By Marc Strom
Rogue has quite the legacy to live up as she takes center stage in X-MEN: LEGACY ANNUAL #1, kicking off a new direction for the ongoing series.
According to series writer Mike Carey, beginning the next phase of LEGACY with an oversized special "seemed like a very natural thing to do, in a lot of ways. Professor Xavier's quest ends in X-MEN: LEGACY #225, but then there's a sort of inter-regnum—'Suppressing Fire,' the two-parter that brings most of the core cast back to San Francisco and into the thick of current events.
"It's after that story that we set out our stall and kick off in the new direction. So I was talking to [editor] Nick Lowe in the X-Men office, and he said there was a good possibility we could get an increased page count for a launch issue. Everything else came out of that conversation."
Carey also adds that X-MEN: LEGACY ANNUAL will lead directly into issue #228.
"The [special] isn't a one-shot in the strict sense," the writer notes. "It kick-starts a new arc with our new core characters, and it comes up like thunder with one particular X-Man facing a terrifying threat from an established villain who hasn't been seen around in a good long while."
Besides Rogue, those "new core characters," will include some of the younger mutants who formerly trained at Xavier's school.
"We're thinking about the last cohort at the Xavier Academy—the students, back when there was still a school to study at," Carey explains. "That status quo was terminally disrupted in 'Messiah CompleX,' and there's a sense in which their needs have had to go onto the back burner ever since.
"Cyclops has been trying to build a new support system for them, and he sees Rogue as having a crucial part to play in that, especially in the light of something that she does in X-MEN: LEGACY #227. He makes her an offer, in a mirror image of the scene I wrote in X-MEN #188 where he invites her to become a team leader. But it's a very different scenario this time, and Rogue isn't sure she wants to accept this particular job."
While Rogue's new role with the younger generation of mutants will differ from her previous position as team leader of the X-Men, she won't quite mentor the group either.
"I'm not sure that 'mentor' is the right word, although that could be a part of it," says Carey. "It's a more specific kind of troubleshooting that Cyclops has in mind. And yeah, it's a big jump from being a team leader to what she's being asked to do now. In some ways, Rogue is inclined to see it as a demotion—as Cyclops' way of saying that he doesn't want or need her in the field any more, even in this very dark hour. It's a very loaded situation."
But Carey has complete faith that Rogue will bounce back and find her footing in this new situation.
"In the end, I think Rogue can adapt to pretty much anything," the writer admits. "She's one of the most flexible and resourceful of the X-Men. The question, though, is whether she even wants to take on these responsibilities."
When we last saw her in X-MEN: LEGACY #224, Rogue had just gained a great deal of control over her abilities, something that Carey says will have a major effect on her character in the coming months.
"She's been released from a huge burden," he relates. "In a way, that means that the bedrock traits that make up her nature will be reinforced, because she's freer to be herself now, to play out all her instincts to the fullest. The downside of that is it's a kind of
explosive de-repression. Like when divers come to the surface too quickly, and get the bends. Instantaneous changes bring their own turbulence and trauma."
Of course, even with that added control over her powers, some things about Rogue's character will never change.
"I think Rogue will always be open, spontaneous, loving, devastatingly honest, wickedly funny, impulsive, ambivalent about authority, and a great, inspired tactician," lists Carey of the Southern belle's traits. "That's the upside. The downside is that the years of enforced isolation have left their mark on her. There's a melancholy about her that she has to fight against, and sometimes a self-doubt that undermines her. That's my reading, anyway.
Leaving off with a bevy of teases, Carey promises that X-MEN: LEGACY ANNUAL "[will have] the X-Club. It's got Bling. It's got one of the scariest and coolest X-Men villains in the canon. And it's got Rogue. Oh, and a house that walks on water, but that makes perfect sense in context. Seriously, you need this book. Other kids and work colleagues will tease you if you don't have it."
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