X-POSITION: Asmus Deals "Gambit" His Final Hand

In September, "Gambit" wraps up its year-and-a-half run with the series' final issue by writer James Asmus and artist Clay Mann. Together, Asmus and Mann have introduced a new dynamic to Gambit as he struggles with the two sides of his life: that of a hero and that of a thief.

To get some closure on the series, this week's special X-Position guest James Asmus took the many "Gambit" questions about the possible future direction of the series, as well as a look back to the past for his favorite Gambit moments, bringing in new character Joelle, his hypothetical team of magical object experts and much more.

Donaghy kicks off the questions with a query about the mission statement of the series.

Dear Mr. Asmus,

James Asmus: Please! Mr. Asmus is my son. Call me "James."

Some of the pre-release interviews I read for the latest Gambit series talked about how he was going to be getting back to his thieving roots. I was super excited for this as I am big fan of heists and superpowers. How did you decide to go the "extra-dimensional space dragon" route in the opening arc? I will be sad to see this series go as I feel the stories have been getting better and better.

Thank you! I knew from the beginning that Joelle would be an accidental immortal, outliving the life she wanted. So the idea of pursuing "god-like powers" felt like it would play like a proper red-herring as to her motivations, but still be true. In considering the gods/Gods I could choose from -- it felt like late 2012 was a good time to do a Quetzalcoatl riff.

There were some plots I'd hoped to do in the series that might've been a little more psychedelic or grandiose. Without getting those in, I do think the alternate dimension space dragons might be a little out of step with the rest of the series. But hey, Clay drew the hell out of them, so I'm not complaining.

Juggs has a slightly different question for X-Po, asking about the world of hypothetical video games.

Just have to say I'm loving the Gambit series, but my question is what would happen if you had the chance to write the story for a game based on Gambit? What would it be about? Who would join Gambit on this quest? (And please, no Rogue)

Can't wait for the next issue, keep up the good work!

I think it would have to follow the open-world "Grand Theft Auto" model and let you continually choose whether to slack off, take jobs from the Thieves Guild, or be a hero. And once you tip far enough in any direction, it would trigger new story elements -- either teaming up with Marvel Heroes like Luke Cage and Captain Marvel or getting mixed up in heists with Black Cat and Fantomex.

There would be plenty of great opportunities for minigames requiring break-ins, seductions, card-throwing, and trying to stay alive while drinking with Wolverine (hint: it'd be impossible to win that one).

But now I just wish this were real! Maybe Marvel should get this going?

madroxdupe024 has a question about the possible future of "Gambit" if the series continued past its final issue.

Now that the series is ending, can you tell us what other storylines would have come down the pike had it kept going?

Well, the big status quo change was going to happen at the end of a calendar year (17 issues) and is still mostly in place -- so I don't want to ruin that. But I can say that I wanted to build to Remy recruiting his own heist team of Marvel characters (pending editor approval, including Elsa Bloodstone, Pete Wisdom, Doctor Voodoo & others) to counter a mysterious global ring dealing in deadly magical items. From that premise, I had tons of individual ideas for specific plots, set pieces and ways they could affect Remy's emotional arc and relation to those around him.

Would you have done anything differently?

There definitely are always things I'd do differently if I had more time or knew how they'd turn out. And this was a book where I was still discovering its voice and boundaries as we went. The biggest thing is I would have given him some sort of foil or protege early on -- just because it's hard as hell to write a man and his thoughts performing a solo break in and keep it energized. He either succeeds in stealing the thing (not much conflict there) or he fails. But I could only have him fail so many times and still have him considered a great thief, right? Joelle, Remlik, Rogue, and Pete Wisdom added that dynamic in individual issues -- but it would have given a stronger through-line if we could follow the evolution of one central dynamic.

Purplevit chimes in with a couple clarification questions before the series wraps.

Mr. Asmus, thank you for the awesome ongoing! I love this book.

1) Dialogue between Remy and Rogue in issue 11 was interrupted and unfinished. Do you have any plans to return Rogue for this last arc?

Playtime is over. Remy's got to make a choice about his path. Rogue is one of the major x-factors he has to consider. But don't get your hopes up for extended relationship conversations in the climax to the series. I've got to blow some stuff up, right?

2) What is your favorite issue so far? Why?

I'd have to say issue #9 was my favorite. There's probably a five-way tie for #2 -- but I had a blast writing all the villains and cut-away dialogue for that issue. Plus -- I think it's Clay's absolute best issue of the series (so far) -- no doubt because of how excited he was to draw Remy in the '90s outfit!

There were some people upset at Remy's refusal to take "no" for an answer in that issue. And that's an opinion I wholly respect. I shared my thoughts online about my intent and the context of the particular story. So that would be something I should include in the "things to have played a bit differently." But everything else in that issue still excites me.

