The Gambit Gamble
I’ve always been a Marvel girl. I’d take Xmen over Justice League any day of the week. Superman? Fuck that pussy. Batman? It took me the better part of 2 decades to be able to like the franchise. The only DC comics I ever owned came from Amy Somethingorother from Middle School. We co-bought some Marvel/DC crossover graphic novel (me for the New Warriors book and her for Superman, I think) and tore it in half so we each had our books. The New Warriors was probably my favorite book (may it rest in peace) but who among us Marvel nerds doesn’t love their greatest book – the XMen?
Naturally, being that I love bad guys, my favorite character was Pyro. (God, they ruined him in the movies.) I was also way into Mystique because I want her powers (actually, I want Rogue’s powers so I can jack everyone else’s powers) and Emma Frost because she made wearing white look all evil and rad. I liked all the characters with a bad streak (although Wolverine was too much of a whiney fuck for my tastes). I was happily enamored of Psylocke (my marvel vs capcom champion) and Rictor (who was the sole reason I read XFactor and XForce).
But no girl who picks up an XMen book can withstand the printed Cajun and inked-in smirk of one Remy LeBeau. He’s hot, sue me. Seriously, I have never had a bigger crush on a bunch of pencil lines and paper then XMen’s own Gambit. I remember being maybe six years old and some annoying friend-of-a-friend-of-the-family asked me who I wanted to marry when I grew up. My response. “Remy LeBeau.” I was rewarded with a puzzled smile and a too-jolly “who is that, honey?” With a scowl that could have stripped paint off a car I replied “Gambit from the XMen. Do you know anything?” No wonder my parents never encouraged me to buy comic books.
Ahhhhhhh comic books. As much as I am a nerd and I would gladly roll around in a pile of comics for the rest of my years, I never had all that many. There was never a comic shop anywhere within walking distance to my house. I remember passing one each and every day coming home from middle school. It was crammed into the front of a run-down triple decker and had sun-faded posters of Superman and XMen along with some Metallica shirts. I used to make plantitive noises at whomever who driving home the carpool that day but to no avail. Its been more than a decade since then and I still haven’t gone in. I need to do that, one of these days…
Anyway, my point is I got comic books very rarely. One of the highlights of my entire year was the trip to Provincetown that my family took every year right before school started. While running around on the beach and swimming in the ocean were always a blast, the best part of the whole trip was the joke shop and the pagan store. My parents – eager for some time to themselves – would shove money at me and turn me loose to run around P-Town for the evening. Inevitably, I would buy some cheap pizza, $10 of penny candy, and maybe a Slush Puppy. Then I would return, night after night, to the two stores that held my fascination all through my childhood.
The first was a pagan store called the Tree of Somethingorother. They sold tarot cards and book on magic and incesense and oils. It was there I bought my first pack of tarots, there I bought the oils I still wear to this day, and there were I first got interested in the real life equivilant of what I did in D&D. I didn’t usually buy stuff there but instead I was welcomed by the shop staff and happily talked to them about their beliefs. They would read my fortune or show me how to cast runes. I remember one woman braiding herbs into my hair and giving me a spangly shawl to wear that became my altar cloth for the short time I was a practicing pagan. Being older, it baffles me that these people were so kind year after year to me since most people don’t want little kids hanging out in their store especially when they aren’t buying much. But kind they were and it remains one of the happiest places in my memory.
But the best part of all of Provincetown, to my young eyes, was the joke shop. I don’t remember what it is called. I just remember that it was on the street we would walk up to get to the main drag of P-Town. It was on the left hand side of the road and a gaily painted sign announced that down a set of stairs that dipped below the sidewalk, gags and comics and half off whoopie cushions awaited. I remember walking past it for years before I finally braved the descent. I went in looking for silly gags that children seem to think will be so cool until you realize how damn impossible it is to get someone to sit on a whoopie cushion without realizing it. But when I got downstairs, the novelty jokes faded away. There were comic books. Bins and bins and boxes and shelves and stacks and piles of glorious comic books. I don’t remember what books I bought, just that I spent every penny I had left on them. I spent the next day sitting on the beach reading them all only to return the next night with a fresh fistful of cash to exchange for more.
This became a yearly occurance. For one week a year, I was given the funds and the access to all the comics I could carry. The first year, I bought whatever covers looked the most interesting. But once I got them home and realized that I was missing gaps in the story, I patiently made a list of what I needed and returned to buy more. Some books they had, some they did not so I’d spend the rest of my money on whatever else looked interesting. My collection came together piecemeal over many summers. It was only in high school when I had a car that I started having the access to other shops in my area that my collection expanded. Until then, I reread the few books I had over and over and over again until some of them fell apart in my fingers.
I couldn’t tell you the details of his history or the exact issue when he first kissed Rogue but I can tell you that the comics with Gambit in them were some of the first to fall apart from over reading. So needless to say, I am stoked beyond all that there will FINALLY be a Gambit in the upcoming XMen movie – even if it is about Wolverine. I’ve been waiting for the franchise to get off their asses and finally incorporate the best mutant they have ever come up with into the movies. And hopefully, there will be no Rogue! YAY!
I’m not entirely sure how I feel about the changes they will inevitably make to things as important as costume and mannerisms. If he talks with that sexy Cajun accent, I’m sure I can let the pink lemme-see-yo-six-pack shirt go. Although I will be much obliged if they keep the nifty coat. All superheroes should have a nifty coat if they do not have a nifty cape, despite what it says in the Incredibles.
For all my lack of proper comic book collecting, I was one of those jerks that sat in the movie theater during the first one and had a screaming match with the screen. Yes, I did utter “THAT CAN’T HAPPEN! IN UNCANNY XMEN NUMBER 136…” Yeah… I was that jerk. What can I say, I saw it with a bunch of my uber-nerd college pals and we liked to rant. But once I pulled my head out of my ass and stopped trying to hold the adaptaions to the originals, I actualyl really liked the movies. They are fun and at least get the spirit of the XMen down, if not all the nitty gritty details that you can get out of a comic that has been going for decades.
Despite the other comic- and game-based motion picture atrocities that are coming out in 2009 (uhhh GI Joe and Street Fighter, anyone?), I am holding strong that the Wolverine movie will be fun, fairly watchable, and something I am pretty pumped on seeing. I’m sure it will piss all over Weapon X mythos but honestly, I never bought those books anyway and it has Gambit. So I am breaking from my nerd bretheren and happily welcoming the movie, if only for the fact that I get to spend a significant chunk of it drowing in my own drool. Look, bubs, there are very, very, very few times in my life when I am a girl so don’t begrudge me this one!
And hey, you never know… maybe someday I will marry Gambit! Or at least some dude at Comicon dressed like him…