Out this week, Marvel Comics is releasing Gambit’s 17 issue run back in 2012 in a complete edition. Featuring Gambit’s proclivity to steal, the series was written by James Asmus with featured artist Clay Mann and Leonard Kirk with art by Pasqual Ferry, Amilcar Pinna, Khoi Pham, and Bily Tan to name a few. This was an interesting time for the character who also doubled as a teacher at the Xavier school. How do you tame a thief’s desire to steal? According to this collection, you can’t!
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
Marvel’s premiere thief has sets his sights on his biggest scores yet – but he may end up over his head! Raiding a lost temple of doom is all in a day’s work for Gambit…until an ancient god-monster is accidentally loosed on Earth. Then, Gambit travels to the United Kingdom to heist the greatest weapon in the history of man: Excalibur! Whether he’s rescuing archaeologists from the Forever City, teaming up with the Avengers’ marksman Hawkeye, chasing a mysterious lady thief or facing down a horde of super villains, the ragin’ Cajun is the one holding all the cards! But when Pete Wisdom calls in a favor, Gambit will need all his skills to save those dear to him! Who is Remy’s friend Fence, and what secrets is he hiding?
Why does this matter?
A few of the covers scream James Bond and you get that vibe in the story too. Gambit is thieving, going on incredible adventures, and facing off against mob bosses with an eclectic taste for valuables. It’s Gambit as he should be, but still with a heart of gold underneath it all.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
I missed this series when it first came out, but I’m glad I get to read it in one sitting since Asmus opens and closes the story strong. A mysterious woman named Joelle is introduced and we get a good sense of who she is by the end of the collection. It’s clear the first few issues were what Asmus pitched as they are tight, action-packed, and filled with different types of thief scenarios. Gambit must break into a high-security private collection (complete with a portal like-wall), then break into a museum, and in the third chapter break into an ancient tomb much like Indiana Jones did in the flicks. It’s pulse-pounding, high octane action. Along the way, Asmus introduces shady gangsters, integrates Rogue and the Avengers (she was on the team at the time), faces off against Tombstone, fights flying dragons, and gets tested by the Thieves Guild. It has it all when it comes to Gambit.
I also had a great time reading Clay Mann’s earlier work and seeing how far he’s developed since 2012 compared to his most recent work on Heroes in Crisis. He drew and contributed to at least 10 issues of the main series and showed how well he could capture the sex appeal of the character as well as the sexiness of his profession. His work has only gotten more sharp and impressive, but it works well here.
There’s a fun smattering of Gambit using his powers in unique ways. Did you know he could power an Iron Man armor with his powers? He does this to get around unlocking the thing and totally impresses War Machine at one point. At another point, he blows up an entire boulder, saving himself and Joelle. He even catches a bullet in his teeth and spits it back out like a missile. I kid you not.
It can’t be perfect, can it?
You can tell when the narrative got off track from the original plan which turns this from a tightly-wound thriller into more of a random adventure. AvX takes over a slight aside that’s a tad distracting. It certainly manages to give Gambit new things to steal, but it becomes obvious it’s hard to keep the character stealing one thing after another and have it make sense and not get boring.
Is it good?
I enjoyed this collection thanks to it focusing on Gambit’s restless desire to thieve when things are going well. It manages to introduce a new character, give her a strong arc, and have Gambit go on crazy adventures along the way.