The X-Men have a huge range of abilities that make them effective in combat, but only one of them is the perfect zombie killer: Gambit.
Warning: contains spoilers for Marvel Zombies: Resurrection #4!
The X-Men’s Gambit is the rakish king of thieves who gets in as much trouble as he solves. But it turns out he would also make the perfect zombie hunter, and readers learned in Marvel Zombies: Resurrection by writer Philip Kennedy Johnson (The Last God), artist Leonard Kirk (Supergirl) and colorist Rachelle Rosenbeg (Star Wars).
Since his introduction thirty years ago, Gambit has proven to be one of the most popular members of the X-Men. His mutant powers allow him to “charge” an item by converting its potential energy into kinetic energy, turning any item into a potential weapon. His favorite items to use are playing cards, which pack less punch but are particularly easy to throw. There is some debate on how powerful Gambit is; when his abilities are fully unlocked, he can use his powers to manipulate time and heal himself, but this has only happened on a handful of occasions. But Gambit’s potential as a zombie slayer lay in the usual limitations of his powers; with a few controversial exceptions, Gambit’s power can’t (or doesn’t usually) work on organic material. In the usual Marvel Universe, Gambit can’t just blow up anyone he likes… but then zombies are no longer truly organic.
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On the Earth of Marvel Zombies: Resurrection, Forge, the mutant inventor, took Gambit’s hands and converted them into a weapon that allows its user to harness Gambit’s abilities. Confronted by the zombie horde, Valeria Richards uses this weapon to begin charging the zombified Galactus. When she’s done, the explosion levels all around it, resulting in massive destruction – and lots of zombie deaths.
This works on two levels. One, by using Gambit’s abilities, Valeria turned Galactus into a destructive weapon that killed zombies where they stood, showing Gambit’s energy blasts are effective against the undead. Second, it is clear Gambit’s powers do work directly on zombies, removing the limitation that so often makes his attacks non-lethal in mainstream stories. Gambit could, in theory, charge a regular zombie’s body up and use it like a bomb to destroy other zombies. In an echo of his longtime lover Rogue’s abilities, Gambit’s powers mean he could literally dispatch zombies with a touch, alongside his usual ability to turn anything he can get his hands on into a projectile weapon. In a zombie apocalypse, Gambit already has the ideal power, but this issue reveals that he’s also able to turn the undead into walking bombs – something that makes him a valuable ally in a world where Captain Marvel and Mr. Fantastic are hungry for flesh.
Unfortunately, Gambit is already dead in this universe, and was not able to harness the full potential of his powers. While there is some debate over whether he chooses not to charge organic matter, finds it more difficult, or usually can’t, he can clearly do it to dead flesh. His ability to turn them into weapons to use against each would make Gambit the best zombie hunter in the Marvel Universe… if he ever got the chance.
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