Way back in 2004, Gambit had a twelve issue run focusing on his exploits on his own in New Orleans. It was an attempt to flesh out his adventures apart from the X-Men and give Gambit fans what they want: a Gambit with lots of style, plenty of sly attitude, and some purpose. For the most part, John Layman achieved that, but overall, is it good?
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
Ever wonder what Gambit is up to when he’s not saving the world with the X-Men? Then join him in the exciting and treacherous terrain of the New Orleans underworld, where Remy LeBeau’s skills and mastery as a thief are unquestioned! But Gambit’s confidence may be his downfall – and his world might soon collapse like a house of cards! When the reanimated dead crawl out of their graves and overrun the streets of the Big Easy, Gambit is the only person who can save the city from a zombie apocalypse! But he’s got even bigger problems: two women, both heartbroken, both angry…and both demanding his head on a platter! Then, the talented thief faces his most dangerous job yet: infiltrating the heavily fortified home of…the X-Men?! You’ve got to read it to believe it, mes amis!
Why does this matter?
There are some clever ideas afoot in this collection, some of which I could see pop up in a Gambit film. Many of the plots revolve around things Gambit can supercharge, adding some complexity to what he can use his powers on.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
This collection opens with a story by Jai Nitz with art by Georges Jeanty. In it, Gambit is tracking down a gambler. It leads to the notorious hero thief finding the man but blowing 10,000 dollar chips because he must use them as weapons. It’s a nice start to the collection since it shows Gambit will do the right thing, but only if he has to.
The rest of this collection houses the first twelve issues of Layman’s run with art by Goerges Jeanty and Roger Robinson. Overall there’s a good mix of adventures with the predominant story involving ancient tarot cards that have a real connection to Hell. The story weaves in a friend of Gambit who has fortune telling powers involving cards and their bond is well written. There’s a fun addition of Wolverine at one point that involves a plan to confuse a villain into thinking the entire X-Men have shown up. This involves painting Wolverine blue to make locals think Beast is around on top of Logan too.
The rest of the collection mixes things up with a Brother Voodoo multi-issue story, a quick check-in at the Xavier Academy (where Gambit teaches kids how to steal) and in the final stretch of the collection Gambit must team up with his ex-girlfriend Belladonna. There are fun wrinkles throughout these stories like in the story with Gambit attempting to teach some kids we learn he has memorized a moment where he saw Blob’s junk so as to ward off mind readers. A funny and clever idea there Gambit!
It can’t be perfect, can it?
The overall pace of the stories here are quite slow. Gambit meanders at times so as to find the right person or simply so we can see New Orleans locations. There is also lengthy bouts of dialogue that could have easily been visualized but instead, Gambit lays it all out for folks. This collection doesn’t probe Gambit’s character much either. You certainly get a good taste of his attitude throughout, but there isn’t much learned about him you don’t already know. You’d think a collection about the character would explore the character more rather than simply use him as a conduit for stories.
Is it good?
A good collection with plenty of fun moments Gambit fans should not miss. There are a lot of clever ideas here that could easily be translated into a Gambit movie. This is proof enough a Gambit movie wouldn’t be hard to pull off.