Remy LeBeau: A New Orleans Street Kid Who Made It Big In The Funny Pages

Despite our city’s nickname, the streets of New Orleans are everything but easy. They can devour kids who grow up in the shadow of the French Quarters cryptic buildings. So is the tale of Le Diable Blanc, a boy who came to be know as Gambit.* 

Remy Lebeau as a child (Gambit Vol. 3 #25)**

Today Remy LeBeau is best known as a member of the X-Men. But here in the Big Easy we know him best as a prominent member of the New Orleans Thieves Guild. Even though he signed up for the superhero gig, he still hasn’t set his career of professional thievery aside. In fact, he’s currently the head of the International Thieves Guild. It’s headquarters are on an undocumented island in the Mediterranean Sea...but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. 

The Stolen Isle (Gambit Vol.5 #16)

To understand the corrupt and crime ridden streets Remy grew up in, we have to delve into the history of our city’s founding in 1718. Organized crime syndicates have run our city since its inception. For a major part of our history they have been controlled by an External mutant named Candra

Candra's first appearance in Gambit Vol.1 #1 **

Though her origins are shrouded in mystery, her rise to power in New Orleans was orchestrated from France in the 1700’s. Louisiana was claimed for France on April 9, 1682 by Rene-Robert Cavelier de La Salle. After La Salle claimed La Louisiane he consulted the colonies name sake, King Louis XIV, for permission to colonize. Though Louis was hesitant, he granted La Salle resources to settle the territory at the behest of Candra the Benefactress. 

La Salle led a failed mission. Nonetheless, Candra still awaited the opportunity to expand her crime guilds to the New World. This opportunity would present itself when King Louis XIV died in 1715. All of Louis’ legitimate children predeceased him. He had to resultantly appoint his 5 year old great-grandson to be his successor. 

King Louis XV wouldn’t sit on the throne until 1723. During the transitional period before Louis XV reached his majority there was a Regent in France. His name was Philip II the Duke of Orleans. Candra groomed and encouraged him to align himself with Scottish economist John Law

She had been around long enough to know that John Law’s theories would result in the Mississippi Bubble. She could care less about what would happen to the subjects in France. There was a new continent to control and the city named in the Duke of Orleans’ honor would be her base of operation. So Candra advised Philip II to appoint Law as the Controller General of Finances in France. Before long her scheme would come into fruition when Louisiana was chartered to the Company of the West.

Our city, The New Orleans, would be founded on May 7, 1718 by Jean-Baptiste LeMoyne de Bienville. There was only one problem, he needed people to populate and build it. To get settlers to migrate here, Candra urged the Duke of Orleans to release prisoners from Paris and forced them to marry prostitutes. They were brought to the port in La Rochelle, married, handcuffed, and put on a boat headed for New Orleans. 

Among those forced to migrate to this swampy colony was crime boss Jean-Baptiste Gabourel de Donrémy. Gabourel was a mystical underworld figure. Before moving to Paris he was born in the same village as Joan D’Arc. It’s said that Jean-Baptiste Gabourel had similar epiphanies as hers. Only the Archangel Michael, Saint Margaret, and Saint Catherine of Alexandria instructed him to restore an esoteric Old Kingdom. 

It just so happened that the Bandoliers de Mississippi arrested a prominent Madame with a penchant for organized crime named Marguerite. This queen of Paris’ red light district was paired with Jean-Baptiste Gabourel. After their forced marriage they were handcuffed and shipped off to New Orleans. 

While Bienville was frustrated with the predicament of building a city with people he couldn’t trust, Candra was in the shadows laughing and plotting her ascension to power. She made her first visit to New Orleans in the 1730’s after the city was settled. Now in the New World, Jean-Baptiste Gabourel’s mystical order was organized into a crime outfit named the New Orleans Thieves Guild. 

When Candra arrived she organized a team of assassins and named them the New Orleans Assassins Guild. She would control these two guilds by pitting them against each other based on a tribute system. Candra had a henchmen named the Tithe Collector who would collect this tribute from the Guilds every seven years in turn for supernatural royalties. 

The Tithe Collectors first appearance (Gambit Vol.1 #1)

She granted the Thieves Guild the Elixir of Life, a serum that would extend one’s life indefinitely as long as the recipient continued to use it. In turn she granted the Assassins Guild superpowers to protect her.

