Gambit (4th series) #6

Issue Date: 
March 2005
Story Title: 
House of Cards conclusion: Backstabber’s Rhapsody

John Layman (writer), Roger Robinson (guest penciler), James Pascoe with Don Hillsman II (inkers), Tom Chu (colors), VC’s Cory Petit (letters), Stephanie Moore & Sean Ryan (assistant editors), Mike Marts (editor), Joe Quesada (editor in chief), Dan Buckley (publisher)

Brief Description: 

Lili Penrose has Remy in mystical shackles, and is preparing to eat his heart. Before she does so, however, she asks what exactly happened to Orlean Cooper and Jack Jessup. Remy obliges her. Remy had visited Madame Camille, and watched Orlean Cooper, who they thought was a mutant, in conversation with three demons on television via a hidden camera. Cooper transformed into a demon himself, and threatened them with the power of the Inficio Aquilus - a powerful set of ancient tarot cards. When they turned out not to be the regular cards, one of the demons scorched Cooper, who wanted revenge against the person he thought had switched them; Jack Jessup. Camille tried to ensure that Remy didn’t let Jessup face Cooper, and so Remy headed off to warn him. After a brief fight, and after his warning had been delivered, Remy still left the pitiful Jessup to his fate. Lili figures she can work out the rest of the story. Remy mentions that he thought her uncle Morgan was the magician in the family. Lili explains he was, until she killed him after learning as much as she needed to. With Remy’s death, and the Inficio Aquilus that Remy has kindly brought with him, she will be formidable beyond belief. As Remy tries to offer her a final piece of advice about dealing with one’s enemies, Lili plunges a dagger into his chest. Strangely, it bends. She rips open his shirt, thinking he may be wearing Kevlar, but instead finds he has one of the tarot cards stuck to his chest. Her eyes immediately burn out, and her skin becomes blotchy and pink. Remy explains that he had Wolverine test out the cards and, though he lost his eyes, he’d get them back. He then informs her that he and the X-Men will destroy the cards, or at least render them useless. She tries to attack him, but he knocks her unconscious, and hears the police sirens outside. As he tries to leave the Penrose house, several officers aim their weapons at him and inform him that he’s going with them. Remy has other ideas.

Full Summary: 

(New Orleans)

Lili Penrose has Gambit at her mercy. He is held in place, hovering above a pentagram on the floor, by rings of energy around his wrists and ankles. Gambit asks Lili if she really wants to do this, especially after the fun they had. Lili snarls back at Remy, that she used him, and he didn’t mind it one bit. That’s the reason Orlean Cooper chose him; because they knew where his Achilles heel is actually located. She adds that they knew they could count on Jessup’s greed to trip him up, but they needed to keep Gambit stupid enough not to se the big picture. That way, they could play them against each other.

Gambit puts on a mournful face, and replies that she’s breaking his heart. Lili doubts that, and tells him she hopes not, as she needs his heart in one piece - since she plans on eating it soon.

Gambit ponders this fact, and tells Lili that Orlean needed a heart for his ritual too. What is it with black magic and heart? Remy asks. How come evil conjurer folk like Lili never take a sacrificial pancreas or pinkie-toe? Lili asks what he knows about Cooper. She says it would be his heart she was feasting on if Gambit hadn’t screwed everything up. Remy tells Lili that this is what he’s been trying to tell her. Cooper’s done for; Jessup too. She’s going to be next if she doesn’t have a change of heart. “Change of heart?” Lili replies, “Naw. Yours is gonna do just fine.” Besides, she adds; Remy’s hardly in a position to offer anybody advice.

Remy grins, and says that looks can be deceiving. He informs Lili that he took care of Cooper and Jessup without even raising a finger. He warns her that if she doesn’t let him go, she’ll meet the same ugly end. Holding a dagger in her right hand, she admits he has guts. In fact, she adds, he’s bought himself a few more minutes before she spills those guts all over the floor. She asks for details of Cooper and Jessup’s demise. Remy smiles again. “Lili, darlin’, I thought you’d never ask…”


Wolverine has his bags packed. He and Gambit have run a game of bait ‘n’ switch on Cooper’s criminal operations. Wolverine wasn’t exactly impressed with having to dress up in costume. That was just a run up to Remy’s real confrontation with Cooper and Jessup. Wolverine is about to leave when Remy has him do one last favor. Wolverine tells the Cajun to call someone else next time he needs it. Remy laughs.

