X-Men (2nd series) #174

Issue Date: 
October 2005
Story Title: 
Bizarre Love Triangle - conclusion: Election Day

Peter Milligan (Writer), Salvador Larroca (Penciler), Danny Miki & Allen Martinez (Inkers), Liquid! (Colorist), Cory Petit (Letterer), Sean Ryan (Assistant Editor), Nick Lowe (Associate Editor), Mike Marts (Editor), Joe Quesada (Editor-in-Chief), Dan Buckley (Publisher)

Brief Description: 

Rogue has a heated argument with Mystique, and in an attempt to discover whether her foster mother and Gambit slept together, tries to absorb Mystique’s thoughts, but is unsuccessful. A furious Rogue discovers Gambit tutoring his student Bling, and tells Bling to leave, before she gets into an argument with Gambit, again, demanding to know whether or not he and Mystique slept together, to which Gambit claims that nothing happened. The next day, Bling and her squad mates watch as all the X-Men gather and wonder what is going on. Bling informs the boys that it is because Mystique was pretending to be Foxx and now she wants to join the team. Onyxx had a crush on Foxx and is rather upset. Rogue asks Emma to read Gambit’s mind to discover if he and Mystique slept together, which Emma refuses to do. Mystique gives her reasons for wanting to join the X-Men.The X-Men begin to debate whether or not Raven should be allowed on the team, which brings up all sorts of issues. Back in her cell, Mystique is attacked by Onyxx, but he is no match for her, and she soon takes him down. Nightcrawler informs his mother of how he felt when he heard she wanted to join the X-Men and asks her to disappear for a while, after everything she has put him through, he thinks it is the least she can do. Once the X-Men have finished deliberating, it is agreed that Mystique will be given probationary membership, but when Rogue goes to tell her of the verdict, Raven is gone. Later, Mystique has met up with her mysterious friend, Augustus, who asks if Rogue knows about him yet. Mystique replies that she doesn’t, but will soon. Augustus wants to know what happened between Mystique and Gambit, to which Raven tells him that the details hardly matter, as his relationship with Rogue has turned into a wound which will fester. Augustus still wants to know what happened, but Mystique isn’t giving any details out.

Full Summary: 

The Xavier Institute, Salem Center, Westchester, New York. The school headmistress, Emma “the White Queen” Frost is talking to her teammate Dr. Henry “Hank” McCoy a.k.a. the Beast via a view screen, when a cell phone near Emma rings. Emma excuses Henry, asking him if he minds her taking this call. The Beast tells Emma to go ahead, but reminds her not to start the vote tomorrow without him. Emma answers the phone ‘Yes? This is Mystique’s cellular’. There is a pause, before the caller asks where Mystique is. Emma explains that Mystique is temporarily indisposed, and asks who is calling.

‘That depends on who you believe’ comes the reply, as Mystique’s associate breaks into a high-rise building, informing Emma that he is a scourge on the bourgeoisie, a lunatic anarchist trickster, and unrest cure for the powerful… ‘I’m sorry, I didn’t catch that, who are you?’ Emma declares. ‘Who are you?’ Mystique’s ally asks.

Elsewhere at the Institute, Rogue is visiting her foster mother, Mystique a.k.a. Raven Darkholme, and asks her who she is to talk about love. Mystique, in her cell, explains to Rogue that all she said was if you love someone you should trust them. ‘And if your filthy Cajun loved you…he wouldn’t be tempted by me!’ ‘So he was tempted?’ asks Rogue. Raven morphs into Rogue’s lover - Remy “Gambit” LeBeau and says to him ‘Oh, Cheri, you don’t know how long I’ve dreamt of this moment!’

Rogue tells Mystique not to do this, but Raven continues, ‘How many nights I’ve lain awake thinking about what I’d like to do with -’ suddenly Rogue unleashes a burst of flame, knocking Mystique back across the cell. Returning to her default form, Mystique tells Rogue that there is someone better out there for her, ‘Shut your mouth!’ is all that Rogue says, before hoisting Mystique up and slamming her against the wall as Raven tells her that there is someone out there who it won’t matter what kind of mutant she is.

Rogue tells Mystique again to shut up, and placing her hands on Raven’s face declares that she is going to find out once and for all…and she starts to absorb Mystique’s thoughts, a tear falls down Mystique’s face, before Rogue turns away, wide-eyed.

