Although you’d struggle to find a comic exclusively about gambling, there’s plenty of characters in the different universes that love the occasional flutter.
We’re not talking about a full issue dedicated to video poker or blackjack, but rather snippets in the comics or associated movies that turn to chance for a little excitement. The best examples of this come with villain’s such as Harvey Dent (Two-Face) who leave major decisions to chance, in his case, with the flip of a coin.
But examples of gambling can be seen with the heroes too with no example better than the self-professed “Genius, Billionaire, Playboy, Philanthropist” himself, Tony Stark (Iron Man). It’s no surprise that Tony loves to gamble with the most famous example in the self-titled movie “Iron Man” showing Stark at the craps table.
This got us thinking, just how popular is the gambling theme throughout comic books and which others include amazing examples of gaming?
First up on the list, we’ve got Batman and someone in the DC offices must have had a fascination surrounding gambling, as there’s plenty of examples littered around the villains.
The Joker is literally named after a playing card and with a calling card straight from a deck of 52 (well, 54), it’s hardly a surprise that he’s recognized as a bit of a gambling man.
First appearing in 1944 in Green Lantern #12 titled “The Gambler” (says it all really), the Joker became an instant hit as an original foe of Green Lantern. The Joker was also one of the founding members of the Injustice Society, the antithesis to the Justice Society of America and remains one of the most popular comic books to date.
The Joker shot to fame in the modern-day Christopher Nolan classic “The Dark Knight” with the villain played by the late Heath Ledger. Following the role, Ledger passed away from an accidental prescription drug overdose, leading to the film dedicated in part to Ledger’s memory.
For his role, he received countless compliments and praises, including the Academy Award for “Best Supporting Actor” alongside the Golden Globe for “Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture”.
Next up on the list, none other than Two-Face, another Batman villain commonly associated with the adversary of the caped crusader.
Introduced in the Detective Comics #66 in 1942, Harvey “Two-Face” Dent was once the Gotham City District Attorney before hideous scarring covered the left side of his face following mob boss, Sal Maroni’s, acid attack during a court trial.
The attack caused Dent to subsequently go insane, focusing on the oxymoron of Good and Evil and leaving important decisions to chance with the flip of two-headed coin damaged in the chemical attack. This is most famously portrayed, again, in the 2008 film “The Dark Knight Rises”.
But the movies aren’t just good for comic book purchase as Mike Tan, of OnlineCasinoGems, explains: “There’s a huge proliferation around comic-based games every time we’re seeing a new movie release. Whether that’s Batman, Iron Man or anything else if there’s a slot available, we see a huge increase in its popularity around the movie release date”.
Spider-Man is another comic to include a supervillain fond of gambling with a wealthy former professional gambler in Nicholas Powell becoming “Chance”.
Nicholas Powell, more commonly known as his alter-ego “Chance”, was a professional gambler before looking for more excitement in his life.
This want of adrenaline-fuelled nights led to his decision of becoming a mercenary, or criminal-for-hire, first appearing in 1986 in Web of Spider-Man #15.
Chance was known for his peculiar payment terms in which those hiring would bet against the villain instead of direct payment. This meant that Powell would have a little wager on the line, not just his life with payment landing on his shoulders if he was to fail. It was said that this was the only way that he could feel the work be truly interesting.
Sticking to the gaming theme and Chance was, at one point, contracted to kill casino owner Raymond Trask, in The Amazing Spider-Man #336 before being thwarted by Spider-Man. In a bizarre turn of events, Trask later hired Chance for protection from an assassination attempt, but this led to Trask, in act of attempted revenge, unsuccessfully trying to kill him in return.
Moving on to X-Men next and there are fewer characters in any comic book series more dedicated to gambling than Gambit.
Gambit (Remy Etienne LeBeau) made his first appearance in the Uncanny X-Men Annual #14 in 1990, belonging to the human subspecies, the mutants.
Gambit’s gambling habits come in the form of the playing cards that he’s able to control, utilizing kinetic conversion and acceleration to power his card throwing abilities. By using the cards as explosive projectiles, Gambit becomes an incredibly dangerous addition to the LeBeau Clan Thieves Guild.
Remy realizes his power and comes to grips with his signature move as a 15-year-old on the run from a deformed mutant gangster and child slave trader “Pig”. While trying to escape, Gambit comes into contact with a playing card dropped by his cousin, Etienne Marceaux, which he charges, throwing at Pig and ultimately taking out his eye.
Justice Society of America
The Justice Society of America, not to be confused with the Justice League, is a superhero team appearing in DC comic books from 1940 in All Star Comics #3.
Veronica “Roulette” Sinclair is a martial artist first appearing in the JSA Files #2 in September of 2001.
Daughter of Debra Sinclair, a previous adversary of Mister Terrific, Roulette owns a casino known as “The House” in which superhuman gladiators fight. The heroes, captured with teleporter technology are pitted against each other while supervillains watch on, betting on the outcome – ending once and for all the Batman vs. Superman argument, in theory anyway.
Roulette’s strategy of turning heroes against each other and using chance and skill to determine was brought forward to her first encounter with the Justice Society in which the majority of the team were captured and forced to fight. In the same edition, Mr. Terrific and Dr. Mid-Night were put head-to-head in a game of chess with the loser electrocuted.