Writer: Chris Claremont
Art: Mike Collins, Josef Rubinstein, Brad Vancata, Brosseau and Orzechowski
Release Date: November 27, 2019
Keeping in line with Marvel’s facsimile editions pattern of releasing books with popular character’s first appearances, we get Gambit this month! So let’s do some time travel of our own and head back to 1990 and check in with our band of merry mutants.
As I’m reading all the current X books in real-time for the first time ever I’ve been confused. Frequently. Most of the books aren’t what I’d call new reader-friendly and don’t have editor’s notes for reference to things that have obviously happened in the past.
So, not wanting to go the easy route and head to “google” or “Wikipedia” for every question, I decided to do a complete read through of all the X-men books from the Claremont era on forward. I realize this is a monumental task, but with the help of Marvel Unlimited, all I need is the time to do it!
With Gambit being part of the current Excalibur team and knowing next to nothing about him, I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to learn how he was initially introduced into the X-men universe by none other than Chris Claremont himself.
By 1990 we find Claremont 15 years into his 16 year run on Uncanny X-men. The length and quality of his run will never be matched by anyone on any series in my opinion. Dropping in on a random issue in the ’90s that’s happens to be Gambit’s first appearance can be a bit confusing unto itself. In my read-through, I’m nowhere close to 1990, so I had no idea what was going on as I began, but the focus and purpose of this reprint is Gambit, so I’ll focus on that.
As the issue opens we find Storm in southern Illinois but in the body of a child. The reason she’s in this state isn’t revealed and doesn’t really matter at all to this issue. She’s being held captive in a mansion by the “Shadow King” and his group of minions that he refers to as the “hounds”. We find out later that the Shadow King invades people’s minds and takes over their souls. Basically making them slaves to his will. The Shadow King is trying to make Storm one of his hounds and she resists and fights back. She flees the hounds and heads into the bathroom. Storm’s powers aren’t in their normal state and seem weaker and inconsistent. Storm is sent flailing over the railing as a result of her battle with Shadow King and plunges downward towards a swimming pool that apparently is filled with green algae. And finally, Gambit appears!
We quickly find out that Gambit is a thief, as was Storm. Also, although we aren’t told in this issue, being from New Orleans Gambit has a thick Cajun accent that is quickly shown in the dialogue. We’re quickly introduced to some of his powers too.
After saving Storm, yet again, we get some more power display. This time of the mental variety.
One of his mutant powers is that he’s a “charmer”. He can sway people’s minds and decisions much like Obi-Wan did to the stormtrooper in Star Wars.
From here on out we get some more action. Storm saves Gambit and we get a lot of playful banter as these two heroes get to know each other. Gambit quickly takes to calling Storm by a nickname, while Storm mentions his talkativeness. They end up escaping for good but Storm knows that Shadow King will be on the lookout for her.
This is a very enjoyable introduction to Gambit. Chris Claremont has the unique ability to combine enough character development into one issue that I could feel the chemistry and a bond forming between Gambit and Rogue already. Where this friendship will go, I have no idea since I haven’t read past this issue, but I can’t wait to find out!