What If...? (2nd series) #100

Issue Date: 
September 1997
Story Title: 
<em>1st story:</em> Paper Skin

1st story: Ivan Velez JR & Klaus Janson (writers), Klaus Janson (pencils), Glynis Oliver (colors), Chris Eliopoulos (letters), Kelly Corvese (editor), Bob Harras (editor-in-chief)

Brief Description: 

1st story:

The X-Men discovered that Gambit stole files from Cerebro and handed them over to Mr. Sinister, and therefore kicked him off the team. However, Gambit is still madly in love with Rogue and is determined to get her back, even though she doesn’t want to have anything to do with him. Sinister approaches Gambit for one final job and promises that, in return, he’ll give her fluid that will help Rogue control her absorbing powers and she and Gambit can finally be happy. Gambit accepts the job, and steals a Tithe Box from surviving Morlocks. After a battle with Rogue, who followed him to the Tunnels, he manages to escape back to Sinister, who gives Remy his payment, as promised. Gambit meets up with Rogue and explains why he agreed to work for Sinister in the first place. Rogue tries to convince Gambit that Sinister can’t be trusted, no matter how good his intentions seem to be, but the Cajun doesn’t listen to reason. Rogue decides to drink the fluid to prove her point. She kisses Gambit, and this causes him to die! Rogue angrily locates Sinister’s lair and fights him before he can open the Box. Sinister ends up badly injured and dies as well. Rogue opens the Box, and finds it’s secret: comic books, which describe the lives of the X-Men and all of the other heroes!

Full Summary: 

1st story:

His name is Remy LeBeau. Though these days, most people know him as Gambit. He was an X-Man… one of the good guys. He was a good mutant fighting for good things. ‘Course, that went against his nature. You see, Remy is also a thief, through and through. And it was only a matter of time before he stole from the X-Men, too.

Remy gives his life to the cards. There was enough chance in them to keep things interesting. And also, enough structure to take away responsibility. But they are not enough… not anymore. Now, the cards are just brightly colored pieces of paper. So much more, so much less. Remy just wants one card right now. There’s only one card that can rule his soul: the Queen of Hearts. He knows what he has to do.

Westchester, Xavier’s, nighttime…

Rogue sleeps tightly in her bed. It’s been a while since she had a good night’s sleep, and tonight won’t be any exception. She wakes up, and finds Gambit waiting for her! Startled, Rogue can’t believe Remy has the nerve to come back to the school after all the things he has done. Remy defends that he doesn’t have any nerve: he just got love. Love for her. Rogue attacks Gambit, shouting that he doesn’t have any love except for his own greed. She wants to know how Remy could do it to the team. How could he steal Cerebro’s files and hand them over to outsiders?!

She doesn’t understand that, after all the things the X-Men have done for Gambit, after all he meant to them, he still stabbed them in the back. Gambit claims he had his reasons. Rogue doesn’t buy that, confident that she should kill the Cajun where he stands. Remy doesn’t think she will, and takes out… a wedding ring! Gambit wants Rogue to be with him, and marry him. Rogue is speechless.

Gambit defends that Rogue can’t be responsible for the rest of the world. None of the X-Men can be. She deserves to be happy! Remy wants Rogue to come with him, as they can be happy together. Rogue wants to know how Remy can be so… cruel. He knows that she can’t ever touch his bare skin without hurting him and absorbing his memories and powers. She refuses to risk hurting him like that… or wipe him like that. She cries, and tells Gambit to go away. He does.

Later, at the secret lair of Mr. Sinister…

Sinister is aware that Gambit proposed to the woman he loved, but she didn’t accept. He isn’t surprised. He’s confident that Rogue will never want to have any part of Remy, as she knows her curse and imperfection. She has no hopes or dreams. Sinister asks Remy why he would think Rogue would want him when she is already wet to her own misery. Gambit tells Sinister that he knows the villain believes he knows everything. Sinister defends that’s actually the truth and, with an evil look on his face, claims that he will always know everything as well.

Gambit laughs at that. He wonders if Sinister knows so much, he wouldn’t need all those files from Cerebro. Sinister defends that he’s merely a connoisseur of information, like a collector. And, after all, absolute information is absolute power. And the quality of the information Gambit has provided him these past few months are quite exquisite. They were also well worth the exorbitant fees the Cajun demands. There’s just one more thing Sinister needs. But Gambit refuses to work for Sinister any longer. He just wants to be paid so that he can move on. He takes out his staff and charges up a playcard, and threatens Sinister to give him his money this instant.

