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Gambit and Longshot
Topic Started: Jun 19 2014, 11:46 AM (1,141 Views)
Erick Von Erich
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I'm Big E and I tell it like it is
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Here's something I remembered when moving some shit around, recently. I'm hoping some of you guys who dig X-men will get in on this.

In 1990, when Gambit first debuted with the X-Men, I absolutely thought he would be a new version of Longshot-- the weird other-dimensional guy with luck powers who would throw little knives.

Back up a bit to 1989 when the X-men were slowly being dissolved. In 1988, just one year before, they had the "Australian Outback X-Men", which consisted of:

-Wolverine
-Storm
-Colossus
-Rogue
-Psylocke
-Havok
-Dazzler
-Longshot

With Madelyne Pryor, Gateway and (towards the end) Jubilee as secondary cast members.

This was basically 4 of the "classic 80's" team (Wolverine, Storm, Colossus and Rogue) with 4 new arrivals. Sure, Havok was there in the late 60's.... but not much was done with him.

Anyways, in the middle of 1989, the X-men began dropping off. Storm was seemingly "killed", Wolverine had his own series and Longshot simply wandered off. The rest of the team went through the "Siege Perilous" (a second time), although Rogue had been sucked in, earlier. The four that went through were: Dazzler, Havok, Psylocke and Colossus.

Wolverine got the crap kicked out of him by the Reavers, then partnered off with Jubilee to go find the rest of the team. Madelyne did a heel turn into the "Goblin Queen" in late 1988. Gateway... sat on his hill.

The plot intent was that all the X-men would slowly re-appear over the next year or so, even being teased in the letters column. Psylocke first re-appeared in Japan, where she was subjected to a body swap by the Mandarin and became the modern "Ninja Psylocke".

Colossus re-appeared a few issues later, now a passive artist living in NYC, as 1989 came to a close.

In 1990, Havok re-appeared in Genosha, as a member of the anti-mutant Magistrates (and a lead-in to the "Extinction Agenda" storyline).

Shortly before that, Storm came back--as a young kid living on the streets. Which is when she met Gambit.

Now, you can see how they were slowly re-introducing the X-men. Unlike an Avengers roster one-issue "Old Order Changeth", X-men rosters under Chris Claremont were usually a gradual change.

Which is why I thought, when Gambit debuted, that he'd eventually be revealed as the new and improved Longshot. He threw little charged knives like Longshot did and his eye would emit a star, just like Longshot. Wolverine even thought "kid's moves remind me of Longshot".

Longshot hadn't been heard from since he disappeared in early 1989, so it made perfect sense. Longshot as an X-man wasn't popular, so Gambit seemed like a way to update him.

But, by the time Summer 1991 rolled around, Claremont was either let go/fired or quit Marvel, depending on who you want to believe/like. It seems like he never got around to officially re-introducing Longshot and Dazzler. Fans soon began to think that they were tied together--and they were when a different creative team finally re-introduced them in 1992.

After Claremont's abrupt departure, a new hodge-podge creative team was brought in. Obviously, they didn't have the same long term plan, so whatever may have been planned for Gambit/Longshot from 1989, wasn't happening in 1991.

Marvel went with their new super-X-team consisting of just about everybody but Havok. This was the famous team that landed a FOX cartoon in 1992, toyline in 1991 and, eventually, led to the 2000 blockbuster movie. A TON of modern X-men fans joined on at this point. Gambit seemed COOL and that was all that was needed. Why should we care about a forgotten connection to a weird totally 80's character with a mullet and leather jacket?

Now, I've heard some joking modern interview from Claremont, where he sez: "Gambit: one shot character. Will probably have him get killed by a bus in 3 issues". Har har.



The point is: while Gambit and Longshot are completely different characters nowadays, in 1990 it seemed like they were the same. There are even some old (1991) "rec.comics" newsgroup posts that talk about this same thing.
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SamoaRowe
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Only took me three years or so to see this. Interesting take, not a story I was familiar with (I've read a lot of X-Men comics in my time, but those late 80's arcs are a blank spot to me). Gambit was an established part of the team when I first discovered X-Men as a kid, so I never questioned his origins. I was always fond of Dazzler and sad that she was "out of the rotation" so to speak.
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Erick Von Erich
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I think Chris Claremont was a big fan of Dazzler, even though he didn't create her. Claremont seemed to be progressive in his writing, as he really liked to latch on to female characters and make them prominent (Storm, Kitty, Jean as Phoenix, I think he even developed Colleen Wing and Misty Knight).

Became one of his trademarks. Even when he did the (fairly terrible) "Sovereign Seven" for DC in the mid-90's, the most interesting and powerful characters in that title were female (Cascade, Network, Finale, plus the androgynous Indigo).

Anyhoo, about Gambit. Check out Uncanny X-men #277. Gambit and Wolverine are sparring and the hints of Longshot are quiet noticeable. I think this is where Wolverine makes the comparison to Longshot and also where one of Gambit's eyes glows into a star.

Claremont also seemed to be fond of dropping little hints. For instance, in no less than Sabretooth's first-ever appearance in "Iron Fist" in the mid-70's, Fist thinks to himself: "such savagery. He reminds me of Wolverine. Could there be a connection?" Sabretooth made a few random appearances as a generic villain (including jobbing to the Black Cat) until Claremont got ahold of him again in the 1986/87 "Mutant Massacre". That's when Sabretooth's popularity took off...but I'm getting off track.

The X-men arcs around 1989 to 1991 were mostly "getting the band back together". Forge and Banshee also joined the "search" for the others. Jean Grey even came back for a spell. Professor X was off in space with Lilandra the whole time. X-tinction Agenda in late 1990 into 1991 sorta' reunited the team and they spent the next few months bringing Professor X back into the fold, eventually reaching the status quo of the "blue and gold teams" that became the blueprint for 90's X-men. It's funny, as fundamental to the X-men as Professor X is, he was basically written out of the series from about 1986 to 1991.

When the FOX cartoon hit in late 1992, I was a little surprised that Gambit was chosen as one of the main characters. He'd been around a little less than 2 years.

I still think Gambit was originally intended to be Longshot, though. But that's one of those things like "the original plan for Star Wars was to have ____ and ___ ", but those things didn't transpire, so it's not like they're important. Artists and writers change things as they develop their ideas over time (see also: Dave Cockrum's "pre-X-men" prototypes in Legion of Super Heroes). Happens in all creative mediums, not just comics. Still kinda' fun to talk about, however.
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