Gambling in comics is quite common. We’ll explore some of the most popular heroes and villains and their corresponding hits in comic history. By the end, you’ll know what they have to offer when it comes to the game of chance.
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Justice Society of America DC
Roulette is a supervillainess who owns a casino named The House. Her name and establishment say it all.
She comes from a line of casino greats, and she opened her casino to pit the Justice Society heroes against each other in gladiator style.
In her debut in the “JSA Secret Files #2”, she forces the Society to fight each other in epic matches.
This DC classic contains plenty of references to gambling in its characters and plots. The relationship between comics and gambling has a long history.
The Joker, Penguin, and Two-Face are three other examples of famous Batman villains who are champions of chance.
The Joker first appeared in the original Batman comic and represented the same negative message about gambling as other comics of its time. His maniacal laugh and psychopathic tendencies paint a dark picture of the unpredictable.
Penguin first appeared in “Detective Comics #58” in 1941 and is a classic Batman villain who owns an underground nightclub known as The Iceberg Casino.
Two-Face, Harvey Dent, is a more relatable villain who first appeared in the “Detective Comics #66” in August 1942. His physical representation of duality and the woes of chance are characteristic of how gambling was viewed during this time.
Of course, all of these characters reappeared in later renditions of the Batman classics and retained their original spins.
Two great examples of the negative view of gambling that was prevalent in the 1930-40s are “The Gambling Racket in Metropolis” and “Superman and the Numbers Racket” from “Action Comics #16”, Volume 1, 1939.
Both stories featured examples of the ravaging effects of gambling. Superman saves the day and a suicidal civilian who is at the end of their gambling wits in these stories. Like other comics of this time, the basic message was that gambling destroys your life.
Some argue that comics were used as a way to discourage gambling among youngsters and the public.
The Green-Lantern DC
DC comics are full of villains that love a game of chance.
Steven Sharpe III, better known as The Gambler, is a prime example of these villains of chance. After his girlfriend leaves him for being part of a long line of gamblers, Steven vows to become a villain of chance and takes the name, The Gambler, in remembrance of his grandfather.
He made his first appearance in the issue of “Green Lantern #12” in 1944.
His legacy as a gambler was negative in the original 1944 comic, though, and he committed suicide due to a failed card game. This negative message about gambling was present in many comics during this period.
The representation of gambling in comics isn’t all negative, however.
This badass first appeared in “Uncanny X-Men Annual #14”, 1990, and revolutionized the image of gambling in comics. The fact that he isn’t portrayed as pure evil is already an improvement on the image that characters like the Joker left on gambling.
He has a long history of rambunctious behaviour and a taste for the theatrical.
Chance, a.k.a. Nicholas Powell, is another gambler-gone-villain who made his first debut in “Web of Spider-Man #15”.
Much like Batman’s Two-Face, this villain is fascinated by chance in villainy and leaves most of his decisions to a gamble. He became a mercenary to fill the role that gambling played in his life as a civilian.
Chance leaves his payment up to the game when taking on new assignments. For completed jobs, he charges $10,000 for assassinations, $20,000 for specific thefts, and $5,000 for common burglaries.
Comics and gambling go way back. Both of these forms of entertainment have an intricate history. Today, online casinos feature superhero-themed slots like The Dark Knight Rises and Iron Man 3. Famous comic villains and antiheroes have done their fair share of gambling and know what it’s like to be shunned for their vices.