Gambit (1st series) #1

Issue Date: 
December 1993
Story Title: 

Howard Mackie (writer) Lee Weeks (penciler) Klaus Janson (inker) Steve Buccellato (colorist) Richard Starkings (letterer) Bob Harras (editor) Tom DeFalco (editor in chief)

Brief Description: 

Trouble brews in New Orleans when the Tithe Collector arrives. The Tithing is an ancient guild ceremony, and as the Assassins want the Tithe Collector’s gifts for themselves, they start as the killing members of the Thieves Guild. Jean-Luc, leader of the thieves, thinks that this year it should be Remy LeBeau who receives the gift. Gambit’s brother Henri LeBeau breaks into the mansion, interrupting a Danger Room session, in order to tell Remy what is going on in his home town. However shortly after his arrival he is shot by members of the Assassin’s Guild. Henri’s passing words are that things aren’t always as they seem. Gambit chases the killers down only to be confronted by his previously thought deceased brother-in-law Julien. Gambit fights the Assassins to a stand-still until suddenly Julien lets himself be penetrated by a sword, proving that he can’t be killed. The Assassins leave through a teleportation portal, though not before Julien can taunt Gambit with his sister, Gambit’s wife Bella Donna, still being alive. Against the direct warning not to come to New Orleans, Gambit decides that he has to, as it is family business. He is joined by Rogue who refuses to let him go by himself, even though finding Gambit‘s wife might end the relationship she and Gambit have just started.

Full Summary: 

A mysterious man known as the Tithe Collector walks the streets of New Orleans partially concealed by fog. He appears every seven years and stories of him are told throughout the French Quarter to frighten young children that if they behave bad the Tithe Collector will come for them. After a pair of muggers recognize him they leave in the middle of a purse snatching, commenting that this is Guild business and everyone needs to stay off the streets until he has done his business. Before they can leave a black figure with red eyes kills them with his clawed hands and stares at the blood on his hands. He says that “quick and clean“ is the way of the Assassin’s Guild and it is time for all thief families to die, so that the gift of the Tithe Collector will be theirs.

Meanwhile in Westchester, Rogue and Gambit are having a late night training session in the Danger Room as Storm and Wolverine watch on from the Control Room. Gambit uses some charged cards to free Rogue from some robotic tentacles saying that no thanks are necessary. Rogue’s reply is she didn’t need his help. As the two continue to argue Storm and Wolverine comment on the need to test their teamwork due to the couple‘s unresolved romantic issues causing tension. Storm increases the intensity level of the test.

Outside, a bald man wearing a dark blue body suit makes his way past mansion defenses, leaping over motion detectors and lasers.

As the two X-Men take down some more robots in the Danger Room, Gambit tells Rogue that life is a game and if she would give him a chance he could show her what he means. As Rogue turns to look at Gambit she group a pair of missiles heading towards Gambit. Strangely Gambit doesn’t seem to notice them, and he seems like he has his mind elsewhere. Rogue cries his name in panic, and in the control room, Storm decides to cancel the training session. Logan, however, thinks she is acting too fast. They wanted to see how the two X-men would operate under combat conditions, so they should let it play. Indeed Rogue flies over to Gambit and pushes him out of the way as the missiles explode behind them, knocking them over. Storm ends the session as Wolverine smirks that he was right. Gambit takes advantage of the situation to flirt with Rogue, before he leaves in a hurry, claiming they have to finish this later as there is an uninvited guest in the house. Rogue gets angry and punches a hole in the floor.

The mysterious intruder has by now made it into the house and silently sneaks through a corridor, when he is suddenly intercepted by Gambit, holding a charged card to the man’s throat. The stranger‘s reply is he hopes Remy is still a thief and not an assassin. Gambit recognizes the voice of the intruder and when the others arrive, he introduces them to his brother Henri LeBeau. They demand to know how he made it past the mansion’s security, why his presence wasn’t picked up by Xavier or Psylocke, and how Gambit sensed he was there, but the Cajun X-Man says that they all have their secrets and excuses himself and his brother as they have to catch up on old times.

Henri and Gambit go out to the porch to talk. As Gambit lights up a cigarette Henri tells Gambit that it is time for the Tithing and everyone has to be there including “you, hot-headed one”. Henri mentions the peace has been broken since Gambit’s last trip to New Orleans and Gambit’s brother-in-law has been stirring things up. Gambit’s eyes widen in surprise, he thought Julien, his brother-in-law, dead. In fact he saw him die. Henri replies that not all things are as they seem and nothing is more important than family. All of a sudden, an arrow hits Henri in the chest. Alerted by Gambit crying his brother’s name the other three X-Men storm outside, witnessing Henri using the last of his strength to tell Remy that it’s the Assassin’s doing. They don’t want the Tithing to take place and only he could stop them, as he has knowledge of the Assassin’s Guild. Gambit says that everything he knows about them died with Bella Donna, but Henri repeats that not all things are as they seem and Gambit needs to go see for himself. Henri’s dying words are for Gambit to take him back to their father.

