GAMBIT: Once A Thief, Part 1 opens up with a recap of what we already know: he's a superhero and a mutant fighting alongside the X-Men, he's recently appeared in WOLVERINE AND THE X-MEN as a teacher, and his relationship with a certain ex-girlfriend (Rogue) is a lot different than it had been in the past. It kicks off to a good start by giving the reader a basic idea of what the character has been going through. The dialogue reads like Gambit is shedding pieces of his identity, breaking down the man he's become over the years in order to get to his core. Coincidentally, he's also literally shedding (clothing) in the scene too, which I saw as symbolism for what's really happening.
I think the title of the first arc, "Once A Thief," is very important because Gambit has moved so far away from that identity -- it's been a long time since he's been just "a thief." It will be interesting to see whether the character makes his return to those roots in this series, or if Asmus will develop his character in an entirely different way. The pacing in the issue is good, as is the overall story. It's a fun book (albeit, a little bit corny in some parts but hey, that's all part of Gambit's charm).
Clay Mann does a fantastic job penciling this issue. Gambit looks as debonair as ever in this book, and his dialogue is equally as charismatic. You can tell that writer James Asmus made a point to depict him as a little bit clumsy in some scenes; as if he's been out of the game and out of his element for a long time and is only now just getting back into the swing of things, which I found important to the overall plot.
There were some scenes involving some high tech instruments that probably sounded like they would be really cool, but just weren't executed very well. They were a tiny bit corny. In addition to that, I think it would have been more interesting to see Gambit put more thought into the process of preparation for what happens in this issue -- some things just seemed to come too easily for him.
While I really loved Clay Mann's pencils (he does a great job executing Gambit's chiseled, handsome features) I was not at all a fan of the colors. I didn't feel that they added at all to the pencils and made the art in this book look dull. Mann's lines are so crisp, I think that stronger colors and heavier inking would have better suited the art in this book.
We're also introduced to a new character who, according to writer James Asmus, may appear later in Gambit's series. Unfortunately, nothing about her interested me and made me think "wow, she seems interesting; I can't wait to learn more about her."
Overall, this wasn't a bad issue. I think it was great to see the character doing things we haven't seen him do in a long time. I think that it's great to see Asmus play up certain aspects of Gambit's personality; I think that's important. There are some great scenes that highlight Gambit's athleticism and they were portrayed by Mann really well.
The colors made the art look a little bit sloppy and muddled, which I found disappointing since I'm such a fan of Clay Mann's angular lines and pencils. I think with heavier inks and more distinct and detailed coloring I would like this a whole lot more.
The ending was great; it really leaves the reader with a cliff hanger and you will likely find yourself wanting to read a lot more.