Alasdair Stuart writes for Bleeding Cool
One of my favorite periods of X continuity remains the 'What awful thing will Gambit have been revealed to have done this year?' period in the mid-1990s. He's such a likable character and he's capable of such genuinely awful things that done right you find yourself as fascinated as you are disgusted with him. This relaunch, written by James Asmus with pencils by Clay Mann, colors by Seth Mann and inks by Rachelle Rosenberg nails that 'good character, bad deeds' feel straight out of the gate. Here are the six things I especially liked about it:
1.Invite as Exposition.
The medium really is the message, or rather, the plot. It's a little clunky having Gambit hold the invite up at the 'camera' but like the character, the scene gets by on its' charm. After all, it's hard not to like a man who knows how utterly absurd his old costume looks and then proceeds to steal something whilst wearing a black bodysuit with…pink piping again.
2.The Cocktail Set In The Marvel Universe
One of the very few things that makes my teeth grind about contemporary Doctor Who is the ridiculous insistence that no one quite lets the endless apocalyptic world shaking events sink in. It was plausible the first couple of times but by the time the Earth is stolen to form part of a system designed to destroy reality and Daleks are on every street corner it's basically impossible to believe people just turn up for work the next Monday, clear the dead aliens off their desk and start bucking for the jobs of their colleagues who didn't make it. That's why I love this scene because in the space of a couple of dozen speech bubbles you get acknowledgement of all the deeply odd, occasionally horrifying, elements of life on Earth 616. The line about fair trade food sourced from The Savage Land is especially great.
I love that this scene plays two different ways. Firstly, there's the pretty clear suggestion that this guard has been detailed to lock Gambit down as he's been voted Guest Most Likely To Pull Off An Elaborate Heist. Which of course he is doing. However, the fact that Gambit's also a mutant gives him the window to imply it's racial profiling that the guard's focusing on him. Or of course he could just be appealing to the chap's training. Regardless it's a very subtle, clever little exchange that shows that the locks Gambit truly excels at picking are social ones.
4. Mysterious Tattoo Lady Is Mysterious
I like Mysterious Tattoo Lady (MTL), a lot. She's smart and funny and has an interesting punk/rockabilly/Rosie The Riveter aesthetic to her that's unusual and fun and flags her up as significant. As of course does both her final scene and this one; Gambit diving back into things, feeding MTL an excuse and her just letting it wash over her. She's a fun character and hopefully the reveal on who she is will be worth the wait.
5. Thief Fu
Gambit goes Impossible Mission Force. This is a really smart page, greying out the central panel to show how he got what he's using and telling us how intensive his background work for this job was through action rather than words. This is character expressed with subtlety and elegance. Gambit's an artist, and this is Asmus and Mann showing us an artist at work.
6.Those Wonderful Toys
The Vault is a positively Warehouse 13-ian treasure trove of artifacts. Here's what I could spot:
-The Ark of the Covenant in the foreground.
-The crate for it, or other Nazi occult ephemera, under the Doombots to the right.
-An old-school Sentinel
-What appears to be a Predator spaceship above that.
-An X-Wing next to the Predator spaceship.
-A Billy Meier-esque UFO down from the Predator ship.
-NR16020, Amelia Earhart's plane
-What can almost certainly only be Inspector Spacetime's phonebox
-And of course, an Easter island head.
Can anyone identify the ones I missed?
7.Tonight's Special Guest, Starro the Conqueror!
I know, it's a cheap gag but alien starfish only really give you two options, Starro or Prometheus. It's a nice reversal to have the character end the first issue in more trouble than when he came in, and the set up, with whatever it is inside Gambit, leads to some fun and potentially gruesome possibilities. Regardless the thief hasn't just been caught with his hand in the cookie jar, the cookie jar is now basically inside the thief. This should be a very fun ride, for us if not Gambit.
Gambit Issue 1 is available now, published by Marvel, priced $2.99
Alasdair's review copy provided by Treasure Island Comics