Heroes and villains have been depowered in multiple ways… but few places are as insidious about stealing powers as the Casino Cosmico!
People can gain superpowers in a myriad of ways in the Marvel Universe (accidental radiation exposure, genetic mutations, magic spells), but they can also lose those powers in almost as many ways (additional radiation exposure, rewritten reality, power-draining mutants). Most of the time, the devices used to remove powers need to be tailored to the hero or villain – but there’s one place where anyone can lose (or win) special powers, the Casino Cosmico!
An intergalactic casino, the Casino Cosmico attracts a wide variety of heroes, extraterrestrials, and interdimensional demons who all come to bet their valuables on worthy prizes. Unlike many casinos, anything can be used as a wager at the Casino Cosmico – from your memories, to the color of your lips… to your superpowers. And while it might seem that no self-respecting hero would ever put up their great powers up as a bargaining chip, things can get pretty desperate there.
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In Silver Surfer #7, the Surfer takes his human companion Dawn Greenwood to the casino after she insists that she wants them to take more risks. Revealing that the casino is actually an entire dimension devoted to gambling, the Surfer stated it was the riskiest place in all creation. Dawn was enthralled by the place, which was basically Las Vegas on steroids, while the Surfer got to witness the devil Mephisto actually lose his golden fiddle to an alien musician with multiple arms who could play multiple violins at once.
Unknown to Dawn and the Surfer, their arrival was noticed by the casino’s owner – none other than the Grandmaster, an Elder of the Universe whose existence was defined by games of chance. Seeing an opportunity to play his own game, the Grandmaster told his people to start the Surfer and Dawn off with a small line of credit, lead them to the easy tables, let them win for a while, and provide them with plenty of complimentary drinks.
As people could bet anything at the casino, once Dawn lost all of her chips, she simply bet with her shoes. The Surfer, meanwhile, showed that he was “up” by revealing he had upgraded his coloring to gold. Things started getting weirder when Dawn began winning bizarre things like the memory of an alien’s first born, making her think the casino wasn’t such a great place. But by then, it was too late – the Surfer had already bet his surfboard on a game – and lost.
Desperate to get his surfboard back, the two begin making riskier, foolish bets and lose their ability to see the color red and the power to pronounce the letter “B.” At this point, the Grandmaster finally enters the picture and offers to let the Silver Surfer win everything back – if he plays against him. The Surfer ends up playing a no-limit game of poker against the casino owner, and bets the star maps in his head, his Power Cosmic, and (with her consent) Dawn’s freedom. Although it appears the Grandmaster has the upper hand, the Surfer finally gets him to blink when he demands that the Grandmaster forfeit the right to play games of any kind until the end of time. Unwilling to accept stakes that high, the Grandmaster folds and the Surfer wins back everything.
Although the Silver Surfer and Dawn win back everything, the question of whether they really learned anything is put to question when they begin taking even more foolish risks after leaving the casino. Others would continue to gamble at the Casino Cosmico, undoubtedly winning (and losing) many valuable items, including superpowers. The casino’s glamour and riches certainly make it an attraction for many, but while Dawn and the Surfer may have been the rare exception, most visitors likely learned that in the end, the house truly does win every time.
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