X-Men Forever (2nd series) #17

Issue Date: 
April 2010
Story Title: 
…Is More than Skin Deep!

Chris Claremont (writer), Graham Nolan (penciler), Vicente Cifuentes (inker), Sotocolor’s C. Garcia (colorist), Tom Orzechowski (letterer ), Grummett, Austin & Baumann (cover), Charlie Beckerman & Michael Horwitz (assistant editors), Mark Paniccia ( editor), Joe Quesada (editor-in-chief), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alan Fine (Exec. Publisher)

Brief Description: 

After Nightcrawler gave Rogue the kiss of life, they find their powers seem to have switched. Rogue berates Mystique for that but finds she has to help bystanders, as they have caused a conflagration. Mystique uses the opportunity to disappear. Kurt too has to save a young girl while not having any powers. Afterwards, both X-Men begin to fear that the exchange might be permanent. At Xavier’s, Fury, Daisy and Sabretooth debrief the traitorous SHIELD agents and find that all of them worked at the SHIELD UN bureau. Jean does her best no to discuss her relationships, or lack thereof, with Moira MacTaggert. Meanwhile, Beast is confident he will succeed where Xavier failed in curing Burnout.

Full Summary: 

Jackson Mississippi:

Nightcrawler tried to save the unconscious Rogue by giving her the kiss of life. The result was spectacular, as suddenly Nightcrawler has changed to look like a completely ordinary human. Is he all right? his mother Mystique asks. He examines that his skin in no longer blue and he has five fingers on each hand. What’s happened to Rogue? He exclaims.

She has taken on all of Nightcrawler’s attributes. What has she done? she angrily asks Mystique. Rogue complains everything is out of balance. This stupid tail has a mind of its own. For God’s sake, she has fangs!

Mystique orders her to get over it. She’s had wild transitions before. Regain control! And in time, just like before, it will pass. Except for her and Carol Danvers, Rogue reminds her. That transition was permanent! Has she ever considered that maybe that permanent change wasn’t just a freak accident? Mystique asks. Is she laying this on her? Rogue snarls. She’s doing what any mother would to protect her children, Mystique retorts. By showing up when she pleases and doing what she likes? Rogue scoffs. Sounds more like she’s playing with them like toys!

She cuts Raven off when she tries to defend herself and announces that, if Destiny were here, she would slap her face for what she’s done, right Kurt?

Kurt, however, still stares in amazement at his hands. He’s done this so often, he muses, using an image inducer. But that was always a lie. He only appeared different, his actual body remained unchanged. All his life people saw him as a monster. But if God made him that way, he told himself, there must be a reason. Perhaps to show people that form didn’t matter, only the way one chooses to live one’s life.

Is he trying to tell her something? Rogue asks. As difficult as it may be, this, for now, is their reality and they must learn to cope. Sometimes he is way too rational, she sighs.

Would she rather hit things? Mystique jokes. Oh yeah, starting with her! Rogue snarls. Every time she shows up, it creates trouble for Rogue and the X-Men! She was the one who decided to cut Rogue loose, remember? She sent her to Xavier. And it worked out for the best, so what’s her problem? Mystique retorts. She made hard choices to spare Rogue the horrors she’s seen in her life. In that she treated Rogue far better than she has Kurt.

Rogue suggests that she stop running from her responsibilities. A booming explosion interrupts their argument. The fire has spread to a building across the street and with the stairs blocked, the people on the upper floors are crying for help.

At Xavier’s, traitorous SHIELD agent Jakita sits in a cell. From the observation booth, Fury and Daisy Dugan are listening as Sabretooth leads the interrogation. He doesn’t understand about the Consortium! she bursts out when he mocks her. They have their hooks in everything! They are seriously interested in mutants and the X-Men, with an emphasis on Burnout. Storm became their primary asset to keep tabs on them, her information filled in their database. But she proved impossible to control.

Told them he’d get her to talk, Sabretooth tells Fury and Daisy. Question is what now? Fury tells him he doesn’t like his tone. Sabretooth doesn’t care. He points out that Fury trusted those agents, but it seems to him they were dirty for years. Sounds like the Consortium penetrated his house top to bottom. Fury admits he is right. But if the Consortium has truly infiltrated SHIELD, why haven’t they made a move yet?

Sabretooth suggests they find out. Time they are the ones who get nasty. Fury agrees and decides they go over the files again. The three traitor agents they found – Mike Brown, Larry Kramer, Jakita Sanders all have exemplary records, but there is no common element, except for their ties to Fury. Nick finds something. Each of them had a post to SHIELD’s UN bureau. Sabretooth suggests they pay them a visit and bring someone along. They decide upon Gambit.