He heads over to Madame Camille’s place. He thanks them for helping him out, but says he has to be someplace. Camille replies that if he’s planning on checking up on Cooper, he need go no further than the couch. Remy is surprised that she actually has Cooper’s place wired. Camille shows him a 92” hi-definition plasma screen with surround sound - on which is Orlean Cooper being confronted by three demons.

Interested, and intent on seeing more, Remy puts his feet up to watch proceedings at Club Orleans. Camille heads to the kitchen to microwave some popcorn, whilst Ginny snuggles up to Remy on the sofa. Remy is surprised, and even more so when she plants a kiss on his cheek. She tells him she’s not mad at him anymore. Slightly embarrassed by the situation, Remy continues to watch the screen, with Ginny on one side, and Madame Camille on the other - hogging the popcorn. Remy asks for the remote, so he can hear what is being said.

(flashback - Club Orleans)

Orlean Cooper is flanked by three demons. Their ‘spokesdemon’ is a large red guy with two horns protruding from his skull and grey tentacles in place of hair. To his side are two others, one blue one, and another with octopus-like tentacles. They inform Cooper that the master will be pleased. With this act, Cooper has secured his re-admittance into the Dark Lands. His long exile is finally at an end.

First, however, Cooper must offer up the cards to the evil one, invoking his true name, after soaking the Inficio Aquilus tarot in the blood of a freshly removed human heart. Cooper breaks him off, and replies, “Yeah yeah, that’s great - except I’m not offering these cards up to anyone. I’m keeping them for myself.”

The spokesdemon is furious. He points at Cooper and asks if he’s double-crossing them. He replies, of course he’s double-crossing them. When he returns to the nether realms, it won’t be to serve; it will be to rule. The power that the cards hold assures him of that.

(flashback - Madame Camille’s)

Camille’s face turns to surprise. She thought Cooper was a mutant; not a demon! It’s news to Gambit, too.

(flashback - Club Orleans)

Cooper begins to transform into his true self, becoming demonic in a matter of seconds. He informs the other demons that by using the cards, they are bound to him. Their power is his power, and his every command is their most fervent desire. He holds out the box containing the cards, and tells them that not only will they worship him as the new dark god of the underworld - they will lead armies in his name to raze this miserable planet into a fiery hell. It will be populated only by nightmare and terror; endless horror and eternal pain.

(flashback - Madame Camille’s)

Camille is concerned, obviously, about this turn of events. She asks Remy that if he’s about to destroy the world, shouldn’t they be stopping him instead of watching him. Remy is relaxed, and tells her it’s all under control.


Remy explains to Lili that, if you want to put something over one someone, you’ve gotta remember three things if you expect to get away with it. The first thing is never to let the mark know who set him up, or that they’re being set up. That’s the reason he and Wolverine hit all of Cooper’s operations; a frontal assault to cover the fact that they were sneaking in the back door. The sucker will never know what’s hit him.


Remy hands Alphonse the Inficio Aquilus, and tells him to head to Cooper’s office and leave his boss a little surprise. Then, he adds, Alphonse should leave town as fast as possible, and never look back.

(flashback - Club Orleans)

The three demons look at Cooper as if he’s an idiot. They ask what he’s trying to pull. The cards are not the Inficio Aquilus; they aren’t even tarot. What Cooper has is a deck of UNO cards. “The SpongeBob SquareShorts edition,” adds the spokesdemon. Cooper’s arrogance quickly turns to fear. The spokesdemon grabs Cooper’s face, and lays some hellfire on him. His whole face steams, and Cooper drops to the floor.


Gambit informs Lili Penrose that this is how Cooper got his. Seeing as how Lili planned to double-cross him as well, he thinks it shouldn’t bother her too much. He adds that the demons didn’t kill him, though. Cooper’s an exiled demon. What were they going to do? Send him back to hell? Cooper is an outcast in the netherworld. Between what he and Wolverine did to his business, and what the demons did to him, he’s ruined in this world too. Pretty much all he had left was revenge. Of course, Cooper would make a bee-line to the person he thought had switched the cards on him; the thief who was last in the same room as the cards.

