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From Caldecott County to Salem Center: Rogue's Early Life
Appendix: The "Lost" Stories of 1979
Rogue's early connection to Georgia
Rogue FAQ
Rogue Kiss List

The following article is copyright 1993-1997 by Tilman Stieve ( It first appeared as 'Before the X-Men: Rogue's Mysterious Past' in ROGUE SUMMER SPECIAL #1 (published by Marson Fedrick for MZS-APA, 1993), reprinted in MENSHEVIK ANNUAL #5 (MZS-APA 1996), reprinted (without Appendix) and updated as Appendix 1 to 'The Rogue Checklist' for THE MENSHEVIK READER (MZS-APA 1996). This is the latest revision (November 1997). Do not archive this without this copyright notice or without informing me beforehand.

From Caldecott County to Salem Center: Rogue's Early Life

Rogue was born in Caldecott County, Mississippi, as divulged by Mystique to Storm in MARVEL FANFARE (MF) #40. This revelation occurred in a situation where Raven had no reason to lie about this, but every reason to tell the truth in order to gain Storm's trust (and because of the erratic behaviour of Destiny's precognitive powers around before that time, Raven could not be certain that Rogue had not mentioned her birthplace to the X-Men).

Rogue grew up in Caldecott County, which according to UNCANNY X-MEN (UXM) #185 is situated on the Mississippi river south of Natchez, i.e. in the extreme southwest of the state of Mississippi. Neither of her parents has yet been identified, nor do we know whether they were ever married. (Fans love to speculate. One of the more inventive theories I've seen mentioned half-seriously was that Rogue is the mysterious 'third Summers brother'. I myself once proposed that Logan is her dad, but that was to a large extent because I found it a bit strange that Colossus had unwittingly fathered a child while the much more promiscuous Wolverine -- not the most likely person to practice safe sex -- apparently had no offspring).

Rogue told Mick Rossi (UXM #182) that her father abandoned her mother before her birth and consequently Rogue "never had any sort'a fam'ly at all" until Mystique took her under her wing. There is no hard evidence that Rogue comes from a wealthy family, in fact in the view of this statement that her mother (who presumably fell into the 'poor white trash' bracket) either had to spend to much time at work or was too negligent to properly look after her daughter. However, one cannot at present exclude the possibility that some fine specimen of Southern gentry committed an 'indiscretion' with Rogue's biological mother and then callously abandoned her, but again here we enter the realm of speculation. There is also the possibility that Rogue's mother died shortly after her birth and that she was then handed around from relative to relative as the unwanted illegitimate child of the family.

In ROM #31, when Mystique, Destiny and Rogue enter an abandoned, dilapidated (and comparatively small) mansion in West Virginia, Rogue says: "Ah grew up in a place like this -- farther south, o' course!" This is no conclusive proof that Rogue came from a well-to-do family, as it could also mean that her mother was a squatter in an abandoned mansion or that she lived in the servants' quarters of a mansion that was still being used.

In any case, Rogue's appearance in ROM #31-32 has to be taken with a great deal of caution, as it was written by Bill Mantlo before Chris Claremont had properly fleshed out her origin etc. (and as Chris Claremont was Rogue's creator I'd say his version supersedes Mantlo's). Mantlo did not yet know that Mystique and Destiny had been Rogue's "adoptive" parents for years and has them act in ways that indicate quite different personal relationships (at one point he has Rogue adress Raven as "Mysty, honey" and Mystique has to tell Rogue that Destiny is old and infirm). Also, in #32 there is the extremely problematic occasion when Rogue absorbs Rom's memories.

As Rogue recalled in UXM #178, Mystique adopted her before she manifested her innate mutant power ("When ah was a kid -- 'fore ah developed mah power -- ah remember you holdin' me, protectin' me from the badness an' nightmares."). One can only wonder why the mutant supremacist Raven Darkhölme then was adopted the neglected, ostensibly "normal" little girl. It is not inconceivable that she did it out of the goodness of her heart, a feeling of kinship, or because of the frustrated desire for a child. But one should not discount the possibility that she expected Rogue to become a mutant because she knew that one or both of her parents were mutants or because Destiny foresaw her potential. We do not know how far Mystique's plans for what was to become the second Brotherhood of Evil Mutants had developed at that stage, but whatever use Mystique intended for Rogue's powers soon was eclipsed by the genuine love she felt for her surrogate daughter. After their parting she would even seriously consider permitting Rogue's powers to be neutralized so that she could lead a "normal" life and return to her (UXM #185-MF #40).

