The X-Men Episode Guide 4×13: ‘Love In Vain’
The early ’90s were spoiled for choice when it came to comic book adaptations. Not only was Batman: The Animated Series on the air, but X-Men led Marvel’s push to get on the small screen, diving right into the often convoluted continuity of everyone’s favorite mutants, luring in a generation of fans, and paving the way for cartoons to follow. That’s why we’ve set out to review every single episode of the ’90s X-Men animated series.
This week, Rogue attempts to lose her v-card and in what is definitely the weirdest episode of the series so far.
Previously, on X-Men:
In our last episode, Wolverine got tired of constantly being on edge and almost murdering teens, so he did what all ultra turbonerds do in times of stress and went to Japan. Shockingly, he almost instantly got caught up in a web of super-powered trouble, stumbling across the Silver Samurai's attempt to extort a dirt-poor fishing village so that he could get... Man, I don't even know. Fish, I suppose. Point is, Wolverine learned that it's okay to stab people to death, as long as they're the right people, and I think we can all learn a little something from that.
In our discussion of Wolverine's favorite anime -- because you know that dude is super into it and quietly mumbles about how Cyclops is such a baka gaijin whenever he makes him turn it off so they can watch something the whole team can agree on -- the Commenteers provided some truly excellent suggestions:
"When Logan thinks Japan, he thinks "escaping his animal nature", so Azumanga Daioh all the way. 'Chihiro can use her pigtails to fly... wish I could fly away from the beast within...'" -- Charles T. Arthur
"Wolverine's favorite anime: Haganai. An anime about a group of loners who join a club to learn how to make friends, and spend two years not actually making a connection between joining the club and maybe the other club members being your frickin friends." -- Seth Dwyer-Frazier
"Wolverine's favorite anime is, most obviously, 'Midori Days,' the story of a high school boy who wakes up one day with a girl for a hand. 'My hands are knives. But what if.....what if one day, they were little girls?,' Wolverine wonders. Deep stuff." -- Seth Shaw
I actually hear that last one is the premise of the next New Direction for the Wolverine ongoing series.
Okay folks, I want to get this out of the way right up front: This is unquestionably the weirdest episode of the series I have watched so far. Like, the entire plot starts off with Rogue's formerly comatose ex-boyfriend showing up and pressuring her into finally losing her virginity, and that is not even the weirdest part. But we'll get to it.
For now, writer Martha Moran and producer/director Larry Houston start things off with a giant red whale flying through space, and no, you did not just hallucinate that sentence.
This, for the record, is going to be the first of many weird little tangential connections that this story has to the story in Uncanny X-Men #164 - 166, where the X-Men go out into space, chill with some space whales, fight the Brood, and almost get killed by aliens. You know, the one where Carol Danvers becomes Binary, getting new powers to replace the ones that Rogue semi-permanently stole from her, and where Kitty Pryde is almost murdered by aliens and tries to get Colossus to have sex with her before she dies? It is not what I would call the Mont's finest hour, but at the same time, it kind of is everything you need to know about that run in one convenient package.
Anyway, if I had to guess, I'd say that it's that story that this episode was sort of vaguely pulling from for source material, and they somehow ended up overshooting and landing in a world way more bananas.
It starts right off, too, as the giant red space whale drops from orbit to faceplant directly into the desert, conveniently crashing about 100 yards behind a meditating Wolverine.
The important thing to note about this is that it's entirely on purpose. This is apparently just how space whales land, which one would think would make them literally the worst possible method of interstellar travel. And yet, here we are.
Wolverine heads over to investigate, and immediately finds himself dealing with what he terms -- in a pretty racist fashion, if you ask me -- "cockroaches from Mars." What they actually are is the Brood. Sort of.
I'm fairly certain that I've never seen the Brood sporting metal underpants and Dr. Octopus's arms. I am also pretty sure that in the comics, they can't shoot lasers out of their tails, but, you know, I'm not going to go look it up and there's actually a pretty good chance that's something they've done at some point in the '90s, so who even knows.
While Wolverine's dealing with the Brood, we cut back to the X-Mansion. Specifically, we get a glimpse of Rogue's bedroom, and it is Cree. Py.
Please note that I picked the shot with the pastel walls and the teddy bear, but there's also a poster bed in there too, and the whole effect is to make it seem childish, like a little girl's room. In a way, that makes perfect sense on a metaphorical level -- Rogue, more than any of the other X-Men, has powers that are pretty explicitly rooted in the difficult transition from childhood to adulthood, and the longing for touch, specifically from a lover. Her traumatic first kiss, which is going to be the core of this first act, is a big deal for her character, and is barely even metaphorical. Looking at it that way, it makes sense to see her in this context, trapped in her childhood, keeping around stuffed animals because that's the only thing she can touch. It's kind of heart-breakingly tragic in this extremely economical way.
