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Mr. Sinister & Gambit

Marvel Universe
by yo go re

Before he became a valued member of the X-Men, Remy LeBeau was one of the world's most gifted thieves. In order to control his developing kinetic powers, the young LeBeau turned to Mister Sinister. The genetic mastermind helped him, but at a price. Gambit was forced to work off his debt by assembling a team of evildoers known as the Marauders. One day he will fight for good. What damage will be done before that day comes?

Mister Sinister was created in the '80s because Chris Claremont was tired of the X-Men always going around and around with Magneto and the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, so he created a new villain to cause them headaches. And then Mr. Sinister became as overused as Magneto had been before.

The core of this figure is the same used for Colossus, which is an unexpected choice. Yes, Sinister has the same kind of ribbed metal body as Colossus, but you don't really think of him as being a huge powerhouse, do you? At least, we don't. He does get quite a few unique pieces, however: the thighs now have the upper edges of his go-go boots molded on, and the torso has been resculpted to give him the proper kind of shoulder pads and to add the diamond in the center of his chest. The X-logo belt has simply been covered by a rectangle of plastic glued over it, but the giant, two-layered cape is done very well. It's excellent. And stupid. Excellently stupid.

As we've told you before, the original idea for Mr. Sinister was that he was the false adult persona of a mutant child - that's why his name is so stupid, and that's why he looked like a child's idea of a villain. His face is bone white, his eyes are red, and he has black on his chin, lips and around his eyes. Basically, he looks like if Tim Curry was a member of Kiss.

One of the longest, most dragged-out subplots in '90s X-Books was the identity of "the traitor" - who was on the video Bishop saw that seemed to show Jean Grey calling for help and then being murdered. Bishop was convinced the traitor was Gambit, but nobody knew how right he (almost) was: when Claremont created Gambit, the Cajun thief was meant to be a villain, sent by Sinister to infiltrate the X-Men and subvert the team from within; but none of that had begun to surface by the time Claremont left, and other writers were left to take the character in different directions; it's just coincidence that they still came up with a connection between the two characters.

Gambit is a repaint of a figure that came out in the X-Men Origins: Wolverine line, which is why he's missing things like wrists and ankles. The rest of the joints are all fine, though. His sculpt is really impressive, from the large wrinkles on his thick leather coat to the thin little lines on his strange metal boots. Oh, Remy - you and your awful fashion sense!

The figure gets a new head, which trades his floppy '90s hair for the longer 'do he's wearing these days. His face is also thinner, a small visual tweek that really changes the overall proportions of the figure. The black edge of his head-sock (or whatever you want to call that mask thing he wears) is a bit uneven on my figure, but who knows how common that is? This is a hard set to find.

The paint on this figure is much better than the previous release. His coat is a richer brown, and thus doesn't look as plasticky. His pink chemise is a darker magenta, and instead of blue, his boots are now closer to silver. This version accents his ensemble with a big red scarf that the old version lacked, a feature from his more recent costumes. His only accessory is his staff, sadly. The XMO:W version came with a lump of powered-up playing cards that this one doesn't get - were they not batch molded with any of the other parts?

The comic included with this Comic Pack is... not really clear. Looking at it in the package, it appears to be Jim Lee's X-Men #1 - cover B, specifically, which is the one that had Gambit on it so that at least makes sense (from a pure marketing standpoint). That seemed like a rather odd choice, since Gambit barely did anything in the issue and Mr. Sinister didn't appear at all, but that wouldn't be the first time such a thing has happened. Once you open it, however, you'll find the guts of an entirely different book: it's part of the story from the X-Men Origins: Gambit one-shot, which does feature Mr. Sinister. It's a good story, but why change the cover?

Considering that it essentially pairs up a re-release and a fancy repaint, this is a really good set. Mr. Sinister ends up bulkier than you might expect, but it manages to look right on him. And thanks to a few small changes, this version of Gambit is better than the last release. The only downside is how hard the set is to find currently, but all the other Marvel Universe Comic Packs have eventually reached saturation, so why should this one be any different?

-- 10/08/12

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