Elsewhere within the home of the Uncanny X-Men, the real Gambit is having a tutoring session with one of his students, the girl known as Bling. Bling asks Gambit if he would agree that they have entered the second stage of the Post-Modern Mutant Era. Gambit mutters ‘Maybe if I had any idea what that meant…’ when suddenly Rogue bursts into the room, knocking the door down and demanding ‘Who is she?’ pointing at Bling. Gambit informs Rogue that Bling is one of his students and that they were having a private tutorial.

Rogue asks Remy if that is all they were having, to which Bling informs Rogue that they were talking about dealing with the media…her voice trails off when Rogue walks over to her and tells her to get out. A slightly frightened Bling leaves the room, ‘I’m gone’ she says. Rogue just puts her head into her hands, and asks Gambit if he sees what he has turned her into. ‘Cheri’ says Gambit, to which Rogue tells him that if he calls her that again she will burn his throat out. Gambit realizes that Rogue has been ‘Talking to that liar who calls herself your mother’.

Rogue informs Gambit that Mystique said he was tempted by her, and quotes her: “How many nights I’ve lain awake thinking about what I’d like to do to you…”. Remy mutters that he guesses Rogue went ahead and believed her, to which Rogue informs him that she actually went ahead and absorbed Raven’s memories, almost sucking her dry trying to get down to the truth. ‘And?’ asks Remy. Rogue turns away from him, revealing that there was nothing, it was all confused, like a wall of white metal noise, as if Mystique had something done to her.

Remy tells Rogue that nothing happened between he and her mother, and swears upon it. Rogue turns to Remy and reminds him that he knew Foxx was Mystique and yet he didn’t tell her. Remy replies that he hoped she would go away, but Rogue points out that even after she tried to seduce him, he still didn’t tell her! ‘I didn’t want you to worry’ Gambit claims. Rogue just falls silent.

Soon after, Rogue, in a streak of flame, flies towards Bling who is carrying her bags and walking towards the gateway of the Institute to make her exit. Rogue tells Bling that she seems smart, ‘Smart enough to accept an apology I hope’. Bling scowls and tells Rogue that she doesn’t need to stay here to be abused, that there is a whole wide world out there where she can get that. Rogue informs Bling that when she first came to the Institute she thought that as she would get older, and as she became an X-Man, that everything would be different, that all the pain and insecurities that people like them feel would magically disappear. ‘But I’m still waiting’ Rogue reveals. Bling folds her arms across her chest and asks Rogue what is going on.

The next day… ‘See, I told you something was going on - all the X-Men getting together!’ ‘Oh man, I could look at Storm all day. Rain or shine!’ ‘That’s Colossus, right?’ ‘Duh, no - it’s Ant-Man!’ Bling and her squad mates - Flubber, Rain Boy and Onyxx - stare out of a window as several X-jets land, and various members of the X-Men descend from them. ‘Sarcasm is the lowest form of wit’ Flubber tells Onyxx. ‘Says who?’ comes the brutish Onyxx’s reply. Rain Boy asks his friends what they think is going on, to which Onyxx suggests that Gambit may have talked about their little rebellion after all, and that this is some kind of heavy-duty tribunal.

Onyxx looks down at Rain Boy and claims that the X-Men can be tough on students who break the rules, and adds that there is apparently woods out the back where young trouble-makers are buried. ‘R-Really?’ asks the frightened Rain Boy. Bling tells Onyxx that he reads to many comic books, and informs her squad mates that this is actually all about Mystique, who created Foxx to try and seduce Gambit, and when that didn’t work, she said she wanted to be an X-Man, to which now they are all going to vote on.

The boys look at Bling, slightly taken aback. ‘she created Foxx…as in…Foxx isn’t real?’ asks Flubber. ‘About as authentic as Pamela Anderson’s main assets,’ Bling replies. ‘Foxx? My Foxx? That’s impossible!’ Onyxx exclaims, to which Bling points out that a lot of impossible things happen in this place. Flubber tells Onyxx that there had to be some reason why she didn’t throw herself at him, to which Onyxx shouts ‘You’re lying!’, and lunges at his teammates. But the other three are quicker, and manage to pull him to the ground.

