Thursday, September 2, 2010

GAMBIT #4 - December 1997

Heaven’s Promise

Credits: Terry Kavanagh w/ Howard Mackie (writers), Klaus Janson (penciler), Bill Sienkiewicz (inker), Richard Starkings & Comicraft (letters), Christie Scheele (colors)

Summary: Anielle bathes Sibyl in light, rescuing Gambit. They arrive in Rome, where they’re soon confronted by Oliver Stoker and his demonic army. Stoker unveils his newest follower, Katrina, who has been perverted into the “Black Kat.” Katrina turns on her mentor, Padre Bonavita, and prepares to kill him. Gambit agrees to give Stoker Anielle in exchange for Katrina’s soul. Stoker disappears with Anielle, as Katrina returns to normal. Padre Bonavita explains that Anielle was created for this specific purpose and only has a short lifespan. Stoker gave up the true prize, Katrina’s soul. Later, Gambit visits the Vatican, where Katrina is praying, but not as a nun. He returns the Cross of Redemption and kneels to pray.

Review: So, after four issues of adventures with an angel and demonic forces, Gambit decides that he really does believe. Doing any story about faith can be tricky, but the idea of an atheist in the Marvel Universe, in the middle of a literal battle between Heaven and Hell, is faintly ridiculous. Fabian Nicieza kept the idea of Gambit as a believer during his solo series, so I guess Gambit is out of the Marvel Universe Atheist Club, which might be helpful information for Jim Starlin if he writes any more cosmic miniseries.

The story ends with a slight copout, as Gambit turns the angel over to the demon, only to learn she’s going to fade out of existence soon anyway. Revealing that Katrina, an actual human soul, was the true prize all along actually works pretty well as a twist ending, though. The story does take some advantage of Gambit’s role as a darker hero, as it’s revealed that Stoker needed someone between good and evil to handle Anielle (pure good wouldn’t be inclined to turn her over, and pure evil would’ve burned at her touch). One idea that isn’t very clear is Gambit’s role in Katrina’s corruption. Apparently, growing close to him lead her to reconsider becoming a nun, yet the two characters have barely interacted during most of the series. Maybe the original idea was to do a full-blown love story between the two, but someone reconsidered, perhaps because they weren’t sure if Gambit was supposed to be with Rogue at this point (again, this mini doesn’t comfortably fit anywhere in continuity). Having Gambit influence someone into exploring the line between right and wrong would be a nice use of the character, but if that was an intentional plot point, the execution is flawed (and, really, "The Black Kat"?). Overall, I did find myself enjoying this more than the initial miniseries. The story does try to use Gambit’s character as a means to explore a few ideas, which is preferable to more torturous “revelations” from his past. Plus, we’re spared the Thieves Guild.


Matt said...

"...which might be helpful information for Jim Starlin if he writes any more cosmic miniseries. "

Having just re-read The Infinity Crusade (along with all the other Infinity stuff) a month or so ago, I find this line really funny.

Floss said...

Are you going to review the "on-going" (at least for about 20-something issues..) Gambit series? Because it was actually pretty damn good.

G. Kendall said...

I'm not sure about reviewing books from the very end of the Bob Harras era, since they bleed over to the 2000s and the Quesada/Jemas years. I did like the regular series, though, especially the earlier issues.

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