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Abandoned Love: Remember When Gambit Went Blind?

Every installment of Abandoned Love we will be examining comic book stories, plots and ideas that were abandoned by a later writer while still acknowledging that the abandoned story DID still happen. Click here for an archive of all the previous editions of Abandoned Love. Feel free to e-mail me at bcronin@comicbookresources.com if you have any suggestions for future editions of this feature.

This time around, based on a suggestion by reader Kosta, we look at the time that Gambit was blind (and gained precognitive abilities) for about five minutes…

After writing two extremely odd fill-in issues on New X-Men after Grant Morrison’s run ended (why were they called New X-Men? No good reason), Chuck Austen officially took over writing duties on the title, which went back to its original title, X-Men, with issue #157. In that issue, Austen introduced his new squad of X-Men led by Havok – Wolverine, Polaris, Rogue, Iceman, Juggernaut and Gambit.

In his first storyline (which involved Xorn, and is fodder for a future edition of Abandoned Love or Abandoned an’ Forsaked), the X-Men run afoul of a team of superpowered Chinese heroes in China. While clashing with them, Rogue hits one of them and accidentally causes one of their weapons to fire…

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As you can see, things look bad for Gambit (“As you can see” and “things look bad” were not puns when I initially wrote them, but perhaps I should pretend that they were intentional!)…

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The next two issues are all spent during the same fight, and we occasionally check in on Gambit and his blindness….

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When that story finished and the X-Men returned to the United States, Gambit pulls a total dick move and acts like it is Rogue’s fault (like she knew hitting the Chinese guy would cause his weapon to fire and nick Gambit’s playing card and cause it to explode)…

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Two issues later, Blind Gambit got a spotlight issue…

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In it, we learn that Gambit actually has new powers! He can “see” the future…

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That doesn’t help him much when he and Mindee (one of the Stepford Cuckoos) are attacked by Sabretooth, so he has to literally fight blind…

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We check back in with him and Mindee the next issue…

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And that, as it turns out, was the extent of Chuck Austen’s run on the title. Just two four-issue story arcs.

The next issue is a fill-in by Chris Claremont (by the way, all of these issues were drawn by Salvador Larroca and Danny Miki). He re-establishes Gambit’s blindness…

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Only to have, out of nowhere, Sage gives Gambit his eyesight back…

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Peter Milligan took over the next issue and that, as they say, was that.

That’s one quick abandoned story.

Thanks to Kosta for the suggestion! If YOU have a suggestion for an abandoned story, drop me a line at bcronin@comicbookresources.com

57 Comments

Travis Pelkie

May 11, 2014 at 3:07 am

Did his palms turn hairy, too?

So when is healing people magically in Sage’s skill set?
For that matter, causing Gambit’s card to go off early seems a bit of a stretch.

Perhaps his problem was psychosomatic. Don’t they say none are so blind as those who will not see?

Mike Loughlin

May 11, 2014 at 5:35 am

“Abandoned Love: Remember when Gambit-”

Nope

Why didn’t Sage just tell Gambit “I’m going to try to cure your blindness”?

Glad I dropped X-Men after a Morrison left. Austen was a terrible writer.

@Fraser Sage’s primary mutant power has pretty much always been the ability to serve as whatever plot device Claremont needs this week.

“Gambit pulls a total dick move …” I think you mean, “Gambit acts like himself.” It’s probably a typo.

One day I yearn for an “Abandoned Love” column on Gambit, the entire character. “Hey, remember when Marvel published the worst character in history?” And all the commenters will write, “I can’t say I’ve heard of him.” And there will be happiness throughout the land!

“Perhaps his problem was psychosomatic.”

Oh, that makes me want to see Abandoned Loves on Iceman losing his powers during M-Day (he went from uncontrollably being ice forever into losing his powers on the morning of M-Day to having that turn out to be in his head… which makes no sense because how was he able to suddenly will his powers off when he couldn’t before, and how was it a mental response to M-Day when he came out of his room to see what the commotion was with said powers gone?) and Havok and Polaris being over (Lorna had a big psychotic meltdown over Alex but they worked out their differences and agreed that they both needed to move on… then Milligan took over two issues later and they were lovers again because reasons).

