Batman Gambit: Comic Books

aka: Comics
  • The Voldemort-like villain from the horror comic Locke & Key. So far, he's been manipulating pretty much everyone into his agenda.
  • In Wolverine: Origins, Wolverine has a plan with Bucky. The first part of the plan requires Bucky to hire a mercenary to attack Wolverine. Bucky hires everyone's favorite fourth-wall destroying, partially insane, merc with a mouth, because Bucky knows how he hates that everyone thinks he's a Wolverine knock-off — so Deadpool will draw Wolverine into a very noticeable battle. Deadpool is also the only guy who could have a chance against Wolverine. Hence, the battle ensues, and eventually Deadpool has Wolverine hanging above a secret pool so that he can drown him, which may take a long time. But then, Wolverine's son, Daken, shows up, Bucky shoots Daken with a special bullet that will dull his healing factor, keeping him knocked out for a long time, so Wolverine can un-brainwash him. It turns out, that was the entire point of everything. Deadpool did not get paid.
  • Jubilee was actually able to pull off one of these in an early issue of Generation X, the first time the team dealt with Emplate, the demonic mutant brother of the M-Twins, who could feed off the genetic material of other mutants and assimilate their abilities. Emplate managed to capture and subdue the entire team (even Emma Frost, believe it or not) and had them at his mercy. So Jubilee suddenly decides to spend the time insulting him. (The best one? She parodies David Letterman with "The Top Ten Reasons Emplate is a Loser", number one being that despite all he's doing, he's still not as annoying as his sister M.) After enduring one and a half issues of this, Emplate loses his temper, and uses his draining power on her, only to find out that Jubilee was trying to make him angry on purpose, because she has been known to lose control of her powers when she's angry. Because she succeeds in tricking Emplate into assimilating her powers when he's enraged, well, the results are explosive, and the team is able to fight back.
  • If you know anything about Victor Von Doom, you can easily see why this trope could just as well be called The Doom Gambit.
  • This is the kind of planning that allows Lex Luthor, with no superpowers, to mop the floor with Superman nearly every time the two of them meet. (Until Supes eventually wins, of course.)
    • A Pre-Crisis Superman story had Luthor falling in love, turning good, curing a deadly disease, marrying, and even allowing Superman to read his mind (with a machine) to convince his former foe that he'd changed- but it was all a trick; he erased his own memories of the plan and arranged it so that he genuinely believed he had reformed in order to lure Superman into an inescapable trap. His only error was that he had to make himself forget that he was already married (to an alien woman) for the plan to work... and Superman was aware of that.
  • Spider Jerusalem pulls one in the climax of Transmetropolitan. The first time he meets Gary Callahan he was able to record him with the use of "Source Gas". In their future meetings Callahan is smart enough to nullify such tricks, preventing Spider from getting any dirt on him. But as the story goes on Spider becomes less like a crusading journalist and more like an outright revolutionary, carrying real guns and using lethal force on assailants. After successfully ruining the president's career, he drives the final nail when Callahan meets him one last time to kill him. He has Spider repeatedly scanned for weapons and prepares to have him shot, claiming he nonetheless got a gun past security and it was self defense. Unfortunately for the President, he was relying too much on his belief that Spider had lost it and forgot the first trick he ever played on him. Spider is soaked in Source Gas, and Callahan is exposed.
  • In Marvel's The Infinity Gauntlet crossover, the coldly calculating Adam Warlock sets into motion several futile engagements against the omnipotent Thanos and his upstart successor Nebula, designed to exploit the villains' Achilles' Heel and ineptitude (respectively), and ultimately transition the Infinity Gauntlet to Warlock himself.
    • It's part of the same gambit, but it's worth pointing out that a substantial part of Warlock's gambit was to script an entire battle involving more than a dozen of the galaxy's strongest warriors sacrificing their lives, to get Thanos to raise his hand at the right moment.
    • Warlock's evil half the Magus is not to be outdone in the sequel crossover The Infinity War, implementing an elaborate scheme geared towards the acquisition of the Infinity Gauntlet. Unfortunately, two Chessmasters (three, if you count Thanos' duplicitous doppelganger) are better than one, and after Warlock and Thanos discern the Magus' end game, they execute a counter-scheme that sabotages the villain's newfound godhood, and ultimately leads to his defeat.
  • In Marvel's Excalibur, it is revealed that Merlyn arranged the formation of Excalibur and manipulated many subsequent events (including faking his own death), in order to ultimately prevent the collapse of Merlyn's Energy Matrix and destroy Merlyn's former teacher Necrom. The gambit is only half-successful: while Necrom is destroyed, Captain Britain and Meggan create a feedback loop in the Energy Matrix and destroy it, greatly reducing Merlyn's power.
    Was all this deception really necessary? - Merlyn's daughter Roma
  • In Earth X, Captain America uses Alicia Master's Marvels (animated clay fashioned in the guise of Earth's heroes) to have an army immune to the Skull's mind-control, and to preoccupy the supervillain's superhuman slave army. Cap then disguises himself as a Marvel made in his image to fool the Skull into believing he's also immune to the boy's powers, allowing Cap to get in close and snap the Skull's neck
  • Nick Fury in the Ultimate Marvel universe performs one of these. In order to eliminate a dangerous assassin and recover the high tech rifle he possesses, Fury anonymously contacts the assassin and orders a hit on himself. He manages to successfully lure the assassin into the open and kill him.
