Thursday, August 9, 2012

GAMBIT #9 - October 1999

To Thine Own Self Be True
Credits: Fabian Nicieza (writer), Mat Broome (layouts), Anthony Williams (pencils), Parsons/Lanning/P. Palmiotti (inkers), Vasquez/Going (colors), Comicraft (letters)

Summary: Sabretooth agrees to take Gambit and Courier to Sinister’s headquarters, hoping that Sinister can heal him of his wounds. After entering Sinister’s lab, the trio is attacked by more Marauder clones. When the fighting stops, Sinister enters and agrees to revive Sabretooth’s healing factor and give Gambit a psi-scanner that will expose any imposters amongst the X-Men. In exchange, Gambit has Courier give Sinister one of his fingers. Later, after Courier’s re-grown his finger, Gambit has Courier kill the detached finger’s cells before Sinister can analyze them. Meanwhile, Fontanelle visits the Tithe Collector’s dreams, which are set in 1800’s London.

Continuity Notes:
· Sabretooth is near-death following the removal of his bones’ adamantium lacing. Sinister hints that the culprit is a threat to both him and the X-Men (it’s Apocalypse, of course).
· Gambit is ready to exchange the vial Sinister gave him in Uncanny X-Men #350 for his help. Sinister refuses, saying that the vial was “as much for the protection of humanity…as it was for yours.”
· Gambit theorizes that Sinister can’t create Sabretooth clones because of the damage the X-Men inflicted on his genetic laboratory in X-Men #34.

Review: The two-part divergence into the Shattering/Twelve crossovers concludes, and to Nicieza’s credit, he does manage to tie all of this into a tidy bow. We learn that Gambit stole Xavier’s files last issue to discover the source of his odd behavior, and in the process, learned that Xavier suspects an imposter has infiltrated the team. Gambit isn’t sure if Xavier is right, or if this paranoia is an indication that Xavier is dealing with serious issues…like the resurgence of Onslaught, for instance. As a “Shattering” tie-in, this works quite well, and it serves as yet another example of Nicieza using assorted X-continuity to his advantage.

Nicieza also has Gambit debate abandoning his mission and just destroying Sinister’s entire genetic laboratory while he has a chance, which Gambit feels is the only way his old friend Scalphunter will ever be able to rest in peace. It’s a brief scene that Nicieza doesn’t dwell on; he just throws the idea out there and uses it as yet another example of the ethical dilemmas Gambit always finds himself facing. To quote this issue’s narrative captions: “Remy is the poster-child for intrapersonal conflict. He’s tired of it.”

Even if Nicieza is able to get something out of the crossover material, this is still clearly a rush job. There are a lot of artists in this issue (and even two colorists), and the only pages that look halfway decent are the ones that actually look like Anthony Williams’ work. And even those pages resemble something Gary Frank might’ve rushed out in the late ‘90s. The book regains its unique style next issue when Steve Skroce returns, and we’re back to densely plotted one-issue stories with odd guest stars.

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