Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Original Ragin' Cajun

Gambit Classic:  Volume 1
Written by Chris Claremont, et al
Published by Marvel
4 Out of 5 Stars

Oh, hell, yes! This is just what I was looking for. Gambit is my favorite X-Men character, mainly because I like a good anti-hero. Keep your Captain America and Superman--I like a character whose morality you can't really get a bead on. Also, his Cajun heritage and life in New Orleans make for an intriguing background.

The first story in the graphic novel is the comic run that introduces us to Gambit when he steps in to save Ororo, the X-Men's Storm, who has physically and mentally regressed to her pre-teen self. Her memory of the X-Men has been obliterated as her life as a thief in Cairo, Illinois, parallels her earlier life as a thief in Egypt. Storm and Gambit unknowingly plan a heist on the same mansion, not knowing of the other's existence, and certainly not knowing that it's a trap set up by the Shadow King to catch Storm. Gambit helps Storm escape and a bond between thieves is born. This storyline is interesting, but it can be confusing for those unfamiliar with the story about Storm's regression and frustrating for those who want more resolution as it simply ends where Gambit's importance to the narrative concludes. 

The second storyline is the more traditional Gambit narrative, set against the backdrop of New Orleans and the Assassins' Guild and the Thieves' Guild, as Gambit, who has now joined the X-Men, returns to the Big Easy when he learns his wife, the Assassin Bella Donna, is not dead, but lies comatose in her father's mansion. Prior to this, Gambit struck up a flirtation with Rogue, whose powers prevent any physical connection between the two. Gambit is now torn between the life and love he had in New Orleans before his banishment and the new life he has with the X-Men and the prospect of a a relationship with Rogue. This is definitely the superior story in the collection as it takes the time to focus on Gambit's background as Remy LeBeau and develops his character's Louisiana roots beyond the occasional dash of French phrasing and dialect. The star-crossed love of Gambit and Rogue is also made more poignant by Rogue stealing Bella Donna's memories as a means of having the physical intimacy she longs for with Gambit but is constantly denied. Rather than comforting Rogue, it makes her desire for Gambit all the more tragic. 

For those already familiar with Gambit's background, this is an excellent collection. For those not as well-acquainted, it could be a potentially confusing start, but I think ultimately rewarding as long as you don't expect too much resolution from the first storyline.

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