X-Men (2nd series) #81

Issue Date: 
November 1998
Story Title: 
Jack of Hearts, Queen of Death !

Joe Kelly (writer), Adam Kubert (penciler), Mark Farmer (inker), Steve Buccellato (colorist), Rich Starkings & Comicraft (letters), Mark Powers (editor), Bob Harras (editor in chief)

Brief Description: 

Following the recent battles and crises, the X-Men are getting back to normal. They have redecorated the mansion and replaced the equipment stolen by Zero Tolerance. With Colossus, Nightcrawler and Shadowcat just having rejoined after being part of Excalibur for many months, Storm wants the X-Men to practice together in the Danger Room, but much to the anger of the rest of the team, Marrow rebels against such discipline. Rogue and Gambit, seeing each other again for the first time since she abandoned him in Antarctica, head out to Boston to have time to talk. While there they are attacked by a powerful wannabe Goddess called Kali, who keeps hearing voices inside her head. Obeying their every command, Kali is convinced that she has to kill the "lovers", much to the annoyance of the two X-Men. Over the battle, Gambit and Rogue realize that they still have feelings for each other. With Kali eventually defeated, apparently overloaded with her own energies, Rogue asks Gambit to tell her that he still loves her, like she still loves him. However Gambit is too afraid to proclaim his love, and Rogue flies off, upset. As Gambit is left alone, a green mist comes out of his body, and speaking in a female voice it claims Gambit for herself. She tells him if he ever touches Rogue again she'll kill everyone he cares about. Gambit whispers "God...what have I done?"

Full Summary: 

In the X-Men's Danger Room Nightcrawler is trying to persuade Marrow to join in the fun, but she stands by watching, thinking it looks stupid. He says it's a chance to shake the dust from her bones. "Not on your life, mutant," Marrow sulks, as Kurt rejoins his teammates Rogue, Colossus, Wolverine, Storm and Shadowcat in some simulated action! Storm has other ideas to get Sarah into training though; she forms a small cloud in front of the exit door, which proceeds to rain, so the former Morlock cannot escape. Marrow is in no mood to play games; after all, this place used to be her private quarters before they turned it back into the Danger Room. Storm tells her that Danger Room sessions are a vital part of her training. Marrow says no amount of training can stop Storm being an ineffective leader and getting the mansion trashed by Bastion and misplacing Xavier. Rogue gets very angry at this point, but Storm is adamant that Marrow will earn her keep as an X-Man. One way or another. Logan gets in Marrow’s way, telling her she's going to get a private lesson in manners if she doesn't want to play with the team. "Bring it on, old man. Beat you before...I could do it again.", Marrow answers. Logan hints that maybe he let her win that fight; or maybe he wants to fight her now to pay her back? After Marrow has left, Kurt voices concern. He thinks the tough approach may not be the good way to handle her, but Logan prefers it this way.

On the jetty by the mansion's boat house Gambit is meditating while standing on his hands. His thoughts are full of his betrayal and of how he can find his place once again with the X-Men. A creaking on the wooden jetty disturbs his concentration, and he flips into the air, landing on his feet, charged playing cards ready in his hand. It is Rogue. This is the first time they've seen each other since Rogue abandoned him in Antarctica. She just stares at him and Gambit walks over to her, trying to break the silence by explaining that he now lives in the boat house. Gambit asks her to say something to him, and she whispers in his ear "Gambit....you're about to blow off your hand...and don't call me chere, sugar." He looks down, seeing he'd been charging the cards for too long, and tosses them into the lake where they explode, splashing him with water. When he clears his eyes he finds Logan, who tells him that Rogue is back at the house, waiting for him. Logan has wise words for him; Xavier's is a place for second chances. But if he ever plays them for fools again or breaks Rogue's heart they'll have words. "Nice to see you again too," Gambit tells him.

Boston, Massachusetts. In the headquarters of the Christian Science Monitor is the Mapparium, built by old war craftsmen who fled Germany in 1935. Even though it is geographically frozen in time it is still a sanctuary in which to reflect upon one's place in the world. On one of the benches sits a woman, her face hidden beneath the hood of her cloak. She is talking aloud to some voice in her head. The voices are telling her to sit and wait, and the woman answers she will obey. A security guard asks her to be quiet. The strange woman pulls the hood deeper into her face and apologizes, claiming the beauty of it all just swept her away. Once the guard is out of hearing range, she continues talking to herself. She thinks that she will fill the guard first ... after she kills the lovers, of course. All of this is very exciting.

