Monsters like Us
Credits: Fabian Nicieza & Steve Skroce (story & art), Rob Hunter, w/Hanna & Koblish (inks), Shannon Blanchard (colors), Comicraft’s Albert Deschesne (letters)
Summary: Gambit spies on Courier, who’s giving a speech to Crew A.S.K.E.W., a scientific collective with capitalist leanings. He’s interrupted by the Pelican, who asks the Crew to duplicate a mind-control gas he’s stolen. Suddenly, the Mengo Brothers enter and steal the gas sample for their boss, the Pig. Gambit chases them through the slums of “Onslaught Alley,” where he meets Quiet Bill, a homeless mutant who opens doorways to alternate realities. Bill tries to trap the Mengo Brothers’ ship in another dimension, but fails. After Gambit secretly swipes the gas from the Mengo Brothers, he allows them to escape.
· Gambit’s spying on Courier to learn more about New Son.
· The members of Crew A.S.K.E.W. are horribly mutated when the Mengo Brothers release a portion of the gas into the room.
· The Mengo Brothers, Grigori and Stanislaus Mengochazuchras, are Latverian expatriate mercenaries. The running joke is that neither can speak English very well.
· Quiet Bill already knows who Professor Xavier is, and refuses Gambit’s offer to meet with him. After a series of incoherent non-sequiturs about fish, he later says to himself “Xavier is…he’s th’ fisherman.”
· Onslaught Alley is the area devastated by Onslaught that still hasn’t been redeveloped. Quiet Bill somehow responds to the residual psychic energy left behind.
· Fontanelle invades the dreams of Sekmeht Conoway, the female archeologist from the first issue. We learn that she had a run-in with Ozymandias when she was fifteen, and that she has a crush on Gambit.
I Love the '90s: Gambit orders Courier to stop screaming like a teenage Backstreet Boys fan while rescuing him.
Review: Three issues in, and the pattern of the book is pretty evident. Intricate stories with numerous threads and a large cast of characters, punctuated with elaborate action sequences. All told in one issue. Like I’ve said before, this is exactly the opposite direction mainstream comics were headed in the late ‘90s, making Gambit even more of an aberration within the X-line. The book’s so dense, however, I can see why it can be intimidating for a new reader.
The action scenes are also so ambitious, it’s easy to get lost in what exactly Skroce is trying to convey. Just one page after a convoluted sequence that has Gambit knocking over one dilapidated building so that it will hit another dilapidated building struck down by the Mengo Brothers and form a tent over the homeless, another complicated scene shows Gambit stealing a knife from one of the Mengo Brothers and using it to rip his pants open, then flipping him over so that his split pants hang on a support beam, allowing Gambit to grab on to him and avoid hitting the street. Some of these scenes aren’t easy to follow, but they are decipherable if you’re willing to spend a few more seconds than normal to really examine what’s happening.
As for Nicieza’s characterization of Gambit, he seems to be directly addressing fan complaints that Gambit’s a passive whiner by having him realize that the “best way to deal with the demons is by confronting them!” Translation: Gambit knows that stealing the gas from the Mengo Brothers will send the Pig after him, but he’s willing to pay the price in exchange for doing the right thing. The Gambit who spent years running from Sinister and the Assassins Guild is growing a backbone, and becoming more heroic. That’s a legitimate avenue to take, especially if Gambit is going to be headlining his own solo title.