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For various reasons, Gambit #16 is a controversial story. Nicieza's original plan was to have the various developments of Gambit's relationship with Rogue spanning a number of issues as a subplot. Due to editorial pressures, he was forced to condense his plot into a single comic, which has been both criticised and praised for its mercurial changes of focus and mood. As a result, in a single issue, Gambit and Rogue's relationship went through more changes than it usually did in a year....

Told in a series of flashbacks that were supposedly passing before Gambit's eyes at the moment of his death, the first memory was unadulteratedly positive. That is, he remembered kissing Rogue when she meets him at the airport on his return from Symkaria (and the past!). Naturally, she was more than a little surprised:

ROGUE: WHAT?! HOW?!

GAMBIT: The "what" is called a kiss, chere. The "how" is more complicated.

Although never explicitly stated, it was implied that Sinister's "tinkering" with his powers in order to allow him to return from the past had the added benefit of allowing him complete protection from Rogue's powers:

GAMBIT: Roguey, we spent so much time worryin' about your powers keepin' us from havin' a real relationship when all it took was a bit of... tweakin' on my powers instead!

ROGUE: Details!

GAMBIT: Well, while I was stuck in th' past with Courier -- an' thanks for helpin' out Sek, she tol' me what happened -- we found out th' only way we could get back home involved stretchin' my biokinetic chargin' abilities a bit. Exactly how... is like I said... complicated.

However, ironically, his enhanced, extended powers were now able to hurt her. She, first, noted a static cling (which he joked was his electric personality) but soon was being burnt by his kinetic charges which were raging out of control. In other words, they were back to square one, unable to touch for fear that she would be hurt. (It is debatable how... far they got physically before then!)

Unfortunately, more sparks than merely kinetic ones were flying between them as being able to touch did not solve the real difficulties between them. Rogue still was uncertain whether she could trust Gambit and he was still angry about Antarctica:

ROGUE: Somethin' you not tellin' me, Remy? I can read one of your "woe is me" moods a mile away. No more secrets between us -- remember?

GAMBIT: You're right. Fair is fair. No more secrets, so... what's your real name, Rogue?

ROGUE: . . . So what happened in New Orleans, Remy?

GAMBIT: Everyone's always on me about tellin' th' truth, but it never works both ways. Never stops people from keeping secrets from me. . .

(...)

ROGUE: Some things... they have to stay personal...

GAMBIT: Who decides that then? Xavier? Storm? You? When am I allowed to make those decisions for myself? All I've ever done since joining the X-Men is everythin' I've been asked to do -- an' I've done them well. You'd think the least I could get is a pat on the th' back, but the least I got was being left to die in a frozen wasteland an' I know you apologised for that, Rogue, but I never said I accepted that apology, did I?

This argument has been a cause of controversy and debate between fans. The one camp believes it was about time that Gambit expressed his anger and bitterness at what had happened to him in Antarctica and at the hypocrisy of the X-Men. They also argue he was picking a fight to avoid answering Rogue's question, deliberately choosing her sorest spot either to infuriate or upset her. The other camp notes that Gambit has a doormat complex, that he usually blames himself for the sins of the universe, that he has not expressed anger when the wound was fresher. Both sides make a strong case for whether Gambit was acting in character when he vituperated Rogue, but everyone seems to agree that his last speech in the book where he breaks up with her "for good" was cringeworthy:

ROGUE: It was like a good dream, wasn't it, Remy? Like God wantin' to give us a few weeks of happiness for all the pain we've been through.

GAMBIT: Yah. I'm sorry 'bout how I been -- th' usual, we push each other away when we're scared. Guess it was my turn. Tag, you're it.

ROGUE: I don't wanna play the game anymore. (...) It's not fair! We were... almost happy.

GAMBIT: You really think so? I don' think we even took five steps down the road toward knowin' what happiness really is, much less actually bein' happy.

(...)

GAMBIT: At the end of the day, Rogue, you know what always kept us apart? We did. Because both of us have been runnin' away for so long that to run into each other would've meant confronting and dealing and accepting everything that happened in our pasts. Neither of us is ready for that. Two stupid people too afraid of life! I'm reading to change - to move forward - but I know I can't do it with you... Not until you're ready t'do it for yourself. So the carousel stops an' it's time to get off, chere, for both our sakes. Maybe somewhere down the road we'll be ready to ride the carousel again... together. You were right. Last few weeks have been like a dream. Time to wake up and face a new day...

At the time and on hints from Marvel, people believed that this speech marked the end of Gambit and Rogue as a couple and, when Claremont first entered the scene, that certainly seemed to be the case...

Onto next part...

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