So, I came down hard on Gambit and felt justified in doing so. Gambit is a symbol for a lot of the bad things that are in comic books. JK Leo made a really good point when he referred to 90’s costume designs and it went right along with my scathing judgement of his life events and overall plot line…just a little too much going on. The character has pockets everywhere that he will never use and a duster that would just make everything a little more difficult. It’s relatively silly that Gambit was raised by not one, but two thieve’s guilds, somehow was under contract with Mr. Sinister in his early life, and found the X-Men by meeting up with and saving a de-aged and powerless Storm from the Shadow King in Africa. That’s a whole lot of retroactive continuity to swallow. When I placed all of these things next to a life devoid of memorable events, I found Gambit lacking. Then I had a conversation with our beloved Lobster J.
The whole time that I was considering this piece, I could think of tiny little things that Gambit had done that stuck in my mind. It was through my conversation with Lobster J. yesterday that I realized that all of these cool little events came from the same thing: “Ultimate Gambit.” The Ultimate universe is an updated world with “more relevant heroes” to today. It makes perfect sense that I would like this Gambit as I like most things Ultimate, but it’s more than just that.
Ultimate Gambit is a character featured briefly in the Ultimate X-Men series in the 2,000s. He first appears in issue #13, reappears for issue #50, and dies in the first annual. With Gambit, I find that less is more. Another thing that is commendable about this characterization is that he is a killer and he is efficient. He uses his powers in ways that would leave regular continuity Gambit scratching his head. When Wolverine cuts his bow-staff in half, Ultimate Gambit shoves half of it into Wolverine’s mouth while charging it with kinetic energy to blow his head off. Regular continuity Gambit wouldn’t think of that. Ultimate Gambit killed Hammerhead by kinetically charging his adamantium skeleton. There is a deadly instinct and fluidity that you get off of Ultimate Gambit when he always goes for the throat. Ultimate Gambit is smoother and more polished with less of a past and in short bursts, he works really well.
So, in summation, I write this post to say that I don’t think that the idea of “Gambit” is broken. I do still think that Gambit is over-rated, but I think that it’s just the original/regular continuity one that gets my goat. I can concede that if utilized properly Gambit can do some pretty cool things, but when used improperly, he can be wasted. I still hold that Gambit is guilty of being over-rated, but I now think that it was a setup by the culture of the 90s and the creators themselves. At least we have Ultimate Gambit.
~ Scott Deaux ~