People like to pick on Austen, especially for his X-Men run, and yeah the man wrote some very questionable stuff. What people are quick to forget is that ALL the X-Books kinda sucked at the time. Among other things, every new writer was coming in and immediately inserting their favorite characters and hokey plots while stomping all over any status quo changes they weren’t fond of. Don’t like something that happened to your favorite character? Wait three months and they’ll leave the book or have it reversed, probably even off-panel. A lot of the stuff reads like a bunch of squabbling fanboys arguing over the “real”/”true” versions of the characters and stories they should be in. “Your thing is stupid, my way is RIGHT” type of stuff.

I think I quit reading X-Men at this time for the art as much as the writing.

That Havok costume was awful. Almost all super-hero goggle masks are awful.

Is there a good reason why the X-Men could not medevac Gambit (who was cool around Uncanny X-Men 275, Mr Burgas)? At the time the X-Men had all their technology, money and dozens of members, why not call for back up and get Gambit some medical attention? Was that addressed in the story?

Woof, that was some bad stuff. The writing is actually cringe-inducing. And Austen was on the X-books for quite some time. How did that happen? Who was editing the books at that point? Mind boggling.

I also think it’s hilarious that Claremont brought his pet character Sage in to heal Gambit when Elixir is literally in the same issue. Elixir is an Omega-level healer and has fixed injuries WAY more severe than blindness. But let’s go to Sage and have her develop yet another never-before-seen power, because everyone loves Sage! (Please read that as sarcasm. Although I know the character does have her share of fans. For the life of me I could never understand what she was supposed to be able to do. Which under Claremont basically amounted to, “Anything I want.”)

As much as people throw shade at Gambit, he is very popular with certain segments of fandom. I have friends — largely single young women — who absolutely adore Remy. And you can see why that is. The idea behind the character is a good one. The execution hasn’t been great for a while. But I’m hoping that Peter David can make him interesting again over in All-New X-Factor. He has a damned good track record and Gambit is, believe it or not, one of the more likable characters in that book.

I love the character of Gambit. He has interesting powers and the cajun background doesn’t get much love. Look at his character portrayal difference between the two stories. Night and day. That’s been Gambits problem

It’s close minded bandwagoning that seems to be the thing with Gambit. It got “cool” to hate him. There is no such thing as bad characters, just bad writing

I like Gambit. And I didn’t even really mind Austen’s take on him. Milligan’s issues, however, really made me feel sick inside back when I once read those… ‘Abandoned-anything-but-love: Remember when Gambit willingly became a horseman for Apocalypse (back in that awful run wherein all characters were speaking like 14 year olds), completely ignoring his experience over dealing with his history with Sinister?’
And didn’t he even do so because he felt ignored at the school or something like that? Been a while since I read those issues, tried hard to purge them from my mind. In my memory, Milligan’s run was even worse than Austen’s, overall.

Man, reading the pages where Gambit and Rogue are talking in the hospital…. Is Gambit always passive aggressive?

Captain Haddock

May 11, 2014 at 8:59 am

There seems to be a segment of fans that really hate Gambit as a character, I never got that, thought maybe it’s cause my first exposure to him was in the video games. The short lived series by Fabian Nicieza was also great, I thought.

One thing I noticed from this is as well is how much more tolerable Larroca’s art is when the colors are more restrained, that hyper-polished color scheme they employed in Iron Man and his recent AVengers work really bums me out.

Gambit was also blind in the first arc of Robert Rodi’s ongoing Rogue series (1-6).

This might be the least sympathy I’ve ever had for a character who was blinded in combat. Gambit faced his new disability with a tremendous amount of butthurt.

I love how losers make fun of characters that intimidate them. Just because a guy is handsome and charming, he obviously can’t exist in real life. Now if he has a huge gut and a small weiner like you guys, then he’s perfectly acceptable. Bravo dorks, bravo.

