- Name: Remy LeBeau
- Code Names: Gambit
- First Appearance: Uncanny X-Men Annual #14 (July ’90)
- Powers: Can charge objects with kinetic energy, southern charm
- Teams Affiliation: X-Men, Marauders, X-Factor, Horsemen
When I was 10 Sonic Adventure 2 Battle came out. That game introduced a dark brooding version of Sonic the Hedgehog creatively named Shadow the Hedgehog. He was the coolest thing for a 10-year-old boy who thought he was too old for kid stuff. He was the bad attitude of Knuckles mixed with the fact that the Sonic parts of the Adventure series were the only parts worth playing. By the time Sega decided to give him his own game, complete with guns, motorcycles, explosions, and such mature language as “damn” I was 14 and had realized how misguided my younger self had been. Change the franchise, change the characters, but I think every 10-year-old kid has experienced something like this. The character built by a committee to be “cool” that you fall for. Sometimes you look back and shake your head, like with Shadow, but other times you can reminisce and think “Man, Gambit is still pretty great”.
Remy LeBeau was an orphan raised in New Orleans by the Thieves’ Guild. They taught him the family trade, lock-picking, pick-pocketing, and charm. His mutant ability to charge objects with kinetic energy gave him an upper hand and his reputation as a master thief quickly grew. The Thieves’ Guild had bad blood with the Assassins’ Guild, another family in the dark, Louisianan underbelly, but his father Jean-Luc LeBeau had a plan. Remy would be wed to Belladonna Boudreaux, the daughter of the head of the Assassins’ Guild. Finally, peace would come to these families, that is if Belladonna ‘s brother didn’t challenge Remy to a duel at the reception. Remy killed Julien and left the bayou to avoid further bloodshed between the families.
Remy took the name Gambit and began working odd jobs as a thief. This got the attention of Mr. Sinister who enlisted Gambit in putting together a team. There were tunnels under New York City, vast labyrinths where disfigured mutants known as the Morlocks lived, and Sinister wanted to know more about them. He had Gambit form a team and the master thief led them to the tunnels. Mr. Sinister hadn’t told Remy LeBeau the whole truth, the mission was less to learn and more to exterminate. Gambit found this out when the team of mutants he recruited began massacring the mutants gathered in the tunnels. He tried to stop it, tried to save the Morlocks, but Gambit was no match for the marauding monsters. He made his escape with only a single young Morlock girl in tow.
Gambit tried to forget the bloodshed he caused and returned to a life of thieving. After some time, he met a young girl named Ororo in Cairo, Illinois. She was a talented pick-pocket and the two thieves decided to work together. Memories came rushing back to Ororo and she was drawn to Westchester, New York. Gambit followed her to a demolished mansion where he met the X-Men Banshee and Forge. They explained that the pre-teen Ororo was a deaged version of their leader, Storm, and they were searching for the rest of the missing X-Men. With little better to do, Gambit followed these costumed mutants and soon joined the reunited X-Men in earnest.
With the addition of Gambit and several other mutants, the X-Men were too large to remain a single team. Gambit was assigned to Cyclops’ Blue team where he grew close to a very special young lady. Her name was Rogue. She had the charm of a Southern Belle and packed a punch like a steam engine. Their relationship was tough, Rogue mutant power didn’t allow anyone to touch her, and Gambit was not used to refraining from the pleasures of the flesh. For her though, he would wait. Their courtship was complicated, however, by the return of Remy’s vengeful wife.
Belladonna demanded that her absentee husband return to New Orleans and end the war between the Thieves’ and Assassins’ Guilds. In the Big Easy, the X-Men discovered that both guilds were being attacked, not by each other, but by the parasitic aliens known as the Brood. In the sewers of New Orleans, alongside Ghost Rider, they beat back the invaders at a cost. While Belladonna and Remy made peace with their failed marriage, Belladonna was killed by a Brood. Gambit returned his wife to her father Marius and left his home behind him again.
Rogue was uneasy about this revelation but and tried to unravel the mystery that was Gambit. They tried to find peace with each other. When Gambit discovered Belladonna was alive in a coma, Rogue followed her man back to New Orleans. When Belladonna awoke and sought revenge on Rogue, Gambit stood by Rogue’s side. They had found a way to make this bizarre relationship work. When all of reality looked as if it was about to end, they embraced. For the first time, and possibly the last, they kissed, filled with passion and fire as the world collapsed around them. The world didn’t end though. The kiss left Gambit in a coma and filled Rogue with glimpses of the horrible things Gambit had done. She couldn’t bear to face him anymore and left the X-Men.
When Gambit awoke, he tried finding Rogue, but his lover rebuffed him and Gambit decided to let her go. He stayed with the X-Men who, along with Rogue, ended up stranded in Antarctica. An old robotic caretaker of Magneto’s captured the X-Men and Gambit was put on trial by a figure known as Eric the Red. Eric revealed Gambit’s role in the Morlock massacre, much to the horror of his teammates. Many of them had seen first-hand what the Marauders had done to the Morlocks and were disgusted that Gambit had any role in it. Rogue couldn’t believe that man she loved was responsible for this and left him alone in the freezing Antarctic wasteland.
