Steven Sharpe III: Facts You Didn’t Know:
We all know The Gambler as the archnemesis of Green Lantern in the old school, 1940s DC-verse. This confounding character found his life’s purpose in taking chances and tempting luck — not to mention being a royal pain in Green Lantern’s backside.
His proficiency and dexterity with weapons and clout with Fortune earned him his name and reputation but what about the little-known facts that really brought this character to life on the page? Today we’re diving into Gambler’s backstory and odds are, you’ll learn something new.
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He learned many of his deadly skills from a travelling carnival
After his marriage proposal was rejected by his girlfriend, Helen, and she ran off with “Pool Hall” Charlie, another gambler, who had just won a fortune on sweepstakes, Steven decided that luck was all that mattered and he would just take anything he could get from life. Clearly, bad breakups are how villains are made.
He then donned the persona of The Gambler, drank a toast to his grandfather’s memory (a compulsive gambler and the main reason Helen said “no”) and ran off to join the carnival. There, he learned all of his trademark skills like the art of throwing knives, marksmanship with a pistol, and some serious makeup artistry, allowing him to later become a master of disguise.
Gambler was one of the original members of the Injustice Society
What? The Injustice Society? Yep, that’s right. Gambler wanted to kill all of the members of the Justice Society in order to take control of the United States of America. Who knew that was the key to US domination?
Unfortunately for our friend Steve, the group and his plot failed miserably and he was thrown into prison. Don’t worry, he escaped again later. Those villains always seem to, don’t they?
Steven’s grandchildren became villains too
Later in life, Steven did end up getting married and having a son. He passed on much of his villainous knowledge to his two grandchildren and his grandson, Steven Sharpe V, actually ended up following in his grandfather’s footsteps, becoming the second Gambler.
His granddaughter, Rebecca “Becky” Sharpe, later became the DC villain known as Hazard, eventually avenging her grandfather’s suicide by joining the Injustice Society to take down Infinity Inc., a superhero team composed mainly of the children of members of the Justice Society of America, who were, ironically, rejected from membership in the Justice Society itself.
Gambler lost everything in Las Vegas
After years in prison, Steven was paroled from jail and for the last time, it would seem. With freedom ringing in his ears, he made his way to the Mecca of his life’s work, Las Vegas, Nevada, where he fell in love with the city, and more specifically, the Taj Mahal casino.
Entranced by the glitz, glamour, and the sheer enchantment of the Taj Mahal, Gambler lost himself in game after game in the casino palace. Unbeknownst to him, however, every single game in the Taj Mahal was rigged by the House and soon he’d lost every last penny he had.
He ended it all with his modified Derringer
Gambler’s famous weapon, a modified Derringer, was a hallmark of the character himself and a gun of his own invention. In addition to shooting regular bullets, this nifty piece of hardware could also fire ammonia or blackout gas, depending on the situation called for.
Steven’s sad story comes to a close with a defeat at his own hands. Rather than going back to prison, admitting failure, or facing his devastating losses at the Taj Mahal, Gambler turned his own supervillain weapon on himself, committing suicide with a shot to the head.
Steve came back to life
But it doesn’t end there. Oh, no. Not for our intrepid gambling artist.
As part of the Blackest Night event, a 2009–2010 American comic book crossover storyline published by DC Comics, Steven’s corpse was actually reanimated by the Black Power Ring — one of several powerful artefacts wielded by the deceased and fueled by death, instead of light from the emotional spectrum.
And it still doesn’t end there. The shambling corpse of Gambler was then recruited to the Black Lantern Corps, a grim organization of corporeal revenants (resembling intelligent zombies or jiangshi). Phew, what an afterlife.