If you watch enough TV, you can’t have failed to see the advertising campaign ‘Left Twix, or Right Twix’ launched with great success by confectionery manufacturers Mars Inc. who have been selling Twix chocolate bars for over fifty years.
Exactly why are we mentioning chocolate? Well, the whole point is that the ad reminded us of the never-ending rivalry between two leading comic franchises, both of which are now (unbelievably) fast-approaching their 25th anniversaries.
We expect you have guessed by now that it is Marvel and DC Comics who are our targets. However, you won’t find any superheroes here. To make this more interesting and rather more fun, we thought we’d delve a little deeper into some of the darker characters they have developed over the years, and in particular, their gambling history.
The subject of betting is always a fascinating one, especially when you peek beyond the headlines at subjects relating to the amazing bets that might have been, as discussed at betting.co.uk, or the stories of a cashout that was taken a little too soon — but these gambling tales are usually grounded in real life. What, we wondered, could be discovered if we turned our eyes to fiction, and instead looked at all of the bets and deadly gambles villains made over the years? We found a few fascinating stories to tell when we did just that, and we’ve covered the highlights here…
Let’s begin with the aptly-named Gambler aka Stephen Sharpe, who is the arch rival of the DC Comics character Green Lantern.
He comes from a family of gamblers and learnt his dodgy skills from his grandfather. Not content with just betting, Gambler is also an accomplished criminal and often uses those skills to manipulate sports and casino games putting the odds firmly in his favour.
Known for being Batman’s greatest enemy, The Joker is probably the most famous anti-hero ever created by DC Comics.
Although not technically a gambler, his entire persona is based on a playing card – no prizes for guessing which card his name is stolen from. His dodgy skill set includes creating weapons like a razor-edged deck of cards and using seemingly innocent items to create lethal traps.
Chance is a Marvel masterpiece and he is a gambler through and through. Even his alter ego, Nicholas Powell is portrayed as an accomplished and very wealthy professional punter.
Whilst in character, he makes bets with clients that he can complete a daring criminal mission, but only receives payment if he succeeds. To make the bet more exciting, he agrees to pay them if he fails. He also never plans ahead, just leaves everything to chance – hence his name.
Revisiting DC’s parade of villains, we come to one of the most notorious of them all, Oswald Cobblepot, better-known simply as The Penguin and owner of ‘The Iceberg Casino’.
Penguin’s purportedly legal casino/hotel is a haven for Gotham City’s underworld. Much like the old-school Vegas casinos, in reality it is used for money laundering and as a safe place where his many criminal friends are welcomed to plot, drink and gamble.
Also known as Veronica Sinclair, Roulette is one of the cleverest and most devious villainesses in the DC Comics parade of bad girls.
She is also a professional gambler and owns ‘The House’, a casino which is merely a cover for the illegal fights she hosts. Her club is known as a safe place where the criminal element are entertained by the bloody fights and place bets on the outcomes.
A Few Facts of Comic Life
We couldn’t help but notice that a substantial percentage of DC Comics villains gamble, or have a gambling backstory, whereas Marvel villains seem largely more intent on violence, albeit in a ‘conquer the superhero’ kind of way.
The fact that Marvel is owned by Walt Disney, a corporation that is openly anti-gambling, may have a lot to do with that. DC Comics is now owned by Warner Bros, who are more down to earth and therefore likely to portray more real-world concepts.
Finally, if you want to know more about any Marvel characters, you can find them all here. Or if you’d rather focus on DC Comics heroes and villains, then you’ll want to find out more on this handy site.