The ever-resourceful Cajun found a way to survive in the cold and made his way back stateside. He worked his way back into the X-Men’s good graces and even reconciled with Rogue. Rogue was recruited by Storm (who had long since stopped being a child) to hunt for the Destiny Diaries and she forbade Gambit to join them. He returned to thievery but quickly crossed paths with Storm’s team. The perfect human specimen Vargus went after Rogue, believing that she would kill him. He tried killing Rogue with his oversized broadsword but Gambit jumped in the way. As a result, they were both stabbed, so the plan kinda failed.
Though injured, they survived at the expense of their mutant powers. Thankful for their second chance at life, Remy and Rogue retired from the X-Men and decided to live a normal life together. Normal and X-Men rarely go hand in hand and the two were embroiled in a plot that ended with Sage jump starting their powers. Almost immediately after Gambit went blind in a fight, only to have his eyes fixed by Sage (because if there is one thing Sage is good for it is fixing Chuck Austen’s bad ideas). The couple returned to the school and Remy began teaching a small group of students. One of those students, a girl named Foxx, tried to initiate a carnal relationship with Gambit. He refused and Foxx revealed herself to be Rogue’s mother, Mystique. Gambit refused to sleep with Mystique but neglected to tell Rogue, a move that would drive a wedge between the couple.
After M-Day, the ancient mutant Apocalypse sought out the X-Men to join him in his plan of mutant domination. Gambit, feeling ignored and lost, decided to join Apocalypse and become his Horseman of Death. He battled the X-Men but was beaten and taken into hiding by his fellow Horseman Sunfire. Sunfire brought him to Mr. Sinister who cured him of Apocalypse’s influence at a cost. Gambit was to work for Sinister and lead his Mauraders. He assisted in weakening the X-Men in the days before the birth of Hope by destroying Cable’s mutant nation of Providence. Mystique was also working with Sinister and had shot and captured Rogue. Gambit stood by his lover’s side, hoping to find a solution to the mess he was in.
Gambit made a bold play to save Rogue, he stole the wee baby Hope and used her to heal Rogue. Rogue was disgusted that Gambit would risk the first mutant born after M-Day to save her life and left him yet again. Gambit wandered after that until he crossed paths with Charles Xavier. Chuck was trying to make good on a promise he had made to Rogue and was setting off on a quest to help her control her powers. Considering he had a vested interest in being able to touch Rogue, Gambit followed. He and Xavier helped Rogue and she remembered that deep down inside Gambit was the cad she had fallen in love with. They shared their first kiss in years.
They joined the X-Men in Utopia and followed Wolverine back to Westchester after the Schism. Rogue started spending more time with her Avengers friends and Gambit returned to his first love, breaking and entering. Wolverine wasn’t happy with a teacher of his being such a scoundrel and Gambit decided to take Polaris up on an offer to join the corporate superhero team X-Factor. When that folded, Gambit went back to freelancing. He helped his fellow X-Men when he could but stayed on his own. Currently, the ragin’ Cajun is partnered with Fantomex, committed to a European grand tour of thieving.
Here is the thing about Gambit, his stories aren’t that great. He works well as a supporting character but doesn’t shine in the spotlight. That being said, Jim Lee discovered the right combination by mixing up Gambit, the Big Easy, the Brood, and Ghost Rider in Brood Trouble in the Big Easy, a cross over between 1991 sensations X-Men and Ghost Rider. This isn’t a deep story but is a ton of fun and adds some mystery and depth to Gambit that wasn’t there before. To quote the great Chris Sims it’s “that time Gambit’s wife showed up and dragged everyone into a crossover with Ghost Rider where they fought aliens”. It’s less than $2 for the first issue so go ahead and check it out.
I rag on Gambit a lot but the bottom line is Gambit is still pretty great. Unlike Shadow the Hedgehog I still get the appeal of Gambit. He is a charming rogue who throws exploding playing cards because he understands how powerful a good gimmick can be. His relationship with Rogue is a constant source of drama for the books and he lends himself to be a very fun character. He has the depth and appeal that a lot of characters don’t. Gambit is not as good as his girl Rogue but he is probably better than Doop. Psylocke is able to better adapt outside of the 90’s which puts Gambit in a tight number 8 spot on the Xavier Files.
Gambit was requested by Ninja Josh on Patreon among other. Thank you for the request and the support. If you have a request for how about you send it below? If you want to cut to the front of the two-year long line, like Ninja Josh did, we have a Patreon you can support Xavier Files for just $1 to get a line cutting reward.
Make sure you check out my brand new podcast BATTLE OF THE ATOM. It’s where Bish & Jubez creator Adam Reck and I talk about every single X-Men story that ever existed and rank them from best to worst. You can check out our 0 Episode now where I explain the show. The first real episode will go up 8/7 but that episode is already for Patreon backers. We are starting with God Loves, Man Kills, God Loves, Man Kills II, and that Doop issue of Wolverine & the X-Men. Make sure you subscribe on any of the following platforms (or others, I’m not picky) Apple Podcasts | Google Play | Stitcher | RSS.
Next week all will rise for the queen. Emma Frost joins the Xavier Files.