Monday, November 7, 2011

GAMBIT #1/2 - 1999

Between Daze
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.


Scott Church said...

The thing I love about this blog is that I learn a lot about the X-Men from this Era that I didn't know about. I thought I knew a lot till I read about it here, like the Black Knight Single Issue that talks about Exodus and now we have the Gambit Cyber Comic - Never Heard of it or any of the Cyber Comics until today.

I felt like I know a lot about the X-Men from this era but man you give me good little tidbits here and there that must have just been under the radar for most of us, so thank you.

With over 20 Long Boxes of X-Men titles and books, it's amazing that I"m missing anything at this point.

This issue half was the only Gambit comic I was missing and I finally broke down and paid $8 for it off of and bought it this past month so it cracks me up that you are new reviewing it.

I have the full series which is really good overall. I love the Sinister parts of it (and hate what they are doing with him currently in Uncanny). I didn't know exactly where this one fit in and didn't know it started before the series, I hope the Courier in this is the same as the series because that would not make sense if it didn't.

I had to google the Gambit Cyber Comic and it gave me a good look at this page:

I guess my question is how do we get these Cyber Comics now? I would love to get all the X-Men ones from this era.

How do you get your full runs that you have been reviewing. Did you already have them or do you buy collections off of eBay that have full runs of books.

I usually piece together book runs and go through them. I'm reading through Avengers West Coast right now, then Sleepwalker, Warlock and the Infinity Watch and then Guardians of the Galaxy.

I've already done Avengers 2nd and 3rd series, The Infinity Trilogy, All Image titles from the 90's, Hulk from Peter David until today, Daredevil from issue #250 to today and a few more titles I can't remember off hand.

Matt said...

Glad to see you're reviewing this series! I agree, it was usually the best X-Comic of the month at the time it was coming out.

I don't know that I would've picked it up either, as I was never a Gambit fan, but since it was written by Fabian, whose X-work I always enjoyed, I went for it -- and I'm glad I did. It's been on my list of things to eventually re-read for some time.

(I've never read #1/2, though I think I did read the cyber-comic.)

j said...

Glad you're reviewing this. Are you going to review the whole series even though half of it isn't technically 90s?

G. Kendall said...

I'll review the book until it gets to the "six month gap" era, which is where I stopped with the other X-books. Many of the back issues I'm reviewing now I ordered from Mycomicshop, but it seems like they've greatly increased their prices since the last time I placed a large order. I imagine the Gambit cyber comic is posted somewhere online, although I've yet to see it.

César Hernández-Meraz said...

This Courier is indeed the one from the series. In one of the first issues they do mention meeting at the Antarctic, though he looked like a woman then (it must have been the first issue, as part of his introduction, setting him up as a complete-control-over-his-mollecules kind of shape-shifter).

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