(flashback - Club Orleans)

Through gritted teeth, with his blue skin now turned fiery red, Cooper can only utter, “Jessup!”


Remy informs Lili that the second thing you need to know, is that if your enemies don’t know who set ‘em up, their first instincts are to turn on each other.

(flashback - Madame Camille’s)

After witnessing Cooper’s embarrassment, Remy leaps from Madame Camille’s couch, asking if she has Jack Jessup’s place wired too. He wants to see this. Camille tells Remy that Cooper’s a demon. He’s got ways to hurt people they can’t even comprehend, and he’s after Jessup because Remy set him up. It’s no better than Remy having murder Jessup himself! She adds that Cooper’s gonna kill him, and make him feel like he’s dying a thousand deaths while he’s doing it.

Remy appears unconcerned. After all, Jessup is the slime that murdered Dan Downs. Camille appreciates that, but she tells Remy that he needs to be the better man here. She uses the old tactic of asking if Remy has ever done anything wrong; if he ever needed a second chance to right the wrong he did. He needs to take the high road.

Gambit folds his arms. He doesn’t like it, but he knows Camille makes sense. Still, he replies that there’s no way. Jessup should get what’s coming to him. Camille’s expression says it all.

(Jessup’s apartment)

Gambit enters through the window, and finds Jessup is ready and waiting for him. He has two pistols hidden behind his back. He had a feeling Gambit would show up here. He unleashes both barrels at Remy, who leaps to the right as the floorboards are destroyed beneath him. He takes cover behind a wall, and charges the ace of spades. Suddenly, it fizzles out, and Jessup informs Gambit that he’s sporting a vest acquired from some ex-S.H.I.E.L.D laboratory egghead. It dampens mutant powers within a 50-foot radius.

Remy comes out, and puts his hands in the air. Jessup asks him how much fight Gambit has in a level playing field. Gambit tells Jessup that he’s not there to fight him. Jessup says he thought he’d change his tune. Without his super powers, Gambit doesn’t have the skills to beat him. Gambit tells him that he’s in danger. Jessup ignores the warning, and mentions that Gambit reminds him of the guy he lifted the prototype vest from. He was gonna pay him with money he stole from Remy’s apartment, but killing him was much easier. Gambit asks him to shut up for just a minute as Cooper’s on his way, but Jessup can’t help it. He’s got Gambit at his mercy, and wants to relish the moment.

Jessup asks about Cooper. “What’s one more piece of mutie trash?” He tells Remy to bring him on. With the mutant energy dampener he has, they’re about as dangerous as a pair of angry poodles. He’ll just kill him, like he did the scientist. He’ll make him beg for mercy and cry like a little girl. Then he’ll kill him anyway… just for laughs; just like he did with Dan Downs. Despite Remy’s inner voice telling him not to, he continues his warning. He tells Jessup that he submits to his superior intellect. It’s a good plan, he tells him. It’d be even better if Cooper was a mutant! Except he isn’t - he’s a demon.

The surprise causes Jessup to lose concentration for a split-second, providing Gambit with the opportunity to charge him. He kicks him forcefully in the chest, causing the prototype jacket to short-circuit. Jessup lies semi-conscious on the carpet. Gambit tells him that Cooper’s in a really bad mood, with not a lot left to lose. He’s blaming everything on him. “Good luck with that.” Gambit leaps from the window and into the night.

Jack Jessup rises, and wonders what he’s gonna do now. A voice behind him says hello. Jessup turns, and the last thing he sees is Orlean Cooper’s demonic form. Remy strolls away, hearing the scream. “So much for the high road.”


Lili thinks she can figure out the rest of it. She’s just curious how he knew she was aligned with Cooper. The still helpless Remy replies that he didn’t. That’s what he came there to find out. He didn’t know for sure until she walloped him upside his head with a bolt of magical energy, and he woke up mystically hog-tied. Looking at the box containing the Inficio Aquilus, he adds that he thought Uncle Morgan was supposed to be the magician of the family.