Admiring the new plants and flowers in her attic, Ororo is amazed by the changes she made to her room. She asks Colossus if it is too much, but he tells her that of all the rooms in the mansion, it is the one that best suits it‘s owner. It‘s exotic, elegant and bursting with vitality – a masterpiece of interior decorating. Ororo remembers how after the violation by Bastion's Zero Tolerance group the mansion was little more than a tomb, but with old friends returning and some hard work, she feels there is life again at the mansion. She wonders how long it will last, what with the Professor missing, and Gambit mysteriously appearing again. His return tears open an old wound, and she can only imagine what Rogue is going through. Peter likens it to the feeling of watching the woman you love marrying someone else. Ororo thinks this new beginning is a chance for him to find new love as well. She hints that Kitty is free, and Peter splutters for a minute with the words "Kitty? I? Me? No--no!" Ororo smirks, saying "Of course not Peter. How silly of me to bring it up."

Boston, Faneuil Hall. Rogue and Gambit are sat on the roof of a church, watching the view. He wants to know why she brought them here. She tells him they're here because Boston is refined and civilized, and it reminds her of the South. She spent some time here once, as a teenager. Mainly she didn't want to be anywhere near the X-Men when they had their little chat. The walls at that place have ears; and this is just between them. He tells her to pay no attention to the others; they're just worried. He gives her a white rose, saying it's to signify new beginnings. Rogue reminds him that white lilies are for death, and wonders if that goes for roses too. Rogue flies off in a huff, and Gambit runs across the roofs to follow her, stating that she is not gonna make this easy for him. "It isn't easy for me, sugah," she tells him. "Why should it be easy for you?" Gambit goes on to tell her how he escaped from Antarctica; the only thing that he remembers is walking thousands of miles. But what does Rogue actually want to hear? That his heart died when she left him there? That he wants her to hate him? Rogue becomes angry at this, telling him that she went back to look for him, and that he has no idea what she's been through since...

From the below the roof they are standing on an explosion of green lightning blows them to the ground. Gambit jokes that maybe Rogue absorbed the powers of Blastaar while he was gone, but Rogue tells him that it wasn’t her and points towards the figure emerging from the hole in the roof. A woman with long, frizzy black hair and a metal mask is standing in front of them. Addressing Gambit and Rogue as “Lovers“, she tells them to share their last kiss. She proclaims that she is Kali, and that, as it has been ordained by the prophets, the time has come for her to rain death upon the Earth!

Back in Westchester, on the grounds of the Xavier Estate, Wolverine and Kitty are talking about Gambit. She is practicing her throwing skills; mainly throwing knives against a tree that Logan is standing in front of and trying to avoid hitting him. Although she doesn't know Gambit that well, she thinks that maybe Gambit shouldn't stay in the mansion. Logan disagrees as he has a history with the Cajun. Logan makes a statement that Gambit is very similar to Pete Wisdom... and a knife narrowly misses his head. Logan tells her that target practice is over. Kitty apologizes, saying that talking about Pete so soon is just discomforting. Logan tells her that you get used to being stomped on in life, and that she too will learn not to let it get to her. Kitty jokingly remarks that then she will be as warm and open as Logan, Mister Tough Guy. Or is it "Mister Viper" on his wedding license. "Excuse me?" says Logan, annoyed.

In Boston, Gambit and Rogue protect themselves from the savage attack of Kali. She informs them that it's nothing against them personally; the voices just tell her what to do, and they are the perfect first sacrifices for Kali! Rogue, coming in to attack Kali from behind, tells her the voices should've told her to watch her back. "They did," Kali answers, swiping Rogue across the leg with her lethal scythe type weapon. Gambit, angry about Rogue possibly being hurt, charges at Kali. She blocks his bo staff with her own weapon and tells him that his lover is not dead yet, and Gambit angrily exclaims that she won’t get to finish her job, and also denies that Rogue is his lover. Kali muses that her voices aren't always right; they also told her she would become a model, then a nun ... but finally they made up their mind.

Rogue flies into Kali, pushing her into the air, telling her she couldn't have picked a worse day to attack them. Kali is not sympathetic however; she needs Rogue and her lover to die tonight. "We're not lovers!" Rogue screams, smashing Kali into a wall. Kali wonders why it bothers Rogue so much that she keeps calling her and Gambit lovers. "If I was in love, would I have turned my back on the only good thing that ever happened to me?" Rogue yells. "If we were meant to be together, wouldn’t I have forgiven him his past sins, and taken him in with open arms? Would I have left the man I love to die in a snowy..." Kali pushes Rogue to the floor, mumbling that she can’t answer any of these questions, as she never had a boyfriend. But she does know that everyone always hurts the ones they love. That said she picks up the fallen Rogue and announces that she will love her to death!