Logan says that he got the attackers ‚ scent. They are two and heading to Salem Center. He is about to go after them, but Gambit says that this is something he needs to do alone. It’s a family matter. Right after he left, Rogue wants to follow, but Wolverine stops him. He knows that gambit can handle himself and that he needs to deal with this blood debt alone, actually he pities the people on the other end.<>P

In New Orleans the High Council of the Thieves Guild gathers to discuss the coming events. Jean-Luc , the head of the guild, suggests that Remy LeBeau be the one to accept the elixir this year. The others of the council disagree stating that he isn’t truly one of them and that they should wait to see if he even comes. Jean-Luc’s reply is that yes they will have to wait and see.

Meanwhile in Paris, a mysterious woman named Candra is standing on her balcony admiring the city wearing nothing but a bathrobe. She is a mutant gifted with long life, a so called External. Candra is joined by her lover Gideon and they talk about how nothing ever truly changes for them and Candra mentions how she craves some excitement and that one day soon she will get it as her plan is proceeding perfectly.

In the woods outside Salem Center, Gambit trails the assassins. After realizing they won’t lose him in the darkness of the woods they fire upon him saying they will kill him. Gambit’s reply is that they are the ones who will pay for killing his brother this night as he throws some charged cards at the pair slowing them down. However by the time Gambit catches up, the assassins have escaped into a warehouse with a steel-reinforced door. Gambit uses his mutant power to charge a toothpick, which blows the lock off the door. He notes to himself that the door would have been a problem if he weren’t a thief and a mutant. Gambit walks into the darkened warehouse and tells the assassins that he is coming for them.

Meanwhile Rogue and Wolverine wait on the porch for Gambit to return. Wolverine states Gambit will be alright as there is more to him than anyone suspects. Lost in her thoughts, Rogue answers that she loves Gambit. The two X-Men have a talk about Rogue’s feelings for Gambit. Wolverine mentions that the two remind him of Mariko and himself. Wolverine explains that while this thing is something he has to do alone, Rogue should not let him be alone again after tonight. She should not wait until everything is perfect, because for the likes of them, there is never going to be a perfect time.

Back in the warehouse Gambit finds the two assassins as well as some others. After throwing some charged cards to distract them, Gambit uses his bo staff and fighting skills to fight the group of professional killers to a stand-still saying that they will see every part of their defeat which is more than they gave his brother Henri. A man in a skintight black suit congratulates Gambit on his speech. It’s the same person who killed the two thieves before. Remy recognizes the voice, it’s Julien underneath the mask, his brother-in-law whom he believed dead. Julien taunts Gambit that he fights more like an assassin than a thief. Which one is he, Julien asks, as he explains that someone showed him death isn’t forever which means they should finish their duel. Gambit refuses saying there is no reason for it and picking up a sword, he attacks Julien for murdering Henri. During the fight Julien claims Gambit won’t be stealing his honor again, and lunges into Gambit’s sword. Gambit is shocked, but Julien isn’t dead. As the other Assassins pull him away into a glowing portal, claiming that it’s time to go, Julien states that he won’t be dying this time and he won’t stop because he is doing this for his sister Bella Donna who almost died because of Gambit. She only survived because he has taken care of her. Julien says that the assassins have the power and the thieves have the life. It is time for the assassins to have both and he will kill all the thieves to get it. His last words are a warning for Gambit to stay away from New Orleans, or he would die along the rest of his family. Left alone, Gambit is still trying to take in the news of Bella Donna being alive somehow.

Later at the mansion, Gambit is discussing what happened with Xavier, Storm, Wolverine and Rogue. Gambit says this is family business and he must go to New Orleans to settle this. Xavier protests saying the X-Men are a family and that he doesn’t like Gambit going off on his own. Wolverine offers to go with him but Gambit says this is family business. Wolverine understands but Rogue claims she is going with Gambit whether he wants her to or not. As Gambit and Rogue leave the mansion Gambit tells Rogue she better be sure about this, as he is going to see if his wife Bella Donna is alive and she may learn some things about Gambit she doesn’t want to know. Rogue states she is willing to take that risk.

In New Orleans, the Tithe Collector is still walking the streets of the French quarter.

Characters Involved: 

Gambit, Rogue, Storm, Wolverine, Professor Charles Xavier (all X-Men)

Henri LeBeau, Jean-Luc LeBeau and unnamed members of the Thieves High Council (all members of the New Orleans Thieves Guild)

Julien Boudreaux, unnamed assassins (all members of the New Orleans Assassins Guild)

Tithe Collector

Candra, Gideon (both Externals)

Story Notes: 

First and last appearance of Henri LeBeau.

First appearance of Candra.

First appearance of Jean-Luc LeBeau although his last name is not revealed until next issue.

Julien Boudreaux has been seen in flashbacks in X-Men (2nd series) #8 but this is his first appearance in the present.

Bella Donna Boudreaux first appeared in X-Men (2nd series) #8 and apparently died in X-Men (2nd series) #9 after she overused her powers to cure Ghost Rider of his Brood infection while aiding the X-Men in a fight against the Brood who were using the Guilds members as host bodies.

Mariko Yashida is Wolverine’s deceased fiancé and the love of his life. Wolverine killed her out of mercy when she was fatally poisoned in Wolverine (2nd series) #58.

This story takes place before Wolverine (2nd series)# 75 where Logan left the X-Men following the events of Fatal Attractions crossover.

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