Sinister isn’t impressed, and tells Gambit to put his toys away. He explains that one element of the cure for the Legacy Virus will be downloaded this evening onto SHIELD’s mainframe as well as into Cerebro, like they agreed to do. Gambit thinks that’s good. He takes off, wishing he could say it was a pleasure working for Sinister, but then he would be lying. Sinister still has one more thing to say to Gambit: he has the cure for Rogue’s condition!

An even more secret room in Sinister’s lair…

Sinister explains to Gambit that in this room, he holds his most priceless possessions. He found the first one more than thirty years ago, hidden in obscurity, beneath an archeological dig in India. The others were harder to find. They were lying under an ancient burial ground, beneath hundreds of Arctic ice. Many men died trying to possess the item of course, but naturally, Sinister survived. He hands Gambit over a box.

Remy is confused, as it’s just a… Tithe Box. And there isn’t anything remarkable about Tithe Boxes. Sinister claims that there’s more to the Box than meets the eye. He knows that it holds knowledge unfathomable by mere humans… or mutants. These Boxes have already brought Sinister an incredible amount of knowledge, but he wants more. He has located the last Tithe Box as well, but doesn’t have it in his possession just yet. He wants Gambit, the finest thief in the world, to bring it to him. In exchange, Sinister promises to give Gambit what his heart has always desired but could never acquire: his precious Rogue.


Gambit opens a sewer hatch nearby the Baxter and Chrysler Buildings. He wanders around it, but gets hold up by a security fence. He charges up a playcard and throws it against it, destroying the fence. He smiles. He enters a big room, which is home to surviving Morlocks! Remy remembers Sinister’s words to go to the Morlocks’ so-called Forgotten Stone City. There, he finds another tunnel and jumps down into it. As he lands, he notices that the tunnels go even deeper, and finds lots of Morlocks praying in front of a stone statue on which the Box lies.

Remy takes a closer look at the Morlocks, and wonders what horror could birth this world that it would create such horrible looking people. This is like a bad dream. Gambit even believes that, maybe, he is finally in over his head. He wonders if he shouldn’t just go back and forget about it all. But then he remembers Rogue, and realizes that if he leaves he’ll never have her. And besides, nobody said that live lasts forever.

Gambit jumps down to the Statue and takes the Tithe Box, but the Morlocks of course spot him and start defending themselves. Gambit uses his powers to make a free way out for himself. But then, he bumps into… Rogue?! Rogue explains that she was following Gambit down here, and now wants that Box and whatever’s inside it. Gambit explains that he needs the Box, as it carries inside what he wants – what both he and Rogue want. Rogue can’t believe Remy is still working for Sinister, who she sees as the devil. Gambit smiles that the devil has what they both want. He moves closer to her body, and makes a passionate smile on his face.

Rogue, in pain, tells Gambit to stop doing that as it’s killing her. She just wants the box so she can give it to the Professor, confident that he’ll know what to do with it. Gambit refuses to do this, claiming that this is none of Xavier’s business. He charges up some playcards again and throws them at the ceiling, which starts to collapse on Rogue, giving hem the chance to escape! Rogue can’t believe Remy just did that. Gambit is confident that she can handle it, seeing all the super-strength she has. After all, she is a hero. Rogue shouts at Gambit not to go back to Sinister, thinking he doesn’t know what he’s getting into. But Gambit ignores the warning and takes off.

Gambit climbs out of the sewers, realizing he has betrayed Rogue once more. He doesn’t get that all this drama can come out of this small, stupid box he’s carrying. He also wonders why Sinister has gone through so much trouble to get his hands on it. He wants to know what secrets it could possibly hold. Remy wants to take just a little peak into it, but remembers Sinister’s exact words not to do that. Sinister shows up behind Gambit, promising he’ll lose everything he holds dear if he opens that box. Gambit realizes that, and this will be something even he won’t risk doing. Besides, if he wants, he can always steal it back later from Sinister.

Sinister orders Gambit to hand the box over to him this instant. He does so. Sinister congratulates the Cajun, telling him he has earned his fee and more. He shows him a fluid, explaining that it will cure Rogue of her absorbing powers. After drinking the fluid, she will be able to control them. She will be able to touch any human without absorbing their memories and personalities, at least, unless she chooses to. Gambit wonders if what Sinister is saying can all be true. But, Sinister has already vanished from sight. Remy isn’t surprised.

On that moment, Rogue angrily flies through the ground beneath Gambit, ready to attack him! Gambit loses his balance and almost drops the fluid, but luckily Rogue catches it. She demands to know what it is. Remy tells Rogue that she looks very beautiful right now, almost like a goddess. But Rogue doesn’t want to hear any of those words. She demands the truth, as she thought she and Remy were friends who cared for each other. Gambit explains that the fluid will cure Rogue, but she doesn’t believe that. She thinks Remy loves her so much Remy is willing to so easily believe Sinister’s possible lies.

