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The tragic history between Carol Danvers and Rogue
If blood is thicker than water, what is bad blood between two frenemies? A feud explosive enough to rival any Acme product Wil. E. Coyote orders in his attempts to catch his arch nemesis the Road Runner. This feud belongs to the Marvel universe’s Carol Danvers and Rogue. It’s an on sight matter whenever these two have crossed paths. There isn’t a punch to be pulled or a kind word to spare. The history behind their disdain for one another, however, is not only messy but, upon closer investigation, is more tragic than it is entertaining.
Standing at the epicenter of all of the drama between both Rogue and Carol is Mystique, who was introduced in 1977's Ms. Marvel in issue #18 as Carol’s newest menace by writer Chris Claremont. Her vendetta against Carol was never explained before the series was ended, so when Avengers Annual #10 began with Rogue savagely attacking Carol and then disposing of her unconscious body her reasoning seemed shallow and lacking the needed depth. In Marvel Super-Heroes #11, however, the unfinished story of the events that led up to Rogue and Carol's first fight and Mystique’s true motivations were finally revealed.
Mystique’s precognitive lover, Destiny, had prophesied that Ms. Marvel, the superhero alter ego of Carol Danvers, would cause harm to her adopted daughter Rogue. Mystique, of course, couldn't leave well enough alone. Her moves to prevent Ms. Marvel from harming Rogue inadvertently led to Rogue taking matters into her own hands to get to Carol first.
Bear in mind that Rogue was a child in these stories and a child soldier at that, one who was deeply devoted to her adoptive mother. When Rogue overheard Mystique talking to Destiny about Carol hurting her, she decided to ambush Carol at her new home in San Francisco. Rogue held on to Carol for too long and absorbed her powers as well as her memories, essentially wiping the existence of Carol Danvers away and leaving her a blank slate. This is where the aforementioned Avengers issue picks up.
Although Rogue made an attempt to finish Carol off all the way by dropping her off of the Golden Gate Bridge, Spider-Woman arrived to save her. From there, Carol went into the care of Charles Xavier, and for a time, she even worked alongside the X-Men. Charles helped Carol regain her memories, but she had no emotional attachments to them or the person she previously was, something that haunted her for a time. Imagine knowing your life exclusively through photographs but having absolutely no kind of attachment to them, leaving you a stranger to yourself.
Rogue had stripped Carol of who she was, so justifiably, Carol felt nothing but contempt towards her in return. While Rogue’s actions aren’t excusable, they were understandable. She was acting in self-preservation on behalf of someone she cared deeply for, but ultimately she ended up causing the very thing she was trying to prevent. Of course, Rogue would have eventually had a run-in with Carol anyway, given that Mystique would involve her with the Brotherhood of Mutants.
The next time Carol and Rogue encountered one another occurred when Carol assisted the X-Men in erasing the files kept on them by the government. In Uncanny X-Men #158, Carol was still powerless and had not yet become Binary, so there wasn't much of a fight. It wasn't until Carol becomes Binary and returned to the X-Mansion in Uncanny X-Men #171 that she was finally able to deliver the battle she’d been wanting to give Rogue since the first incident.
Rogue had approached Charles Xavier for help in dealing with the effects of absorbing Carol Danvers' entire existence, which had gotten out of control and were causing her immense mental distress. Xavier chose to help her, making her an X-Men despite protest from the rest of the members. Prior to Rogue coming to them for help, she’d had some run in with them due to her affiliation with the Brotherhood and her history with their teammate and friend Carol Danvers.
When Carol finally rolls up in Binary form, the roof to the mansion is given a Rogue-sized hole after Carol knocks her out of Earth’s orbit. Rogue returns to Earth, only to be knocked into a dozen trees for her trouble. Things settle down just enough for Carol to learn that Rogue is now one of the newest X-Men due to Charles being janky. In a panel that does a great job in summarizing just how much harm was done to Carol by Rogue, she tells Charles to pretty much go to hell with his forgiveness of Rogue and leaves.
They sort of encounter one another again in Uncanny X-Men #269, but not really. An echo of Carol’s mind has remained within Rogue, causing her major issues. In this issue of Uncanny X-Men, Rogue emerges from the mystic portal known as the Siege Perilous giving her two minds form, one of them being Ms. Marvel. A battle between both Rogue and the echo of Carol Danvers happens and finally, Rogue wins, thanks to Magneto. He kills the echo Carol but no harm is done to the real Carol. She doesn't even know about the fight when it's happening.
Their last fight ultimately happens in X-Men: Legacy #269, during the Phoenix Five story arc. The Avengers and the X-Men are at odds because the Phoenix Five have taken over the world. Rogue, like other mutants, has sided with them. Carol, now going as Captain Marvel, ambushes Rogue in hopes that she’ll see reason and defect from the Phoenix Five. In their tussle, Rogue violates Carol a second time by trying to absorb her powers.
Even Carol can’t believe Rogue would once again attempt to absorb her powers after all the pain and trouble it caused them both the first time. Rogue ends up winning this fight thanks to the combined powers of Carol and Iceman. In an ironic twist, the warning that Carol tried to give Rogue as they were fighting comes true once Rogue sees the prison that Magik constructs for Carol. Righting her wrong, Rogue frees her and is the first X-Men to defect. Their last fight begins with Carol attempting to help Rogue and Rogue, in turn, helping her. An unexpected and neatly paralleled end to a feud no one could have imagined, given the traumatic history between the two.
It needs to be stressed how much Carol’s life was destroyed when Rogue took her identity from her. Her life was literally ripped from her by a scared young woman who then had to deal with the consequences of her actions and the harm it caused both of them. The person who set all of this in motion felt nearly none of the ramifications of her actions which had led to these two crossing paths in this manner. Mystique acted on the prediction of a future that could happen but was not guaranteed. Arguably, her actions are also understandable since she was trying to protect her adoptive daughter but her intentions are heavily debatable given that she had no qualms about using Rogue as a child soldier for the Brotherhood of mutants. For all her maternal emotions and urge to protect Rogue, she still put her in harm's way on a daily basis.
Ironically, in the Civil War II story arc, Carol's actions heavily echo those of Mystique's as she makes decisions that cause others harm based on the prediction of events that could happen, but that's a totally different article. If the Rogue-Carol feud has taught us anything, it is this simple lesson: hurt people hurt other people, and the cycle of violence will continue.