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My Gambit Rebuttal: When One Buttal Isn’t Enough

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 ~

About Scott Deaux

Favorite Comics: Lazarus, Essex County, Chew, Superior Foes Of Spider-Man, Age of Apocalypse stuff, The Nightly News, Ultimate Spider-Man, Ultimate X-Men, Pax Romana, Avengers, NEXTWAVE: Agents Of Hate, Sweet Tooth, We3, others... Favorite Quote(s): "Journalism is just a gun. It's only got one bullet in it, but if you aim right, that's all you need. Aim it right, and you can blow a kneecap off the world." - Warren Ellis "People who hold signs go on...to hold many other things" - Eddie Pepitone

6 comments

  1. Pouches are very much a thing of the 90s, especially with Liefeld. And while Ultimate Universe isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, it can be utilized greatly. Cal at read/RANT a while back did a review on 1-13 of Ultimate Spider-Man and points out that one of the good possibilities with the Ultimate Universe is that they can take the good points of things and do them justice, while being able to pass over the parts that didn’t. Something that they managed with Ultimate Gambit (though I do wish he got more time). Maybe that’s why those like myself who know him mainly from the 90s cartoon also view him in better light. He was only in about half the episodes, and beyond the one dealing with his brother and the Thief/Assassin guilds we don’t really get much of his past.

  2. Well didn’t this turn out to have a happy ending. Nice post, Deaux.

  3. Thanks for the post; I am a HUGE Gambit fan, and I have even had the pleasure of talking to Gambit creator, Christ Claremont, about Gambit’s unusual but welcomed appearance in Origins: Wolverine. I agree that Gambit’s writing, back story, and overall character can be very hard to swallow at times. He was born in the 90’s where the original X-men cartoon shot him into fame, and the X-men canon. Better to look at than actually here talk, Gambit is Marvel’s sexy man and master thief. Unfortunately he is cursed with a terribly cliche’d and unusually unrealistic past, and when you read more about it and discover that he met the Future Son (an apocalyptic alternative version of himself) in one series and became Apocalypse’s Death in another, which he can turn on and off at will now, turning people in black playing cards, it just gets tougher and tougher. What they need to stop doing with Gambit is making him a good guy. Gambit is one of a few near-perfect “loveable scoundrel” archetypes, along with such other characters as Han Solo, Jack Sparrow, and Saywer from Lost. The second these characters cross into the predictable realm of the “white knight” archetype (like Solo in ROTJ), we lose interest. With the right writers, more double agent-ness, and a few more creative power tricks (he charged gum and spat in a guards face when he was tied up once!), Gambit can be a hand worth playing.

    • Brendan, thank you so much for your your well thought out comment. I agree with what you are saying. When Gambit and Rogue worked for the Fenris Corporation in Ultimate X-Men (number 50?) I think that that was the closest that we got to a “wetworks” Gambit. That idea has some traction! We need more readers/commenters like you. Hope you enjoy the rest of the site and thanks for reading!

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