KINKER KORNER’S TOP 33 GAMBIT STORIES IN COMICS

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Remy Etienne LeBeau, the handsome Cajun rebel X-Man with a dark past is the topic of conversation today.  If you’ve been reading my lists over the last couple of years you’ll have no doubt noticed (and been annoyed by) my insistence on using the prefix “MY BOY” before any mention of Gambit. Like many people my age, I fell in love with the character through the animated series and was shocked and appalled when I got to the comics to see how poorly he has been treated over the years. It hasn’t always been like that though as this list will prove. I’m adding in comics that just have great Gambit moments even if they aren’t completely focused Gambit stories as such. He is my boy after all, through thick and thin so I’m here to show you the best of the character.

 

33. Gambit v2-1997

Ok we are starting off controversially with a miniseries that is not at all well regarded…..and I completely get that. It’s muddled, at times confusing and and the art is surprisingly poor considering it’s Klaus Janson. Actually, having said that I don’t know how surprising it is as Janson is one of the most inconsistent artists in the game. His work as an inker is incredible and brings a gothic atmosphere to everything he touches and his art is often great but sometimes you get this kind of muddy mess. Anyway despite me shitting all over it….this was one of the first comic miniseries I ever picked up from The Black Hole, my local comic book store so it has a special place in my heart. Fallen angels, religious nonsense and a heist of an artifact that goes wrong.

 

32. Knight’s Gambit/Werewolf By Night-1993

Ok I’ll get this out of the way….Terry Kavanagh’s run on Marc Spector: Moon Knight was disastrous and filled with confusing, muddled plotting and awful art. So why the hell are these two issues on this list?. Well….Gambit fights Werewolf At Night…and….and…….Ok look I was young when I read this and that Remy fighting a werewolf was just incredibly badarse so it’s stuck with me ok?.

 

31. Down On The Bayou-1994

The X-Men Adventures series was aimed at younger readers with short sharp and concise stories often lifted from the animated tv series (a lot of which was in turn lifted from the comics). Unlike a lot of comics aimed at younger readers though, it didn’t talk down or patronise readers and often gave back stories and histories of the characters. Here we learn about Gambit’s history with the guilds, his ex wife Belladonna and the tithe. The tithe is an offering the guilds give to an immensely powerful being every ten years to stop it from killing them off. So we get a lot of information on Gambit’s roots in New Orleans before he joined the X-Men.

 

30. Crescent City Memories-1996

A fun little one shot from Darrick Robertson who wrote and pencilled the issue. It sees a corrupt cop working for Tombstone who is trying to establish himself as New York’s head honcho since Daredevil brought down Kingpin. Then there is some voodoo shenanigans in New Orleans which is where our Cajun charmer comes into it..oh and since this is 1996 Spidey comic Ben Reilly (shudder) is involved and bizarrely Jean Dewolff’s sister is involved too.

 

29. Muddy Waters-1999

A fun little issue that shows Remy as a teenager who is sent by the thieves guild to save a young guild member called Shirow, who has been kidnapped by a villain called The Pig. Fabien Nicieza had previously written a stunning teen Remy issue in the pages of X-Men (more on that later) so it’s nice to see him return to the character’s roots.

 

28. Thieves In The Temple-1998

Around a year after Gambit’s disastrous revelation led to the X-Men abandoned him to die in Antarctica out of pure fury he returns seemingly out of nowhere. As casual as you like he aids Storm and Kitty and explains it’s business as usual as he has been hired to steal a jewel. After going on a mission for the jewel with Storm and Kitty he reluctantly accepts an offer from Ororo to meet up with the rest of the X-Men.

 

27.What If?…Starring Gambit: Revenge-1998

Speaking of the controversial moment the X-Men left Gambit alone in the Antarctic, this issue of What If? (an alternative universe where they take Marvel events and change them up) looks at a world where they actually did kill him after his revelation.I’m deliberately not spoiling what that revelation is yet because that story is coming up later which admittedly makes these entries awkward. Marrow is the mutant who does the deed here and Remy dies in Rogue’s arms.

