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Tuesday Q&A

Tuesday Q&A: James Asmus

The writer of Gambit deals us in on the latest developments for the explosive mutant thief!

Gambit #10 preview art by Clay Mann

By Jim Beard

GAMBIT follows the adventures of Remy LeBeau, a mutant able to harness the power of kinetic energy—a description that might also describe his writer, James Asmus, a ball of energy himself.

As Asmus leads Remy into his latest sticky situation in GAMBIT #9— on sale now—we wanted to know all the details of how the writer brought the whole storyline together.

Marvel.com: James, you seem to be playing the long game with your plots by continuing to build off of points from GAMBIT #1; what's the pleasure in that for you as a writer?

James Asmus: I love the idea that Gambit would make one bad decision that could just keep branching off into new consequences, [like] thinking he could slip away and rob a criminal financier, Borya Cich for fun in GAMBIT #1. And I've loved the challenge of balancing single issue adventures as part of an ongoing series of falling dominoes. Gambit is someone who is willing to act on impulse, but who also genuinely cares about the effects of his actions. That's an interesting contrast to me, and one that I wanted to put front and center in the way I built the series.

Marvel.com: In what ways has Gambit changed—for better or for worse—since issue #1? And what can readers expect going forward?

Gambit #10 preview art by Clay Mann

James Asmus: He felt adrift when we started. Gambit realized that his life had ended up some place that felt like it belonged to someone else. This series is about letting him chase down what appeals to him—thieving, a mysterious woman, and a little high-living—to see if he can find himself again. He's been directly confronted in GAMBIT #7 and #8 by people who see the criminal and the hero in him, respectively. I don't think he's resolved that conflict, but in the latest issue, he has a little fun with that dichotomy.

And in the early parts of the series, Remy's been sucked up into this chaos. But now he's beginning to forge his own path more and more. The question, of course, is where will it lead?

Marvel.com: What's your inspiration for the character of Joelle, the lady thief? Where did she come from in your imagination?

James Asmus: My editor Daniel Ketchum had liked the idea of bringing in a thieving lady counterpart to Gambit. I was particularly interested in capturing the energy that made me so intrigued with Gambit in his early years: the fact that you weren't really sure if you trusted his motivations, or even what he said, but he was able to charm and disarm those around him.

We've learned a lot about Gambit since then, but I thought that creating that push-pull attraction and question of trust with another character would let me revive part of what I loved in early Gambit stories. From there, the actual character of Joelle has evolved some as we've gone, for a lot of reasons. But the core idea behind her and the answers to her major mysteries haven't changed.

Joelle design by Clay Mann

Marvel.com: You're using some classic super villains in the book alongside Joelle; what does a Marvel villain have to do to attract your attention to have a part in GAMBIT?

James Asmus: Marvel has so many great villains! My favorites are the ones created in the colorful, crazy 1960’s/1970’s era, but ones that could still reasonably have a bit of menace to them. The Mandrill is a great example. And Red Ghost and the Super Apes. I could go on and on.

Marvel.com: Likewise with your use of Spider-Man baddie Tombstone in issues #10 and #11; what makes him a cool character that excites you as a writer?

James Asmus: He's a legitimate tough guy whose look is genuinely intimidating. He also fits perfectly into Gambit's level of the Marvel Universe. Tombstone is a serious player in real crime, not world domination. But where our earlier villain was playing chess with Remy, Tombstone is more the relentless physical punishment type. And he's one of the rare villains whose threats I always took seriously.

Marvel.com: You’ve also got Rogue paying Remy a visit—how would you describe her current outlook towards him and how might that change in the near future?

Gambit #10 preview art by Clay Mann

James Asmus: I think at the moment, she's very worried about the trajectory he's on. I'm looking at their relationship through a few personal lenses. I've been on both sides of break-ups where one person's afraid they might've lit a self-destructive fuse in the other. These two will always care about each other, but it's never been easy. And I think she can't help but be curious if this mysterious new woman, Joelle, is pulling Gambit irreparably away.

Marvel.com: What's it like every time you see new GAMBIT pages come in from artist Clay Mann? What's the latest thing he's done that really surprised you?

James Asmus: The latest amazement was that he actually made Gambit's old 1990’s outfit look awesome! I have not been shy about the fact that I wasn't a fan of that costume. But I wrote it in to GAMBIT#9 for Clay and the fans—and right on the first page, he rocks it!

But truthfully, Clay's work is so grounded, sexy, and just plain cool that it always re-inspires me to try and inject those things into what I'm writing. His voice is a huge part of this series, even on the issues he's not drawing.
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