Note: Bella Donna Boudreaux is not a mutant. She gained her powers from Candra (X-Men #9).

In our blossoming city Jean Baptiste and Marguerite Gabourel rose to infamy…but it wasn’t to last long. Gabourel tried to undermine Candra and it backfired on him. In 1762 he devised a well planed score to clear Candra’s elixir storage, learn of its source, and banish Candra from Earth in the process. The Seven Years' War had sent a slew of new recruits to New Orleans from Acadia. In 1756 Jean Baptiste Gabourel inducted a very promising Cajun thief named Jaques LeBeau into the guild. Gabourel and LeBeau became close associates because LeBeau was also a master of the mystical arts. Gabourel entrusted all of the guild lore to LeBeau regarding the Old Kingdom.

When Gabourel was captured trying to steal the Elixir, Candra imprisoned and denied him the Elixir to make an example out of him. She saw a rising star in LeBeau however and appointed him as the new Patriarch of the New Orleans Thieves Guild. 

Jaques LeBeau's first appearance (Gambit Vol.3 #12)

Jacques and his wife Rochelle gave birth to Jean-Luc LeBeau who was given the Elixir of Life. Candra withheld the serum from Jacques and Rochelle in a divisive plot to keep the Assissians and Thieves Guilds in a warring faction. Jean-Luc would assume leadership over Clan LeBeau and the New Orleans Thieves Guild. Trained as a skilled bō fighter and master thief, his father passed the mystic folklore of the Old Kingdom unto him. Most notably the prophecies of the Old Kingdom’s resurrection by means of a messianic child. In the oral traditions this child is referred to as Le Diable Blanc.

 Jean-Luc LeBeau's first appearance in  Gambit Vol.1 #1

Jean-Luc LeBeau's first appearance in Gambit Vol.1 #1

Jean-Luc led his underground operations from the lower edge of the French Quarter in what appeared to the naked eye as a cloistered monastery. The Old Carmelite Monastery is six blocks down river from Flambeaux Bicycle Tours on the 1200 block of N.Rampart St. Those of us that had involvement with the Thieves Guild called the chapel of the monastery the Church of the Lost Thieves. Remy got me in back in the 1980’s before the Thieves Guild relocated. I even had the pleasure of meeting Jean-Luc himself.

The Church of the Lost Thieves (Gambit Vol. 1 #4)

Jean-Luc oversaw its construction in the early 1800’s. It was the perfect front for running his enterprise. Through the 19th and 20th centuries Clan LeBeau governed the activities of Jean Lafitte and his Baratarians, The Black Hand Operations, The Matranga Family, Silver Dollar Sam, and the notorious Carlos Marcello to name a few. In order to earn the Elixir of Life that granted Jean-Luc extended life he had to collect from all of the notorious crime families and give it as tribute to Candra. 

To ensure he was the true underworld boss he also had his fingers on the pulse of what was going on with petty crime in the French Quarter. The most notorious street gang in the Quarter was made up of children. This is where I first met Remy when we were both 8 years old. We were fledging members of Fagan’s Mob

 Fagan's Mob ( Gambit Vol. 3 #1 )

Fagan's Mob (Gambit Vol. 3 #1)

Fagan taught us how to hustle. He first taught us to tap dance on the streets for tips and to snatch the persons wallet when they tipped us. For those who weren’t daring enough to start with the tap dance hustle, they were taught a shoe shine hustle where we tricked people into a shoe shine then charged $20. Next Fagan taught us to pick pocket and shop lift. Once we graduated from there it was unto a more organized form of thievery I’d rather not share. 

All of us in Fagan’s Mob had our own story. People would tease Remy because of his abnormal eyes, but he wouldn’t stand for it. He showed no fear and he promised himself he wouldn’t let the streets get the most of him. 

For some reason he gravitated to me and became my protector as well as the other kids that ran in our gang. After pulling off a few heist, Remy and I became close friends and he started to open up to me about how he ended up on the streets. All of us in Fagan’s Mob had tragic stories, but Remy’s was heart wrenching. 

Coincidently we were both born in Charity Hospital on Tulane Ave. As a descendant of Jean-Baptiste Gabourel, Candra vowed to make all of his progeny suffer. That’s how I ended up on the street as a child…but this story isn’t about me. 