Rogue grew up in the household of Mystique and her lover Destiny; apparently no one used the tomboyish girl's real name anymore. Rogue speaks with a Southern accent, which would indicate that her speech patterns were already established when she met Mystique, who did not try to instruct her in a less regional accent. The fact that she became fluent in French in the Mississippi Bayou country (as she told Northstar in X-MEN/ALPHA FLIGHT #1) and her cooking a Cajun meal in X-MEN (2nd series - XM) #8 seem to indicate that she spent a more than a little time in a Cajun region of Louisiana. Her foster family does not seem to have strayed far from the lower Mississippi: The onset of puberty and first appearance of her absorption power found her back in Caldecott County. In UXM #185 she told Storm how she first found out about it while necking with a boy called Cody Robbins under a tree by the river: "Ah kissed him -- an' he keeled over. Ah thought ah'd killed him. Then ah thought ah was goin' crazy. Ah heard voices in my head -- saw mem'ries -- ah knew weren't mine. They were Cody's! Ah tried t'shut 'em out, but ah couldn't."

After this upsetting experience, Rogue had to start covering up her entire body in body stocking etc. to avoid skin-to-skin contact. Mystique also was somewhat distanced from her foster daughter because her power made much of the normal intimacy between a mother and her daughter impossible. She tried to shield Rogue from hurt at first, but that only led to further tension. Finally, another, if anything even more traumatic experience of her power - with a boy called Freddy (CLASSIC X-MEN (CXM) #44) - apparently caused Rogue to abandon her hopes of ever having anything like a normal relationship with anybody. She now eagerly threw herself into becoming part of Mystique's mutant brotherhood.

[NOTE: This sequence of events emerges from the accounts in Chris Claremont's UXM #178, 182, 185 and MF #40. The back-up story in CXM #44 (written by former X-Men editor Ann Nocenti) is controversial: some critics (notably David R. Henry) regard it as a botched dramatization of the Cody Robbins account from UXM #185. However, until Ann Nocenti herself says she made such a mistake, I'll regard the story as a separate incident.

In the notorious X-MEN UNLIMITED (XMU) #4, Rogue tells Nightcrawler that she only met Mystique after she had kissed Cody, but that clearly contradicts what she earlier mentioned to Mystique (UXM #178). She obviously could not have lied to Raven (who had been there), so she must have lied to Kurt. Also Rogue looks far too little to have reached puberty in the flashback in XMU #4. Another dubious piece of recent retcon is the ROGUE Limited Series, in which it was claimed that after the Kiss Cody Robbins fell in a coma from which he never woke. Not only does this contradict the way Rogue's power had up to that story always worked (even Carol Danvers, whose powers Rogue had permanently absorbed, was eventually woken from her coma), it also jarrs with the carefree way Rogue used her power in her early years. Had one short kiss at the first experience of her power resulted in such lasting damage, she would have behaved much more cautious and would never have used it on friends (she playfully used it on Mystique in MF #60!)]

Rogue first participated in "milk runs" like the liberation of a mutant called Jason from a research lab (MF #60). It seems that around that time, Destiny foresaw that Ms. Marvel would one day cause Rogue to 'lose her soul', and Mystique sent two members of the Brotherhood to assassinate her. This was after she had confirmed her suspicion that Ms. Marvel and Carol Danvers were one and the same by killing her psychiatrist and lover, Mike Barnett, and reading his files. However, Carol Danvers, who was investigating a Hellfire Club arms smuggling operation in Hong Kong, beat off Pyro and Avalanche's attack (this emerges from material intended for the unpublished Ms. Marvel #24-26, which was finally printed in MARVEL SUPER-HEROES SPECIAL (MSHS) #10 and 11. See the Appendix for a lengthy, but hopefully conclusive explantion for my proposed sequence of the following events and why the ending Simon Furman later added is irreconcilable with established continuity).

