In most cases, comic books tend to imitate life, relationships and our activities. Over the years, the way that one hobby has been shown through this medium has changed drastically. That hobby is gambling and it seems to have been through quite the renaissance in the last century.
Bad Guys and Gambling
In the 1940s gambling was synonymous with the villain, starting with its first appearance in Action Comics. In edition #16, Superman was tasked with busting an illegal gambling ring while saving citizens from the perils of gambling. It ends up being quite a moral issue, with Superman waging an all-out war against the evil industry.
This same storyline comes up again in a later Superman adventure too. This seems to be the publisher’s way of conveying the industry to young fans, with players being corrupted among the pages of these comics.
One of the earliest villains in the Green Lantern’s storyline was The Gambler. This brightly clad villain might seem pretty wholesome but he’s a straight up villain. His was a story of redemption, his high school sweetheart refused his proposal until he could prove he was not a gambler, unlike the others in his family. Of course, the rational step of action that he takes next is to join the circus, become a villain and adopt The Gambler as a moniker.
In true pious fashion, The Gambler is taught a lesson near the end of his ark. He hits the Taj Mahal Casino and gambles away all his money on rigged games, then commits suicide. This heavy handed tale is definitely a fable for younger readers, but in the modern day it can be interpreted a bit differently.
It was a bit too early for fair play legislation, something which online casinos are now forced to adhere to. Perhaps The Gambler wouldn’t have had such a sorry ending if he’d checked out review on sites from the last year and selected from the fair online casinos out there.
Comic Books Grow Up
Through the 70s and 80s, the silver age and bronze era of comic books came around. Villains that had previously been discarded as not age appropriate were finally allowed onto the scene. If this hadn’t been the case then we’d miss out on amazing villains like Two Face, who was not allowed in comics when he had first been created.
He’s well known for his coin flipping game of chance that he challenges his victims to make. This is a form of gambling and one with ridiculously high stakes for the unwilling player. This made Two Face that little bit more frightening, even in his earliest incarnations.
In the 1990s, comic book writers were struggling to reinvent their wares for modern audiences. During this time, there was a huge overhaul and heroes became cooler. This was the springboard for Gambit, the card playing antihero with a trick or two up his sleeve.
Many of the classic messages of comics were set aside in this decade and the world wasn’t black and white any more, it was much more realistic. Gambit is a good guy but he has a few vices that simply wouldn’t have been acceptable in earlier comics.
The current climate for comic books and their creators is fraught, they’re still coming under pressure to portray their worlds in a certain way. Gambling is just a part of life and it should be represented within the media that we consume, regardless of how the reader may feel about it. We wonder when the next appearance of this hobby will pop up.