Characters Appearing: Angel, Black Widow, Gambit, Ghost Rider (Johnny Blaze), Hercules, Iceman, MODOK, Rampage, Spat
Gambit and the Champions: From the Marvel Vault #1
Issue(s): Gambit and the Champions: From the Marvel Vault #1
George Tuska did everything. And we mean everything. His career spanned from 1930s into the 21st century, He wrote, penciled and inked comics from mystery to romance to westerns and, yes, super heroes. He was there for Timely and Atlas before there was Marvel, worked on both sides of the Big Two, and there were few major characters he left untouched. When the art boards for his never-before-seen last issue were unearthed in our archives, we knew there was something precious here, and too cool to leave unpublished.
Based on the nature of this issue, the credits i've listed are somewhat suspect. I don't know if Tuska really had already inked this issue or if it was just shot and colored directly from his pencils as they do with a lot of modern comics. Tuska is just credited as "artist" but the UHBMCC and GCD both list him as penciler and inker. It also doesn't seem like Lobdell was the original plotter; he was just called in to script it in 2011. So the writing credits are incomplete. I don't know what this might have originally been intended for. Paul O'Brien speculates that it might have been intended as an inventory story for the 1999 Gambit series, which would mean that Fabian Nicieza was likely the original plotter. That would also mean that Tuska was at least 83 years old when he was drawing this.
The issue begins with a young Gambit observing the Champions fighting Rampage (probably meant to be the battle during Champions #7).
Gambit mentions being raised by thieves guild in New Orleans and is already wanted by Interpol at this point. He's observing the Champions because his client wants a Scroll of Vishnota that Warren Worthington (aka the Angel) is giving away. It's a scroll that was part of Warren's father's estate, but Warren wants to give it back to the country of origin.
It took me a while to recognize her even after i heard the name, but Gambit's client is Spat, of Spat and Govel "fame" (hey, they got action figures). Spat knows that Gambit is a mutant.
Someone else wants the scroll, too: MODOK.
If that "pie hole" comment looks incongruous, it's Scott Lobdell trying to be funny. It's part of a running joke about how MODOK can read minds...
...so most of his lackeys know to constantly think happy thoughts around him.
Warren's scroll give away is part of a gala event, featuring Brad Pitt courtesy of the Sliding Timescale.
Spat infiltrates the back room and knocks out Angel...
...while Gambit fakes his way into the party as a guest. Then MODOK attacks.
Despite the fact that Lobdell plays him like a joke, MODOK has a decent showing, using his mental powers to force the Champions to fight Hercules.
Gambit uses the opportunity to try to steal the scroll...
...but an appeal from Black Widow...
...convinces him to do the right thing.
Multiple reviewers have commented on the fact that it doesn't seem like Tuska understood how Gambit's powers worked, since we don't see the charged items exploding.
Other reviewers have also commented on this, but i really want to emphasize it. Say what you will about Tuska's art. It would have looked dated in 1999, let alone 2011. But the very fact that it was possible to coherently script this just from the art, and it is a coherent story, is entirely thanks to the fact that Tuska was an old school professional that knew how to tell a story with his art. That's true of nearly all of the "old timers" that i review on this site and i do think it's something that gets lost for various reasons in later years. What i'd really like to see is this kind of storytelling with a more modern look (and modern scripting that isn't by Scott Lobdell).
Lobdell does have to use the script to cover for the fact that Gambit's stubble disappears for Warren's party (which makes sense)...
...and the fact that Gambit's tuxedo suddenly disappears during the fight (which is weirder).
The original plotter took care to keep the X-Characters Angel and Iceman from meeting Gambit. Iceman is not around during the festivities (Lobdell says he's off doing homework), and Angel is knocked out by Spat.
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: The MCP have this occurring during Champions #7 (before Rampage is crippled in issue #8). I have a number of issues that take place during my Champions #1-10 trade place placed directly afterwards, and this is now among them. I should also note that the narration for this issue is set up as a retrospective, and at one point Gambit parenthetically mentions the Utopia set-up that was the status quo for the X-Men in 2011...
...but for the purposes of placement i'm ignoring that and placing this where the story actually takes place.
Per Jeff's comment below, MODOK lost control of AIM during the War of the Supervillains (which roughly speaking ran from Iron Man #74-81, May-Dec 75). In Iron Man annual #4 (Aug 77) we see that MODOK has regained control of a faction of AIM, but they wear blue uniforms, setting up the civil war in AIM that we see in the Ms. Marvel series. So the fact that MODOK is appearing here - in between War of the Supervillains and the Iron man annual, and with AIM agents in yellow costumes, might seem problematic at first glance. But in the annual, MODOK has already regained control of his faction of AIM, so he could have already done that by this story, and they just hadn't yet begun wearing the blue costumes to distinguish themselves. It's also the case that Iron Man has to explain MODOK to the Champions in the Iron Man annual, which might seem unnecessary if they've already met them here. But just because he has more info about them doesn't contradict the idea that they've met him before.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Sort of nice to see the Champions end up fighting among themselves (and relying on a guest star) once more. That has become a theme, almost a duty for the group. A bit sad, considering how little they lasted.
But boy, this sounds like a completely unnecessary story.
Posted by: Luis Dantas | February 12, 2015 9:20 PM
But the very fact that it was possible to coherently script this just from the art, and it is a coherent story, is entirely thanks to the fact that Tuska was an old school professional that knew how to tell a story with his art.
fnord, thanks for articulating George Tuska's strengths. While I doubt that I will ever rank Tuska among my all-time personal favorites, I certainly have to acknowledge that he was a good, solid artist who knew how to tell a clear story and consistently meet deadlines. At his worst Tuska was still a very competent penciler.
I met Tuska in 2003 at the Pittsburgh Comicon. He seemed very frail, but he was doing sketches. I asked him to draw a Captain America, and he did a pretty nice one for me in my sketchbook. After it was done, George's wife then informed me that it was his 87th birthday. I looked at the drawing and thought to myself "This guy draws better at 87 years old then I will ever be able to do in my entire life."
Posted by: Ben Herman | April 17, 2016 12:10 PM
Piggy-backing on my comment from yesterday on another issue ... if MODOK has AIM scientists with him they should be in blue since this is meant to be after he was ousted during War of the Super Villains. But I think that's an easy mistake to make because the blue v yellow AIM wasn't exactly the highest of profile storylines at Marvel.
Posted by: Jeff | April 26, 2017 11:32 AM
Comments are now closed.
|SuperMegaMonkey home | Comics Chronology home|