 

26. Tombstone Blues-2013

The second arc in James Asmus and Clay Mann’s series continues the fun,globetrotting adventures and although I’m a little perturbed by certain writer’s continuing desire to Make Remy a wise cracking Indiana Jones type rather than the mysterious but charming enigma he started off as, he does well with the premise. A mysterious character from the first issue returns with some intriguing revelations. Rogue makes an appearance too and this was a time when they were not on the best of terms. 

 

25. The Hamster Run-1999

The first ongoing Gambit series written by Fabian Nicieza is still the longest one we’ve had and it’s very popular among Remy fans but it’s never fully clicked with me the way others have. Don’t get me wrong I still really like it but the whole New Son story that ran through it, hinting at Gambit having the ability to be an Omega level mutant didn’t sit overly well with me. Whilst I’m a big fan of the character I understand why others are not so I like him to be the underdog character who is helpful but not overly used and not overly powerful. Anyway, this one shot brings two of my favourite characters in the entirety of comics (Gambit and Daredevil) together to take on Constrictor and retrieve a synthetic organ.

 

24. Gambit: Out Of The Frying/Nanny: Into The FirePan-1990

Well here it is, the debut of the most divisive X-Men character of recent times (I really need to stop referring to the 90s as recent) and although it begins the rocky road of my favourite X-Man it’s not the greatest debut of all time. It came at a really weird time as Storm had been reverted to a young girl by a wee robot egg thing known as The Nanny and her sidekick The Orphan Maker……yea. Anyway, Gambit saves Storm and they end up working together with Ororo actually introducing Remy to the rest of the X-Men where he becomes a full time member. It’s often forgotten by fans but writers occasionally call back to the great friendship that Storm and Gambit have. They kissed once in a stupid, fanfic moment but they’re best when they leave the sexual tension out and are just a couple of very good friends who care about each other.

 

23. Hath No Fury-2004

You know what? I really enjoyed the 2004 12 issue series by John Laymon, Georges Jeanty and Roger Robinson. It was so much fun and took Gambit from the angst ridden gut punches of the previous few years and sent him on fun adventures. In the second and sadly final arc, Remy is in New Orleans and comes into conflict with the rising dead, voodoo craziness and two jilted women out for revenge. Oh and there’s an excellent scene where he has to infiltrate the bloody X-Mansion itself!….whilst the X-Men are there!. It’s a test of his skills and is a great laugh. Especially when it goes all teen comedy and he takes the youngsters of the mansion on a wee mission, seeing Storm sunbathing on the way which leaves the kids with their jaws dropped.

 

22. Not Brand X-2014

Peter David is a wonderful and woefully underappreciated writer who converses with his readers on forums regularly and cares deeply about his projects. When this excellent series was cancelled before it’s time he was clearly gutted as was I. He had knocked together a rag tag team consisting of Gambit, Polaris, Quicksilver, Danger, Warlock and Cypher and somehow turned them into a loveable, dysfunctional family. Strangely, given his history, Gambit was the heart and soul of the series and was a father type figure to some of the characters and although still mischievous and a rogue he cared, nurtured and looked after his team. David’s dialogue was a punchy as usual and there was a real sense of fun instead of the constant angst comics have these days. This first arc sees the team put together by the  corporate backing of Serval Industries who are not as well meaning as it initially may appear. David plays up Gambit’s allure to female fans with some funny moments like a group of cat’s obsession with him and Danger walking in on him sleeping naked without understanding human embarrassment. Such a shame this series was cancelled.

 

21. Brood Trouble In The Big Easy-1992

Firstly in this X-Men/Ghost Rider crossover we get a classic issue that was adapted by the animated series in which Bishop has traveled from a dystopian future in which the X-Men are betrayed and killed that he believes was caused by a mysterious character known as “The Witness” who he believes is Gambit. Accusations fly and we learn Remy’s surname is Lebeau. Then we head to New Orleans and meet Belladonna, Gambit’s former wife (more on her later) and take on The Brood who infect Ghost Rider with badarse results. A lot going on for such a short wee story…..oh and there’s the exploding pie scene as well. 