The same operation also brought the Brotherhood into conflict with the Hellfire Club: Coelho, the gun-runner, was in cahoots with Mystique and attempted to double-cross Sebastian Shaw and his cohorts -- which cost him his life. In MSHS #11 p.66, Carol dreamed she was dressed as a Hellfire Club Black Queen and dancing with a shadowy figure who told her that she must kill Rogue or "she'll strip from you everything you are, everyone you've ever loved." In the dream, Ms.Marvel unhesitatingly snapped Rogue's neck and it is known that at their first actual encounter, she almost killed her. All this is almost identical to the Mastermind's seduction of Phoenix through vivid dreams in the stories leading up to the Dark Phoenix Saga. It is not improbable that Mastermind stage-managed the confrontation between Ms.Marvel and the Brotherhood, and he must have pulled the strings when shortly after Hong Kong Rogue and Ms.Marvel clashed for the first time (cf. Rogue's account in UXM #182, according to which this was "a few months" before the events in AVENGERS ANNUAL #10). Rogue came within an inch losing her life and afterwards was determined to get even. However, soon after, Carol disappeared to Limbo (AVENGERS #200). During this interval Rogue had a run-in with Sebastian Shaw in which the young mutant was nearly killed -- again (cf. references by both in UXM ANNUAL #7 and UXM #209).

Rogue's injuries possibly prevented her from participating in the attempt on the life of Senator Kelly, although it may also be that Mystique did not want her to be involved in a deliberate act of cold-blooded murder. However, thanks to the X-Men's intervention, this operation became a fiasco, resulting in the capture of all involved save only the shape-changer Mystique (UXM #141-142). Raven was now forced to play Rogue as her ace in the hole to try to spring her comrades. Her plan called for Rogue to steal Ms. Marvel's powers (she possibly now believed that Destiny's earlier precognitive vision had been faked by Mastermind). Carol had just then returned from Limbo and retired to San Francisco; she felt betrayed by the Avengers for not stopping her from following Marcus, the self-styled "son of Immortus." Rogue ambushed her as she came home from her shopping and a desperate struggle developed. The finale on Golden Gate Bridge (flashback in UXM #203) again took Rogue to within an inch of her life before she overcame her victim. But for as yet undisclosed reasons, the transfer of Carol's psyche and powers became permanent. This shock overwhelmed Rogue and, in a desperate insane attempt to silence the screaming voices in her head, she hurled the unconscious Danvers from the bridge (Carol luckily was saved by the original Spider-Woman). For a time, Rogue became more ruthless and vindictive, which made her more suited for Mystique's purposes. Mystique and Rogue immediately went to New York where they tore through the Avengers like hot knives through butter. However, as Iron Man, Wonder Man and the Vision could not be affected by Rogue's absorption power, their attempt to break out their comrades from Ryker's Island prison failed.

They hid out in the Pentagon, which Mystique had infiltrated as Raven Darkhölme, head of DARPA, until one day Rogue literally bumped into Carol Danvers and the X-Men, who were sneaking in to erase their government files (UXM #158). After making their escape, Mystique and Rogue struck again when their comrades were transferred to a prison in West Virginia. Unfortunately for them, the Spaceknight Rom happened to intervene, so they only managed to make off with Destiny. It just wasn't their day -- they immediately ran into Hybrid, a Dire Wraith agent. With the fortuitous help of Rom the threesome managed to defeat him -- barely (ROM #31-32). Mystique next planned an attack on the X-Men, for which she intended to extract information from Angel via Rogue's power. This soon involved Angel's then-girlfriend, Dazzler, against whom Rogue then pursued a futile vendetta for a time. This was in part because she was jealous of Dazzler leading a normal life with lovers and everything (DAZZLER #22-24, 28). Frustrated again and again, Rogue withdrew into herself.

Around that time, Mastermind recovered from his Phoenix-induced coma and set out to settle old scores. Among other things, he gave Mystique vivid nightmares and clouded Destiny's perceptions sufficiently for them fail to realize the Rogue's anguish. Rogue not only had to live with being unable to control her power, but the personality she had absorbed from Carol Danvers began to assert "herself," causing additional psychological problems. And so one night, before her family got up, Rogue boarded a coach and left Washington (which Mastermind probably intended) for Westchester (which maybe he did not) (UXM #170).

Considering her past, it is not surprising that Rogue received a frosty welcome when she turned up at Xavier's School asking for help to control her power. Indeed, when Professor X decided to make her a probationary X-Man, there was a little revolt by the X-Men present against accepting as teammate the woman who had destroyed their friend's life. Charles Xavier had to muster all his powers of moral suasion to convince his students give Rogue a chance. Carol Danvers -- now the cosmically powered Binary -- could understand Xavier's decision, but not approve it. She left the X-Men and Earth to join the Starjammers (UXM #171). Rogue did not (as yet) get a cure for her problems in the X-Men, but she did find a new purpose in life and became one of the most dedicated X-Men

Go on to the Appendix


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