Adam Graham concludes his look at Volume 1 of the Collection of Gambit’s Solo series in 1999.
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Welcome to the Classy Comics Podcast. From Boise, Idaho this is your host, Adam Graham. If you have a comment, email it to me firstname.lastname@example.org. In our last episode I began talking about X-Men and Gambit: The Complete Collection Volume One. I laid out general thoughts on X-Men and Gambit, and also what I thought were some major highlights that could be seen throughout the first seven issues. Blade the Vampire Slayer actually shows up as a guest star in this book and it works. It’s a surprising combination but Gambit and Blade just have a good enough rapport, but also contrast to make for an interesting book. I also note that the Blade Issue tried to be very tasteful and bloodless which I don’t think would have happened if that crossover happened today.
Also in this book, The X-cutioner shows up. Yes, he spells it with an ‘X’, the cutesy spelling for crazed villain who want to put down mutants and in particular Remy LeBeau/Gambit, and as part of that he kidnaps Rogue. Somehow that seems like a kind of hard task but he manages it and I have mixed feelings about the issue because on one hand it does show Rogue and Gambit in action together and there is some development regarding the relationship, and I think that it’s always a fun part of this particular character but on the other hand the X-cutioner just goes on and on. You read through that Issue and the pictures are practically blacked over with all of the X-cutioner’s lengthy diatribes, and he’s one of those villains that thinks he’s profound but really isn’t.
Now on to the final four Issues in the book. Issues Eight and Nine are part of “the Shattering” event in which Professor Xavier dissolves the X-Men and orders everyone to leave the mansion because he suspects there is a traitor amongst them, and a nefarious force at work. I’m not usually a fan of including crossover Issues in a trade, I’d rather the crossovers be in the trade for that because oftentimes when you’re reading those it feels like you’re reading Part Five or Part Seven of a story without a bunch of context. But I give credit to Marvel for two things: Number One, they provide introductory comments that make it clear what’s going on, and most importantly the issues here that tie into that event don’t feel like you’re reading a part of another book as Remy is searching for Mr. Sinister to obtain a device that he can use to sniff out the traitor. While the book in which he actually uses the device is the crossover, this feels very much like a self-contained story. As Gambit first sets out looking for Sabretooth, and then after making a shocking discovery about him, sets out for Mr. Sinister. If all crossover Issues read this well I would not have a problem with them being in the trades.
Issue Ten finds Remy going to Germany in order to complete a mission that his stepdad didn’t in stealing a diamond that promises great power. This was both interesting and a little bit frustrating. It was cool because we got to see a flashback that included Nick Fury and the Howling Commandos, Gambit decked out to the nines in a tuxedo, and a real sense of mythology and awe about this diamond. However, with all that setup, there’s not much of a good conclusion, particularly for the present – although it promises that this will get resolved favorably sometime in the far future.
Issue Eleven finds Gambit meeting Daredevil as they’re both dealing with a criminal with Gambit seeming to want to shield them while Daredevil needs to catch him because he’s stolen an organ from a man who desperately needs it. This one is a little bit of a mystery and a really well-plotted story. It has some surprises I didn’t quite see coming, and it’s an enjoyable one-off story; though of course featuring a scene with Fontanelle messing around in somebody’s dreams because that’s what you do in a Gambit book in the 1990s.
Overall I kind of like the book. The art was not great but it was OK. The early to mid ’90s had some notoriously bad art and it’s nice to see a book where they’ve kind of gotten past that – although there are some weird poses and looks for Gambit and some other characters. The stories, in terms of the writing quality, are a bit mixed. Villain quality was kind of problematic throughout and there were a few too many pages that were dedicated to ideas and concepts that either were never resolved or took way too long to actually get any information on. Still, Gambit makes for a fun, wisecracking and roguish hero who still has his own issues and troubles that he deals with. The book itself is probably OK for older kids to read or teenagers. There’s some comic book violence and some innuendo but it’s nothing worse than you would see on network television today, and actually more mild – particularly the violence part.
Overall I will give Gambit: The Complete Collection Volume One a rating of Somewhat Classy. Despite it’s problems the book is fun enough to read, and if you like Gambit on the X-Men animated series I think you’ll find this a particularly worthy read. Alright, well that’s it for now. If you do have a comment email it to email@example.com. From Boise, Idaho this is you host, Adam Graham, signing off.