The Sunset Dawn, Book 2: The Black Womb
Credits: Fabian Nicieza (writer), Anthony Williams (penciler), Andy Lanning (inker), Tom Smith (colors), Comicraft’s Troy Peteri (letters)
Summary: Gambit arrives in 1891 New York, along with Courier and his father, Jean Luc Lebeau. Courier uses his metamorph abilities to change into a woman and visit obstetrician Nathan Milbury (a.k.a. Sinister). Sinister immediately detects something odd in Courier’s blood and takes him captive. Meanwhile, the Thieves Guild runs into Gambit. Jean Luc is pressured into betraying Gambit and returning to his Guild. After regaining consciousness, Gambit finds the Guild, who are now captives in Sinister’s lair. Sinister makes Gambit an offer to save Courier’s life.
Continuity Notes: Gambit briefly meets Amanda Mueller, the woman at the center of the “Black Womb” scandal. She worked with Sinister during his genetic experiments on fetuses, a plot point Nicieza apparently had plans for later. He touched on “Black Womb” a bit in the initial X-Men Forever miniseries, I believe establishing Toad’s connection to the experiments years later, but I don’t think the storyline ever had a real conclusion.
I Love the '90s: Courier tells Gambit that he isn’t “king of the world” as he poses on the ship’s bow.
Review: Nicieza is still trying to do the impossible and craft a decent Thieves Guild story, and even if this arc doesn’t make the actual Guild that interesting, the overall story is actually fun. One reason why this works is because the Thieves Guild is just one element of the story; there’s just as much time spent on Mr. Sinister as there is on the Guild. And I’ve always liked nineteenth century Sinister, so no complaints there. Gambit and Courier’s brotherly relationship, which mainly consists of them insulting each other, also plays a large role in the story, doing a lot to lighten the mood. It’s obvious Nicieza has done a lot of research into this era of New York, making this feel more authentic than the average time travel story. Unfortunately, the art doesn’t do a lot to evoke the feel of late nineteenth century New York. There’s nothing particularly wrong with Anthony Williams’ work, and I understand that this was done as a quickie fill-in, it just doesn’t do enough to sell the environment. 1891 New York should feel gritty and dirty, but the art (and colors) feel very clean and smooth.