X-POSITION: Asmus Plays His "Gambit"

Gambit of the X-Men has always been a charmer, and why not? He's smooth with his words and deft with his hands -- which also comes in handy as a master thief. This past month, everyone's favorite Cajun began some new adventures in his own book, courtesy of writer James Asmus and artist Clay Mann. From the first issue, it seems that Gambit is up to his old tricks, but with several fresh twists.

What's in store for Gambit? And what can we expect from the various loves in his life? These and more were the questions from readers, so X-POSITION sought out the book's writer for some answers. Mr. Asmus was kind enough to oblige in his own captivating, humorous manner -- hmm, I wonder if he has some mutant-centric charming power of his own?

Our first e-mail comes from your average Joe, who definitely has some above-average feelings to share...

I absolutely loved "Gambit" #1 and I've been looking forward to this X-POSITION since you were announced along with this series! I have a couple of questions for you about Gambit's powers and what we can expect:

1) Ever since Sage repowered him, people have debated how much of his power was restored. Specifically, in the X-Group he has been able to charge both living and non-living objects (in "X-Men: Legacy" he charged Shaw and in "X-23" he charged Daken's arm). However, in "AvX: VS," it states he can't charge organics, but then in "Gambit" #1 you state he can charge anything in the opening summary. Is it fair to say he can charge anything in your book?

You caught me in shamefully reductive language, Joe! I have been writing under the traditional Gambit ideas that he can't charge organics (including an explicit statement/example of it in issue #5).  If I can be totally transparent about the way I phrased it -- I just didn't want to get too bogged down with anything in the first issue. It's been a thing some people really dug about the first issue, and something others dismissed us for.

The first issue was intended as a fast, fun thesis statement for the book. From here we get to dig into the nitty-gritty of his life and introduce the new readers to his deeper mythos bit by bit.

As for the other instances, I'm going to try and get a No-Prize by explaining that Shaw's ability to absorb all energy makes his biology a strange exception (welcoming) to Gambit's powers.  And with Daken, Gambit just charged all the fake tanning lotion he had on.

2) In an old interview, you mentioned Gambit had other powers when initially introduced and that you'd like to touch upon those. Is that still the case, and if so, any hints?

Well, it is true that [Chris] Claremont wrote a bit in Gambit's first full appearance where Storm thought he had an actual general seduction power.  There's a particular story I have in mind centered around the very nature of Gambit's sexy beast-ness, but I'm still debating with myself how much I want to take the initial comment at face value versus as a comment about how remarkable a charmer he can be (au naturale).

Red Lotus wants to know where Gambit gets those wonderful toys:

1) Will we meet the friend that Gambit got the gadgets from?

Issue #2! (Out August 29th!)

2) Any chance Marrow or X-23 will guest-star in the book?

The short answer is: I'm not sure yet.

The long answer is: I have overture notes as to how I'd like the story to go up to issue #20.  My fabulous-in-all-senses editor (Daniel Ketchum) and I have been holding off on fully setting long-range choices in stone for now, but in my current plan, one of those two would appear in two issues.  However, neither character is an easy fit for the general thrust of the story we're telling.

Next, I'd like to give a salute to our next X-POSITION-ite, Ryan Snider, SSgt, USAF, who asks:

In Cich's vault, did you write a detailed description about the items in it or did you let Clay Mann have free reign?

First off, Ryan -- thank you for your service.  I do not have the courage it takes to serve in the military.  I can't begin to express my appreciation for those who do.

As for your question, it was 99% Clay (I needed a Sentinel).  The rest of my suggestions or examples were, I think, ignored to great effect.  And my personal favorite surprise was Amelia Earhart's plane.

Speaking of interesting ideas, Neko has one regarding the Ragin' Cajun that he wanted to share with you...

Hi James! I'm wondering if you'll have Gambit steal from Tony Stark? It would be fun to see him stealing from other folks in the Marvel Universe!

I've got a short list of people, places and things I'd love for Gambit to target.  I won't be able to do them all (unless this thing really takes off) -- but Tony Stark is definitely on that list.  Neko, I think the way to make this happen is for you and the other fine folks to harass Kieron Gillen into the idea on Twitter!

You've got your mission folks! Meanwhile, Moonshine wrote in to say that she appreciates all of Gambit's unique talents and wonders if there might be someone else in the Marvel U who will "appreciate" them as well:

1) I really loved "Gambit" #1. It's so nice to see Gambit written as competent, clever, fun, and flirty again. It's about time someone was wise enough to realize his potential. Do you think we will ever get to see Gambit's skills put to good use by the Marvel Universe outside of the X-books? Maybe SHIELD?

I'm not sure I exactly know how you mean the question, Moonshine, but here's all the ways I can try to answer.  I don't plan on having him work for SHIELD any time soon. We're trying to jailbreak the character into a stronger identity, so plugging him into another team (in this book anyway) would be counter-productive.  But the real hope and belief Daniel and I share is that by giving Gambit this spotlight, fans and other creators will be reminded that he's a great Marvel Universe character, and not just an X-Men team-member.  I really do hope other creators are inspired to play with him at large and in surprising contexts.

2) If Rogue appears in the book, can I please ask that -- as a Rogue fan -- the once fun and rebellious Rogue be the one to appear? By her decision, they are only friends, but lately she's seemed so judgmental of him even though he's repeatedly saved her life -- risking everything including his reputation and his feelings. Can we finally see a little joy out of her? Doesn't Gambit deserve that?

I like to find the joy in my characters no matter what.  I think that's what ultimately makes us like them.  On the flipside, the path Gambit's headed down might not make her too happy...