 

20. The Enemy Of My Enemy-1995

After Rogue kissed Gambit and absorbed some of his memories she feels his severe regret and fear of being found out. This was around the time his secret was starting to gain more prominence and the magnitude was clearly bigger than we had thought before. Rogue is led towards a theatre in Seattle by Remy’s memories which is where his first dealings with Mr Sinister took place, Gambit desperately tries to reach her before she finds out the details of his secret.

 

19. Once A Thief-2012-2013

The first arc in James Asmus and Clay Mann’s swashbuckling series was one I was very excited for as it seemed like Marvel was taking the character seriously again by giving him his own series (once again cut short) and although I had some issues with the characterisation it was still a lot of fun. Much like the arc I talked about earlier from the same series, it’s all very Indiana Jones/Uncharted/Tomb Raider with Gambit going out on heists, getting caught up in espionage and criminal masterminds getting involved.

 

18. Of Mice And Men-1999

The best standalone issue of the first ongoing series sees X-Cutioner (remember him from X-Cutioner’s Song?) kidnapping Rogue in an attempt to lure in Gambit. After a fight on his base, X-Cutioner is blinded and kills a bunch of his men in the confusion. While Gambit and Rogue escape, the villain decides to stay and accept his fate in an honourable death. Quite a lot going on here with a lot of existential chat about why villains wear masks and if Gambit is wearing a mask made of SHAME!…..Yea deep stuff right here. Seeing the death of a once major villain was not something I expected in a Gambit series so that was quite the surprise.

 

17.Showdown In Lowtown!-1994

 

In the first few years of Gambit’s existence in the Marvel universe he had a love hate relationship with Wolverine for several reasons. When he first came in they would fight and test each other all the time,  both managing to better each other on different occasions. Wolvie was also very protective of Rogue who Gambit was obviously courting. That said there was always a mutual respect and they would often go on missions together, Wolvie often specifically asking Remy to join him. Gambit isn’t a huge part of this cool one and done issue but he’s along for the ride and always looks the business in a fight. Maverick is dealing with the Legacy Virus that was a huge part of 90s X-Men stories and is trying to die a warrior’s death whilst Gambit is looking for advice about his nemesis at the time, Sabretooth. 

 

 

16. The V”” Is For “Vs”-2016

I never saw this one coming….I probably should have because every character seems to get a mini with Deadpool but I guess I just get shocked when Gambit gets love which is nice. I’m convinced many younger writers these days are like me and grew up on Gambit and became brutally disappointed by his character trajectory over the years. These writers seem to be bringing him back to prominence and at a time where I was getting a little disillusioned by comics and fell out of love a little bit, this Gambit renaissance is the thing that reeled me back in. Now I’m back to reading all different types of comics again and I’m back in the game. Aaaaanyway onto the actual series. It’s fun, it has humour that sometimes hits and sometimes misses, it has loads (a little too much) pop culture references and fourth wall shattering moments. Gambit and Deadpool actually work really well together with Wade being both besotted and annoyed by Remy’s handsome looks and Gambit respecting Deadpool’s abilities. It’s not the best mini of either character but it is throwaway popcorn fun, especially at the beginning when they dress up as Spidey and Daredevil and cause havoc. 

 

15. Cry Wolf/The Ultimate Sacrifice-2004-2005

I’m lumping these two connecting stories from the Ultimate series together as they really need to be told as one. The Ultimate series was a unique concept at the time where it was a series of ongoing comics from Spider-Man, X-Men The Avengers and more that start from scratch in an alternate timeline so that new comic fans can grab it from the beginning. Gambit wasn’t in it for long, starting with a wee stand alone story (coming up later) and then this connected arc leading to his death during a fight with Juggernaut. The excellent Brian K. Vaughn writes here as Gambit first comes into contact with the X-Men when on a mission to kidnap Rogue at the behest of the creepy Fenris twins. Predictably though the two outcasts fall in love, Gambit turns to the light side and Rogue decides to leave the group and travel with Remy….she had been on and off with Iceman up until here. After the battle with Juggernaut, Rogue kisses a dying Gambit and absorbs a load of his life form….that….that doesn’t sound right. Oh and the jarring difference in design between Adam Kubert’s more traditional Gambit and Tom Raney’s….mad permy poodle design is quite something. Another highlight of the story is Gambit besting Wolverine, blowing up his cane after jamming it into his mouth. Wolvie gets his own back later of course, beating him to a pulp.