Gambit swipes Kali with a charged up metal girder, telling her sometimes they also hurt the ones who deserve it, too! Gambit looks at Rogue on the floor, and says that there are also some times, when trying not to hurt anyone makes things worse. Rogue says she can't forgive herself for leaving him in Antarctica. Gambit reveals that when she kissed him during the trial, she absorbed his mind and also his self-hate along with it. The only reason she left him was because he wanted to be left...because he wanted to die. The truth is he couldn't go through with it when the time came because he didn't want to die without seeing her again. With tears in her eyes, Rogue listens as he tells her he could never hate her.

Just as he is about to proclaim his love for her, Kali charges in again, telling them this is not about them. It is about her! Her ascension! Her test! They are not here to make up, but to die! Rogue flies off with Gambit, hoping to finish the fight under more civilized circumstances. Shots of green lightening fly at them. Gambit agrees to go for the feet and Rogue for the head. Rogue dashes Kali with her fist, and she crashes through the roof of a church, landing in the pews with a crash. As Kali lies injured, she mumbles "This...this was supposed to be my day...the day I became a Goddess..." Rogue tells her they know a real Goddess, and she is not it. Kali swears that they'll pay, and she starts to glow bright green. As Rogue flies off with Gambit, Kali tells them that the voices think they make a wonderful couple. Outside green fire blows out of every window and door of the building as the "lovers" fly clear.

Later, as firemen put out the fires that smolder in the remains of the church, Rogue and Gambit wonder whether Kali was really a Goddess, or just mad, and maybe even a mutant. They wonder that they can't go out on a date without being attacked. Rogue asks what he was going to say earlier when they were cut off by Kali, but Gambit pretends not to remember. Rogue says nothing about this day went as she'd dreamed, and she wants a straight answer from him. Gambit wants to know what he did in this dream. Rogue reveals that she imagined different outcomes of their meeting. In one version she kicked him back. In the other he pulled her to him, and he told her he still loved her like she still loves him. "Please say it Remy," she whispers as they close in to kiss. Gambit pulls away, suddenly reluctant. Rogue is annoyed as she realizes that Gambit is too afraid and can’t do something as simple as saying that he loves her. She flies off, apologizing that she tried to push him. Evidently he needs time, and she is okay with that, but she wont be waiting forever.

Gambit tries to call after her, but he chokes as a green, wispy vapor curls around his head, telling him in a woman's voice that she arrived just in time as he nearly pledged himself to another when he already belongs to her. "Yes. Me. Here to tell you, lover...if you touch that harlot again I'll kill her and everything else you care for. You belong to me now." Gambit, horrified, says "God...what have I done?"

Characters Involved: 

Colossus, Gambit, Marrow, Nightcrawler, Rogue, Shadowcat, Storm, Wolverine (all X-Men)
Security Guard

Boston Firefighters

Visitors of the Mapparium

Mary Purcell, the green energy entity

Story Notes: 

Marrow joined the X-Men right after Zero Tolerance had stripped the mansion bare of any equipment. When she picked the basement chamber as her quarter, she had no idea that this was the former (and now again functioning) Danger Room. [X-Men (2nd series) #70]

The big fight between Wolverine and Marrow happened in X-Men (2nd series) #72.

After learning of his involvement in the Mutant Massacre, the other X-Men abandoned Gambit in Antarctica in Uncanny X-Men #350.

Jean and Scott, the former occupants of the boat house, left the Xavier Institute in X-Men (2nd series) #71.

Colossus was in love with Meggan, who married Brian Braddock (Captain Britain) in the final issue of Excalibur (#125). Kitty Pryde, on the other hand, broke up with Pete Wisdom in Excalibur #120.

Years ago, Kitty and Colossus had a relationship that ended when Piotr met the alien healer Zsaji during the Secret Wars. They officially broke up in Uncanny X-Men #183.

Honor-bound by an earlier promise, Wolverine was forced to marry the Viper, a Madripoor crimelord, in Wolverine (2nd series) #126.

The green energy entity is not Kali, as one might be led to believe, but a deceased mutant by the name of Mary Purcell. In order to survive the extreme cold of Antarctica, Gambit bonded with the discorporated energy matrix that he found trapped in Magneto‘s abandoned base. [Gambit Annual ‘99]

Issue Information: 
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