Thanks for answering. I hope you will get a huge new Marvel project as soon as possible.

"Gambit" superfan Rodrigo wants to know more about hypothetical situations and characters you might not have gotten around to using.

Hi James! First I want to thank you for all the hard work you put into Gambit, I'm really disappointed with the cancellation, especially considering that your rendition of Gambit is the best we've gotten since Chris Claremont's "X-Treme X-Men."

Thank you!

1) In previous interviews you said that you wanted to use Black Cat but you weren't allowed, were there any other characters that you wanted to use and were denied? If so, can you name them?

It's not so much that I was "denied" Tony Stark as it was that he was in space by the time I got around to the concept (that became issue #13). My editor Daniel Ketchum correctly talked me out of shoe-horning Enchantress into a plot. But what happened more often was that I pitch 3 to 8 concepts every time we're approaching a new story. Lots of those centered around characters I wanted to write, but it was usually a question of choosing one story over the others, not character restriction. Still, I can tell you I had pitches to include Boom-Boom, Elsa Bloodstone, X-23, Spider-Man, the FF, Dr. Strange and Doctor Doom.

2) You also said that by the end of the book Gambit will be making a big decision, can you give us some hints about it?

The whole series theme for me has been about Gambit's dichotomy as hero/thief. It's about how he sees himself and his need to determine what might actually make him happy. Ultimately, it becomes a question of which side of the fence he wants to operate on. Beyond that, you'll have to wait and see!

Neko wants to know more about both the past and future of "Gambit."

Hi James, I have enjoyed your run on the Gambit title and I'm going to miss it greatly. It's been a fun ride.

What has been your favorite thing to write when it comes to Remy?

The moments when he's able to smirk in the face of death. It's the core of how I picture him, and what I think sets him apart from most characters.

I think you have done a lot to restore Gambit's character, bringing him back to the character that I've always loved (and still love), is there anything you would have done differently?

Well, I've touched on that, but I'd also have made sure to have him shirtless at least once an issue. I know it was a disappointment that we didn't hit 100%.

Can you elaborate or give a hint at all to what you've got planned in the next arc?

I'm bringing back someone from Remy's past we haven't seen in the issue. No, not that one. And not that one either...

I know you're naming his kittens, is there a mix of girl kitties and boy kitties, or did you go with all female, or all male kittens? And would you consider his kittens chick magnets for him? (Not that he needs that, he does well on his own! LOL)

In the end, I only named one! I had hoped to do them all, but the scene, the art and the incredible pressure that represented kept me limited. I like to think they're all three girl kittens, but I'll leave the definitive statement on that to the next writer to take the reigns.

Thank you so much James.

Thank you!

Wrapping up, self-proclaimed Gambit fangirl NicoPony asks about the possible future of Gambit's appearances in the Marvel U.

It's been great having you write the Gambit series, but I want to say thanks especially for your conscientiousness and consideration for us (crazy) fans. It made having a Gambit solo series again doubly fun!

Let me just take this opportunity to say that I knew Gambit had passionate fans -- but you all have been incredibly supportive and it's made this really wonderful gig for me.

Now my one wacky question is: where does a Gambit fangirl go to get fanserviced now?! Add Clay's fabulous artwork to that, I have been totally spoiled for anything else.

Luckily, I don't see the X-Office letting Clay out of their sights any time soon. And I know he's come to appreciate that he can fulfill a fan base that goes under-served. The real key will be making sure his next writer knows that showers can be the best place for guys like Gambit to do some thinking!

That wraps it up for the reader questions, so here's the Behind-the-X: What is your most vivid memory involving Gambit during your tenure on the series?

In terms of the character in his purest form -- I'll probably always picture the Rogue & Gambit splash page from issue #11.

But as far as working on the book goes -- I'll always think about the countless Twitter interactions with a readership that's been the most enthusiastic, kind, and diverse I've yet had the pleasure to write for. Thank you all -- and I hope to find a chance to come back to Gambit and I hope you'll check out some other stuff of mine when it sounds worth your while.

Special thanks to James Asmus for his final "Gambit" X-Position. Hopefully we'll see him again soon.

X-Position is taking a week off for Comic-Con International ridiculousness, but for breaking X-Men-related news, make sure to keep it tuned to CBR, where we'll have live reporting on many major Marvel Comics panels with announcements and interviews running throughout the week.

However, we're back on July 30 with special guest Dennis Hopeless! Got a question for Dennis about Cable and the escapades of his X-Force? What about the status of mutants in Murderworld participating in "Avengers Arena?" Go ahead and send over an e-mail with the subject line "X-Position" or if 140 character questions are more your speed, try Twitter. Either way, make sure those questions are in by next Friday! Do it to it!

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