Long before he joined the X-men, Gambit was an expert thief who spent time honing his skills with the thieves guild of New Orleans. While trying out his skills in another town, Gambit met Storm. The problem was, at the time, Storm had been de-aged and had her memories stripped from her. (For a better explanation, check out Uncanny X-Men #267, although, even then, some of the more in-depth explanations are glossed over.) Now, 32 years later, Chris Claremont is ready to jump into more details of Storm and Gambit’s time together in Gambit #1.
Shortly after helping her escape the Shadow King, Gambit took the de-aged Storm under his wing as they went on the road to make money as thieves. While the goal is to make as much money as possible, Storm is still dealing with the repercussions of her run-in with the Shadow King. Meanwhile, Gambit is much more concerned than he lets on as he tries to both hone Storm’s skills and also protect her from both Shadow King and other gangs that they run into.
Chris Claremont is one of the best-known writers for the X-Men. Many of his storylines have become classics that fans look back on. However, times have changed in what the audience expects from popular comics. So, to genuinely enjoy this opening chapter of this story, you have to think back to those classic stories. Claremont knows the voices of these characters and does an excellent job picking up where he left off. While it is a Gambit-titled book, Storm is just as much of a major part of the story. Her struggles with her memory and powers drive the story forward as she tries to control them. Even with her struggles, her strength is on display as she fights to overcome fears while also demanding respect when she is challenged by others who have invaded her turf.
While on the surface Gambit seems to be trying to take advantage of Storm, it is not long before his heart reveals itself. It is a classic characteristic of Gambit that Claremont takes advantage of.
The art is bright, well organized, and represents the characters well. Unfortunately, Jim Lee is a talent that does not come along every day. Because of that, there is a bit of a drop-off in the art. There are a few panels where Storm looks more like a cherub than the young teen she is supposed to be. In addition, there are a few times where, from one panel to the next, items like necklaces disappear. While minor, it is something that should have been caught. Especially when working for a major company like Marvel. The flow of the panels makes it an easy read without ever feeling like you must backtrack. In addition, Claremont lets the art assist in the storytelling rather than filling the pages with text.
While the story is good and the art is passable, one must wonder why Claremont decided to revisit this story 30 years later. It was not a story arc that lasted particularly long. Because of that, there is an extremely limited audience for the story. This is particularly worrisome for fans of Gambit whose future in the current day Marvel Universe is in question. It feels like many would have rather seen a more Gambit-focused story for a Gambit #1.