I’m surprised Gambit can be harmed by his own energy blasts.

I thought the whole, New X-Men, was because Quitey found the logo that read the same upside down as well as normally.

That Claremont issue is also the Christmas issue, so Sage gave Gambit the gift of sight. I bought the issue has a back issue and the Gambit subplot was the only confusing detail of an otherwise perfect issue. That it makes sense why it feels so forced

I had read somewhere that Marvel was having a hard time finding writer’s and they would get Austin to jump in and cover. It was usually last minute. Not sure if that’s true but it sure seemed like it. His run on Captain America confused the crap outta me.

Andy E. Nystrom

May 11, 2014 at 10:41 am

A bit of a tangent relating to a cliche mentioned above: “There is no such thing as bad characters, just bad writing.”

People say that a lot but I don’t agree. I mean, sure any character can be *made* good, but sometimes the process of making them good changes who they are fundamentally, to the point where they’re essentially a different character. It can even be argued that the amount of twists and turns you have to make to make some bad characters good, even if it results in a good character, is itself bad writing. Mopee is a good example: He was created just to alter Barry Allen’s origin in a way that wasn’t well received. Any effort to make him a good character changes the original intent of the character.

Plus you have to factor in subjectively. if for a particular reader/viewer, a character is inherently bad and nothing can change that, then for that reader/viewer there is at least one bad character, even if for another reader the same character is a good, even great character.

Honestly, it took until the recent James Asmus series for me to really even dig Gambit at all.

stainedglassscarlet

May 11, 2014 at 11:09 am

I love Gambit, always have day one. I have not liked some of the places they have taken the character however and I particularly hated this blind Gambit story so I was relieved for it to be quickly done away with.

stainedglassscarlet

May 11, 2014 at 11:11 am

I also think they should make him the third Summers kid and undo a lot of the crap they did, erase Vulcan from anything, make him just some manipulative fever dream lie forced upon our characters by a dark stupid evil masterplan.

I always thought he was just called Gambit because he used playing cards as his weapon.
http://www.comicsty.com/

My memory of Sage was that she had a kind of super-intellect but focused more on practical stuff/problem-solving than Luthor/Doom tech stuff. Obviously this reflects the infrequency with which I’ve read X-titles for the past 25 years.
I like Gambit myself.
Speaking of abandoned love, his first story seemed to imply he had some kind of super-charm power (an actual power, not just being suave) in addition to exploding things, but then it seemed that was forgotten. Was it ever touched on again?

I am very happy that I never read any of these issues :)

Fraser: That’s really the only time I liked Gambit. In his second issue, he seemed to have that power, and I thought that would be pretty neat. Then it was never brought up again, and Remy turned into crap!!!!

“I love how losers make fun of characters that intimidate them. Just because a guy is handsome and charming, he obviously can’t exist in real life. Now if he has a huge gut and a small weiner like you guys, then he’s perfectly acceptable. Bravo dorks, bravo. ”

So, how many popular male superheroes AREN’T handsome and charming (at least when they want to be charming)? Or does that foil your brilliant line of ad hominem reasoning?

interesting for missed the exact reason gambit was blind for a bit plus given who sage is suppose to like some mutant power jumper cable. according to clarmont. interesting that gambit was blind as long as he was and had sage restore his sight after even one with healing powers like josh failed. plus being a dick is part of gambits personality .even towards rogue

you all hate him because he s sexy ! me told me so, and i believe me.

I think Gambit’s charm power came back in his solo series by Fabian Nicieza, where it turned out to be some weird application of his kinetic energy power.

But man, talk about a character whose star has fallen: from the hott new X-Men character of the early 90s to a distinctly tertiary character by the mid-2000s. (Yeah, I know he had a recent solo series; did you see its sales figures?)

