Cover Girl: Powers of X #4

A collage of Rogue in her various costumes

Welcome to Cover Girl. Each month, we gather a team of WWAC contributors to analyze a new and notable comic book cover featuring one or more women. This month, Claire, Kayleigh, and Nola examine Greg Land’s variant cover of Powers of X #4 from Marvel Comics.

A collage of Rogue in her various costumes

What is your initial reaction to these covers as pieces of comics art?

Kayleigh: First of all, we know exactly where Greg Land got the image reference for sexy Rogue pulling on a glove, and we must all confront it like we would our own mortality.

Nola: God damnit, now that you’ve said it, I see it. God damnit.

Claire: Kayleigh—yes. Shocked and awed as I am that G Land has managed to draw a woman feeling an apparent emotion—a good one, even—I do not relish the thought that Known Tracer, Long-Suspected Porn Tracer Greg Land has presented me with a Rogue about to either inseminate a cow, or poke a guy up the butt. Unfortunately those are the only two mainstreamed reasons for anyone to snap on a glove with the motion we observe. (Rogue is far more commonly seen taking a glove off, though I will acknowledge that putting one on is more friendly as it shields her power instead of unleashing its danger.) The nonexistent background is also dreadful.

I really do like how real her laughter looks, though.

How well do you feel this cover represents the character?

Kayleigh: For a Greg Land cover, it’s…fine. There are none of the disembodied torsos or missing body parts that have plagued his worst cover art, nor does Rogue look like she’s having an orgasm in any of these guises. But it’s a completely generic pinup. Rogue looks as posed and lifeless as a Madame Tusseaud’s wax figure. It doesn’t have to be this boring! Compare this cover to Alan Davis’ House of X #2 “Character Decades” variant for Jean Grey, where he uses facial expressions and body language to show not just the costumes, but Jean herself at very different stages of her life. All Land’s cover says to me is “wow, Rogue really needs a new color scheme.”

Nola: In so much as the character is a series of lines on a page, I suppose it does technically tick that box. My main issue here is that the Rogue in all of these costumes looks the same. I suppose, sliding timescale, that’s likely, but there’s none of young Rogue’s awkwardness or weird butch hairstyles in the older costumes presented. Rogue, like Kitty, was a teenager when she joined the team, and her fashion sense reflected that–she changed costumes often as she explored her identity, and she didn’t really find a look that gelled until the ’90s look pictured front and center. Dressing these identical modern Rogues in her classic suits divorces the designs from the character evolution that accompanied them–these aren’t Rogue, they’re a shipment of Rogue dolls that fell out the back of a cargo plane. Either that or they’re all…adult Rogue dressing up in her teenage outfits and trying to look sexy, which is an idea I find very discomfiting.

Claire: I basically agree with both of the above. I appreciate that in every version, her hair has plenty of volume! Cannot stand a devolumised Rogue. The styles are usually wrong in that strange Greg Land apparently has a favourite era of babes way. The central one doesn’t have enough layers, it’s too heavy—it robs it of the fun and sass that defined her at that time. Even though the face expresses just that! Nobody’s captured that for a while, I think.

As I mentioned, I’m really… it’s just so unexpected for Greg Land to draw a woman who looks engaged, or for anyone to draw a woman doing that pin-up teeth-apart smile in or on a comic book so that she seems like she’s looking at someone and sharing a joke with them, instead of just smiling to be looked at, performance first, ta-da~. The main Rogue here looks like she’s making eye contact with someone, actually sharing a thought with a real peer! While I technically appreciate this a lot I also thinks it’s pretty gross that I need to appreciate it this much. So, docked for prior, sorry. But it is a good face.

I don’t think the colouring does a lot for it honestly—not mustardy enough in the Savage Land, no colour-contrast shadows to give it life on the main Lee version, too yellow on the brown batwing, and come to think of it the Savage Land version has the green and yellow mixed up (the green bustier goes under the yellow sleep shirt). The low energy pallet contrasts confusingly with the “multiple women exploding at your face” composition and (alleged) background. Prolonged exposure is a little tiring and brings the forced elements to the fore. Because, as Nola and Kayleigh say, there’s little appreciable character difference between each costumed version, it makes Rogue’s history look flat: if she hasn’t had to change, can she have even had arcs? We know she has, but we can’t really see them here.

Powers of X #4 is the eighth book in Marvel’s House of X/Powers of X series, and is available next week.

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Kayleigh Hearn

Kayleigh Hearn

Still waiting for her Xavier School for Gifted Youngsters acceptance letter. Bylines also at Deadshirt, Ms-En-Scene, The MNT, PanelxPanel, and Talk Film Society.

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