When you see six people listed as the art team for a single comic, your heart sinks. “Gambit” #8 could have been worse, considering there were so many hands involved (five people on pencils and inks alone), but it’s still just not a great looking book. The more you look, the more flaws you find. Unfortunately, James Asmus’s interesting plot and adequate writing aren’t enough to save it.
I liked the plot set up for this book, with Remy heading out on a solo mission to rescue some kids trapped inside the High Evolutionary’s abandoned science project and being devoured by mutating monsters. It had a lot of potential, and it’s a decent done-in-one story when it comes to both the plot and writing. I could have done without Remy’s continued narration that was a bit over dramatic. Additionally the way the professor in the book tries to give us the “after school lesson” about how Gambit is a hero was ham-fisted and heavy handed. I think more highly of both Asmus and Gambit than for the story to have to resort to that kind of unsubtle character work — but it was a small issue in the context of the larger picture. Unfortunately, the failures of the art were not a small part of the picture and badly dragged the story down with it.
The style was fairly consistent throughout, with Pasqual Ferry and team taking on the bulk of the book, David Baldeon taking two pages at the end, and Clay Mann delivering a final splash page. Even though Ferry, Mann and Baldeon’s styles are drastically different, it could have been worse. The art was very thin in places, with little to no background while other areas early on are more nicely detailed and feel like real places, giving the sense that the team had little time and was rushing things. Ferry’s Gambit is not nearly as charming or handsome as Mann’s Gambit and I’m surprised to find that it does matter. I guess there’s more to Gambit’s looks than I thought.
The primary issue however is that there are some straight up mistakes in the art that are incredibly frustrating. In one panel Gambit is carrying a character and in the next someone else is carrying the guy, even though no time has passed. Some characters randomly disappear, or are in impossible positions considering where they were a single panel prior. An emotional moment that turns into a plot point for two supporting characters is completely bungled by the artists — it’s said a character is pushed, but no such action is shown. Asmus tries to save it in the dialogue, but it just doesn’t work. Additionally there’s a bizarre coloring effect used, seemingly at random, where Gambit has what I can only describe as a checkerboard pattern on his uniform and hair. At first I thought it was an attempt to show a “special effect” of his “special uniform” but it’s inconsistently used for a handful of pages and then dropped.
I’d love to be reading about Gambit’s adventures in a solo title, and I may give this another try as I seem to have just been unlucky in the issues I’ve picked — the first had some technical issues with the art that I heard were solved — and here we’ve got the giant team of artists all chipping in. I see Rogue due to appear in a future issue soon, so perhaps I’ll give that a try to see how Asmus handles that relationship. I find, despite the disappointment, I don’t want to give up on “Gambit” just quite yet.