X-POSITION: Asmus Steals Away "Gambit"

Whether it's journeying to England to flirt with the Queen and fight with the legendary Excalibur, charming women everywhere or stealing an expensive artifact, Gambit's dance card has remained full in the pages of his ongoing solo series from Marvel Comics. At the hands of writer James Asmus, the Cajun X-thief continues to explore unknown territory with solo adventures far from his normal fare as an instructor at the Jean Grey School.

This week, James Asmus joins X-POSITION for a discussion on all things "Gambit," including possible guest-appearance and team-ups, the writer's favorite Gambit moments in history, his plans for the future of the series and most importantly -- who he plans to charm next.

Juggs kicks things off with a frank question about guest-stars in the book.

I am really loving the series so far. And I love how you're writing Gambit how he should really be, from the way he talks down to the way he acts. Will we see other Marvel characters in the series? I'm not talking about the ones we see every single day, but the ones we haven't seen in a long time.

James Asmus: Well, "Gambit" #9 is almost wall-to-wall under-utilized villains of the Marvel U, if that's what you mean! Solicits' spoilers already revealed that Tombstone and Rogue are coming down the pipe. (Though the covers/issue numbers/solicits got a little jumbled -- so how & when might still be a surprise!) Aaand -- there are more guests we're working on, but it's too early to say.

Will we see Marrow or something dealing with Gambit's heritage? It was stated quite a few times that his heritage is quite special and I would love to see someone finally put some information on it a bit.

I still don't have any Marrow plans. (Sorry) But his heritage is definitely one of the things I'd like to explore -- as long as we get all the parts of the story into a place that works.

What other adventures will we see our favorite Cajun on and what love interest will we see him charming?

Gambit's going to get a lot of lady attention among the super villains at the Club With No Name. Joelle coming back next arc is going to really put their relationship in the crucible -- and take them on a snowy secret-base raid against Baron Von Strucker!! (Sort of.)

Rogue/Gambit fan Sarah hopes to glean some information on her favorite Ex-X-Couple.

Due to the polarizing nature of Rogue's character amongst Gambit fans, did you have any reservations about writing her in an upcoming arc? As a "pro-Romy" fan with hopes of a (distant) future reconciliation, I can attest to the anxiety about how these characters will interact. Thanks for the insight.

I try to respect the choices of the writers who've come before me, and write in context. So, I'm inheriting a situation where they aren't together, but it was not the cleanest break. I've been happy to write Remy single (not only because I like having him flirt with other ladies) -- but I do think their past, their understanding of each other still holds a lot of weight. I think the way I'm coming at this should create moments that make fans on both sides angry! (I just hope we get half the anger-sales that "Superior Spider-Man" did!)

Zeke is curious as to whether Gambit still teaches for his day job.

Is Gambit still a senior staff member at the Jean Grey School, as I don't see it being referenced to in any of the respective books. If he is, will we see much of him interacting with any of those characters in future "Gambit" arcs?

The consequences of his playing hooky definitely figures into issues #9 and #11 in particular. I wanted to focus on Gambit outside of the school, and away from the X-Men in this series -- but I'd never tell another writer what to do. But mercifully, Gambit's been scarce enough in other depictions of the Jean Grey School that I haven't had to do a lot of wild contorting to keep up my status quo.

And I don't plan on pulling in the students. There are some I'd like to play with, but I'm more excited to bring certain other characters back into Remy's life.

Purplevit wants a crossover to happen and asks about long-term plans for the series.

Mr. Asmus, thank you for the awesome ongoing! I have a few questions for you. 1) Will we be able to see a crossover between "Gambit" and "Cable and X-Force?" How soon it will happen?

Ha! Is this a Twitter follow-up? There's a lot of moving pieces that would need to be squared away for us to do it. But Dennis [Hopeless] and I have definitely been kicking the idea around. We'll probably know soon if it's possible or not -- but I don't yet.

2) When Rogue appears in the book, will she be fully your take on the character or Rick Remender's version in "Uncanny Avengers?"

I'm not sure I know exactly what you mean. I think only Joelle is ever fully "my" character. Rogue is definitely appearing in her capacity as a member of Uncanny Avengers. But mostly, the story is me channeling some complicated ex-girlfriend uneasiness.

3) How far ahead do you have things planned?

Good question! Like most writers who aren't Jonathan Hickman, I have a pretty detailed map of my current arc (which will always change once you really get into writing), a rough idea of my next arc and what I'd like it to accomplish, and then an assortment of ideas and milestones in mind beyond that.

The ever-observant Neko has a quick query about the appearance of a semi-familiar face.

Hello James, I enjoy the Gambit book a lot, I love the humor and adventure, and the trouble Remy gets into is enjoyable to read. Is the ESU Teacher in "Gambit" #8 who called Remy for help a character we would already know? And if so, any hints as to who it is?

Just a (non-superpowered) civilian from the fundraiser back in issue #1! This was always in mind as a fun one-off we could do as another unforeseen consequence of that night for Remy.

Any plans to have other X-Men make an appearance like Iceman or Wolverine?

Oof -- you know, I've really been trying to avoid pulling in X-Men in favor of forcing Remy to forge some new relationships. But you remind me that those guys are both great foils for Gambit. I'll have to keep them in mind.

