29th Nov2018

The Unlikely Relationship Between Roulette and Comic Books

by James Smith

On the surface, it doesn’t appear that the casino and the comic book industry have that much in common. However, when you delve a little bit deeper into the comic book world, it becomes quite apparent that a number of different characters have strong connections with games of chance. To this end, it seems that comic book creators harbour more than just a passing interest in games such as roulette and instead, have embedded their curiosity within the backstories of some of their most famous characters.

It’s worth pointing out that the rising prominence of casino games in the online world has catapulted games such as roulette back into the mainstream. Online casino brands such as Paddy Power now offer a wide range of different variants of the game and thanks to an increased abundance of smartphones and mobile devices, it’s now easier than ever to log in and play your game of choice. The casino has enjoyed a somewhat fleeting relationship with popular culture over the years – it has featured prominently in a number of movies over the years including Croupier, The Hangover and Rainman. Thanks to this exposure, the interest in traditional casino games such as roulette has barely waned in the last couple of decades and this could explain its breakthrough into such a niche market as the comic book industry.

In terms of casino’s relationship with comic books, what better place to start than DC’s character Roulette? Having debuted back in September 2001 in Origins #2 and JSA’s Secret Files, the character is best known as the main antagonist to the ever popular Justice League of America. The character’s connection with roulette and the casino (other than in name) also extends to a secret gambling society in which dangerous villains bet on the outcome of orchestrated fights between superheroes . In addition to this, Roulette is also extremely adept at calculating different odds and winnings. In a rather confusing turn of events, Marvel also has a female character named Roulette. Whilst she isn’t quite as well known as her DC counterpart, she also has abilities pertaining to chance and can fire good and bad luck energy discs at her oncoming opponents .

In other areas, the late, great Stan Lee’s Lucky Man sees roulette play a key role in the plot of the whole show. The Sky One series documents Detective Harry Clayton (James Nesbitt) and his discovery of an ancient bracelet which brings him good luck – a huge win on a roulette table was used to demonstrate the character’s upturn in good fortune on discovery of the jewellery. The Transformers universe also gives a nod in general direction of roulette with the Autobot of the same name. In the Transtech series, readers discover that Roulette once worked as a croupier at a casino in Axiom Nexus and whilst this doesn’t affect her abilities, it’s yet more proof of the fascination that comic book writers seem to have with roulette and other games of chance. 

It’s difficult to pin down exactly why such relationships exist, but the aforementioned examples are only the tip of the iceberg. It would appear that the alluring and somewhat unpredictable nature of games of chance mirror many of the personalities of anti-heroes within the comic book landscape and beyond. Like the casino, these characters are somewhat of an unknown quantity and you’re never quite sure what’s coming next until you strap yourself in for the ride. Whatever the reason, it appears that the relationship is both synergetic and symbiotic in nature so as far as we’re concerned, long may it continue. 
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