Rain Boy tells the muttering Onyxx to calm down and get a grip, as Bling tells Onyxx that she is really sorry, as she can see how someone might get hung up on a girl like Foxx, ‘But wasn’t that the whole point of her after all?’ Flubber asks Bling if she is sure about this, to which Bling replies that she is - as an X-Man told her.

‘You look hot,’ Rogue says to the sultry White Queen as she enters her office. ‘Pardon me?’ Emma replies. Rogue explains that she means like a woman who is happy in a relationship with a man who loves no one but her. ‘Her faithful, her true, her good-lover man’. Emma runs her hand through her blonde tresses and asks Rogue if by any chance she is trying to make her feel guilty. ‘Overdid it a little, huh?’ Rogue asks. ‘Just a little,’ Emma tells her.

Rogue asks if she is really asking for so much, as it would put her mind at ease, and informs Emma that she tried absorbing the truth from her mother, but nothing happened. Emma doesn’t seem surprised that Rogue couldn’t get anything from her either, before Rogue points out that Gambit wont even need to know Emma has been in his head. ‘That’s what Alex said when he asked me to read Lorna’s mind without her knowing’. Rogue seems surprised that Alex asked Emma to do that. ‘Can you believe it?’ Emma mutters. Rogue declares that it was sneaky, and asks if she thinks all men are like that deep down - just plain sneaky, and wonders if it is hard-wired into their very beings to be cheats. ‘I hope not’ says Scott “Cyclops” Summers, co-headmaster of the Institute and founding X-Man as he enters the office.

Cyclops informs Emma and Rogue that everyone is convening in ten minutes, and tells Rogue that he knows she won’t want to miss her mother make her bid for membership. Rogue starts to leave the office, telling Scott and Emma that she hopes she can count on them for voting against Mystique. Emma asks Scott how he would feel if he couldn’t touch her anymore. ‘Could you be tempted by another woman?’ ‘Of course not. If anything, I’d throw myself even more into my work’ Scott replies. ‘Oh, Scott. You’re such an incurable romantic’ Emma jokes.

‘One last thing, my fellow mutants…’ Mystique declares as she stands before nearly all of the current X-Men - Wolverine, Storm, Cyclops, Polaris, Havok, Beast, Iceman, the White Queen, Psylocke, Colossus, Shadowcat, Bishop, Marvel Girl, Gambit and of course Rogue. Mystique tells the X-Men that this is something she would like them to consider carefully before they decide a decision that will have a defining effect on her life. ‘Get on with it, woman!’ Rogue snaps.

Solemnly, Raven declares that this vote might determine whether she even has a life, before reminding those who do know, and informing those who don’t, that she is over eighty years old. She reveals that she had only just turned twelve years old when she became a mutant. A blue mutant with mutant eyes - back when their kind weren’t so common - weren’t so empowered. She continues her story, explaining that it was tough, that she had to fight just to survive, so perhaps those early years damaged her, who knows.

However, what Mystique does know is that she didn’t have the opportunities to be good like everyone else here had, so is it any wonder then, that she has strayed from the path of righteousness? Raven declares that she knows some of the X-Men here will be able to empathize with that. Emma thanks Mystique, and informs her that Colossus will escort her back to the cell while they vote. As Colossus takes Mystique by the arm, Raven declares that she has just laid her soul on the line here, and asks if there is no applause. ‘This is the X-Men, Mystique, not Alcoholics Anonymous’ the White Queen replies.

The Beast exclaims that Mystique speaks so convincingly, and points out that if she had been different, she might have been such a power for good. ‘Isn’t that what they said about Adolf Hitler?’ Rogue mumbles. Gambit sticks up for Rogue, and reminds everyone that Mystique used to be a terrorist who tried to put them all in the ground on several occasions. Bobby “Iceman” Drake exclaims that Gambit is only saying that to cuddle up to his girlfriend, before pointing out that Rogue herself turned out to be a real good X-Man herself, even though everyone used to say some pretty bad stuff about her too.

Lorna Dane a.k.a. the beautiful Polaris declares that personally, she thinks it would be a good idea to have a few more women in their line-up. Wolverine a.k.a. Logan suggests that this doesn’t get turned into a “woman’s rights thing”. Ororo “Storm” Munroe asks Logan why they shouldn’t, and if he doesn’t feel comfortable with equality.

