Rogue Element #96: Date Night
By Avril Brown
First dates are almost always something special. Whether they be a passionate event kicking off an epic romance, or a fiery crash and burn insuring a story for life, a first date is at the very least good for a smile of one kind or another. A long time ago on an url now only used for archiving I wrote a column about some excellent first dates of my own, and since that publication I have experienced several interesting nights out that make for nearly equally entertaining tales, such as the skater boy I picked up in the park who suggested Noodles & Company for dinner, didn’t even offer to pay, and gave me a ‘coach hug’ goodbye (a loose-armed embrace complete with a hearty pat on the back, as if conveying a job well done). Also let us not forget Ernest, who insisted I call him ‘Ern’ (because I totally want to hook up with a guy who chose a nickname synonymous with a container for dead people) and who was prone to loud and inappropriate questioning in a public place. However, the one beer and four martinis he threw back fast enough to keep time with my own pints (and that’s saying a lot) could have accounted for his exuberant if typically dull conversation, and he did pick up on my not-so-subtle hint that this first date was a last one, so I always reflect upon Urn with a sardonic fondness.
In fact, some of the best first dates are often equal parts awesome and awkward, giving a happy couple, or a nostalgic individual, multiple reasons to grin upon reflection. Take my first ‘date’ with my beau: a meeting in a smallish bar in Libertyville on Christmas Eve where the pints were two dollars (there are advantages to living in the sticks), the barflies are so local they’re part mahogany, and I’m surrounded by cousins, most of which are curious and hopeful for me, with a couple leaning towards the protective side. In walks Jesse…with a Santa/Viking hat on his head. Think pointy hat, complete with bobble, but with a leather type material rather than red and white velour. Nonetheless, we ended up chatting the night away, half of which found that ridiculous hat on my head, and he drove me all the way back to Evanston (translation, an hour drive at one in the morning on Christmas Day), despite a threatening talking to from one of my cousins.
Therefore in honor of memorable first dates that break the mold, here is a brief list of some of my favorite fictional first dates:
X-MEN #8 (1992)
Written by Scott Lobdell, Illustrated by Jim Lee (also credited with plot)
When the infamous X-Men comic book series was ‘re-launched’ back in the early nineties, it was following a major story arc and a blending of teams and characters. Storm, after she was de-aged by a villain called Nanny, was running around New Orleans as a child and had reverted to her childhood ways of stealing shit (don’t ask, it’s comics), met Gambit and brought him into the X-Men fold. He didn’t meet Rogue until after he got back from a little space adventure involving Professor Xavier, his girlfriend, Lilandra the Empress of the immensely powerful bird-like Shi’ar Empire and lots of angry shape-shifting Skrulls (like I said, comics). Although I could dedicate an entire series of columns to Rogue and Gambit’s relationship and their many interludes, for the moment the spotlight is directed towards their first ‘official’ date. Deciding to go with Gambit’s incessant and irresistible flirting, Rogue makes them a Cajun lunch and things are going sexily, I mean swimmingly, until a curmudgeon-y Bishop shows up to rain on their picnic. Insults are exchanged and punches are thrown, and when Bishop pulls a plasma rifle on Gambit he grabs the nearest object in defense to charge with his mutant kinetic energy, which happens to be Rogue’s boysenberry pie. Unfortunately she flies to her date’s rescue just as he lobs the perilous pastry towards Bishop, and Rogue ends up with a face full of bursting boysenberry. As the laughs fill the panels, Bishop whispers to Gambit, “Are you sure this is wise?” Gambit wisely whispers back, “Keeping laughing or she’ll kill us.” Even while she’s still picking pie crust out of her hair, Rogue’s defending Gambit’s intentions…until his estranged wife shows up to further destroy the amorous ambience. Regardless, this issue provided quite the combustible commencement to one of Marvel’s hottest couples ever written.
STORM FRONT, The Dresden Files, Book One (2000)
Written by Jim Butcher
In the first installment of this utterly addictive ongoing magical murder mystery series, our hero Harry Dresden sure knows how to show a girl a good time. I have gushed about ‘The Dresden Files’ on numerous occasions, and for good reason: they rock. Harry is totally badass, fiercely loyal, noble almost to a fault and quite the gentlemen when it comes to women. One of those women includes Susan Rodriguez, a reporter he dated at the beginning of the series, and during STORM FRONT they have a rather pulse-pounding first date. Sultry, smoking hot Susan is mostly fishing for information when she shows up one Saturday night to take Harry to dinner, and she ends up caught in the middle of a battle between Dresden and a rather powerful toad-demon. In an attempt to safeguard his first date in years, Harry tells her to drink a teleporting potion, but instead she accidentally drinks a potent love potion. Harry manages to get his hands on the proper potion around the same time Susan got her hands on him (which was made a lot easier by the fact he was in the middle of a shower when she arrived with the toad-demon close on her heels, and therefore Harry’s battling in the buff), and they’re whisked away to near safety. Susan’s lusty feelings are reversed along with the contents of her stomach due to the mixture of potions just in time for Toadie to find them for a final showdown. Naked Harry manages to call upon storm energies to kill the baddie, the police show up to find a naked man with burnt hair, armed with a stick, comforting a woman next to a puddle of puke, and Harry asks what she’s doing next Saturday. Susan moans this was the worst night of her life, but admits (with a torrid twitch of the lips) that it’ll make one fantastic story. Definitely the start of an interesting relationship, and a first date for the ages.
NEW MUTANTS #37 (2012)
Written by Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning, Illustrated by David Lopez
A couple of story arcs ago, the latest of Marvel’s New Mutants crew accidentally found themselves in Hell while on a rescue mission to Hel, their intended destination (that one L can make all the difference). Faced with the Devil himself and low on options, one member of the team, Amara Olivans, aka Magma (her mutant power involves lava manipulation, in case you didn’t guess), takes Beelzebub up on his offer to transport them all to their desired location in return for one date with her, no strings attached. In issue #37, he comes to collect, and he does it in style. There may be a certain amount of cheese-factor at work in this issue (the Devil is taken aback by a small cup full of chipotle? Really? Points to the writers for the use of ‘piquant’ as a descriptor, however), but there is a light-hearted feel to this issue that seems to be missing in certain comic books as of late. Occasionally, comics are just meant to be FUN, and this issue delivers that in spades. From the Devil’s initial grand overture (picking her up in a Lamborghini and escorting her to dinner in the Third Circle of Hell, complete with Mozart on piano), to his admission of wanting to go on a date like a ‘normal’ person, onto his business plan of how to get more souls the UNICEF way (keep ‘em alive until they fuck things up themselves), this issue was bittersweet, amusing and a little hot. “Can I call you again?” the insecure Devil asks the literally on-fire Amara. “I don’t know. Can you?” she replies, with a sexy smirk. “Seriously. Smoking hot,” the Devil remarks to himself as he walks away. Couldn’t agree more.
Which are the first dates you remember best: the ones at a nice restaurant with pleasant conversation and sweet kiss good night, or the ones rife with exploding pies, toad-demons and dinner with the Devil? Granted these aren’t exactly hiccups someone in the Real World experiences with any kind of regularity, but take a look at your unforgettables and you make recognize a little brimstone in your bisque, whether or not that first dance ended in an extended waltz. I remember with an intensive clarity Jesse and I’s first date, and for damn good reason, but I can hardly look back on Skater Boy or Urn without a silly smile. Cherish those first date moments, for you never know when they may make one fantastic story.