Lili informs him that Morgan tried to keep her away from his dealings with the occult; that’s why she needed him to steal the cards and take the fall for it. However, she managed to learn a trick or two from him, nonetheless, and in the end she taught him a lesson, by killing him. Gambit says that at least Morgan had enough brains to keep the tarot deck under lock and key, and not mess with them. The cards are powerful, evil and dangerous.

Lili plays with the dagger, and replies that’s why it was extremely stupid of Remy to bring the cards with him. The cards, and his sacrifice, will make her formidable beyond belief. Remy says she really doesn’t want to be doing this. Besides, he adds, he had three pieces of advice for her. Doesn’t she want to hear the last of it? Not particularly, she replies. She thinks he’s bluffing or stalling. Either way, she’s had enough. With all her might, she plunges the dagger into his chest. “Just shut up and die, already!”

To Lili’s amazement, the dagger bends and Remy remains in the land of the living. She asks what’s going on. Is he wearing some kind of Kevlar under his shirt, or does he have something else under there. She rips his shirt open, despite Remy telling her she’s making a big mistake. As the shirt falls open, she reels in horror and her eyes burn out immediately. She falls to the floor, screaming.

With her concentration gone, Remy’s mystical shackles disappear, and he casually steps down from the pentagram. Clutching her face, Lili asks what he’s done. She looks up. Her face is pink and blotchy, and her eyes are missing. “What have you done?!” Remy says that he tried to tell her, but she wouldn’t listen to his third piece of advice - always keep an ace in the hole. On his chest is one of the cards from the Inficio Aquilus. It is the ‘Incognizable,’ card, and Remy explains that just one of the cards is powerful and primal enough to blind anybody looking at them. Looks like it did a little more than that.

Lili asks how he found the right one and survived. Remy tells her that was his other ace in the hole. He asks if she remembers the friend who did him one last favor. For this friend, blindness just happens not to be an obstacle.


Wolverine hands Remy the card, telling him that it’s the one he’s looking for. His face looks like Lili’s, and his eyes are gone. He’s in pain, but he’ll heal.


As she can’t see anymore, Lili asks Remy what he’s doing. He has a small flask, containing a little mixture he’s concocted of holy water and hydrochloric acid. Lili calls him an idiot. He can’t destroy the cards like that. Remy knows that, but at least it’ll dull their power for a while. Then, he can get them to Westchester. He’s got a buddy who can freeze anything to a shade just above absolute zero. He’s another who can blast through more than two feet of solid steel, and a few that can bench press a Sherman tank without breaking sweat. If they can’t destroy these so-called indestructible cards, he’s got no doubts their combined efforts can mangle them into origami. He pours the mixture onto the cards, which fizzle and steam.

Lili screams, and makes a bee-line for him, but she is easily swept aside and knocked unconscious. He tells her she’s finished. Sirens are heard outside. Camille and Ginny called the cops just as soon as they saw he had the situation under control. He looks into a hidden camera and thanks them for the assist, blowing them a kiss. “Mwah.”

Remy answers a knock on the door, and he is greeted by two of N.O.P.D’s finest. Remy informs them that they’re in the right place. The girl in the far room is Lili Penrose. She’s killed her uncle. She did a bit of magical hoo-doo that literally blew up in her face and stirred up a whole heap of trouble. If they don’t mind, the world’s safe from bad guys, and he’s had a looong night. He trusts them to sort it out.

As he strolls off, the cop’s double-take and one of them suddenly calls for him to stop. They can’t just let a mutie just stroll away when they’ve got a dead body in one room and a mutilated woman in the other. Remy is surrounded by several officers, all of them armed. “You’re coming with us,” says one. Remy charges three cards, smiles, and says, “Oh, is that what you think?”

Characters Involved: 


Lili Penrose

Madame Camille and Genevieve D’Aubigne

Orlean Cooper

Three demons

Jack Jessup

Residents of New Orleans

N.O.P.D cops

(on monitors)


Orlean Cooper


(in flashback)

Gambit, Wolverine (both X-Men)


Morgan Penrose

Story Notes: 

SpongeBob SquareShorts is a play on SpongeBob SquarePants; a popular cartoon character. He’s a sponge… who wears shorts.

The master demon mentioned is presumably the one featured in Gambit (4th series) #2.

Origami is the (originally Japanese) art of paper folding.

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