There is nothing wrong with Gambit, except that he came on the scene when Claremont was just leaving and then he fell on the hands of several mediocre or dowright horrible writers. The stuff some people don’t like about Gambit (mysterious past, accent, angst, etc.) also applies to a lot of other more successful Claremont creations, but Claremont had time to tell more good stories with the other mutants.

I first met Gambit in the X-Men cartoons that started in 1992. He was used pretty well there and was one of the protagonists. I also read X-Men comics, had been reading them for years before the cartoons, but the comics came to Brazil with a delay of some years, so I was first exposed to him with the cartoon. Maybe that helped me like him.

I like the character, but this was a bit of a dodgy story with a fair bit of OOC moments.

@Omar – that series actually sold pretty well, i mean it outsold a lot of more hyped (by Marvel) series, namely Captain Marvel, which was recently relaunched.

@Hobgoblin: YES, I absolutely agree, it is baffling to me that, a decade later, people will still hate on Austen’s run (specifically, the Draco arc, when, in reality, his whole run on both titles was as bad as the Draco), but they ignore how mind-bendingly awful Milligan’s run was. I would say Austen and Milligan are about neck-and-neck in terms of awful X-Men runs, myself.

This is a goddamn terrible arc, but I will say that I like that cover with Blind!Gambit.

A Horde of Evil Hipsters

May 12, 2014 at 12:36 am

The reason people don’t hate on Milligan’s X-Men is that when Peter Milligan’s good, he’s really good, and therefore people are willing to cut him some slack. The same might apply to Austen, but to my knowledge no one has ever seen him being good.

No comment on these X-Men runs specifically, though. Never read them.

>when Peter Milligan’s good, he’s really good,

So I’ve heard. That’s supposed to be his X-Force/Statix right? I never read that. I think I only know him for that X-Men run and for his Venom vs Carnage, which I thought was pretty pathetic and even offensive in its blatant disregard for continuity… It came across like he was just thinking symbiotes are cool and Black Cat is hot so that would make for a good story, not even bothering to check up on their status or shared history. And then he named the awful new ‘I have an immensely powerful symbiote that’s telling me to kill but I’m going to use it for good!’ character ‘Pat Mulligan’…

I don’t want to defend Chuck Austen’s run, I certainly agree that overall he was quite bad, but to me, he actually had some moments. I liked his very first story with Juggernaut joining the team, the occasional soap opera stuff in subsequent issues I found entertaining enough.

Travis Pelkie

May 12, 2014 at 2:28 am

Milligan is awesome on Shade the Changing Man, a few other early Vertigo one shots/minis (the Eaters and Enigma, f’r instance), and his stuff with Brett Ewins and Brendan McCarthy is amazing. Also, as you say, X-Force/X-Statix.

I’ve heard he’s near awful on pretty much any other Marvel stuff he’s done, though. Wonder what’s up with that? Perhaps he looks at it too much as a paycheck and doesn’t invest much of anything into it?

I read Red Lanterns 0 of the new 52 that he wrote, and while it was bland and stupid, I was greatly amused that the thing that turned the Manhunters from policemen to psycho killers was a jaywalker. HA!

@Rene: I think it’s a bit more complicated then that, actually. Yes, Gambit shares characteristics with a lot of other Claremont mutants, but I think that’s kind of the problem – the formula was getting a little tired. So while he was certainly badly handled after Claremont left, I don’t know if he would have really been any more popular if Claremont had stayed.

It’s also worth noting that Gambit was originally planned to be a bad guy linked to Mister Sinister, as Brian has noted in a past Legends Revealed column. Sometimes it seems like pretty much none of Claremont’s long-term plans from that period of the book ever worked out as originally intended.

Does Frank Merriwell write Gambit’s lines too? Or does he have a BA. in Drama Queen Antics?

Thanks for clarifying about his charm powers, people.
Regarding Milligan, I’ve often wondered why some people can be really good on some titles and suck on others. I like most of Marv Wolfman’s work, for instance, (I know others here don’t) but he couldn’t write Superman to save his life.

Or to take another example, the Silver Age Batman never really worked for me, despite the fact I like the Schwartz/Fox-or-Broome/Infantino team on most things.