Later, in a small hotel room…

Gambit tries to explain everything to Rogue, like why he worked for Sinister and did what he did. At first, he reveals, it was just a way to acquire a key to the cure towards the Legacy Virus. Remy thought that a few small betrayals would be outweighed by the good it could do for the entire world. Remy swears that he was going to stop after that. But then, Sinister wanted one more thing. Rogue realizes that Sinister wanted the Tithe Box for a vial of promises. She reminds Gambit that he doesn’t know what was inside that box, as he could have handed Sinister over the means to destroy this entire planet. All of his good intentions would have been for nothing.

Remy is confident that everything can still work, as he lo...! Rogue shushes him. She walks away, telling Gambit he was a fool for believing Sinister. Gambit doesn’t think it matters if it was right or wrong. He believes that all that matters are he and Rogue. He knows they don’t have anything to lose. They could keep on loving each other and never doing anything about it, or they could take the chance, no matter how small it is. Rogue realizes that Remy won’t listen to reason. She is determined to prove to him that Sinister can’t be trusted.

Gambit tells Rogue that if she can’t trust in the love he has for her, there is no point into all of this. He tells her goodbye. Rogue asks Gambit to wait, having one last plan that will be the only way to make him see the error of his ways. Rogue takes the fluid, thinking that if she’s right about her suspicions, Remy will finally believe her, and if she’s wrong, they will finally be together. She drinks it. They both share a kiss, but then, Gambit collapses!

Sinister’s lair…

Sinister walks down some stairs, and remembers the day he opened the first Tithe Box. He admits he was quite horrified. He also believes that any lesser man would have been crushed by the knowledge he discovered, as he learned the awareness of how the fabric of reality was truly shaped. But he smiles that he has always been better than all the others. The knowledge merely strengthened him, and given him the resolve to do what’s necessary.

Sinister walks towards the floor, where a big golden star is painted on and candles are placed around it. But he does wonder if all his machinations have been worth it. He wonders if the knowledge he has gained will set him free from his current state of slavery. He wants to know if he will finally gain free will. P>

He places the box on the star and, now, everything has been put into its place. Sinister tries to open the box, but then, a charged up playcard flies right next to his head! An angry voice calls out to Sinister, shouting that he has lied and that the fluid didn’t work. It’s Rogue! And her kiss with Gambit killed him. All that’s left of him is now trapped into her soul. And now, she wants to make sure that Sinister will never toy with anyone’s life ever again. Sinister smiles that Rogue will always be toyed with.

She wants to know what he is talking about. Sinister calls Rogue a toy. And he even calls himself a toy. He believes that everyone on this world is a toy. He believes that’s how it’s written… now and forever. It’s what they made them. Rogue wants to know who “they” are. Sinister reveals that he betrayed Rogue because it’s the way “they” want him to. He explains that these Boxes will give him the power and knowledge to stop it. Rogue swears that Sinister will never open those Boxes, because she will destroy them… and him!

Rogue flies towards Sinister and gives him a hard punch, causing him to land against a wall, which collapses on him. Almost out of breath, Sinister calls Rogue silly, claiming that he is the only one who has read all of the sculptures, and that he is the only one who holds all of the secrets. She warns Rogue to be aware, as this is one secret that when she discovers it, she will wish she died with him. Rogue doesn’t care about that. She only cares if Sinister dies. And he does.

She takes a look at the box, and wonders what could be inside it. She wonders what knowledge could be so vulnerable that Sinister would sacrifice his own life for it. She must know. She must learn what secret evils have led to the death of her beloved Remy.

Rogue opens the Tithe Box, and devastated finds comics books about… the X-Men and the other heroes?!

Characters Involved: 

1st story:

Rogue (X-Men)

Gambit (former X-Man)

Mr. Sinister

several Morlocks (all unnamed)

Story Notes: 

1st story:

Tithe Boxes are what both the Thieves and Assassins Guilds used to use to pay of their debts to Candra.

Gambit was revealed to have once worked for Mr. Sinister, one of the X-Men’s greatest adversaries, in X-Men (2nd series) #45. His full connection with the villain was later revealed in Uncanny X-Men #350.

Rogue finds several Marvel comics in the Tithe Box, not only about the X-Men, but also about Spider-Man, the Hulk, Alpha Flight and Maverick. One of the comics has the same cover as this issue, and Maverick’s comic is an homage to Maverick #1. All of the other covers of the comics Rogue finds are drawn unclear.

2nd story:

The second story of this issue handles the Fantastic Four gaining their super-powers, but instead of landing back on Earth afterwards, they land in the Land of Oz.

Issue Information: 
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