After locking Mystique in her cell, Piotr “Colossus” Rasputin starts to take his leave, however, Raven tells him that it gets a little dull in here and suggests he find a pack of cards so that they can have a game of strip poker. Colossus pauses before telling Raven that there are some things he would rather leave to the imagination. Once the door closes behind Piotr, a figure steps out of the shadows. ‘Oh great’ mutters Raven. ‘What are you doing down here?’

Back at the gathering of X-Men, Cyclops asks everyone if they feel they can forgive Mystique for her past misdemeanors, to which the Beast points out that he doesn’t recall the X-Men ever worrying so much about forgiveness. Emma declares that Henry is right, exclaiming that a list of the people the X-Men have admitted before reads like a rogue’s gallery. ‘No feeble pun intended, darling’ Emma remarks to Rogue, before listing several former adversaries of the X-Men that have since become members - Banshee, Juggernaut and herself. ‘What about Magneto?’ asks Rogue, muttering that if they had been less forgiving with him they would have saved themselves a whole heap of tribulation.

Wolverine tells Rogue that if they had been less forgiving in the past, like Iceman said, then she wouldn’t be sitting here talking. Rogue is taken aback by Logan’s comment and tells him that she thought he would back her up. ‘You don’t seriously want Mystique in the X-Men?’ Logan just turns away from Rogue’s menacing glare. The silence is broken by Lorna, who declares that although it is a risk, she thinks they should give Mystique the chance to redeem herself, to which Havok supports her - surprising Iceman very much.

Onyxx steps into Mystique’s cell, telling her that he fell in love with her - the kind of love you feel growing in you like a tumor, and claims that he would have walked away from this whole X-school thing to follow her. Raven tells Onyxx that he would have been stupid to do that, but Onyxx tells Mystique that she lead him on with all the little hints that she felt the same way. ‘Hints? Like threatening to rip your arm out of its socket if you touched me?’ Raven asks.

‘Don’t mock it! Don’t belittle Foxx! Yells a furious Onyxx as he lunges at Raven, knocking her off the bed and slamming her up against the wall as she declares that she isn’t Foxx. Large hands around Raven’s neck, Onyxx orders her to say that she loves him, to turn back into Foxx and say that she loves him. ‘I’ve had a rotten day, kid. I can really do without this’ Mystique mutters.

Cyclops suggests that Rogue might be a little too close to the matter at hand to make an objective decision, to which Rogue snaps back ‘How objective would you be if it was your mother down there?’ Logan tells Scott that Rogue has a point, before asking how objective any of them are, as they all have got their own reasons, some of them public, some not, for wanting Mystique in or out of the team. Rogue turns to Gambit, who declares that he wants whatever she wants. ‘Go figure’ mutters Iceman.

‘I WANT YOU!’ shouts Onyxx has he smashes the wall next to Mystique. Mystique kicks Onyxx in the face as someone enters the cell, ‘That’s enough, both of you!’ he exclaims. ‘Nope’ Mystique mutters as she rips the toilet from its fixture and smashes it into Onyxx, who falls to the ground. ‘Now its enough!’ Raven declares. Kurt “Nightcrawler” Wagner, Mystique’s son, steps into view and tells his mother that everywhere she seems to go, there is always trouble. ‘He started it!’ Mystique claims, to which Kurt tells his mother that she should know better as she is older than he is. ‘I appreciate you reminding me, Kurt’ Raven mutters as her son helps her to her feet.

Kurt asks Mystique if she knows how he felt when he heard she wanted to join the X-Men, to which Raven smiles and tells him that at a guess, she would say he felt a complex set of conflicting emotions. Kurt hands his head and tells Raven that he wishes he could wave it all away with some glib one-liner, he wishes he was built like that and admits he would gladly swap his incredible powers of teleportation for a tougher hide.

Looking his mother square in the eye, Kurt tells her that since he is stuck with who he is, he is going to ask a favor, which is however the vote goes today, ‘I want you to disappear for a while’. He claims he wants more time to get his head around the idea of her being here, and asks her if she could do that for him, is it too much to ask. ‘After everything you’ve put me through…mother?’ Raven just narrows her eyes.