Part of Remy’s story isn’t so clear. He said his parents possibly abandoned him because they were freaked out by his black eyes and red pupils. But one thing is for sure, Fagan told him that he had been kidnapped by the Antiquary, and that someone from the Thieves Guild took Remy from the Antiquary and put him in his care. 

The Antiquary (Gambit Vol. 3 #1)

We all hated the Antiquary, he was a slimy character that Fagan instructed us to avoid at all cost. The one time we had a run in with him at the Quartermaster, Remy beat him down with a broom stick. He would later develop his skills with that stick and start using a bō staff. 

 Gambit's first published use of a staff was a broom stick in  Uncanny X-Men #267

Gambit's first published use of a staff was a broom stick in Uncanny X-Men #267

Remy told me that the Antiquary kidnapped him because the Guild believed that he was going to unite the Thieves and Assassins Guilds in New Orleans. Knowing Remy’s charm it was no surprise that this unification would be based on his love for a beautiful women. When we were still 8 years old he met his future wife while she was being attacked by some thugs. 

He rushed into save her, but this girl could hold her own. It was love at first sight! She introduced herself as Bella-Donna, the daughter of none other then Marius Boudreaux the head of the New Orleans Assassins Guild. 

Chance would have it that Remy would meet the person that put him in Fagan’s care. The one person that believed in the promise of Le Diable Blanc above all others. Remy and I were pick pocketing in the Vieux Carré one afternoon when Remy attempted to pickpocket none other then Jean-Luc LeBeau. 

 Gambit attempting to pickpocket Jean-Luc LeBeau ( Gambit Vol.3 #1 )

Gambit attempting to pickpocket Jean-Luc LeBeau (Gambit Vol.3 #1)

Some believe that Jean-Luc was making himself vulnerable to Remy so he could introduce himself. Either way lets face it…no one can pickpocket a master thief. Jean-Luc was ten steps ahead of Remy and caught him in the act. It allowed Jean-Luc to see what kind of skills he developed with Fagan. 

From that point on Remy was raised by Jean-Luc and the traiteur of the guilds Tante Mattie Baptiste. Without Remy looking out for me I looked for a way out of Fagan’s Mob. I would still see Remy pretty often none the less. He started to run with his new adopted brother Henri who already had quite the reputation in the New Orleans underworld. 

 Tante Mattie's first appearance ( Gambit Vol.1 #3 )

Tante Mattie's first appearance (Gambit Vol.1 #3)

Jean-Luc started grooming Remy to become the next patriarch of the Thieves Guild. He started to work high risk jobs not only around the country, but around the world. When Remy starting operating beyond the bayous of the Big Easy, he started to notice that the world had far stranger characters then those in the French Quarter. The only time Remy and I were ever truly frightened was when we broke into the dubious laboratory of Morgus the Magnificant in Pirates Alley. But some of the things Remy would see on his future jobs is stuff you can only read about in comic books!

Take for instance the time he was sent to Granada, Spain to serve as the Registrar of Etienne Marceaux with his Tilling. The tilling was a ceremonial rite of passage that initiated one into the Thieves Guild. Remy was 15 years old, Etienne was 12. Etienne was sent to steal an ancient chalice from none other then Candra. They were captured and placed into the clutches of a slave trader named the Pig.

At this phase in his journey, Remy was still discovering his kinetic powers. The only pass time the Pig would allow his slaves was games played with playing cards. Etienne stole a deck from the holding block. When they were attempting to escape the pig captured them. In their struggle to get freed from his claws the deck fell from Etienne's sleeve. Remy needed to charge something and the only thing laying next to him was the playing cards scattered on the ground. Remy charged one and threw it at the monstrous beast. It allowed them to escape, but unfortunately Etienne fell to his demise and drowned. 

Gambit's first canonical time charging a playing card (Gambit Vol.3 #6)

On another occasion he did this job in Canada. A mad scientist named Nathaniel Essex hired the Thieves Guild to steal back his journal from the highly classified Weapon X Facility. When he broke in he found mutants being tortured. Being in a pinch, a mutant named Logan provided a distraction for Remy’s escape. The scream of this poor mutant haunted Remy.