 

14. Messiah Complex-2008

For those of you who read my top X-Men stories list this might seem a little odd as I revealed that this is my favourite X-Story of all time but because it’s such a huge story and Gambit is but a part of it I am leaving the top slots for stories that more heavily focus on Remy. When Gambit first shows up it seems he’s a gun for hire for the Marauders which had me raging and thinking “wow, another writer making Gambit an absolute scumbag” but by the end he’s an absolute hero.

 

13. Wolverine/Gambit: Victims-1995

The superstar creative team of writer Jeph Loeb and artist Tim Sale (The Long Halloween, Spider-Man Blue) team up to take on two of the mid 90s most popular characters in Wolverine and Gambit. It’s by no means their most celebrated work and rightly so, it’s no emotional classic like Spidey Blue are epic noir mystery like The Long Halloween but it is a fun and intriguing story based on Jack The Ripper. It’s also uses a character that I really wish had been used more in X-Men comics…..Arcade!. Now at the time I had only known Arcade from the abysmal video game Arcade’s Revenge on the snes that my poor parents spend around 80 quid on for my Christmas. The story is emblematic of a 90s comic trying to be and 80s comic with a nasty, nihilistic, misogynistic bent to it without really nailing that 80s style. Now, all signs point towards me not liking it but obviously with it being here I still do like it. There’s something….charming? in amongst all the nastiness.

 

 

12. Gambit And The X-Ternals-1995

Ok so if you don’t know about The Age Of Apocalypse, it was a year long alternative timeline that took place over the main X-Men titles turning villains into heroes, vice versa and all sorts of character changing shenanigans where Apocalypse is slowly taking control of the world. The usual titles were replaced with different series, one of which was Gambit And The X-Ternals where Gambit got his own team consisting of Sunspot, Jubilee, Strong Guy and Lila Cheney. They head to space in order to steal a shard from the M’kraan crystal but are chased by this version of Rictor. It’s heavy on the action and there’s not a large amount of characterization but it’s fun and swashbuckling and saw Gambit stand out as a leader during the timeline. He still pines for Rogue who in this time is with…..Magneto ….ugh.

 

11. Change Of Decay-2014

The second arc in Peter David’s fun but all too short run is filled with great character interactions and dialogue as expected. Gambit is not with Rogue at this point as she is off finding herself after Xavier has given her control of her powers…..Oh and this was after kissing Gambit, getting his hopes up and then going all “Na,off to find myself….byeee”. Anyway, as much as I love the Romy relationship it was fun to see Gambit not pining over Rogue and being a wee whoor again. Here he ends up bedding a seductive woman who ends up being the wife of X-Factor’s billionaire employer. …..woops. The team save a young mutant girl from her father who is vehemently anti-mutant.

 

 

 

10. The Resurrection And The Flesh-1991

It’s part of a larger and hugely famous arc involving Omega Red as the relaunch of the title had kicked off with an absolute bang but for fans of Romy this issue holds a lot of good memories. It has the famous basketball game between Wolverine and Remy, it has Gambit relentlessly hitting on Rogue until gives up and goes on a date with him (the date gets interrupted by an attack from The Hand) and then there’s the resurrection of Omega Red as well.

