The last few weeks leading up to today have been pretty crazy if you live in the United States. If you don't know, it's election day here in America and that got me thinking a lot about leaders and what makes a good leader -- not just in politics, but in comics.
Recently the X-Men have suffered a massive blow to their leadership ranks. The Avengers vs X-Men story arc changed a lot about what we know of the X-Men and the way they operate. At it's core, it was an event that really changed the status quo, and if you were to ask a lot of X-Men fans, they might agree that right now, the X-Men don't really have a leader. Cyclops is behind bars and being restrained by the Avengers and many members of the mutant community. Professor Charles Xavier is dead, and Wolverine is too busy splitting his time between the X-Men, X-Force, the Jean Grey School and being a member of The Avengers. Right now, the X-Men don't really have a guide; they don't really have someone to lead them. That's not to say though that there aren't any leaders available, because there are. Aside from Scott and Wolverine, the X-Men have had plenty of great leaders over the years. From Nightcrawler and Jean Grey to Magneto, Havok and Storm; these characters have all spent their share of time leading the X-Men. Yet one of the best, and one of the best written was probably Rogue; and I think it might be time that she, once again, took the reigns of leadership and lead her people.
One of the factors that really draws me to Rogue's character as a leader is the fact that she has led before. Not only has she led the X-Men before, but she's had to make some really tough decisions, which, is one of the things that a great leader needs to be able to do well. In the Children of the Atom story arc, for example, Rogue brings two of the X-Men's most bitter enemies into the fold against Scott Summers' wishes. Her hope was to bring her enemies closer, have them work with her and at her side as opposed to against her. Not only is this a good strategy to keep an eye on the people you trust the least, but it's a great way to prevent an attack on the X-Men by either party (Mystique and Sabretooth).
In X-MEN #188 even Scott Summers recognized Rogues abilities as a leader. In this issue he pulls her to the side and gives her the chance to establish her very own "Independent strike force," to choose her own team of X-Men to lead and take into battle to confront threats that Scott can't handle due to his responsibilities as leader of the X-Men at home. He's essentially appointing Rogue in a crucial leadership ability; trusting her to make decisions in his stead on the battlefield that have the potential to tip the balance. In a sense, Rogue becomes the head of defense for the X-Men. She's got an undercover team of heavy hitters to deal with the threats to the team and to their race so that Scott doesn't have to. One of the reasons Scott chooses Rogue isn't just because of her super-powered abilities; but because of her leadership traits. She asks him in the first issue of this arc why he chose her, to which he responds by saying;
"Because you take risks. Because you're hard to predict. Because unlike the Professor I can see the differences between recklessness and inspired improvisation."
However, the very reasons that prompted Scott to choose Rogue, are the reasons that he uses in an argument against her character citing that he disagrees with a decision she makes in regard to Creed (Sabretooth) who came into the custody of the X-Men. In issue #192, Scott questions Rogue's decisions as a leader, citing them as reckless. You can draw an interesting parallel between Scott and Professor Xavier in this scene. However, Rogue takes her leadership responsibilities pretty seriously and she stands up to Scott reminding him that he chose her for a reason and that now isn't the time to question her judgement. A great leader needs to be confident not only in their abilities, but in the decisions they make on the battlefield. They need to be comfortable making tough calls -- like this one -- but being confident in the fact that things will turn out for the better. Rogue demonstrates that she's sure of herself and her capabilities, and I think that's important to recognize.In this arc Rogue stands up for her ideals and her principles. She doesn't back down when Scott calls her out because he disagrees with her decisions.
This isn't the first or the last time that Rogue has shown herself to be a capable leader of the X-Men. In the most recent (and final issue) of X-MEN LEGACY #275, Rogue proves that she can get the job done. When all other X-Men are busy or in prison and a prison riot breaks out, Rogue leads Mimic to the fight and in this moment she is able to both comfort the character as well as put the fight first.
In this issue she realizes pretty quickly that she's not going to be able to fight the riot with Mimic alone and that she'll need the help of other mutants. There's a great series of panels where Rogue proves herself to be a great diplomat. She stands before the group of imprisoned mutant criminals and explains that she needs their help. The fact that she is able to sway some of them is a great example of her leadership skills. You can't be a leader and you can't lead a team if people don't trust you, and it seems that Rogue is easy to trust. She demonstrates that she is capable of leading both on and off the battlefield; that she is both a great strategist and tactician as well as a great fighter.
If you want to check out some great Rogue stories, pick up X-MEN LEGACY #275 as well as X-MEN #188 through #193; there are some great examples of Rogue as a solid leader in those issues. What do you think of the idea of Rogue as leader of the X-Men? Do you think she can handle it, or do you feel that she doesn't have what it takes to do the job? Who else would make a great leader now that Scott is imprisoned and things for mutants are in flux?