On the other hand, Rogue's also a grown-ass woman that some Cajun dirtbag has been trying to f**k for three and a half seasons, and seeing her as an infantilized little girl is super creepy, especially when said dirtbag wanders in and slobbers all over her hand, reeking of Drakkar Noir and desperate longing for a handjob.
I'd like to take a moment here to acknowledge that even by this show's standards, Gambit's accent is out of control in this episode. He has tyaken to pyuttin' a Y intyo yevery wyord, whether it needs it or not. It's actually amazing.
Gambit, however, is not the particular parmour that Rogue will be dealing with today. Instead, it's the return of Cody, the boyfriend that she smooched into a coma, who suddenly calls up on the phone and asks her to meet him in the middle of Manhattan. Now, listen. If you're an X-Man, and someone from your past is like "hey come meet me alone no cops," having tracked you down despite the fact that no one you live with actually knows your name, maybe, just maybe, you should stop to consider that something is up. And yet, Rogue flies off to meet him outside a movie theater called FILMART, which may edge out "my comatose boyfriend woke up and called me at the headquarters of the superpowered paramilitary group I've been a part of for at least five years" as the sketchiest thing about this whole situation.
Cody, whose accent is an affront to my delicate Southern ears, tries to kiss Rogue again before she reminds him that if he does, he'll be waking up sometime in the next decade, but Cody tells her he's figured out how they can do it! And then proceeds to drop some dialogue that it is impossible to hear without interpreting it as Rogue's high school boyfriend trying to get her to let him hit that, which is literally what it is.
"There's nothin' to fear, darlin'! We can be together! I figured it out!"
"I wish I could believe you..."
"You used to want this, Rogue. Well, things are different now. All that love you got pent up inside, well finally, you can let it out."
"Cody, uh --"
"Do you still love me, Rogue? 'Cause I sure still love you."
"There's just no use!"
"I said do you still love me. That's all that matters."
Congratulations, Gambit. You are no longer the sleaziest dude to try to get under Rogue's gloves.
As it turns out, Cody's big plan is to have Rogue zapped by one of the Brood's tail-lasers, at which time she kisses him, passes out, and then wakes up 12 hours later on a park bench, so if you were wondering what roofies looked like in the Marvel universe, here you go. When she wakes up, Cody invites her to go off for a romantic weekend, so she heads back home to let Xavier and the gang know that she will no longer be around to forget her powers and be negged by Gambit.
While all that's been going on, Wolverine has been escaping from the Brood out in the desert, discovering a) that their ship is actually a living creature, and b) these weirdos are trying to take over the world by turning superheroes into their lizard slaves.
You know, standard Brood stuff.
Eventually he gets to a payphone and calls for a rescue mission, but while the team is getting ready to mobilize, Rogue saunters in and informs everyone that f**k all y'all, she's on vacation. As you might expect, the X-Men are like "uh, Wolverine is dying in a desert?" and Rogue, forgetting that this stumpy little Canadian is the whole team's meal ticket, tells them where they can stick it and takes Cody off in one of their billion-dollar stealth jets to his surprise vacation destination.
As you might expect that from the Law of Coincidences In X-Men Stories (namely that there are no coincidences in X-Men stories and most of them involve Mr. Sinister), it turns out that Cody was working for the Brood the entire time, and was leading Rogue into a trap, causing the team to reunite just in time to see Wolverine turn into an off-model Blanka from Street Fighter:
He's not the only one either. Cody and his Cosby sweater are next to go, and the rest of the team are well on their way to a new set of scales, with Cody promising that soon, "we can touch! We can kiss!" Rogue is less excited about that than she was a few minutes ago, even when she turns into a weird lizard and is informed by the Brood Queen that everything that's happened has been based on an attempt to recruit her, specifically. Cody, however, is totally into it.
Unfortunately for the lizard fetishists in the audience, Wolverine shows up, having healing factored his way through the Brood transformation in a nearby cave, and lets Rogue absorb his powers so that she can do the same. From there, they free the rest of the X-Men, and since Wolverine has made friends with the giant space whale, they get Professor Xavier to tap into its mind and get its help to cover them as they beat feet.
Seriously. Wolverine makes friends with a space whale, and its space whale song irritates the Brood into surrendering. That's how this episode ends.
Oh, and Cody is permanently a Brood in a ripped-up Cosby sweater. The End.
Discussion Question: According to this episode, Cody is actually a worse boyfriend for Rogue than Gambit, but it should be noted that he had to knock her out with lasers and then mutate into a lizard man with Doc Ock arms to achieve that. Is there anyone in the Marvel Universe who could be an even worse boyfriend for Rogue? I have my doubts.
Next Week: It's a Cyclops solo adventure in "Secrets, Not Long Buried," and believe me, I'm not any happier about it than you are.