Whether as a member of the X-Men or a villain, Rogue has proven to be one of the most surprising and unpredictable characters in the entirety of the Marvel Universe. With her distinctive, white-streaked hair, Rogue has been a hero in an almost-constant state of flux. Since she was created by Chris Claremont and Michael Golden in Avengers Annual #10, she has thrown down with some of Marvel’s best and brawniest, leaving many defeated villains and heroes in her wake.
With a mutant power that’s as much of a curse as it is a blessing, Rogue’s body has forced her to become a self-imposed outcast who’s hidden her skin from the world to protect herself and those around her from absorbing their powers.
Famously, Rogue has the mutant power to absorb “Life Energy” or the powers/abilities and psyche of anyone who gets too close, which is far more of a curse than a blessing since she can’t turn her powers off. And when she touches anyone with special skills or powers, she has temporary access to those abilities as well. And when she’s absorbed the powers of multiple characters, she can use those powers simultaneously in strange new combinations.
In the X-men Legacy story (Issue 235) she manages to cobble together multiple mutant powers that bestow upon her Wolverine’s claws, Colossus’ armor, strength, and even Psylocke’s psychic abilities. In this form (thanks to picking up more than just their powers), she enjoyed heightened animal senses such as smell and hearing. Additionally, thanks to her brief history with Carol Danvers (AKA Ms./Captain Marvel), she enjoyed a somewhat unreliable foresight ability known as a ‘Seventh Sense’- which allowed her to predict the movements of her enemies.
Outside of her power-absorbing abilities, Rogue’s other typical powers — like super-strength, invulnerability, and flight — are all attributed to a fateful encounter with Carol Danvers, when she was still going by Ms. Marvel — that took place in 1992’s Marvel Super-Heroes #11, by Chris Claremont, Simon Furman, Mike Vosburg, and Mike Gustovich.
After an altercation that took place on the Golden Gate Bridge, Rogue would find herself doing battle with the Avenger and ultimately coming out on top, as Carol would plunge into the waters below.
Unbeknownst to either of them, Rogue would absorb so much of Ms. Marvel’s powers and psyche that the changes would be semi-permanent for years to come, leaving a fractured ‘Carol’ persona within Rogue in addition to giving Anna Marie superpowers of the Kree superhero. This also set up a lingering rivalry between the two that’s still smoldering to this day.
Without her powers, Rogue possesses the strength of any athletic human. And thanks to years of training with world-class fighters on teams like the Avengers and X-Men, she has considerable unarmed combat skills too.
With her powers, Rogue is usually one of Marvel’s stronger characters altogether. When she had Carol Danvers’ powers or similarly held on to some of Wonder Man’s powers for extended periods, she already had enough raw strength to be the X-Men’s resident powerhouse. When combined with any strength she might absorb from someone like Colossus, those abilities stack on top of each other, which makes her one of Marvel’s absolute strongest heroes, for a little while at least.
Despite its drawbacks, Rogue’s ability to absorb abilities and memories might seem like a great power, but her touch can be lethal to regular humans. When she touches someone for too long, she leaves her victim in a short term coma or experiencing extreme fatigue- if they’re lucky. With a glancing touch, Rogue can usually absorb whatever powers, skills, or information she needs from someone, but a part of that person lives on within her mind every time she does so.
If left on for long enough, her touch can be lethal, as her childhood fling Cody Robbins learned the hard way. Rogue’s first kiss with Cody left the boy in a persistent vegetative state, an act that would spur her into the depths of self-imposed isolation and eventually lead her right to the hands of Mystique and the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. Only a few notable figures within the Marvel canon can be exempted from her lethal touch, but usually only under special circumstances.
While harnessing other people’s abilities might be a cool party trick, it does come with downsides. Unfortunately, when obtaining the powers of other mutants and aliens, Rogue also copies their psyche permanently into hers, which makes her mind a crowded place to be. Her mental state has been frequently called into question with the echos of so many personas in her head. While this is less of a problem in the modern-day, her struggles maintaining mental silence and concentration have made her a bit of a wildcard on the battlefield.
While this possesses some inherent advantages by giving her a range of fighting styles, tactical knowledge, and language skills to draw on, those voices don’t quiet down unless they’re suppressed, usually with the help of a psychic X-Man like Charles Xavier or Jean Grey. Fortunately, many of her mental roommates were evicted following her encounter with Hope Summers at the end of the X-Men: Messiah Complex story arc, where a simple touch from a newborn Hope Summers cleared her plate, so to speak.
Rogue might be one of Marvel's most famous X-Men, but her physiology and unique mutant power also make her one of Marvel's most unpredictable mutants.