The Steven Sharpe III version of Gambler first appeared in 1944 in Green Lantern #12 in a story titled "The Gambler" by writer Henry Kuttner and artist Martin Nodell, as a foe of the original Green Lantern. He was also one of the founding members of the original Injustice Society, which often fought the Justice Society of America.
Fictional character biographies
Steven Sharpe III
|First appearance||Green Lantern Vol. 1 #12 (Summer, 1944)|
|Created by||Henry Kuttner
|Alter ego||Steven Sharpe III|
|Team affiliations||Black Lantern Corps
|Abilities||expert gambler, master of disguise, skilled with Derringer pistol and throwing knives|
Steven Sharpe III came from a long line of compulsive gamblers. When he proposed to his girlfriend, Helen, the day after his high school graduation, she refused unless he could prove he was not a compulsive gambler like his grandfather. She then ran off with a "Pool Hall" Charlie, another gambler, who had just won a fortune on the lottery. Sharpe vowed to become a new person after this day. As luck would have it, an armored truck crashed a few feet away from him. Seeing this as a sign, Sharpe helped himself to all of the money he could get and vowed to take whatever he could from life from that day on. He adopted the name the Gambler in remembrance of his grandfather. For the next few years, the Gambler joined a traveling carnival, where he gained his skills with disguises, pistols, and throwing knives.
Sharpe was immediately successful as a criminal. He started off robbing trains and small town banks. Growing bored, he moved East to the big cities. He was spotted in Gotham City by Green Lantern while standing next to his own wanted poster. The Gambler eluded Green Lantern twice using his special Derringer, which could fire ammonia or blackout gas in addition to real bullets. When he emerged again, he had adopted a new identity after his riverboat gambling grandfather: The Gambler. As the Gambler, he earned early fame by pulling off a small town bank robbery against heavy odds. At some point, Sharpe spent time with a carnival, learning a variety of knife throws and make-up techniques to complete his disguises. So effective were his disguises that Sharpe himself claims to have forgotten his original appearance and his age to this day remains unknown. Initially, Sharpe remained in the Mississippi Delta, robbing trains, small town banks and the like. One of the first true costumed criminals, he rapidly became one of the most successful criminals and developed a cult of personality reminiscent of the gangsters of the previous decade.
By 1944, the Gambler's ego was not satisfied with his Midwestern successes and took his operations to the larger cities of the East. He took the brazen task of hanging out in post offices next to his own "Wanted" poster to provoke passers-by, two of which were Alan Scott and Doiby Dickles. Realizing that the famous criminal was in Gotham City, Scott assumed his identity as Green Lantern and pursued the criminal. He caught up with the Gambler twice, only to be thwarted by the special derringer that the Gambler kept hidden in his sleeve, one which fired ammonia or blackout gas. Finally, at a horse race, the Gambler decided to shift the odds in his favor by provoking the horses to stampede into the crowds to cover his escape. Green Lantern rounded up the beasts, however, and after the capture of his henchmen, the Gambler himself was apprehended and sent to Gotham State Penitentiary as #131313 (Green Lantern vol. 1 #12).
Gambler, like most criminals in comics, was extremely adept at escaping from prison. In 1946 when he wrote a note to Green Lantern telling the hero that he would escape prison and then daring the hero to stop him. When the hero arrived to search the prison, he was surprised to see his friend Doiby Dickles in a cell. The Gambler had used his mastery of disguise to confuse Green Lantern. In the confusion, Gambler managed to escape with Green Lantern's help, as well as to free all of the inmates of the prison. He used the real Dickles as a hostage to escape Green Lantern. In another escape, Gambler bribed the executioner at his own electrocution to rig the floor to be electrified instead of the chair. This incapacitated the crowd, which included Green Lantern, and allowed him to escape.
Gambler clashed with Green Lantern many more times over the years. At one time, he won a gambling vessel and armed it to the teeth. Another time he helped an art collector commit insurance fraud, coming into conflict with Starman and Sandman.
Gambler was one of the original members of the Injustice Society, which planned to kill the Justice Society and control the United States using an army of escaped convicts. The Gambler was able to capture the Atom, and all the other members save Green Lantern were imprisoned. This group failed miserably due to Green Lantern impersonating the Thinker after faking his death, and Gambler returned to prison. He escaped from prison again and came into conflict with The Flash and Green Lantern. He even teamed up with Icicle and Fiddler in an attempt to kill Starman.
At one point, Gambler married and had a son. He had two grandchildren to whom he imparted much of his criminal knowledge. The last time that Sharpe was paroled, he traveled to Las Vegas. He fell in love with the gambling in the Taj Mahal Casino. What the Gambler did not know was that the games in this casino were rigged, and he soon lost every penny. This final defeat coupled with all of the defeats he had suffered at the hands of costumed heroes was too much for Sharpe. Using his famous Derringer pistol, he shot himself in the head. His suicide was later avenged by his granddaughter, Rebecca, who became the villain known as Hazard. His grandson, Steven V, also became a villain: the second Gambler.
Due to the irregularities of comic book time and the difficulty of merging Earth-2 (which was a "real" time comic) into a new Post-Crisis Earth, the year of the Gambler's suicide was either 1) a historical 1985 or 1986, or 2) a movable "one year before the debut of Injustice Unlimited" according to Hazard's background tale told in Infinity Inc #35 (1987)
Steven Sharpe V
After the death of Steven III, Steven Sharpe V took over his grandfather's mantle as the Gambler. While keeping his identity as the Gambler hidden and masquerading as the Joker, he reorganized and reoutfitted the Royal Flush Gang. Under his leadership, the Gang battled the New Titans, but were defeated. (New Titans #68-69)
The Gambler teamed up with Amos Fortune, the Wizard (William Zard), and the second Sportsmaster, created a super-powered "fight club" using members of the Justice Society as combatants. The fight club was broken up by Stargirl, Gypsy, and Vixen.