AliAle is hopeful for another appearance by MI-13 and Pete Wisdom.

I need to get this out first: The second arc of "Gambit" was a complete joy to read with many memorable moments, despite the blatant lack of blown off clothes and the likes.

Thank you! I knew those scripts came together well when fans liked them -- even when I couldn't figure out how to get in as much beef-cake! But don't worry, we get back on track with a wide variety of fan-service in these next few issues. I think the first page of issue #9 will make a lot of folks happy -- and not just in the way you might expect!

1) Is reappearance by MI-13 and Pete Wisdom already in the works, since Pete threatened to cash in on that favor, or was this just to open up some indistinct future story possibilities?

That definitely falls under the aforementioned "general ideas and milestones" for future issues. But I was happy to hear a lot of positive feedback about their appearance! I'd love bring them back, and honestly they're a puzzle piece that can fit many, many different ways.

2) If there was one Marvel 616 title with which you would love to have Gambit do a cross-over with, what would it be and why?

Oh man! I honestly hadn't thought of it in such open terms, but... Even though I haven't read it yet (because it's not out yet!) I think crossing him over with Cullen Bunn's upcoming all-female "Fearless Defenders" would be an absolute blast! Cullen really knows how to cut loose with his comics, and all the flirtation alone could fill three issues. (Plus, I really want to write Misty Knight some time. Because she's badass.)

3) What's your favorite Gambit moment from previous writers and the favorite Gambit scene you've written so far?

Wow... this is tough and other people's stuff is all swirling together in my head at the moment. I'm gonna go with my first instinct (and regret it later). Someone else: Gambit charging and exploding Batroc's moustache! Mine: Probably the whole scene at the Knigting Ceremony in #6. He sword-fights with Excalibur, flirts with the Queen, and it was my first chance to write Pete Wisdom and Faiza!

Andres wants to know about series structure moving forward in the hopes that he can continue reading the book.

I'm a fan of yours... I really am. And I'm an even bigger Gambit fan. There was a point when all I was collecting was just the "Gambit" solo series because I didn't like the direction that the X-Books were taking. But after Marvel NOW!, There are some series I want to take a look at: "All New X-Men," "Uncanny X-Force," "Cable and X-Force" and... you get the idea.

I have to let go of some books, it's just too much money. The reason why I bring it up is because, though I love your writing and your take on Gambit, a lot of the book's arcs seem to be standalone arcs. There doesn't seem to be any major over-arching story, which is fine. But...before I say goodbye... for NOW!... are you planning on changing this or will this be the status quo for the book going forward?
Wow, Andres -- you're really holding me ransom here, aren't you? (I'm half-kidding) I won't be doing "The Dark Gambit Saga" anytime soon, if that's what you mean. But this first year (roughly 17 issues) was always intended to build out and add to Gambit's world for the first half -- and then bring things back, deal with the consequences, and push Gambit to a new place in his life through the second half. That all starts with issue #9. (I hope that helps?)

And there are a lot of great new books right NOW! It's incredibly difficult for me to choose what to read in the little time I have. It makes me all the more appreciative of you folks who have chosen Gambit with all the other stuff in this big, media-chummed world of ours!

JT closes us out with a question about Gambit's powers.

"Gambit" #8 looks enjoyable and I can't wait for the next arc, which looks awesome! With that said, I have a few questions for you: 1) You've used Gambit's powers in some unique ways thus far. However, I know a lot of fans were hoping you would also play with his hypnotic charm power that, as a thief, you'd expect Gambit to use to his advantage. When can we expect to see this power get some panel time?

That's an interesting one, and here's where I've come down on it -- I'm probably not going to ever make it an explicit plot point. [Chris] Claremont laid it out as a subtle power, and that's how I treat it. He's always able to get away with a little more, or help soften someone up a little easier. But I've not been struck with any particular story I wanted to tell about it.

2) I read in a different interview that you initially wanted to use Black Cat, but the higher ups asked that you didn't. Given this, can we expect any other MU leading ladies to get involved? Completely random, but I thought the Enchantress would always be a good antagonist for Gambit given the way she conducts herself.

Oooh... I never thought about Enchantress! There's definitely great possibilities between her and Gambit. In the immediate future, though, he'll have enough trouble balancing Joelle and Rogue (and the far less sexy Tombstone). We'll have to see how things end up with them before I go filling his dance card, though.

Before wrapping up completely, here's this week's "Behind the X" question: What month are you most looking forward to in 2013 and why?

My wife Mara and I are expecting our first child in May! (A boy!) I'm thrilled and terrified!!

Plus -- we haven't settled on a name yet. (Not a lot sounds good with Asmus.) So feel free to make some suggestions in the comment thread, you guys!

Thanks to this week's guest, James Asmus, for his awesome answers!

Next week, it's a journey back to an alternate, war-torn reality as "Age of Apocalypse" writer and "X-Termination" co-scribe David Lapham joins X-Position for a discussion on all things AoA! Got a question for David? Bring it on! Send potential queries via email with the subject line X-Position, or if brevity is the soul of your curious wit, try the 140-characters of Twitter. No matter which way you choose to submit your questions, get them in by Friday! Do it to it!

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