In Jackson, Rogue blames Mystique for the mess. Sardonically, she reminds her daughter she punched first. Kurt breaks it up. The people need help! Rogue wants to rush in. Kurt tells her there isn’t time. The quickest way in is to teleport. Two bursts up to the window, then into the room. She’ll have a clear target every time. Just do it! She obeys.

Kurt hates feeling helpless on the sidelines. When he turns to Mystique, he finds her gone.

Rogue rematerializes in the burning building. She heads towards a mother and child who believe her to be a demon. She tries to convince them she is here to help. The fire cuts her way off and she is too weak to ‘port.

Thanks to the fire, Kurt can barely hear her transmission. He shouts at her to visualize the street and remember where she stood. Make sure the image is fixed in her mind, then teleport them all out. With no other choice, Rogue complies and they are safe.

She admits she is totally exhausted, but she can’t quit, the fire isn’t done yet. She flies upwards and leaves him to take care of the injured. He admits to himself she is adapting well and wonders how strange it is that the people don’t react with fear to him now. All his teammates flinched when they first saw him, except for Logan who, from the first, accepted him, going out of his way to be his friend. That was why he stayed, as much as Xavier’s faith in him.

He wonders how Logan would react to this. Probably telling him to deal with it. And is this truly any worse than what’s happen to Kitty with her claw? He wonders why he is thinking like this anyway. In time, their powers will revert and he will be as he’s always been.

Suddenly, he hears a scream. Rogue is nowhere to be found. He follows the noise and finds a woman trapped in her apartment. He shouts at her to use the fire escape but she is too frightened. But then the fire has spread to the floor below and the woman is trapped.

At Xavier’s, Moira MacTaggert and Jean Grey are drinking coffee. Moira reminisces that thing haves certainly changed. When she asks about Jean and Scott’s relationship, Jean tells her they came to an end. She died, he met someone else, married, had a child… but old habits die hard. They both tried to reclaim the past, with tragic consequences. So now they move on.

What about Hank? Moira asks and adds he loves her. He is… her friend, is all Jean has to say.

Elsewhere, Xavier asks Hank McCoy to enter his office before he can even knock. Hank points out this bothers him. Jean usually reacts with more consideration. Xavier apologizes… for this and many other things. Hank accepts. He is hell-bent on finding an answer to Burnout.

Xavier points out that saving mutantkind might make things worse, but Hank replies he wants his folks to have grandkids. If that’s too high a prize to ask for saving the omniverse, then maybe the omniverse doesn’t deserve to be saved.

Back in Jackson, the fire escape burns and falls. Grimly, Kurt begins to climb up the wall, finding his body doesn’t have the agility or strength he remembers but thanks to the inset bricks he has something to grip. He reaches the ledge and asks if the woman is all right. She admits she’s scared. So is he, he admits. But he’ll be brave if she shows him how. He calms the girl, takes her on his back and climbs down until he can jump the rest of the way.

Rogue asks if he is okay and asks what he was doing. He reminds her that helping those in need is natural for an X-Man. Powers or not. A photographer takes a picture of them. Hearing sirens, Kurt suggests they leave.

Alone, they worry. Rogue points out they should have reverted long ago. She wonders if her look is permanent. He knows the feeling but doesn’t have an answer. She could kill Mystique for this! Rogue sulks.

Kurt tells her she looks striking. He offers to reprogram his image inducer to make it easier for her to get around in public. The question is does she now possess Mystique’s immunity to Burnout? Did he lose it when he lost his powers? Rogue tells him he will be fine. Kurt reminds her Mystique did what she thought best for both of them. They may hate her methods, but can’t fault her goal. He just wishes she hadn’t left. There’s so much he wants to ask.

Rogue is sure she will show up again. Hatching another plan. She does nothing without reason. As of now, they are a family by blood. That’s no accident. She is sure Mystique has a plan. Question is, when the time comes and she reveals it, do they stand with her or against her?

Elsewhere, Mystique, with a satisfied smile, looks at the photo she has taken of her children.

Characters Involved: 

Beast, Jean Grey, Nightcrawler, Professor X, Rogue (all X-Men)


Dr Moira MacTaggert

Colonel Nick Fury

Lt. Daisy Dugan

Brown, Kramer, Sanders (rogue SHIELD agents working for the Consortium)



Story Notes: 

Like issues before, this story again contains Claremont’s revisionist history of Mystique sending Rogue to Xavier instead of her running away.

While the reason for the permanent power switch between Rogue and Nightcrawler isn’t given, it might be connected to Fabian Cortez messing with Rogue’s powers in issue #1.

Issue Information: 
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