Marvel and DC, the two competing comic book universes, have gained a lot of international fame with their recent – and not so recent – big screen appearances. Legions of heroes and villains have emerged from the dark, many of them virtually unknown in many corners of the world, to invade our everyday lives, and the shelves of our stores – and we know very little of them. For someone coming from a former Communist country, for example, the Iron Man is a punk gathering scrap metal on the streets, and Thor, the Asgardian superhero, is but a Norse god. Today, we’re going to shed a bit of light on a specific habit of comic book characters, especially villains: gambling.
Today, gambling is not such a big deal – unless it is done online. And that’s not even true for the whole world: in Europe, people of legal age (over 18) are free to visit http://www.allslotscasino.com and play their favorite casino games for real money. The All Slots and its likes have only been around for a little over a decade, yet they managed to build a business worth tens of billions a year. Players at the All Slots are mostly on the casual side, playing infrequently and for fun rather than for financial gain. What’s driving them is the entertainment value of the All Slots games, and the fact that they can play it wherever they are, on their phones, if they feel like it. Land-based gambling is an equally widespread phenomenon, especially in the US, the country with the most casinos per capita (in 2011, the US had almost ten times as many casinos as France, over 1,500). Gambling today is considered a form of entertainment – yet this wasn’t always the case. For a long time, gambling was banned across many states (it still is in some), and gamblers – especially professional ones – were regarded as shady, sometimes evil characters. And this perception has oozed into comic books, too.
Gambling in the comic books
Some of the most popular comic book villains are seemingly obsessed with gambling, either in their looks or in their habits. One of the best-known of them is the Joker, the Batman’s disfigured and deranged nemesis. He isn’t a gambler per se but he has the look of a playing card (a joker), and the weapons to go with it: he often uses razor-tipped cards and similar surprises to take care of his enemies. Stephen Sharpe III, and his successor, Steven Sharpe V, are the proud bearers of the name “Gambler”. They are both super-villains and expert gamblers in the DC universe, masters of disguise, extremely skilled with knives, pistols, and all forms of gambling. Other villains that have gambling habits are Two-Face (Harvey Dent), who decides who lives or dies with a coin toss, Amos Fortune and the Royal Flush Gang, a team of villains obsessed with luck, Veronica Sinclair, a casino owner who goes by the villain alias Roulette, and 8-Ball, and Penguin, Batman’s other persistent enemy, who runs a legal casino with a special offer for Gotham City’s criminals. The only superhero I can think of right now is Gambit of the X-Men, and his preferred weapon, a deck of playing cards that he charges with kinetic energy.