Warning: SPOILERS for Mr. and Mrs. X #9
After all these years, the X-Men comics have finally revealed how Rogue's mutant powers really work. Created by the legendary comic book writer Chris Claremont, for years Rogue has struggled to control her ability--absorbing the powers and memories of anyone she touches. As X-Men movie fans also know, her powers were activated when she was just a teenager, and shared her first kiss with her boyfriend. She left him in a coma.
Rogue has occasionally succeeded in mastering her powers, but it's always been fleeting. Worse still, they've recently expanded to the extent that they no longer require her to touch someone to drain the life from those around her. That makes her a deadly threat to anyone around her, and Rogue's been forced to wear an inhibitor collar to keep her abilities in check.
This week's Mr and Mrs X #9 finally reveals just how Rogue's powers really work. The mutant teleporter Spiral believes that something in Rogue's past holds the key to controlling her abilities. She takes Rogue on a whistle-stop tour of her own memories, reliving key moments when she's used her powers. To her surprise, Rogue identifies a similarity between every one of those moments: her own fear. When she kissed Cody Robbins, she was feeling the normal mix of excitement and fear any teenager experiences when sharing their first kiss. That horrific experience primed Rogue to fear her own abilities, and that fear is the reason control has eluded her all these years.
Matters were made worse by her experiences in the "X-Tinction Agenda" event. A major 1990 crossover, that saw Rogue stripped of her powers by the Magistrates of Genosha. As a text box noted, "All they did was touch her. Rude hands, ruder glances–taunting promises of worse to come. She couldn’t stop them. For so long, she dreamed of being able to touch another person, without her power absorbing his/her psyche. To hold, to caress, to kiss, just like any other normal teenage girl. In those dreams, it was the most beautiful of moments. She never imagined being handled against her will."
It seems this experience left Rogue traumatized and conflicted, with a part of her subconscious fearful of intimacy. The closer she got to someone, the more afraid she became, and the less control she had of her powers. That's why Rogue's love life has been such a mess. According to Mr and Mrs X #9, all Rogue needs to do to finally gain control of her abilities is face her fears. Of course, that's easier said than done; it will mean confronting her fears every single day, and at times it will no doubt prove exhausting. But at those moments, Rogue will simply slip on an inhibitor collar for relief.
For now, though, realizing the truth about her abilities allows Rogue to master her powers, and she takes to the skies to fight alongside Gambit once again. And a comic book mystery that's been running since 1981 has finally been answered.
Mr and Mrs X #9 is on sale now from Marvel Comics.