Gambit in the Weapon X Facility (Weapon X: First Class #3)

Once Remy was out of the facility he thumbed through the journal. Disgusted by the diabolical content and the torture he witnessed at the laboratory, he immediately destroyed the journal and reported to Jean-Luc that it wasn’t there. Unfortunately Essex’s sinister selection of the New Orleans Thieves Guild wasn’t coincidental. Essex and Remy cross paths again in what would be the not too distant future. 

Gambit destroying Nathaniel Essex's diary (Weapon X: First Class #3)

On another job he told me about this encounter he had with some vigilantes who called themselves the Champions. He was pulling off a job for a mutant named Spat in Los Angeles. The objective…stealing the Scroll of Vishnota. The hurtle…facing the evil M.O.D.O.K. Instead of stealing the scroll Remy charged it and defeated that big headed fool. In doing so he saved the Champions, but of course Spat never let him live it down. She would also be the one to condemn him for the Morlock Massacre

Gambit and the Champions (Gambit: From the Marvel Vault)

While on his personal Tilling at the age of 17 he ran into the feral mutant Victor Creed. On his trip to Paris Remy’s objective was to steal L’Etroile de Tricherie from Genevieve Darceneaux. He was being sponsored by his adopted brother Henri LeBeau. Remy was four months shy of his eighteenth birthday. The age he was to participate in an arranged marriage to bring peace between the Assassins and Thieves Guilds. 

Creed played a deadly game with Remy because he knew his powers weren’t fully developed. Creed made him decide who he would save by plunging Henri and Genevieve from the top of the Nortre Dame. A hard lessen was learned when he was unable to save Genevieve. Remy deceived her by romancing her and invoking her to fall in love with him. The game of love is not an easy one. In her dying breaths she told him she would have given him the jewel if he would have only asked. 

Gambit and Sabertooth's first encounter in Xmen #33

While training him to be a master thief Jen-Luc was also grooming Remy to free the Guilds from Candra’s control. This unification was to come through his arranged marriage to Bella-Donna Beaudreax. While Jean-Luc and Murius wanted peace and to be loosened from Candra’s tithing scheme, there was a bitter political rival who wanted to decimate the Thieves Guild.

Remy Marries Bella Donna Boudreaux (X-men #8; X-Men Origins: Gambit; Gambit Vol.3 #1)

Bella Donna’s brother, Julian Boudreaux, had become consumed with the potential of acquiring both superpowers and long life. His untamable lust for power burned with fumes throughout their wedding ceremony. After they said their vows at the Church of the Lost Thieves they had a second line to the Ursalines Convent where they had their reception. When they arrived Julian challenged Remy to a duel in good ole New Orleans fashion. 

 Gambit defeats Julian Boudreaux in a duel ( X-Men #8 ;  X-Men Origins: Gambit ).

Gambit defeats Julian Boudreaux in a duel (X-Men #8; X-Men Origins: Gambit).

If you play with fire you’ll get burned. In this case Julien played with a form of fire called kinetic energy. Remy bested him and in order to maintain the nonaggression pact it was agreed upon by the Guilds that Remy should be exiled from New Orleans. Sadly, it would be a while before I would see Remy again.

Remy is Exiled from New Orleans X-Men #8; X-Men Origins: Gambit).

After he left rumor back home was that he began to lose control over his kinetic powers. In order to regain control he sought out that scientist that he broke into the Weapon X laboratory for. Nathanial Essex became renowned for his experiments on human genetics and gained the title Mr. Sinister. Essex performed a brain surgery for Remy that granted him control over his powers. The price Remy had to pay for the surgery would continually haunt him. 

 Mr. Sinister removing part of Gambit's brain ( X-Men Origins: Gambit ).

Mr. Sinister removing part of Gambit's brain (X-Men Origins: Gambit).

In exchange for the surgery Remy was commissioned to assemble a group of rouge mutants that Essex would name the Marauders. Remy was unaware that Essex was going to use these assassins to execute a group of mutants called the Murlock’s

 All the secrets about Gambit's past are revealed in  Uncanny X-Men #350 .

All the secrets about Gambit's past are revealed in Uncanny X-Men #350.

