[Scott wanted to do the intro for this one. Here is what he said:
There are only a handful of men in this world that I truly admire: Bono, Phil Collins, Clarence Clemons... and, of course, Jason Powell. I have a dream that, one day, these men will perform a supergroup. I imagine that Jason would play bass and each note he played would be as deep and resonant as his analysis of EACH AND EVERY ISSUE of Claremont's Original X-men run. That's a lot of bass notes... Yes, Jason Powell is a great man... but he also likes Thundercats, because all heroes must have a flaw. On a personal note, I asked to do the intro to this week's post as this was my first issue of the X-men as a regular reader; a pretty odd issue to enter the series when it comes down to it- I had no idea who Rogue was as a character or any of the Carol Danvers backstory, there's no Wolverine here-or any character that I had previously associated with the X-men for that matter, in fact, I'm pretty sure that the main reason I bought this issue was the naked Rogue at the top of the issue (and, if I remember correctly, she didn't exactly put on much after that- cute little T-shirt with an 'X' logo on it, right?). So, I didn't buy this issue so much as my 13-year-old hormones did but, that's the power of Claremont, he had me hooked within a couple of issues.]
Carol Danvers, the original “Ms. Marvel,” was the quintessential Claremont Female – starting life as a second-stringer, she became a kind of beacon of feminist achievement when Claremont wrote her in the 70s: a solider, secret agent, astronaut, magazine editor and superhero, all while still in her mid-twenties.
Back in 1982, when Claremont was struggling to find his own voice in the wake of losing John Byrne (the Lennon to his McCartney), Carol became his icon in issue 158, wherein the character decides that her past is prologue and that the future belongs entirely to her. As I wrote in the blog for that issue, Carol was a stand-in for Claremont in that moment, declaring independence and fearlessly looking towards the future. As such, Uncanny 158 was the first issue of the series to belong entirely to Claremont himself, distinct from “Claremont AND Cockrum” or “Claremont AND Byrne.”
So, it is not insignificant that in Uncanny 269, Claremont’s last issue of Uncanny before the fall crossover (followed by an arc explicitly co-plotted by artist Jim Lee, and thereupon by Claremont quitting) … Carol Danvers dies. If there is any single comic in the latter day X-Men run that specifically points to a future in which the author leaves the franchise he poured his heart into (a franchise which would, in turn, barely miss him after he was gone), then this is it.
Ironically enough, Carol’s death probably wasn’t even Claremont’s idea. Like so many of the endings to the post-“Inferno” Uncanny storylines, it feels far too neat and tidy to be a truly Claremontian development. The Seige Perilous is, naturally, brought in as the catalyst for this development (issue 269 is the final appearance or mention of that plot device as well) – and Rogue even comments that it isn’t supposed to work this way: Rogue returns to the place she last remembers as home, her mind and memory intact, but – she soon realizes – physically split from the Ms. Marvel personality.
(Clearly, Bob Harras had no desire to see any of the X-Men suffering from psychoses. He seems to have snuffed out Wolverine’s hallucinations a few months earlier – one of whom was ALSO Carol Danvers, which couldn’t be more appropriate – and now he forces an expedient end to Rogue’s multiple-personality woes.)
And so the issue rollicks along with more and more “lasts”: Rogue is terrorized by the Reavers (in a final hurrah for the Outback setting, another milieu never seen again before Claremont’s departure) before escaping via Gateway -- one last time. Given that the Reavers so often work as a stand-in for Harras, one wonders if their presence at Rogue’s emergence from the Seige portal is a hint that it was Harras’ idea to pull Claremont’s favorite daughter (two of them, really) out of the comfortable safety of the Seige’s narrative limbo.
Carol, meanwhile, in an extremely simplified sweeping away of her complicated relationship with Rogue, is quickly recast as another Shadow-King puppet and promptly sent to assassinate Rogue. A standard slugfest ensues, and is ended prematurely thanks to Magneto. His final lines, “Only one of you could survive … I chose you,” make one wonder if Claremont was given a similar ultimatum by Harras. Could he have kept Carol and gotten rid of Rogue? Did he choose Carol to die in a symbolic gesture? Perhaps not, but the reflection between her death here and her redemptive declaration of independence 111 issues earlier is resonant indeed, whether intentional or not.
Still, for all its depressing metatextual implications, “Rogue Redux” is a crackling adventure in its own right. Among the praise that Claremont gives Jim Lee in his “Comics Creators on X-Men” interview, he notes that the artist “drew great babes.” That skill is certainly on display here: There are beautiful women aplenty -- particularly in the Muir Island sequence, which features Carol in battle with Amanda Sefton and Moira MacTaggert, while Lorna Dane stands imprisoned in the background. Rogue herself is the centerpiece, however, a phenomenally gorgeous, glamorous and charismatic lead character, more than able to carry the story on her own (no other current X-Men members appear in the issue).
Rogue was always the one X-Man who stood alone as a Claremont solo creation, not associated with any artistic co-creator. Appropriate then that this, the issue that puts the final axe to Claremont’s independence, also sees Rogue nearly stolen out from under him by Lee.