LeBeau. Remy LeBeau.

Although I consider myself an X-Men fan, I don't usually go out and buy the comics as they come out. Some might say that places me low on the totem pole of X-Fan geekiness...but whatever, I was never one to care what other people thought of me. In any case, I tend to read summaries/spoilers on my mailing lists (Southern Comfort and Gambit Guild) as new storylines are introduced in the comics, and if I like what I hear, I'll purchase the trade paperback when it comes out.

***For anyone who doesn't know what a trade paperback (or TPB) is, it's a collection of comics in book form, usually centered around a particular storyline. For example, the series I'm about to bitch about is available in two TPBs - one containing the first six issues that cover "House of Cards," first storyline, and the other containing the last six issues that cover three separate storylines. ***

That said, I was really looking forward to reading Gambit's most recent series (2004-2005). From what I remember reading about it on the Gambit Guild mailing list, the general consensus was that it was very good - well written, interesting plot, and Gambit was actually in character. It was said that the series didn't take itself too seriously, and wasn't above poking fun at itself, but there's no shame in that. It sounded like it had potential...

But I when I finally got my hands on the TBPs in question, I found that I disagree with a lot of what I've read. In fact, I even went back and read through some of those e-mails (yes, I know, this seems odd...I save everything...) to confirm the amount of praise some Gambit fans gave the series. And just as I remembered, I found glowing reviews. This puzzles me.

On one hand, just like The End, I did enjoy parts of the series. It was relatively well written, and though there was some unnecessary silliness, it was all in good fun. As for Gambit's character...I disagree with my peers. I don't know if it's because I want Remy to be a good guy deep down, or because there's truly a problem with the way he was written. I felt like the Remy in these books was much younger than the one we see in the comics today...very immature. Since joining the X-Men, he's grown, changed...which is not to say that he's not a flirt and doesn't have questionable morals (he is a thief, after all...though I should point out that he does have his own set of morals, admittedly different from the average guy). But, like all of us, life experience has molded him into something different than he was before those experiences. The Gambit portrayed here is the "old" Gambit, one that I would expect during his early days in the X-Men...before seriously pursuing Rogue, before having to deal with the loss of his powers, before being blinded. The arrogance, and sometimes carelessness, we see in him here is that of a younger man.

Actually, this Remy LeBeau reminds me ever so slightly of James Bond. Seriously. And my mom is a huge Bond fan, so I can only assure you that I'm able to spot Bond-ish behavior from miles away...

Which brings me to "The Great Lili Debate," if I may call it such. In the first issue of the series, Lili hires Remy to steal the Inficio Aquilus, an extraordinarily powerful set of tarot cards, from her uncle. I won't deny him some flirtation...I know what he's like, and have faith in his love for Rogue. And Rogue knows how he is...it's not unusual for him to charm some girl or another to get what he wants (that wasn't meant to be sexual, so any of you who were thinking that, get your minds outta the gutter!). I don't even object to him kissing Lili, because he does so to trick Orlean Cooper, a dangerous gangster, into thinking that he's on a date. No problem there.

However, I do have some serious issues with him cheating on Rogue. If he did. Truth is, no one knows for sure. The evidence could go either way...and so, I'll present you with the evidence, and allow you to come to your own conclusion. And then I'll tell you mine...because if you're reading this, you're probably interested in my take on it.

Below is an issue-by-issue list of whatever evidence is presented to us. Anything in quotes (other than references to "the incident") is taken directly from the text.

Gambit #3 - After breaking into Lili's uncle's house (during a dinner party, no less), Gambit deactivates the security cameras...at which point Lili shows up and "the incident" occurs. I've scanned the two pages covering the scene. Click here to view them.

Gambit #5 - As Remy is being tortured by a member of the Assassin's Guild, he imagines himself in his "happy place," which, amongst other things, involves "a night on the town with my best girl." At first, he envisions himself with Lili, then corrects himself, and replaces her image with that of Rogue.

After being rescued by Wolverine, Remy recuperates in his friend Madame Camille's house. When her daughter Ginny (who has a crush on Gambit) pretty much slugs him with an ice pack, he asks what the problem is...and learns about the videotape. Madame Camille has video surveillance cameras all over the city of New Orleans, presumably so she can blackmail clients who come to her to have their fortunes read. Apparently, one of them has caught Remy doing whatever it was he did with Lili. Madame Camille makes the following statements about his actions: "That fun you had with that little blonde hard-body, Lili Penrose the night of that dinner party - you remember that, don't you? You know, right after you thought you disabled the videotape surveillance cameras? You're a dog, Remy LeBeau, plain and simple. Just like all men, and considerably worse than most. Paris Hilton ain't got nuthin' on you, baby."

Gambit #6 - Kidnapped and tied up by Lili, Gambit tries to convince her to let him go, "You sure you know what you're doin'? After all the fun we had, you goin' screw it up with something like this?"

She responds with, " 'Fun'?! I got news for you - I used you. And you didn't mind one bit."

Are they talking about the robbery or the alleged fling? Hard to tell...

Gambit #8 - Remy tries to gently convince Ginny that he's not interested in her as anything more than a friend. He tells her that, "Right now, I'm not exactly on the market." When she brings up Lili Penrose, he replies, "That...that was a mistake, chere. Truth is, the relationship I'm in ain't always perfect, an' Lili caught me when my adrenaline was up and my guard was down. I shouldn'ta done that..." He goes on to say that "There's only one girl out dere for me..." But their conversation is cut short when zombies attack.

