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by yo go re

Hang around any comics message board these days, and eventually you'll see some smug git declare that "it's getting harder to tell the heroes from the villains." Yes, it's called complex storytelling. Sorry if it's too much for you. But while the trend is prominent today, it's hardly new - Marvel has been playing fast and loose with the good/bad divide since the very beginning, while other publishers clung tenaciously to an outmoded notion of black and white.

Take a look at the X-Men, for instance. The mutants have a virtual parade of ex-villains rotating through their ranks, and some of their worst foes have served the greater good. This set of Minimates features both types of characters.

When she was introduced, Rogue was a villain - a member of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, she fought the Avengers and nearly killed then-member Ms. Marvel. She stayed on the wrong side of the law for her next few appearances, but when she finally came to terms with the fact that Mystique would never be able to help her control her powers, she turned to the X-Men for help.

Rogue, thinking about boys This figure is a more modern Rogue, or at least as modern as a character in a decade-old costume can be. It's certainly her most iconic look, the one designed by Jim Lee and seen on the mid-90s cartoon. It's a green and yellow bodysuit, with a tan belt and a red X logo on the chest. She's got a sultry look on her little face, and her green headband is painted just below her hairline.

Her hair is a re-use of one of the Minimates' oldest pieces, dating from way back in Series 3 with Ultimate Storm. It's been slightly reworked, but nothing major. Unlike New X-Men Phoenix's hair, which has become the defacto standard in the past few series, this piece hasn't been seen since it was originally used, really making Rogue stand out. Her white stripe is detailed nicely, really looking like a shock of white hair flowing in with the rest.

Mystique asks 'who's yer daddy?' After leading the Brotherhood for some time, Mystique began to feel the pressure of anti-mutant sentiments on her and her team. Looking to get some protection (and access to classified information), she approached the government and volunteered her team, turning a bunch of villains into the semi-heroic Freedom Force.

As a shapeshifter, Mystique has of course been seen in many costumes over the years, but her classic look is depicted here. She's got her white dress with matching boots and gloves. AA remembered her yellow skull belt, though it's just painted on, rather than a free-floating piece. The reason for that, however, is that the bottom of her dress is white version of the belt/loincloth that came with Series 1's Elektra.

what IS that thing? Mystique's blue skin is really dark, and looks great - shame they didn't use the same blue for her that they did for the Nightcrawler figure. Her bright red hair is the same mold as the White Queen, so she's got a hole in the top of her head to help hold it in place; something Rogue lacks. Showing great attention to detail, Mysti even has the tiny yellow skull on her forehead. The look on her face is just wicked enough that you can't tell which side of the fence she's sitting on.

Rogue and Mystique have a long-standing relationship in the comics. In fact, writer Chris Claremont originally intended that to be a blood relationship, and probably not in the way you expect: though Rogue always refered to Mystique as her "momma," it's only ever been shown to be an adoptive connection; however, until Marvel editorial nixed the idea, Claremont was going to reveal that it was Destiny who was actually Rogue's mother, with Mystique as the father. Now that's dark! No matter which way you want these two characters' allegiences to be swinging, this is a great set of Minimates.

Who's your favorite villain-turned-hero? Tell us on our message board, The Loafing Lounge.


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