Our friend Gordon also has some opinions on what Gambit deserves with regards to his love life:

Awesome first issue! I'm so excited for this series, but what's with all the hate for Belladonna? She is Remy's wife and a great character to play off of: she is a kick ass assassin and her relationship is more exciting to me than Romy and Rogue's...

You may want to stay off the message boards after that last bit, Gordon. Heh...

I actually don't hate the character herself.  But I use her as a short-hand for the fact that this book is not going to go back and simply revisit/rehash the few major stories Gambit has been given.  For a major character, he has fewer than fifty solo issues to his name -- and about 25% of those are about Belladonna and the Guilds.

There's a real risk for characters on this popularity bubble -- where fans all know a few things about them, but not a massive cast someone like Spider-Man enjoys -- to just keep hitting those same few touch-stones again and again.  Pardon the rough analogy, but if Gambit's ever going to have a chance at being the next Wolverine, we have to build onto his story rather than continue to revisit his Weapon X days.

Also, I've heard you will be bringing Rogue in at some point, but why do this? As a couple, they have seemed to stagnate and sour, in my opinion. Let's have Gambit move on!

I didn't say she'd necessarily return as his girlfriend.  I plan to bring her in for a later arc because she's known him well and in several cycles of his life -- so hers will be a very telling reaction when she sees what he'll be getting up to in our pages.  And she carries a lot of weight in terms of how Gambit views himself.  It'll have an impact on him for sure.

Mr. Jones knows Gambit has a rich history and wonders if any treasures will appear in future issues:

James, I just want to say congratulations on such a strong first issue of "Gambit." I'm so pleased that the Cajun is back on form and in such good hands. I can appreciate why you're not using Gambit's complicated history in order for the story be accessible to new readers (and fans of the 90's cartoons), but some of us loyal Gambit fans love things like his twisted father/son-type relationship with Sinister, his history with the mysterious Thieves Guild and (although this one divides fans) his ongoing struggle with Death. So my questions are:

1) Will any of these things come into play later down the line when new readers are up to speed? I know you've mentioned the Thieves Guild before...

My current story ideas/plans for the Guilds wouldn't kick in until late in the current cycle I have in mind.  But then, they would be part of a longer series of events.  Let's make sure the book gets there!

2) Will we see a return of Gambit's interesting "side" powers that have been more or less forgotten these days but helped make him so popular in the 90's, such as his mutant charm, agility and resistance to telepathy?

Agility is very real, and something I had in mind as soon as the second issue. The resistance to telepathy plays into issue #6.

Our final e-mail comes from AliAle who has some sincere words of appreciation to share with you:

Mr. Asmus, I hope you're mentally prepared for the next Comic-Con where you might be assaulted by a horde of friendly Gambit groupies. "Gambit" #1 was all sorts of wonderful and I thank thee for restoring our favorite guy with the charm, panache and wit that I feel has been missing for too long now (not to mention the steamy first page that I might have lingered upon for a bit too long). Jumping to my questions...

1) Is there any chance of revisiting some fan-favorites from Fabian's run, like Courier or Fontanelle? Fontanelle might be a bit of a stretch considering the convoluted history, but Courier would fit right in with the heist theme...

I originally had no plans for either.  I do find myself thinking about Courier often, though.  So I'd say my subconscious loves something about the character, but I won't be using character characters from his past until there's a good story to be told for them (i.e. no fake/cheap guest appearances).

2) The first issue debuted with Remy apparently trying to get back to his roots and getting himself into more trouble than intended. Looks like more adventures are coming while the control he has on his own destiny slips away. Is there a long-term plan for where you want to take Remy in this title and a climax to the domino effect his actions and decisions seem to create?

Yes!  Having spoken so damned-comic-writer-vaguely about my outline for the year, I should say it really is all intended as progressive consequences that start from this first issue.  Even if we have to change some of the individual plot stuff along the way, Daniel and I have pretty well agreed on the emotional/life-arc story Gambit will have this first year.  And it's all about his choices having unexpected, but very real consequences.

And now, it's time for a quick get-to-know-you question that we like to call "Behind the X." As we've touched upon Gambit's appeal with the fairer sex, can you tell us what is the most romantic gesture you've ever had someone do for you?

Everything about getting married to Mara Keller (first appearance: "X-Men: Manifest Destiny - Nightcrawler") was the most perfect-for-us, romantic wedding I could have hoped for.

But, in terms of surprising romantic gestures -- my girlfriend in my senior year of college took a whole series of photos of my friends, mentors, and the random colorful people of New Orleans wearing t-shirts that said some version of "HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY, JAMES ASMUS."  She then made tons of photocopies and lined them up along my path to class in the early morning.  I was running late and made it about halfway before my eye caught my own name. It was confusing, surprising, and then deeply moving (in that sequence) to see reminders of all the love I was so lucky to have in my life there.

And I still have my own "HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY, JAMES ASMUS" shirt!

That is fantastic! And for those fans who are curious about James' wedding to a comic book character, it seems James slipped his lovely bride into the aforementioned comic he wrote. Gambit's charm pales in comparison to Mr. Asmus' powers! Thanks James!

Next week, we'll continue with our theme of elegance and charm as we have "Astonishing X-Men" writer Marjorie Liu joining us! Unfortunately, I'll be missing the fun, but my CBR associate Steve Sunu will be here to help out. Send him your queries ASAP, and please place a shiny "X-Position" in the subject line. Hurry and get to it, or Steve will get mad -- and you wouldn't like Steve when he's mad...

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