wardrobe — like what she wore on her road trip with Iceman in the mid-’90s. This is totally my bias, being from Nashville, but anything I could imagine actual hip, cool southern people wearing, I’m down for Rogue wearing. Boots? Yes. Chaps? Lord no!

Kelly: Well, for what it’s worth, the barely wearing anything road trip Rogue — daisy duke cut offs and bizarre strapless bustier and cowboy boots — teenage me really loved. Although in retrospect, she was really messing with Bobby’s head there, which feels very un-Rogue to me. I can see the cowboy boots working in some context, but not this one!  I totally dig Age of X Rogue — like, it would not make sense for everyday Rogue to wear this, but for Reaper/Legacy Rogue, it so worked. I love the mostly black with just a hint of green. So great.

Brett: This is fantastic. It definitely doesn’t make sense with the brawler-type Rogue that I prefer (I can’t imagine all that fabric being practical in a scrap) but I love the black/green combo. It’s a quick way to update her classic color scheme, too; it feels fresh and classic at the same time.

Kelly: Here, we enter a weird phase where I really like some things, but others are really not great. The tunic is cool and pretty original, and I love the low belt. The green and white is nice and simple and clean. I hate the weird scarf bib thing — what is that even about??? Is that a callback to Hope’s (equally ugly) scarf bib thing? It’s both ugly as sin and makes no sense from a practicality standpoint. I’m not wild about the pouch, especially since I have literally never seen Rogue take anything out of a pouch and use it. I am also not a big fan of having so many X’s on her costume — 4 X’s seems excessive. We get it, Rogue — you’re an X-Man.

Brett: I was really excited when this costume came along, because it felt like the first decent and totally new concept costume she’d had since the Jim Lee one; all the others were either hideous or went back to a variation on her original look. Now that you mention it, I think the costume would work better with just the shoulder X’s, and the scarf is ridiculous, but I love the big belt. I’m a fan of belts and pouches and jackets. On the negative side, this costume features a front zipper that indulged many artists’ worst, most-cheesecakey habits. I’m leaning into my stereotype as a ’90s X-Men fan!

Kelly: Oh yeah, this began an awful period of many artists unzipping Rogue to an insane degree. We interviewed Ed Brubaker on 3 Chicks a while back and he was talking about how he sort of regretted the great Catwoman outfit they designed because it encouraged so much unzipping. We just can’t have nice things I guess because that’s also a great costume.

Moving on — I’m a huge fan of Olivier Coipel’s X-Men take (Classic Re-imagined Rogue) it’s a really smart updated take on the old classic that brings in the tunic element that she’d been wearing in recent years — a really nice blend of old and new actually. I like basically everything about it, and you know I love the return of the hood. Hoods4Eva, Brett. HOODS4EVA.

Brett: I will say this is the best interpretation of her classic look to date. I dig the boots — I like big boots! It doesn’t hurt that Rogue, in this run, was a total bad ass who derailed a train with just her strength. I’m going to say exactly what you think I’m gonna say — this costume would totally work with a brown bomber jacket, and it would be dope. Yes, hood and jacket, it can work!

Kelly: [Laughs] I think a jacket with a hood could work on a redesign of this, but a jacket over this as a costume and not just something she “put on because she was cold!” would be overkill, I think.

I’m mixed on Acuña’s take for the new book. We haven’t seen much yet, so we’ll have to see how it works in practice, but I have to admit that this initial illustration is very pretty. The cut is too low in the cleavage area, but the way the top is cut, plus the hood, creates some really great lines. I like the white as accent only, but again, the huge X on her stomach just seems excessive and makes even less sense now that it’s not on her chest. I mean, who puts a logo for something on their tummy?

Brett: The lines on this are really gorgeous, but then again, Acuña can make everything look modern and appealing to me. Little bit of face palm with the cleavage, but I do like how it flows into the hood. The stomach X is weird, like Rogue’s being followed around by a graphic from a Pepto-Bismol commercial.

Kelly: [Laughs] As usual, you get in the better (and last) joke. Unfair, man. Unfair. I should have picked someone less funny to write these with!

Okay, so it’s time to vote. Let’s be real, everyone knows what you’re voting for — I made mine a bit mysterious (even I don’t know yet!) but make yours official for everyone playing at home.

Brett: Jim Lee Rogue, until the end of time. It’s what Rogue looks like when I think of her in my head, and also when I look around my office — because I have three different action figures of this very costume on display.

Kelly: You are completely devoted. Points for loyalty! I get no such points. Alright. And I’m going to go with — you know, I thought it was neck and neck with one of the ’80s punk Silvestri Rogue’s and the Bachalo 2 (no cape) Rogue — but I think I’m officially giving it to Classic Re-Imagined Rogue by Coipel. At this point it naturally feels a bit more modern and clean than the others I was considering. It really does make the best of the nostalgia factor while updating it for new audiences, and that’s a hard line to walk.

Alright folks, thanks for reading. We know this got suuuuper long. We’ll (I’ll?) try to be briefer next time. And don’t forget to vote on your own favorite!

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