I’m glad I wasn’t reading X-Men at the time. Looks like a mess.

It’s like he got hit in the head there in the last panel: “I can see again. It’s a miracle…. but who am I?”

That’s from an old movie I saw once.

“And that, as it turns out, was the extent of Chuck Austen’s run on the title. Just two four-issue story arcs.”

Two four-issue story arcs TOO LONG if you ask me. Jesus this is bad. I wasn’t reading X-Men at this point (thank the gods), but man that stinks. The Claremont stuff is terrible too (though after experiencing the horror show that was X-Men Forever this doesn’t surprise me). The art is really rough too – especially the colors – so garish. Man. I gotta go take a bath.

The reason people don’t hate on Milligan’s X-Men is that when Peter Milligan’s good, he’s really good, and therefore people are willing to cut him some slack. The same might apply to Austen, but to my knowledge no one has ever seen him being good.

Strips, maybe? Though if the guy’s artistic height is the porn comic he made at the beginning of his career, that’s not a good sign.

I only ever read Milligan’s bad stuff. It seems like he does good stuff when he works with more obscure characters or with his own creations. Sadly, those tended not to be published here in Brazil.

Chuck Austen is the worst.

The only good thing I have to say about Chuck Austen’s X-Men is that it wasn’t Chuck Austen’s Avengers.

There is nothing wrong with Gambit, except that he came on the scene when Claremont was just leaving and then he fell on the hands of several mediocre or dowright horrible writers.

I think most Gambit haters, including myself, hated him from the Claremont issues. He was awful from the beginning, although he had his moments under Claremont and did only get worse afterward. I do think the cartoon depicted him better though.

Another hinted at “charm power” thing (or some version of it) that I remember vaguely – didn’t Gambit fight (and beat) Wolverine in the Danger Room at some point early on by mysteriously putting the whammy on him by making Logan hallucinate Deathstrike (or similar?). I recall Logan on the ground with Gambit’s bo staff at his neck…and Jean probably saying something about Remy’s mysterious eyes or some such. Unfortunately, I’m too lazy to go dig through the longboxes to find it. I feel like it was right after the Muir Island Saga.

I like the character..he’s actually one of my favorite X-men…but I definitely think those early issues – specifically the introductory arc with the Shadow King, the Shi’ar stuff where Charles comes back, and the X-Tinction Agenda are the high points. That bit where Gambit pulls out the Hodge spike from his leg and jimmys the “Genosha Mutant Cuffs” is still one of my faves. I’m digging X-Factor so far and I enjoyed most of the Asmus series stuff, so hopefully we will get some more decent Gambit stories down the road.

T. –

Like I said, I saw him first in the cartoons.

I do think people have a sort of instant hatred for the character that I don’t just get. However, I also did eventually get to dislike him, on account of what came later in the comics.

It seems like Gambit has only 2 stories in him, that are repeated ad nauseam: 1) He’s a betrayer! Or is he? 2) Rogue is jealous of him. He’s jealous of Rogue.

A lot of characters in comics have classic storylines that are always being re-visited, but with Gambit sometimes it seems like that is all there is to him.

What percentage of “Abandoned” columns feature work by Austen? Seems like a lot.

For that matter, causing Gambit’s card to go off early seems a bit of a stretch.

I bet Sage could make a lot of guy’s cards go off early. But then, I liked her better when she was Tessa.

always thought gambit was written at times to be the x-men jerk . plus the fact that given how sage has the ability somehow to jump start and boost other mutants powers or heal like josh why did the writters not just have gambit after josh failed gambit seek her out right away.but given how chuck austen caused gambit blindness in the first place not surprise to have the issue of if gambit will see again ended as fast as possible.even though found it interesting that gambit had a new mutant power to explore with his playing cards.

I’m one of those who never liked Gambit from moment one. I didn’t like anything Claremont was doing on the series around that time. Especially new characters from that era; not just Gambit, but Mr. Sinister and Forge as well.

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