Back in the conference room, the X-Men have arrived upon a decision, which Emma announces for everyone: Mystique will be given probationary membership, contingent on her sustained good behavior. Emma asks Rogue if she would be so kind to give her mother the news. ‘Unbelievable’ mutters Rogue, as Gambit leads her to the cell, offering to go with her. In the elevator, Gambit tries to tell Rogue that it is for the best having Mystique around, and she will see it eventually. Rogue just asks Remy to drop it, to which Remy states that there is nothing between he and Mystique in any shape or form. Arriving at the trashed cell, Rogue and Remy are taken aback at the damage they find.

Soon, in one of the medi-labs, Alex asks how the patient is. Gambit and Rogue have joined him, after Beast and Emma did their tests. Hank replies that Onyxx is doing excellent, to which Emma informs everyone that before they gave Onyxx a general aesthetic he signed a legal waiver admitting culpability in his disagreement with Mystique. ‘I mean…how’s his health?’ Alex says.

‘Oh, that, Henry?’ remarks Emma, turning to her friend. Beast reveals that Onyxx will be fine and explains that they cleaned up two types of blood and skin from the cell, so it must have been quite a battle. Rogue asks if Raven might be wounded, to which the Beast replies it is possible. Gambit remarks that it is funny the way she disappeared like that, but Rogue just declares that no doubt she will be back.

Elsewhere, in a darkened apartment, Mystique’s associate asks Raven why she didn’t stay around for the verdict. ‘I didn’t want to give them the pleasure’ Raven claims, adding that she could see in their faces that they were going to turn her down. Climbing out of the apartment via a rope hanging out a window, Mystique addresses her ally as Augustus, and asks him to slow down, pointing out that the love-struck youngster left her a little battered and bruised.

Making their way through an alley, Augustus tells Mystique that he doesn’t know why she insisted on coming this evening, to which Raven tells him that she wanted to see for herself that he is the man she hopes he is. Augustus helps Raven along the alleyway and asks if Rogue has any idea of his existence. Mystique replies ‘Oh, no. we’ll tell her about you later’.

Rushing towards their car, Augustus tells Mystique that she is being rather reticent about what actually went on between she and Gambit. Raven replies that the details hardly matter, and boasts that she has wounded the relationship, so it is only a matter of time before the wound begins to fester. Speeding away in the car, Augustus asks Mystique if she and Gambit ever “You know”? ‘There are some things you should never ask a lady’ Raven declares, to which Augustus replies that he is fully aware of that, before claiming that under the circumstances, he thinks he is allowed to flout on convention. Mystique remains silent. ‘Oh come on! Did you or didn’t you?’….

Characters Involved: 

Beast, Bishop, Colossus, Cyclops, Gambit, Havok, Iceman, Marvel Girl III, Nightcrawler, Polaris, Psylocke, Rogue, Shadowcat, Storm, White Queen, Wolverine (all X-Men)


Bling, Flubber, Onyxx, Rain Boy (all Gambit’s Squad)

Augustus (Mystique’s associate)

Story Notes: 

Mystique has been impersonating new Xavier Institute student Foxx since X-Men (2nd series) #171.

Gambit learned that Foxx was actually Mystique in X-Men (2nd series) #172.

The “rebellion” that Onyxx talks about took place in X-Men (2nd series) #173, when Gambit’s students attacked him.

Emma tried reading Mystique’s mind in X-Men (2nd series) #173, but like Rogue trying to absorb Mystique’s thoughts, had no luck.

Havok asked Emma to read Polaris’ mind in X-Men (2nd series) #173, to try and determine what it is Lorna saw in space.

Regarding Polaris’ comment about the gender imbalance of the X-Men. There have been 46 members of the X-Men proper. 28 of those are men, 18 are women. Adding the 16 members of the Muir Island X-Men, Interim X-Men, Astonishing X-Men and X-Treme X-Men who have not served as part of the X-Men proper, of which 8 are women and 8 are men, the total becomes 62. Of which 36 are men and 26 are women. However, the current X-Men roster is quite balanced in that there are eight men and seven women.

Polaris and Havok are likely to be more supportive of Mystique because they both worked with her for an extended period of time when they were all members of the government X-Factor team.

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