Are Comics Influenced by Casinos?

It was in 1827 that Swiss national Rodolphe Töpffer created the first ever comic strip, thus introducing the world to an entirely new way of sharing stories. Over the centuries, a number of vast, rich universes have been created within the pages of many comic books, each with their own heroes, villains and legends.

While the comic genre may be packed with a variety of stories, though, there are a few themes that seem to run throughout them. One of these is casinos and casino games, which avid comic book fans are sure to have noticed. Perhaps it is the competitive nature of casino games or the glitzy atmosphere that is often found within a Las Vegas Strip casino that appeals to comic writers. Whatever it may be, there are several characters with obvious casino connections:

The Joker

For instance, one of the primary and most popular examples of casinos influence on comic books is The Joker. Batman’s arch-nemesis first appeared in 1940; however, he was not supposed to become the notorious DC supervillain that he is today. The writers of Batman intended to scrap The Joker pretty early on, but editors persuaded them to keep him as he was just so interesting.

From the beginning, The Joker has been extremely intelligent, crafty and psychotic, enabling the creators to take his story in almost any new way they please. Of course, he is most recognised for his resemblance to jokers found in decks of cards and is often depicted carrying these cards around. Even in more modern versions of Batman, The Joker continues to flaunt his interest in cards, as he sends Commissioner Gordon one at the end of Batman Begins.

The Gambler

Soon after the creation of The Joker, Henry Kuttner and Martin Nodell introduced the world to The Gambler in 1944’s Green Lantern #12. Although he’s not nearly as famous as his predecessor, The Gambler is quick-witted, strategic and talented at almost every casino game you can imagine from roulette to pinball.

Royal Flush Gang

Casino’s influence within comic books did not stop at The Joker and Gambler, though, as the entire Justice League has been faced with an entire group of card-based baddies. The Royal Flush Gang, also known as RFG, first appeared in Justice League of America #43 back in 1966 and is made up of Ace, King, Queen, Jack and 10. What was their ultimate superpower? To change luck using stellaration tech combined with playing cards.

The Turn-Around

Interestingly, as comic books have become more popular, casinos have started to acknowledge some of these characters as well, leading to a somewhat symbiotic relationship. King of casino characters The Joker now features in a number of iGaming titles such as Batman & The Joker Jewels and The Dark Knight slot, both of which can be found at online casinos listed by comparison sites such as, for example – many of which offer welcome bonuses and free spins to customers. In fact, almost every new comic book movie release gets its own casino title now, a development that will probably cause even more casino-centric characters in the future.

As for why casino themes appear so heavily within certain comic books, it is hard to tell. As we noted at the beginning, the risky and uncertain nature of casino games is perhaps the most probable reason, as our favorite superheroes often have to gamble with their lives when facing The Joker, The Royal Flush Gang and The Gambler.

What do you think?

Featured Image Source – “The Joker total” (CC BY 2.0) by Marnix de Vries