Remy’s involvement gave him a deep since of shame and regret that he kept secret for years. To grapple with his guilt complex he became a loner. His only catharsis was chain smoking and exploiting his thieving skills. To take his mind off things he would amass a fortune pulling off high stake robberies. He would send most of that money back home for me to manage for him. He requested for me to invest it in real estate in the French Quarter and the Garden District. 

One of Gambit's many New Orleans properties in the Garden District (Gambit Vol.1 #4).

One night he found himself in Cairo, Illinois stealing some paintings when he ran into a young girl in trouble. Her name was Ororo Monroe. She was also raised as a thief and happened to be at the mansion for the same reasons as Remy. The Shadow King, operating via the body of FBI agent Jacob Reisz, knew she couldn’t resist stealing these paintings that were reported stolen in the news. Though the Shadow King set a trap to capture her, Remy saved Ororo from his despotic clutches. 

Gambit's first full appearance in Uncanny X-men #266.

Once they escape the reach of the Shadow King and his hounds, Remy learns that there’s another nemesis on their trail. Nanny and her toy boy the Orphan Maker regressed Storm's body to that of a child. Storm managed to escape, but they were hot on her trail. After Gambit employs his charged playing cards to defeat them he brings her back to New Orleans.

The first published occasion that Gambit used kinetically charged playing cards is Uncanny X-Men #267.

As usual he looks me up and I prepare the apartment for them above our shop at 624 N. Rampart St. While Remy’s here he’s incognito. He asked me to start calling him Gambit and not to tell anyone he’s in town…especially the thieves and the assassins. 

Gambit entering one of his French Quarter apartments (Uncanny X-Men #267).

Ororo and Remy starting to knock over the Crescent City one criminal at a time. The French Quarter became their playground, the CBD their pocket change, the Garden District their jackpot. But this robbing spree was different. Remy hit a benevolent streak. After robbing criminals of their ill gotten gain, he gave the spoils to those in need. They were having the time of their lives!

It’s not to long before Nanny discovers Ororo’s whereabouts. She even had the nerve to disrupt Endymion, the biggest parade of Carnival. Disguising her ship like a Mardi Gras float she managed to temporarily capture Gambit. But not for long…who can trap the prince of thieves?

 Gambit on Canal Street in New Orleans during Mardi Gras ( Uncanny X-Men #267 ).

Gambit on Canal Street in New Orleans during Mardi Gras (Uncanny X-Men #267).

After they defeat Nanny, Gambit and Storm agree that they make a powerful duo. So begins Gambit’s introduction to the X-men. He remained the most mysterious X-Man of the crew. His true identity would slowly unravel when Bella Donna showed up at the X-Mansion. At that point he was so secretive that the X-Men didn’t even know his real name. But that’s a tale for another time…

As for me, I was finally emancipated once Candra was defeated. The shackles on Clan Gabourel were broken. I quit Fagan’s mob and started to walk the straight and narrow. Being that I love bicycles and my city I started a bike tour business in the French Quarter. If you’re ever around stop in and see me. I still stay in touch with Remy. He stops by the shop every once in a while when he’s in town. One of our favorite local hangouts is Tujague's over on Decatur St. Who knows? You may even get to meet him.

 Remy on his way to  Tujague's  ( Gambit Vol.4 #1 )

Remy on his way to Tujague's (Gambit Vol.4 #1)

Aside from giving the best bike tour in New Orleans, I set aliens up with jobs here in the French Quarter. Every once in a while Remy will send extraterrestrials my way. It's not easy but it helps to pay the bills:

Take a walk down Bourbon Street and you'll see some of my work!

Fin

 

Notes:

* Gambit was created by Chris Claremont and Jim Lee

** All Marvel Comics characters and the distinctive likeness(es) thereof are Trademarks & Copyright © 1941-2017 Marvel Characters, Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

*** If you’ve read this far, I want to thank you for indulging me. I am one of the biggest Gambit fans in New Orleans. The Gambit film is supposed to start filming this March in New Orleans. I thought I would write this piece for those who might be wondering who Gambit is.

Being that I love our city just as much as Gambit, I decided to contextualize the Sci-Fi history of the Thieves and Assassins Guilds into actual New Orleans history. I've read just about every comic that Gambit has appeared in. I feel like I know his character in and out. For that reason I chose to pepper the story with a little fan fiction. Hope you enjoyed it! -Eric

 

Eric GabourelComment