Gambit #1 

Written by James Ausmus

Art by Clay Mann

Review by Bobby Shortle

I’ve been enamored with the character of Gambit ever since I first began watching X-Men: The Animated Series back in the 90′s. When you are a kid being “cool” is usually a big deal and Gambit was second only to Wolverine on that scale. After those days I lost touch with the character, as with most of the X-Men, so I was quite pleased a few months back when the new Gambit ongoing series was announced. Well, now it’s here and after reading it I’m left with only one word in my head, disappointing.

The premise of Gambit #1 is a simple one, Remy Lebeau has had a rough couple of years with the X-Men and to recharge his batteries (no pun intended there) he has decided to revisit his roots as a con artist and thief. On the surface the idea of a book about a grifter superhero, especially one as full of personality as Gambit, has the potential to be a whole lot of fun. I instantly had dreams of Ocean’s 11, but with super charged playing cards, running through my head.

The tale of a clever thief leaves room for not only fantastic gadgets, but also highly involved plots and clever interactions. Gambit #1 sees our hero attempting to break into the vault of a wealthy man who bank rolls super villains and steals their gadgets when they can’t pay up. To me this sounds like a gold mine for this type of story.  The problem, however, is that none of the situations or encounters that writer James Asmus puts the character in feel particularly unique. How many times have we seen heart of gold robbers breaking through high security by sneakily acquiring retina scans? We know where this plot is going before it even begins and that might be serviceable, but for a number one it’s just not good enough.

This lack of creative playfulness extends to Gambit himself as he does nothing in this story, save for throwing a high powered toothpick, that couldn’t have been done by any character in any book. Sure, he occasionally talks with a slight Cajun accent, or tries to seduce a young lady for his own gain, but none of it pops in any real way. Remy also lacks any kind of true motivation for his crime, except boredom, which is not a good enough reason to root for any character.

I also found myself unimpressed by Clay Mann’s art which goes for a glossy realism but just comes out feeling stagnant. The characters feel stiff and Mann’s panels feel more like photographs strung together than a cohesive visual story. The bottom line is that when you have a character as agile and dynamic as Gambit, you need the art to mimic that and here the package just feels flat.

VERDICT

Wait and See – I’ve been very negative about the book, but the truth is that all of these shortcomings, save for the art, add up to something more middling than bad. The end of the issue has an interesting twist which could lead to something bigger for our cajun friend, but until then leave Gambit #1 on the shelves.

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About The Author

Editor in Chief

Bobby Shortle is founder and Editor in Chief of Talking Comics as well as the host of the weekly Talking Comics Podcast. When he's not writing about comics he's making short films which can be found at http://vimeo.com/bobbyshortle and talking about pop culture over on Twitter @bobbyshortle.

One Response

  1. RepStones

    Ok – full disclosure, don’t think I’ve ever told anyone this, but im an unadulterated Gambit fanboy ;)

    First up, the art. I do not like this at all, not for Gambit. It might work for some new character or series than im not invested in, but here, no, this is not how i want to see Remy drawn. For me the old school style of drawing Gambit as exemplified by Collins/Lee/Weeks with the crazy mop of hair and that iconic trench-coat is what i grew up with and what i love. I read in the run-up to this new series that the creative team were playing with the idea of giving Remy a new look. Sorry but no, Remy’s trench-coat is to him what the mutton chops and wild hair are to Logan – iconic. The ridiculous white tuxedo and jet black cat burglar suit looks like some rip-off from Tom Crusie’s Mission impossible character.
    The colouring of Rachelle Rosenberg hogs the page, it is too much for the hair-thin inking from Seth Mann. Its a mess of pastels and dodgy shadowing – just look at some of the panels with Remy in the white tux. This style really makes me pine for the late 80′s early 90′s style. they’re trying to be too realistic here.
    Plus points include nice little touches such as the picture of Gambit and Rogue sitting on the desk (as well as a message on his mobile), because as any Gambit fan knows, Rogue is a big part of his back story. Also the essay from Quentin Quire on his desk feeds into current continuity and it is very funny to see that Quire has penned an essay trying to equate Wolverine with Stalin. I also love how a few of the narrative boxes have that little card flourish on the corner, a nice touch for any Gambit story.
    As regards the storyline, yes its been done before and it seems like Remy is in a rather trivial little situation, out for himself, but i think its nice to see our favourite superheroes in non-epic situations every once in a while. Also considering who his quarry is, i think judging the plot or storyline on the basis of this first issue alone isn’t fair. The guy Remy steals from seems like a serious operator in the criminal world so that bodes well for the following issues.
    Another criticism i have however, is that Remy only seems to develop his Cajun accent in the latter half of the book. Really guys? one of Remy’s biggest plus points is only thrown in as an afterthought.
    Thats a big part of the reason why i hated Taylor Kitsch’s portrayal of him in X-men origins: Wolverine – he didn’t even try to attempt a Cajun accent. But thats the thing and part of why i love Gambit so much because i have a thing for the whole Cajun, New Iberia, New Orleans or ‘Nawlins’ milieu. I love my jazz and blues, CD rack is full of Dr John and my fiction shelf has every Dave Robicheaux novel by James Lee Burke. I love movies set in New Orleans like Angel Heart and The Big Easy (where Dennis Quaid at least attempted a cajun accent) so as a comics fan who has a thing for the wonderful world of Louisiana with its swamps and cities and voodoo and music, Gambit has always had a special place in my heart. That arc back in the 90′s when Gambit, Wolverine and Ghost Rider battle the brood had him going back to New Orleans and incorporated the Guild of Assassins and the Guild of Thieves was so great precisely because it used Gambit’s rich back story. So considering whats available, for anyone simply to attempt to ignore all that (what we Gambit Fanboys love) and do a solo series from scratch is pants. As i said too early to tell, but I’m laying down my wishes (demands) here Marvel.
    Even if this series does disappoint overall, I’ll continue to buy it because im like Mel Gibson’s character in Conspiracy Theory, when he sees a copy of Catcher In The Rye he has a sudden overwhelming urge to own it, well im like that with regard to our Cajun friend here, I can’t help it and you know what, i wouldn’t have it any other way :)

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