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Friday, April 20, 2012 

Gambit still portrayed questionably as a thief

Gambit of the X-Men, whose characterization was a prime example of the disaster the X-books became in the 1990s, is getting his own solo book for the 3rd time, but it doesn't sound like he's getting any better or different treatment from what's told in this sugarcoated interview with the assigned writer:
CA: Gambit has been described as "not a very good man." We know he's a con-man and a thief. Is he a hero?

[James] Asmus: I'd say he can be a hero, and has certainly done heroic things. But he's also been known to lie, steal, cheat, break hearts, and do almost everything else your parents told you not to. Certainly, here, Gambit's wants and motivations will not always land him on the "right" side of the law. And that's going to be a big part of the fun.

As for what I love about Gambit, the thievery fits in nicely. What I'm really drawn to with him is his nature as an antihero with charm. So many comic characters with a more complex moral ambiguity are dark and brooding. But Gambit manages to balance a more sophisticated depiction of right and wrong against genuine cool and a sense of humor. That's a combination that's incredibly rare and appealing.
Oh, I'll bet. When Scott Lobdell and Fabian Nicieza were writing the 2 main X-books back in the 1990s, they saddled Gambit and Rogue with an appallingly written affair, agonizing over her then state of being unable to control her bizarre siphoning power, and making little or no attempt to find a way to overcome that problem. As a result, any humor you could find fell flat.

Furthermore, the thievery and dishonesty puts Remy LeBeau at serious odds with the rest of the X-Men's beliefs and standings, yet they continued implausibly for many years to let him off the hook with little or no objections to his willingness to commit crimes and associate himself with the same, which could've gotten them into trouble with the law for harboring a fugitive from justice, if the police were after him. More to the point, no writer or editor to date seems ready to repair those flaws in characterization, and that's what really sinks the character's impact.
CA: The character has a complicated back story -- the Thieves Guild, the Mutant Massacre, Apocalypse -- and some complicated relationships in the X-Men. Are you going to build on that, or are you hoping to take the character in a new direction?

Asmus: My biggest hope is that this book can and will appeal to old and new readers. I've honestly lost count of how many people I know freaked out when they found out about the new book, even people who aren't regular comic readers. Something about Gambit seems to have struck a chord with people in the '90s cartoon and comic that still has them excited about him.

So we're gunning to make a book that delivers on all his quintessential qualities -- the charm, the intrigue, the sexiness, the skill, the style -- while still breaking new ground for Gambit. We'll be thrusting him into the deeper Marvel Universe and discover new sparks and conflicts for him first. I do plan to bring the Thieves Guild and especially Rogue into the book a little further down the line. But when we do, those things will be important to both Gambit and the larger events in his life. I want to avoid simply doing a cheap cash-in on previous stories.
If he doesn't depict Gambit seeking redemption and going straight, he is doing a cheapie cash in: he's not depicting Gambit any differently than how he ended up in the 1990s. I can guess why some people like him on the surface: because the idea of a guy with a Wild Western-like outfit who throws kinetically charged playing cards and other objects in itself does have something to it. But what bewilders me is how anybody could overlook the questionable personality given to him that's stuck fast for 2 decades, and not be troubled or make any arguments against it. No, he may not have committed the same crimes as the Assassins Guild, but that he would ever put up with their own vile activities and make no proper efforts to dismantle their operations is just one of the reasons why the first two series were abortive, and the third one doesn't look to have a very long shelf life either. That retconned back story where, thanks to him, Mr. Sinister found and slaughtered the Morlocks, was embarrassingly bad, and even if it was written that Gambit only led to this unintentionally, it was still a very poor example of writing for the sake of "dark secrets".
CA: We seem to live in an age of team books; solo mutants have a hard time supporting their own titles. Gambit has had two shots in the past. How are you going to make this series stand out?

Asmus: I think the initial angle that [editor] Daniel Ketchum envisioned -- centering the book on Gambit-as-thief -- really lets us carve out a very different type of style and story for the book. This won't just be more tales of mutants or re-hashings of Gambit's origins as had been done in the past. Instead, we're looking to blaze a new path forward for Remy LeBeau, and churn up the coolest and strangest parts of the Marvel Universe in our wake.

CA: Gambit's long jacket is iconic. Do you and Clay plan to make changes to his look?

Asmus: The good news is: We're keeping the jacket. The better news is: We're changing much of the rest of his costume!

Both Clay and I were very interested in altering Gambit's usual costume for the purposes of this book. Partly, we wanted to give him a look that would mirror the stealthy, criminal work Gambit will be doing here (as opposed to his more public heroism alongside the X-Men). But also, one of Clay's greatest strengths is his design work. And Gambit has been past due for a more contemporary look. (Sorry to all you fans of pink shirts, metal leggings, and a mask that covers everything but your face.) But we'll be tweaking Gambit's costumes as we go around (and off) the world.

CA: It sounds like this is going to be a globe-trotting book, and we're hoping for a few heists. How are you planning to handle the scale and pace?

Asmus: The scale is going to start small, with Gambit thinking he can get away with one small job just to flex those old muscles and feel like himself again, but soon spirals out into bigger and more exotic dangers and locales.
Okay, once again, they've only confirmed that this could be just more of the same embarrassing portrayal of Gambit as a crook who doesn't learn any lessons or try to go straight (and Comics Alliance is hoping Remy will commit robberies?!? Just goes to show how low their own morale really is). The costume was silly enough, but the ensuing characterization is what really turned him into a mess. There may be potential for him as an adventurer, but if they keep depicting him as inherently dishonest and untrustworthy with honest and law-abiding people, if anyone, then this is just an extension of a primary example of what went wrong with the 1990s.

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How can you question Gambit's morality as a part-time upstanding hero when he's with the X-Men and a thief when he's on his own. Last time I checked Wolverine still goes out on the weekend and slaughters hundreds of soldiers, living bio-weapons, mutants, and techno-organic life forms yet no has ever told him "No Logan you can not teach the kids anything cause you are a roving murderer". Yes Wolverine is being pursued by people trying to kill him on his unplanned trips, but the same happens to Gambit, but the Ragin' Cajun's body count is much lower.

His living a double life is akin to any byronic hero's appeal. Plus being a highly skilled charismatic thief is what the character has been known for since inception. Taking that aspect of shadiness out of his character would be a slap in the face of anybody who's even heard of the character, it would take away what makes Gambit stand out. It would be worse than taking his mutant powers away.

...you don't like post-60s costumes, do you?

Rebuttal:

http://devilkais.deviantart.com/art/La-Triche-Pour-La-Gloire-De-Remy-LeBeau-483769202

http://devilkais.deviantart.com/art/Sugah-and-Spice-FC-2-279965404

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