 

9. Chaos Theory-2011-2012

I love Marjorie Liu for so many reasons. For one she’s great writer who nails realistic and emotional dialogue beautifully but also she took Gambit from being a joke of a character,constantly being stomped on and doing stupid things and gave him the opportunity to act as a big brother and carer for X-23. A lot of people complain that Laura (X-23) is too emo but I call bullshit on that. She’s been abused, experimented on and beaten since she was a child in an attempt to make her a soulless killing machine and now she’s at the X Mansion having to mingle with other teenagers. I talked about this arc in my most emotional moments in comics list regarding the scene where Gambit discovers Laura has been self harming. There is more to the arc though as Gambit calls for Wolverine and Jubilee (who is a vampire….long story) to join the fun on their road trip. It would be higher on most lists but it isn’t specifically a Gambit story although it does a brilliant job redeeming him as a character.

 

8. Digging Deeper Between Hope And Sorrow-1993

Ah how I love this Andy Kubert cover. What is it about Romy that brings out the sap in me?……who knows. Anyway this a favourite for Romy lovers because it’s Gambit and Rogue’s first proper date, horse drawn carriage and all. No interruptions from Bishop this time and no food fights. Elsewhere in the issue, Jubilee is mourning the death of Ilyana. I’ve only realised over the last wee while what an underrated writer Fabien Nicieza is….he never really gets talked about much these days in terms of 90s stalwarts which is sad as his character work was always solid. It’s a melodramatic and dark, conversational issue for the most part with the levity of the date lightening things up.

 

7. House Of Cards-2004

As I mentioned for the Hath No Fury entry, I’m a huge fan of the criminally underrated 2004 Gambit series and this first arc is the best of it. Remy heads back to Louisiana with a longing for home comforts where he gets caught up in a scheme to steal a deck of cards for a beautiful woman. The cards end up being incredibly powerful tarot cards and it all goes tits up quickly leaving Gambit with a load of bad guys on his tail. There’s an excellent and funny team up with Wolverine who pops down to visit him. It’s a fun, cinematic caper. 

 

6. The Trial of Gambit-1997

Well here we go then, this is the big secret I’ve been alluding to since the start of the list and it’s a doozy. After Rogue had kissed Gambit and absorbed bits and bobs of his memories she realised he was deeply troubled about something he was responsible for as a young, rebellious mutant with nowhere to call home. He was hired by Mister Sinister (who he owed a favour too after a successful operation left Gambit able to control his powers) to lead a group known as The Marauders through a maze of sewers. Gambit assumed it was a thievery mission but it ended up leading to one of the most catastrophic events in X-Men history…..The Mutant Massacre. Readers had learned about the event way before Gambit was even introduced to the comic world and it left a horrible taste in the mouth with many Morlocks dying and Angel being badly injured. When Remy saw what was happening he tried to stop it but was mortally wounded by Sabretooth. On his way out, an injured Gambit saved a young Morlock from the carnage, that girl grew up to be Marrow. So…..as you can tell the X-Men are more than a little bit pissed off learning about this and chain him up while they decide what to do with him. Shockingly, they leave him to die in Antarctica with Rogue turning her back on him, leaving to die. It’s an action she claims was the worst mistake of her life since. There’s a new collection in trade paperback form that collects the buildup and payoff and while it’s not all relevant to the secret and trial it’s a hugely important moment in our boy’s history. It has also shaped much of his character since where he has desperately tried to make amends for his unintended actions. The arc also contains some of Scott Lobdell’s best dialogue in the scenes between Rogue and Gambit, not to say it’s his best work overall but the dialogue is realistic and hits hard. A young Joe Madureira does the art and although he is rightly lauded as an excellent artist his style just doesn’t work on serious arcs like this.

 

5. X-Men Origins: Gambit-2011

Part of the mostly enjoyable X-Men Origins, I was so excited when it was announced that our lad was getting his one shot. I wasn’t disappointed as Mike Carey delivered a greatest hits of all the things we know about Remy’s early life. We start with the Assassins Guild and the Thieves Guild at odds and the marriage of Gambit and Belladonna taking place to placate the warring factions. Then we have Gambit killing Julien after he tries to stop the wedding and attacks Remy. Then he is exiled and goes off to meet Mr Sinister, gets his operation and then leads The Marauders to The Morlocks. It ends when he meets an injured Storm which is exactly where we met him in 1990…..phew, a lot to fit in but it works well and the art from David Yardin is stunning. 

