October 10, 2012 by Julia
(this review will have spoilers for Gambit issues 1 and 2)
I knew about X-Men purely through osmosis for many years, but then I discovered the cartoon from the 90s. It seemed interesting, so I watched a few minutes of it . . . and then Gambit showed up and I was in love. Gambit is therefore solely responsible for any interest I have in American comics, because I immediately went out and bought X-Men comics to find out more. I happened to be just in time for Age of Apocalypse (still my favorite major story arc), which really drew me in. I’ve always been a sucker for southern accents, which was only exacerbated by Gambit’s sexy Cajun accent and the sexy things he said with it. As a side note, apparently the same voice actor also voiced Wiseman and Jadeite in the DIC Sailor Moon dub. Huh, who would have thought?
Anyway, I used to laugh it off when people told me that Gambit was just there to be eye-candy for female fans and that it was horribly stereotypical of me to adore him, because REALLY PEOPLE, Marvel doesn’t even know it has female fans. But, now that Gambit has another shot at his own title, I kind of have to admit that yeah, he is there to make me swoon. As writer James Asmus noted:
This book focuses on the two most important aspects of Gambit: #1 that he’s sexy, and #2 that he’s the preeminent bad-ass thief of the Marvel Universe.
In case anyone doubted the above statement (and I apologize to my fellow geek girls in advance, because I am on a train right now and cannot scan the panels), both of the currently available issues start with eye candy. Issue 1 starts with butt-naked Gambit getting out of the shower (yes, this is how the entire series starts, so the tone? You can consider it set), while the very first panel of issue 2 is an image of shirtless Gambit from a below-the-crotch perspective. He of course does not bother putting on a shirt for several pages, and I’ve got to tell you, I don’t mind in the slightest.
True to Asmus’ word, so far, this series is in fact about Gambit being a thief instead of a superhero (or anti-superhero, if you will). Gambit has recently been busy teaching the next generation of X-Men, but apparently, he has begun to find this law-abiding life kind of boring. Out of the blue one day, he decides to accept an invitation sent to the faculty of the Xavier School at large, allowing him access to the mansion of newly-invented villain Borya Cich. I hope he sticks around, because I love the entire concept of this villain. He is basically an investor in supervillains–he gives them loans to pull off their evil schemes, and if they don’t pay him back, he confiscates their assorted weaponry or artifacts as collateral. His characters makes perfect sense–it can’t be the case that every villain is rich enough to build all sorts of weaponry out of adamantium and what have you, and the money has to come from somewhere. We also learn in the second issue that he bankrolls research and excavation of his own as well. There is so much that Marvel could use him for, so I hope he is more than a plot device.
Gambit shows up at Cich’s house for the party, and (surprise) promptly meets a pretty girl. Duh. After flirting for a bit and wandering around casing the joint (there’s not really a better term for it; he wasn’t exactly subtle), he creates a distraction and makes his way to the vault where Cich keeps the goodies he has confiscated from defaulting villains. He ends up grabbing a small, extraterrestrial-looking device before security finds him, and he escapes by blending in with the crowd running away from the distraction–with the help of the pretty girl, of course. When he gets home, he inspects the device, which promptly activates and burrows into his chest. Of course.
The second issue opens with Gambit speaking with Fence, who is trying to remove the device. The device does not want to be removed, however, and Gambit gives in before Fence starts sawing him into pieces. They decide the best thing to do would be to work backward and figure out where the device even came from, which may help Gambit figure out what it is and how to remove it. Here is where we find out that Cich also invests in archaeological digs, and also learn that the government (or at least its museums) also sponsor the same research. The government’s people get to inspect anything they find, and Cich gets it for his collection. Fence and Gambit hack into the museum’s computer, and discover that the museum once inspected a similar object.
The clear next step here is for Gambit to break into the museum and steal the research from the museum. Obviously. I thought it was a nice touch to have Gambit be out of practice with the general thief skillset. When he does make it to the research area, he is surprised to find another thief already there. Extra surprise! It is the woman from Cich’s party! She knows about the device, and they fight for a bit because she found some paperwork which may clear up the mystery. The security guards show up, though, and Gambit and the woman retire to the roof for more fighting. She puts Gambit through the skylight, but as he falls, he reveals that he has the papers. Gasp!
The world’s laziest cops arrest Gambit (no call for back-up? They talk about confiscating the papers, but never actually do it?), who naturally steals their car to make his getaway. The woman is standing in front of the car, however, so Gambit runs into her with the car. She clings to the hood as he drives and they have a conversation through the windshield; eventually she convinces Gambit that he needs her to translate the papers and explain the mystery, so he lets her in the car and off they head to South America. Note that at this point, we still do not know the woman’s name.
Everything about this series felt very been-there-done-that until the last few pages of issue 2. I’m not saying I didn’t like it, but even if it has never appeared in a comic before, the entire idea of Gambit attending a garden party for the purpose of breaking into someone’s house to steal a mysterious artifact which then possesses (?) him just seems like something that happens to him every month or so. Ho, hum. In fact, after the first issue, I was kind of doubtful I would even like the series, because I feel like the “possessed by alien symbiote” thing has been done over and over in all forms of media. I thought things really got good near the end of issue 2, though, from the moment Gambit hits Mystery Woman with the police car. Their dialogue was kind of funny, but also natural (she’s all like, “You need my help!” and he’s like, “Bitch, you threw me through a skylight, WTF?!”–no immediate trust for no good reason, which drives me up the wall).
Drawings of Gambit looking sexy only take a series so far, so I’m glad the story picked up here. I’m starting to feel like the Marvel universe is a bit cluttered with plot devices, so I hope this alien (?) device thing is a reference to something already in existence instead of something brand new. I’m always about new characters, such as Borya Cich, but Marvel needs to rein in some of its burning desire to create new plot devices when there are plenty of perfectly good plot devices lying around, forgotten by all but the most hardcore of nerds.