*Note: I know I have some young readers on this site, so this article isn’t recommended for them.
Let’s face it true believers, the X-Men series has always been a soap opera. It’s a really cool soap opera, full of psychics, Dr. Moreau style man-animal hybrids, robots, time travel, and outer space epics, but it’s a soap opera nonetheless. I know this might clash with some of our views on masculinity, but let’s call it like it is.
In terms of unforeseeable twists, love affairs, and sudden deaths, X-Men outdoes most soap operas. I think X-Men even features more cases of amnesia. There’s been a few stories in the series that brought the melodrama to a whole other level, such as the story long ago when Scott Summers married a clone of Jean Grey without knowing it, conceived a child with her, and became an absentee father, not meeting his son until he’s a full-grown man older than himself somehow, and his son now goes by the name Cable. Writer Chris Claremont hatched similar stories in the 90s that pushed the limits of emotional involvement.
In the 21st century, from what I’ve read, no writer has heightened the melodrama of the X-Men more than Peter Milligan. A few days ago I was writing about how cool Milligan’s series X-Men: Golgotha was. Bizarre Love Triangle is the follow up story, and while Golgotha involved a picaresque adventure starting in the Antarctic and ending in outer space, Bizarre Love Triangle is definitely more down to earth.
Rogue and Gambit are having one of their trademark tiffs again, and as you might have guessed, the main problem revolves around how Rogue’s mutant ability denies her any chance at a physical relationship. Gambit, with monkish diligence, says repeatedly it doesn’t bother him, but that doesn’t do much for Rogue’s self-esteem.
If that weren’t enough, there’s also a subplot involving a lukewarm love affair involving Iceman, Havok and Polaris. As readers of old X-Factor issues will know, Havok and Polaris have long been an item, but Milligan decided to put that to rest by having Polaris date Iceman, while still being on the same team as Havok. In the Golgotha storyline, Havok revives Polaris with a little mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, but it’s entirely possible he revived something else at the same time. How will Iceman react when faced with his girlfriend’s old flame? Actually this subplot doesn’t really go anywhere, so let’s forget about it for now.
The tense situation is complicated when a mysterious mutant hops the fence of the Xavier school and is given sanctuary by the X-Men. Her name is Foxx. She has light blue skin, blue hair, and an immediate attraction to Gambit.
In a very short amount of time, Foxx does everything she can to seduce Gambit, going so far as to join him unannounced in the shower, but old Remy LeBeau (yes, that is Gambit’s secret identity) spurns her advances and is shown comically setting the water to cold after she leaves. When all of her attempts fail, Foxx shows her true colors: a darker shade of blue.
That’s right. Foxx is in reality Mystique, the shapechanging mutant who’s constantly pranking the X-Men. Her plan apparently was to disguise herself as a student to get to “know” Gambit. Her gambit doesn’t pay off. When her original ploy fails, she tries a different tack. She reveals her true form to Remy, then metamorphoses into Rogue. That is, she looks like Rogue, but doesn’t have the same inability to make physical contact.
This is what makes X-Men: Bizarre Love Triangle my #2 pick for weirdest Marvel story of the decade: Mystique is Rogue’s mother. The reason why she’s going so far out of her way to entrap Gambit is to ruin his relationship to her own daughter, and if that isn’t weird enough, she tries to do this by turning into her daughter! I don’t think any soap opera would touch this material.
Have you seen Casablanca? There’s a famous scene in the film where Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman meet in a room and have a romantic conversation. The scene fades, and after the segue, a candle is shown that is now half burnt, making the audience wonder just what happened in the meantime. Did Humphrey and Ingrid talk about the good old days, or was there something more? This is never satisfactorily resolved within the movie.
Peter Milligan does something similar with X-Men: Bizarre Love Triangle. He never reveals exactly what happened after Mystique turned into Rogue, except that the character’s avoid the subject later.
For all of her scheming, Mystique doesn’t get anywhere, but does land herself a spot on the team somehow, before she decides to leave them behind and go off on her own. As it turns out, while she wasn’t able to rend Rogue and Gambit apart, Apocalypse would later finish what she started by turning Remy yet again into one of his mindwashed goons.
X-Men: Bizarre Love Triangle was published as a graphic novel, but has gone out of print. It’s probably for the best it stays that way. If you’re really curious, you can read it in X-Men issues 171-174, although I wouldn’t recommend going too far out of your way. The art by Salvador Larroca is always cool, but the story was just plain weird.
—–Speaking of stories, I’ve written several of my own. Check out my Amazon author page to find out more.
If you liked this article on X-Men Bizarre Love Triangle, check out my overview of the entire 2004-2010 series of New Avengers.