Credits: Fabian Nicieza (writer), Pascual Ferry (penciler), Bob Wiacek & Scott Hanna (inker), Monica Kubina (colors), Jon Babcock (letters)
Summary: Gambit is rescued in the Antarctic by agents of the New Son. In exchange, he’s tasked with rescuing another agent in the Savage Land. Her name is the Courier, and shortly after Gambit frees her from captivity, they’re cornered by the High Evolutionary’s creations. The woman made of green mist that previously rescued Gambit makes her presence known and incinerates the beasts. Gambit allows Courier to leave with plans for a new Terraformer, although he isn’t sure if New Son should have the information.
Continuity Notes: A flashback establishes that the X-Men spent three days looking for Gambit in Antarctica, following Uncanny X-Men #350, but he intentionally hid from them. This is, I believe, the fifth comic to back off from #350’s ending and claim that the X-Men didn’t really abandon him to die.
I'm not sure if the Courier in this issue is supposed to be the male shapeshifter who later appears in the regular series. I'm under the impression that this character is supposed to be an alien.
Review: The X-office made a conscious decision to back off from team books and focus more on solo stars in the late ‘90s, bringing us a Gambit solo series, written by returning writer Fabian Nicieza. I remember some fans complaining that the mail-in Wizard #1/2 issue had important information for the regular series, and Nicieza’s response was that no comic should just be a throw-away story. That means I’m going to have to track down the Gambit Cyber-Comic that was up on Marvel’s website for probably a month or two in 1999 if I’m going to do a comprehensive review of this series.
Gambit was already a popular target for ridicule by the late ‘90s, even by X-fans, so a lot of people missed out on his regular series. I was reluctant to get into the book at first, but a series of positive reviews convinced me to at least give it a shot. I’m glad I did, because Gambit was often the best X-title of the month, especially during its first year. Nicieza was saddled with a ridiculous starting point for the book (Gambit had returned with no real explanation, for some reason a green misty lady lived inside him, no one could tell if he was supposed to be back with Rogue again, and no one wanted to address the “shocking revelations” of Uncanny X-Men #350), but he actually took Gambit from this starting point and made the series work, often by addressing some of Marvel’s mistakes head-on.
This particular issue, however, isn’t a great indication for what’s ahead in the series. Although I do like the way the New Son mystery played out in the regular series, the introduction here isn’t remarkable at all. Gambit already had a mysterious rescuer from his days stranded in the Antarctic, the Green Mist Lady, so there doesn’t appear to be a pressing need to introduce a second savior. The Savage Land sequence is fun, although it doesn’t make a lot of sense. Courier is trapped in the High Evolutionary’s citadel, yet as soon as Gambit frees her, she casually uses the ID supplied to her by the High Evolutionary to take the Terraformer plans. She makes it clear that the High Evolutionary does want New Son to have this information, she just isn’t sure why. Um…so why was she captive in the first place? This kind of storytelling glitch isn’t the best way to tease your monthly series.
I can understand why someone would be wary of the regular book after reading this issue (and Gambit’s previous year of appearances); not that it’s terrible, but a large plot point doesn’t make sense and it stars a character many fans have already dismissed. Thankfully, the regular series goes a long way towards redeeming Gambit, and the quality level is much higher than this #1/2 issue would lead you to believe.