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Thursday, July 18, 2013 

Who knew some readers were fine with Gambit still being depicted as a thief?

The most recent solo book featuring one of the most poorly written characters in comics is being cancelled along with the 2-3 other botch jobs, and the writer, James Asmus, answered reader mail on CBR about it. And the first one listed really makes me shake my head in disbelief:
Some of the pre-release interviews I read for the latest Gambit series talked about how he was going to be getting back to his thieving roots. I was super excited for this as I am big fan of heists and superpowers. How did you decide to go the "extra-dimensional space dragon" route in the opening arc? I will be sad to see this series go as I feel the stories have been getting better and better.
How so? Sounds more to me like they've been getting worse and worse, along with more implausible that we're supposed to be rooting for a guy who commits robberies. Now, maybe Gambit's being depicted going the Robin Hood route and stealing from rich criminals, which would be fine. But if not, or if he's still ripping off innocents (and still associating with the "Thieves & Assassins Guilds" without even calling the cops on them), then they have sunk to the bottom of the ocean.

And what kind of dummy would be fine with something even Spider-Man realized would be wrong early in his career? I seem to recall a Marvel Team Up tale published in the late 90s co-starring Spidey and Gambit along with Howard the Duck(!) and can't comprehend how Spidey would be okay working with somebody who still believes robbery is throughly legitimate, something even Black Cat stopped doing. Who knew that the subculturists still hanging in there with franchises that are being run into the ground still have no problems with the very traits that are anathema to all superheroes were meant to stand for?

While we're on the subject, I noticed MTV running a commentary about the X-Men cartoon that ran during 1992-97, and they really dumbed it all down:
Making its big television debut two months after "Batman: The Animated Series" (and on the same channel no less), the success of "X-Men" helped usher in the golden age of comic book cartoon series. Like "Batman," the "X-Men" series has always been praised for its comparatively sophisticated take on popular comic book storylines. While it never won any Emmys, in its prime the series did receive very high ratings for a Saturday morning cartoon.
Is this serious? Based on the poor characterization of Gambit, for example, I'm not sure how a cartoon like that could be considered "sophisticated". As I make an effort to note, that's not the fault of the character but of those scriptwriters who've written the stories he's in. And as long as that remains the case, it only renders characters like Gambit an embarrassment.
In addition to its spot-on adaptations, "X-Men" also featured a number of awesome cameos from fan-favorite comic book characters like Cable and Bishop. On the flip side, villains of every size and stature made an appearance on the series, at one point or another, ranging everywhere from Mr. Sinister to the Juggernaut.
While they've never been depicted as thieves like Gambit has, the writers never managed to give them any convincing purpose, and their solo books were pointless. I don't know why they think that cartoon was so "spot on" and "awesome" then.

But this does bring to mind how baffling I've found it that within less than 2 years of Gambit's debut, all of a sudden, of all the characters who could be picked for mass-marketing in toys, games and cartoons, he was it. (Cable too, but that's another story.) Why, of all the X-Men they could've chosen as regular cast members did it have to be Remy LeBeau, and not New Mutants like Wolfsbane and Cannonball? If he's been so badly drawn up (including the weak costume design by Jim Lee) by Claremont, Nicieza and Lobdell, then I don't see why anyone would consider him a perfect choice when there were plenty of other, better written X-Men out there who could've make good choices for a cartoon and game.

I'd even add that Jubilee's original "costume" from 1989 made her a weird choice, since it had the effect of making her look like a teenage streetwalker. Granted, it was changed a few years later, in both comics and cartoon. But that the animators would greenlight her use without giving the initial outfit a second thought was pretty slapdash.

I think Jeff Rovin, a former comic book editor for DC, once said in one of his books about TV that cartoons written for the Saturday morning line "generally are poorly written and drawn with the utmost economy". The X-Men cartoon, IMHO, wasn't all that different.

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  • I'm Avi Green
  • From Jerusalem, Israel
  • I was born in Pennsylvania in 1974, and moved to Israel in 1983. I also enjoyed reading a lot of comics when I was young, the first being Fantastic Four. I maintain a strong belief in the public's right to knowledge and accuracy in facts. I like to think of myself as a conservative-style version of Clark Kent. I don't expect to be perfect at the job, but I do my best.
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