An ongoing Gambit series is a tough sell. Though the character is fairly popular even by X-Men standards, much of that is due to residual nostalgia from the early ’90s and X-Men: The Animated Series rather than any recent, memorable comic storylines. Gambit is one of the few characters whom even Marvel writers will admit to not liking very much. James Asmus had his work cut out for him coming into this series. And while there’s fun to be had in Gambit’s new series, the book still hasn’t done much to justify its own existence after two issues.
Fresh off robbing a collector’s secret stash of supervillain artifacts, Gambit now finds himself involuntarily bonded to a mystery device and in need of some answers. What ensues is another heist, this time in a museum setting. The focus on thievery and heists provides the book with a slight touch of excitement. And unlike issue #1, Gambit doesn’t rely on a series of extremely convenient and contrived occurrences to succeed in his goals here.
Asmus still relies overly much on Gambit’s narration, not as a means of exploring his character or motivations, but merely providing exposition and pushing the plot forward. And with the relative lack of supporting characters in this issue, Gambit really has no one to talk to but himself. Worse, it’s still difficult to say what exactly is driving Gambit in this series. There’s the vague notion that he wants to return to his thieving roots, but why? What is he really trying to accomplish beyond removing the pesky artifact from his body? That deeper emotional core needs to become apparent if this series is going to have any sort of lasting appeal.
Clay Mann’s art helps keep the heist sequences engaging, at least. Mann has a real talent for rendering powerful, fluid figures that Asmus puts to good use. I do wish that the coloring meshed better with the pencils and inks, however. The colors are too shimmery and ethereal for what would otherwise be a realistically rendered issue.
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