EP0023: X-men: Gambit Classic Volume 1 (Review)

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We take a look at Gambit’s first appearance and his first mini-series preceded by a completely pointless comic with a flying alien.

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Transcript follows:

Find out about Gambit’s first comic book appearances as we take a look at Gambit Classic: Volume One straight ahead.

Gambit Classic: Volume One was the book that I’d hoped to get for my inter-library loan request last year, and I talked about the book I got instead on our second and third episodes. This book collects Gambit’s earliest appearance on Uncanny X-Men, and then his first mini-series. He appeared in Issue 266 of The Uncanny X-Men. So, of course this book collects Issues 265 to 267.

Issue 265 is one I really could have done without reading. After the initial appearances in 266 and 267, Marvel put a page of exposition to explain his entire tenure with the X-Men over two year prior to the mini-series. It seems like the relevant parts of Issue 265 could have just as easily been summarized. The relevant part is that at this time Storm has amnesia and is regressed to a child physically, and so doesn’t know how to use her mutant powers. She’s operating as a thief, stealing from other thieves and returning the items to their rightful owners for rewards, I guess.

But beyond that there is so much more going on in the book. The book opens with four pages in space with alien space warriors, and there are no alien space warriors in Issues 266 or 267, so that’s kind of weird thread anyway. This really should have started with 266, but that said, once it gets started it’s pretty good. Storm has stumbled into the Shadow King and his minions, and she tries to get away and ends up being rescued by Gambit who had his heart set on stealing some art but instead decided to save Storm instead. Saying, “paintings will keep, us thieves we have to stick together”. And they have to escape the Shadow King together, and the minions who are under his control. There is some pretty good action and they end up becoming sort of a Robin Hood pair. They steal but only from those who have stolen in the first place, and it’s shown through an entire comic strip montage. However, their good times together are spoiled when the Orphan Maker, who I guess from reading this had something to do with Storm losing her memory. About the story in these two issues, Gambit is a really fun character. He is a roguish character but who follows a code of honor and genuinely cares about other people, particularly Storm – this girl who he doesn’t know what her powers is but he takes on the role of her friend and protector. And he is very clear that it will be no more than that because you do have this picture of Gambit as this sort of ‘gentleman thief’.

There are lots of pieces of art that show his coolness, his skill, the strength of his powers as well as his great coordination. 266 and 267 are a fun introduction to Gambit. The Gambit mini-series really brings him back to New Orleans and to his roots where his wife, or is it ex-wife or is it comatose wife, is dying and can’t be waked, and at the same time the Tithes Collector is at work. Remy’s Guild, Remy LeBeau which is his true identity, is part of the Thieves Guild in New Orleans and they are opposed by the Assassins Guild who are picking off members of his Guild and of his family. And so Remy and Rogue they go down to New Orleans. It’s a pretty well-packed four issue mini-series. Most mini-series today are six issues but they tend to meander on a bit. This one is four issues and it is full of conflict and intrigue, great character relationships and interactions. It gives you a good insight into who he is as well as into the culture of this whole Guild, and he has to deal with things.

One thing that does occur to me as I read it is this entire Guild system is incredibly dysfunctional, troubled and full of all of these problems which by being with the X-Men he’s been able to step back from, and so is kind of free from it and is able to see things objectively. His loyalties really do get tested as he needs to obtain an elixir which his Thieves Guild possess but won’t give him to save his wife because she’s a member of the Assassins Guild. Rogue is there at the same time trying to be a support as he deals with what’s going on with his wife. To be honest, probably with everything that went on, the biggest support she could have been is fighting by his side; but instead she stands by the wife’s side and is tempted to steal her memories using her powers, but she forbears. But the wife grabs her hand involuntarily leading to Rogue getting all these memories, and knowing that because of the nature of her powers she can’t touch people, that she can never have that sort of a relationship with Gambit, and that deepens the kind of star-crossed nature of that relationship.

What does make the book work is that Gambit is really trying to do the right thing. He’s trying to do right by his family, he’s trying to do right by his ex-wife, and he’s trying to navigate all these difficulties. And he ends up having to face some fights that he would rather not face. There are some surprising twists, again a lot of conflict and it’s well worked in. It’s believable stuff given the nature of what’s going on. The art is fairly decent in this. Probably the biggest failure is Kendra’s costume – it is full of 1990s excesses, but for 1990s art this is not bad at all. I wouldn’t recommend this one for kids, but for teens and older. I think this is a fine book for really getting an understanding of Gambit and where he’s coming from. It’s great character work, it’s great conflict and it’s worth a read if you’re a fan of Gambit, and so I’m going to give this a rating of Classy. Alright, well that will do it for now. If you do have a comment sent it to me: classycomicsguy@gmail.com. Check us out on Twitter @ClassyComicsGuy, and go by our website classycomicsguy.com. From Boise, Idaho this is your host, Adam Graham signing off.

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