 

 

4. You Always Remember Your First Love-2002

Well here we go….I’m going to give the most hated and mocked X-Men writer of all time some love. To be fair it was through his work on the Ultimate series that Chuck Austen got a chance to write the main timeline series…..it just turned out to be an absolute disaster that we might visit some day. Let’s remember the good times though and Remy’s introduction in the Ultimate universe which was everything I had hoped it would be. The cool thing about Ultimate was seeing characters you know and love (or hate) being introduced in new and exciting ways. When it was revealed after a few months that my boy Gambit was coming I was worried but excited and just hopeful he wasn’t going to be turned into a joke like many writers have fun doing. Luckily Austen delivered with a two part story that was utterly charming, sweet and heart warming. Here, Gambit is homeless, traveling from town to town doing tricks with his powers and indulging in petty theft here and there. He meets a young girl who is besotted with him and he finds out her parents have been murdered. He takes her in and looks after her, after falling asleep in an abandoned train she is kidnapped by Hammerhead’s goons and we find out it was the villain responsible for her parent’s deaths. Gambit goes to find the wee girl and in turn kills Hammer head by blowing up his head using his powers…..awesome. There are so many great moments here from the charming opening to the horrible scene where he gets a little angry at the wee lass for not paying attention to traffic, she thinks he’s going to beat her and starts panicking leaving Gambit in absolute disgust. We find out he himself was beaten by his father. So much going on and the ending literally brought a happy tear to my eye….I was just so glad Gambit had been done well. 

 

3. Rogue And Gambit: Ring Of Fire-2018

People don’t tend to like it when you put such a new series so high on a list but what a breath of fresh air this was. It’s an out and out love letter to Romy fans with a writer who clearly cares and has a great grasp on their history. The dialogue is sharp, punchy and at times laugh out loud funny. Kitty Pryde, now leading her own team of X-Men sends Gambit and Rogue out on a mission much to Rogue’s disdain as she is still trying to get clear head space away from him. They are sent to a relaxing island retreat undercover as a married couple to get counseling. Mutants have been going missing at this retreat so it’s up to them to work together and find out why. The counseling is a perfect way to blast through a greatest hits of the couple’s issues and problems over the years. Writer Kelly Thompson is clearly having fun and it shows with Pere Perez providing expressive art to supplement the great story. A blast of a miniseries for fans.

 

2. The Hearts Of Thieves-1994

An excellent issue from Fabien Nicieza and one of my favourite one shots from this era of X-Men volume 2. Gambit was still mysterious at this point and there wasn’t too much known about his past so when Sabretooth shows up smugly talking to Rogue about the first time he met Remy you know something is afoot. We get flashbacks of what happened between them and it involves Remy in his guild days manipulating and getting a young woman to fall for him so he can steal a pendant. It all culminates with Sabretooth (also after the pendant) hanging the young woman and Remy’s brother off of a building. Gambit must choose who to save. It’s all utterly grim but completely captivating.

 

1. Gambit-1993/1994

Gambit’s first miniseries really delves into his past with The Thieves Guild as he heads back to Louisiana to deal with the battling factions during the time of the tithe. Candra is an interesting villain but after this story I’ve never really cared to see her again as I think we got everything out of her. Gambit is charming and mysterious throughout as he should be, the Romy relationship is still budding here and we get some of that and it’s interesting to meet characters from his past. Howard Mackie did a fine job with the plotting and Lee Weeks, a seriously underrated artist delivers with Klaus Janson bring his gothic style inking which helps with the mysterious vibe. It’s not for everyone but for fans of Gambit it’s utterly essentially and it was one of the first full miniseries I ever read so it’ll always have a special place in my heart.

 

So there we go!. This was a huge labour of love for me as Gambit, along with Batman got me into the idea of comics as a kid and throughout all of his ups and downs he has remained a character I am immensely fond of. Hope you enjoyed reading folks, I’ll be back soon with another list. Cho x

 

 

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