Gambit #9 - Ginny makes copies of the videotape of Remy and Lili, and mails one to Rogue and one to Bella Donna.

Gambit #10 - After Ginny called him to admit that she mailed a copy of the tape to Rogue (as forced to by her mother), Remy returns to the mansion to get his hands on it before Rogue sees it. Unfortunately, he's roped into playing mentor to three students who have been caught stealing answers to an exam. He ends up enlisting their help to break into Rogue's room. In response to their whispers about him "starring in a dirty movie," he says, "I told you, it's not a dirty movie! It's a surveillance video, and it just happened to catch a very mixed-up, very aggressive woman who was, uh...determined to compromise my integrity. And, uh...as such, it's not something I want falling into the wrong hands. Or anybody's hands, for that matter."

Before he's able to find a way in, Cyclops makes him go with the other X-Men to deal with some situation in Manhattan. When they get back, Emma tells him that Rogue is sending out thoughts strong enough to give any telepath in the area a headache. Thinking that she has found the tape, Gambit slumps on a bench...but his three students find him and excitedly hand it over, explaining how they hacked into the computer system to break into Rogue's room. To thank them, Remy gives them the answers to their next three pop quizzes (which he stole earlier). That's when Rogue shows up, all smiles, and thanks Remy for the flowers and chocolates he (really the students) left in her room. Then they ride off into the sunset, and live happily ever after.

In the epilogue, Bella Donna's boyfriend walks in on her watching something on TV...something racy enough that he comments "Since when do we have Sinmax?" It's a copy of the Remy and Lili tape, and Belle doesn't seem to be taking it too well.

There you have it. And now, you'll get my take on things...

Before I even get to Lili...what the hell was Gambit thinking when he was mentoring the three students? I mean, yeah, I can totally see him including them on his mission to break into Rogue's room...that seems very Gambit. But I really didn't like it when he gave them the answers to the next few quizzes. That wasn't cool. Maybe it seems like an arbitrary place to draw the line, but it just didn't feel right to me...it could be because I'm a teacher. Still, as much as I dislike the idea of him taking something from Rogue's room (and I assure you, we'll get to that in a minute), I understand it. It's something that she should have never had in her possession, something that could hurt her, something that I think she should be told about, but something that would be painful to watch, regardless of what exactly it shows. On the other hand, stealing answers to tests is cheating. Period. His line, "Kid, I got no problem with you swindlin' your way through some of your classes...as long as you're learnin' something on the way!" disgusted me. History has shown time and again that cheaters never win. There are rules in life one must follow...there are even rules in war. I think this move blurs a line that these kids aren't old enough, or mature enough, to handle.

And now...Lili and Remy...I don't know what to think. I've heard decent arguments on both sides. While I think we all know what's being implied, several people have pointed out that Gambit didn't have time to do much of anything...after all, he was in the middle of a robbery. Suggestions of what happened behind closed door range from "he just knocked her out and left her there" to "he made out with her for a little bit, then left her to get the job done." Someone added that stealing is what really turns Remy on, and given the choice between a woman and a challenging job, he's going to choose the job. It's also been said that the scene is supposed to be a little joke...but I don't buy that last one, especially since the consequences of whatever it was they did make it into the next story arc.

If all I had was Ginny's take on it, I think I could write off the whole thing - after all, she's got a major crush on Remy, and gets jealous whenever a woman simply looks at him. But her mother's "Paris Hilton" remark makes me pause. I'm sure we're all aware of her infamous tape...and what she was doing on that tape was not confined to just kissing. Madame Camille could be exaggerating, though. She seems big on the idea that all men are scum from the moment we meet her.

By the way - a little side note here - Logan's reaction to the idea of a videotape of Remy and some woman was way off. He was amused. The Logan I know would rip Remy a new one for cheating on Rogue (as it's implied in this particular scene).

And then there's Remy's guilt. He does feel guilty. You can see it in the way he acts whenever someone brings it up. So he didn't simply knock the naked woman out and go on his merry way. Something happened.

Lastly, there's the whole "stealing the tape from Rogue before she can see it" thing. I had a lot to say on the topic, but I accidentally talked myself out of it back when I complained about Gambit giving test answers to students. I guess I'm not so pissed off about it any more because I think I know why he was so desperate to get his hands on it. It doesn't matter what's on that tape...at the very least, we know it shows Remy in a room with a naked woman. That would break Rogue's heart no matter what came after it. It's the difference between hearing about what someone did and actually having to see it. Trust me on this - hearing about something...um...that could be considered a betrayal and actually bearing witness to it are two totally different things. The latter can just about rip your heart out. However, I think Remy owes it to her to tell her what happened. I'd even let him downplay it a bit. But he can't complain about her not trusting him if he keeps things from her...you can't have it both ways.

For my part, I think I'll pretend none of this ever happened, treat it like an alternate universe, dream sequence, or something along those lines. Because I liked it too much to throw it out altogether, but am disturbed just enough by Remy's actions to wish it never happened. To put it another way - I'm more comfortable with him joining Apocalypse as the new Death than I am with whatever is on that tape...