Remy Lebeau was kidnapped from the hospital moments after his birth. He stole his signature trenchcoat after he found Canada too cold to commit crimes. The young Cajun learned that he could charge objects after he blew up a playing card in the eye of a fat man named “The Pig”. There was even a time where his powers were growing too powerful, so Gambit turned to Mr. Sinister to have part of his brainstem surgically removed. These are things that happened to the X-Men’s resident Cajun. But, you enjoy him as a cartoon loving hipster.
Gambit has been given so many bites at the apple that I’m not sure if he deserves a solo series. So many attempts to make him into a leading man can’t get around the fact that he doesn’t have much of a personality. More than anything, he’s been a utility player who doesn’t have purpose outside of helping others work on bigger missions. Whether it’s pointing the Marauders to the Morlock Tunnels, inadvertently helping Wolverine escape Weapon X or trying to bring the Thieves and Assassins Guilds together. When Gambit takes the lead, you find out that he married a Cajun child bride, but had to kill her brother. Then, there’s the long string of failed mini-series.
Gambit spent most of his time with the X-Men harboring dark secrets. Thankfully, Scott Lobdell chose to wrap it up by the time he left the books. The fact that Gambit willingly setup the Morlocks to be slaughtered by the Marauders is something that makes the character irredeemable for me. Some fans will say that Gambit didn’t know what Mr. Sinister was planning during the Mutant Massacre, but you don’t lead a militia of bloodthirsty killers into a defenseless community. That’s the one thing I’ve enjoyed about the Magneto ongoing series that Cullen Bunn is writing. There should never be a time where a mutant in power isn’t making Mr. Sinister and the Marauders pay for what they did. If they were non powered individuals, there would be some Nuremberg Trials level stuff taking place.
After Rogue finds out Gambit’s secret, she leads the X-Men to abandon Gambit in Antarctica to die. Gambit then begins a long road to rebuilding himself and rejoining the X-Men. But, let’s talk about some other stuff that took place in the era. Time traveler Bishop pinned the future X-Men betrayal on Gambit, but it turned out to be Onslaught. He keeps making up and breaking up with Rogue until Rogue finally grows tired of him. Then, he stops smoking. That sounds totally exciting, huh?
Gambit and Sunfire end up getting transformed into Horsemen of Apocalypse. This leads to Gambit’s biggest break from the X-Men until he is cured by Mr. Sinister. Little has been revealed about what Sinister did, but it was enough to get Gambit to start working with the Marauders again. Gambit takes part in trying to recover the baby Hope Summers, also he constantly fights and upsets the X-Men’s efforts. Eventually he teams up with Professor Xavier to stop an Assassins Guild plan to murder the children of the men that worked with Brian Xavier. There’s a whole secret plot thing, as it does with these kinds of stories. The whole time, you are left yawning as nothing really matters. It’s not really a Gambit story, as there aren’t really Gambit stories. There are quick tales about things he did in the past that benefitted or aided others. Hell, he’s practically a Cajun Butters.
More than any other X-Man, Gambit has become a poster child for the excess of the 1990s. Floppy hair, trenchcoats, bad boy attitude and stubble with little effort paid to origins until after the fact. But, that aesthetic appeal is why a lot of outside fans find themselves drawn to him. I know of a ton of female comic readers who found his early to mid 90s relationship with Rogue to be one of the main reasons they got into the X-Men. I get that and understand the appeal. However, nothing was done with the character after that. Well there was the whole accessory to a mass hate crime/genocide. But, he saved the Morlock that would grow up to be Marrow. Even though that was totally an incidental moment.
Gambit has now joined the X-Factor incarnation that’s working with Serval Industries. Given that the series has only been running for a little under a year, Gambit hasn’t had the chance to do much. The All-New X-Factor team is working like a subversive version of the first team. Basically, Gambit gets to pretend to be a mutant hunter. However, he’s working with Serval to find mutants that are slipping through the cracks. He hasn’t had a big moment yet, as this book seems dedicated to Peter David remembering how much he loves writing Quicksilver. I like Gambit’s interactions with the weird team roster, but we don’t get a ton of extra stuff.
While I know that there are a ton of X-Men fans that know how much I hate Gambit, but I don’t really think it’s hate. Gambit is symbolic of the lack of general direction throughout most of the 1990s for the line. There was a series of moments that are cool, but Gambit never works as a necessary addition to the team. Rogue defines him via her love and its eventual absence. Storm originally defined him, as she needed Gambit to survive as a depowered teen thief. After that, nobody needed Gambit. When did Professor X say, I need a thief for this mission? He never did, but Storm was quick to whip out her talents at a moment’s notice. When did anyone say, they needed an explosive charge to blast open a lock? There was Jubilee, Cyclop’s concussive blast, Jean Grey’s telekinetic abilities, Storm’s lightning bolts or Wolverine’s claws for starters. Gambit is the answer to a question that nobody asked. I don’t care if Channing Tatum has a new take on the character for the upcoming “X-Men: Apocalypse”. Gambit should’ve been killed for his role in the Mutant Massacre.