MR. AND MRS. X #1 / Writer: Kelly Thompson / Artist: Oscar Bazaldua / Colorist: Frank D’Armata / Letterer: Joe Sabino / Released: July 25, 2018 / Publisher: Marvel
Symbolism and Beginnings
Weddings are festive times, full of symbolism and new beginnings. It makes sense, then, that the latest X-book—Mr. and Mrs. X—begins with Rogue and Gambit’s wedding. It’s a sentimental beginning that takes up half the issue—appropriate, after all, given the series’ title. Sentiment and emotion play a large part in Mr. and Mrs. X #1—a first issue that is not without its share of hiccups. The question is whether the emotional climax kicking off the series is enough to surmount those problems.
The opening of Mr. and Mrs. X #1 takes place concurrent with X-Men Gold #30, between Gambit’s proposal and the couple’s wedding. The two title characters are split up along with a number of X-Men each—at least one joke is made about how they’re not going into battle—and the soon to be married couple each getting attired for the ceremony. Once they complete the normal preparations but before the ceremony, Rogue retrieves a mutant power dampener so she’ll be able to touch Gambit. This isn’t an ideal solution as the dampener causes migraines, but Rogue willingly suffers through them for her wedding day. After the ceremony, Carol Danvers and Alpha Flight gift the newlyweds with the use of one a spacecraft to take on an interstellar honeymoon—a honeymoon that’s interrupted when Kitty sends them off into Shi’ar space in pursuit of a distress call.
Thoughts on the Art
I said at the outset that Mr. and Mrs. X #1 had hiccups, and the biggest one is the art. Don’t get me wrong, Oscar Bazaldua does a lot right, from the interstellar setting to background details at the wedding; he even cleverly uses a sheet through several panels of the honeymoon. Adding to Bazaldua’s successes in the book is Frank D’Armata’s colors, which really brings the wedding alive as the day transitions to dusk. The problem with the art rests within the characters. The male characters are fine, but Bazaldua largely draws his female characters all the same. In one panel Rogue and Jubilee give the same expression but with their eyes rolled in opposite directions; had they not had different hair, I would have been unable to tell them apart.
Later in the book, during the honeymoon, Kitty’s hologram transmission looks largely like Rogue, with very similar facial structure and near-identical expressions. Additionally, the faces of Bazaldua’s women exhibit spritely characteristics. This was most apparent when Mystique appeared and transformed into her “true” self. Seeing Bazaldua’s Mystique did not match the worry expressed by Rogue and other attendees because visually, she did not match the threatening character who has often been the harbinger of betrayal and death. Her pixie quality left me feeling that I was looking at a character fresh out of a teen drama. If there were fewer women in the book, this might be easily overlooked, but the X-Men cast is predominantly women these days, and an awful lot of them are in this issue.
Capturing the Relationship
Art is only one aspect of comics, though, and Bazaldua’s style and choices are not so intense that they don’t leave Kelly Thompson’s story room shine. Thompson’s choice to start with the wedding and continue into the honeymoon is a risk. Some readers may turn away thinking that romance and drama will overshadow action, but the risky choice is also a mission statement. Thompson makes it clear from the outset that this new series—whatever else it is and whoever else is in it—is about more than just Rogue and Gambit working together on X-Men adventures. It’s about their relationship as well—about their life together.
This bold beginning overshadows one plot choice that can potentially be a serious misstep for future issues: the use of the power dampener that allows Rogue to touch Gambit. While I understand the sentiment, her inability to have a physical relationship with him has always been an integral part of making their relationship work. Having a dampener just lying around in future—because it seems silly that Rogue wouldn’t keep one on hand—eliminates the potential for that source of conflict both between her and Gambit and within herself. If the goal was solely the romance of a kiss and the humor of the honeymoon, the choice is one that at the moment seems to lack foresight.
Mr. and Mrs. X #1 is a classic example of a first issue that succeeds despite its shortcomings. The story is built on humor and emotion more than plot. In reading it, one can almost hear the deep sigh of relief coming from Rogue and Gambit shippers who have been around since X-Men #4. The hard work begins with the next issue and continues on in the issues that follow, when these plotting and artistic hiccups may or may not be addressed. All of those questions, though, are for tomorrow. For today, I’ll read this first issue and enjoy satisfaction.
Verdict: four out of five strategically placed honeymoon sheets
Theron Couch is a collection of 1000 monkeys on 1000 typewriters trying to produce Hamlet. From time to time he accidentally types comic book reviews. Theron’s first novel, The Loyalty of Pawns, is available on Amazon and he’s published assorted short stories. Theron maintains a blog with additional comic and book reviews as well as posts on his personal struggle with mental health.