    • The best part. The assassin is armed with a gun with X Ray Vision and a Magic Bullet that will phase through any barriers between him and his target. As he's setting up his aim, the last thing he sees is Nick Fury aiming the only other copy of this same rifle at him. He didn't just call a hit on himself, he slipped the assassin just enough information about his own schedule so that he'd know exactly when and where the assassin would attack.
  • A character in the Blacksad album "Artic Nation" is in the middle of one several decades in the making. A key factor in this plot is marrying her own father, while keeping him from discovering this particular bit of information. She succeeds at most of her goals, but her sister is killed in the process and her niece rendered an orphan.
  • Done at least twice in Sin City:
    • In "A Dame to Kill For", Ava leaves Dwight McCarthy for millionaire Damien Lord; then, four years later, comes to Dwight pretending to be afraid of Damien and his servant Manute, playing on Dwight's Lancelot complex to get Dwight to investigate and ultimately kill Damien, leaving her Damien's money.
    • In "That Yellow Bastard", Senator Roark keeps Detective Hartigan from receiving a few letters from the only friend he has left, "Cordelia" (Nancy Callahan, though Roark doesn't know it), then sends Hartigan a severed finger. Predictably, Hartigan, thinking Nancy's in danger, does what he has to in order to make parole so he can rescue Nancy, then goes looking for her, only to find she was safe and unharmed until that moment, when he accidentally revealed to Roark's son, who had been following him since he left prison, that "Cordelia" was Nancy.
  • During the Onslaught Crisis Crossover of the X-Men series, it was revealed that Professor X (like Batman) kept secret files on how to kill each X-Man in case they went rogue, including himself (which was good, since Onslaught was created from a combination of Xavier's and Magneto's minds).
    • Onslaught actually predates "Tower of Babel", the JLA story where Batman's files are revealed, by a few years (and even JLA: Year One, where J'onn did much the same thing, by a period of time).
    • The "Xavier Protocols", as these plans are known, eventually end up becoming important plot elements in various other arcs.
    • In Curse of the Mutants, Xarus's vampire army manages to turn Wolverine. Xarus then puts Logan in the lead of his attack on Utopia, as a psychological gambit to demoralise the mutants. Then, just when Xarus thinks he can't lose, Cyclops reveals the vampirism only worked because Dr Nemesis shut off Wolvie's Healing Factor, and turns it back on. Now Wolverine's back, very unhappy, knows where Xarus is based, and the vamps really aren't expecting him to turn on them.
    Cyclops: I had to assume the possibility that you'd get bitten and turned. In fact, I counted on it.
  • In the 13-issue story "The Kindly Ones" from The Sandman series, Death calls Dream out on having orchestrated a Batman Gambit.
    • What makes it even more amazing is that it's quite possible that he did it unconsciously.
      • As he is the embodiment of Story, it is only natural that tropes would bend to his unconscious will.
      • It's also worth noting that this gambit is a suicide. It's also implied that only two others in existence realize what's happened: Puck who says that he could discuss the subject "endlessly", and Loki, who doesn't realize he's been played until it's too late for him.
  • Interestingly enough, The Joker, in his more serious interpretations, is immune to the Batman Gambit based simply on the fact that he is completely unpredictable.
    • And moreover, that if he can be bothered, he's Dangerously Genre Savvy enough to see through them.
    • Worst of all is if Batman finds himself on the receiving end of a gambit orchestrated by the Joker, something writer Scott Snyder did heavily during the times he used the character in the New 52. After all, the Joker knows Batman just as well as the Bat knows him.
  • Calvin and Hobbes shows a elegantly simple Batman Gambit.
  • In The Black Knight GLORPS Again! by Don Rosa, Arpin Lusene is out to regain his melts-anything-it-touches suit of armor from Scrooge McDuck. At the armor's supposed resting place, he finds that the armor has been replaced with a note stating that it is not there... which Arpin anticipated, and therefore brought a tiny saw along. With it, he saws silhouettes of a knight's armor in the walls, so Scrooge later believes that Arpin has regained his armor and walked through the walls. Worried, Scrooge goes to check out the armor at its true resting place, Arpin tailing him and stealing it.
  • Scrooge McDuck has himself conducted Batman Gambits, of which his archrival, John D. Rockerduck, is frequently the victim. In one story, Scrooge launches an epic scheme involving deliberately cooling down the Earth, risking 100 billion Euros of his own money in the process, and using his understanding of Rockerduck's greediness (of which Scrooge himself is in no short supply) that Rockerduck will buy the whole project off of him in the hopes of reaping massive profits. The project is a money-loser, and Scrooge reveals this only after Rockerduck has paid Scrooge. The sole purpose of this risky scheme? Scrooge was worried that Rockerduck would soon pass him as Richest Duck in the World, and this was a way to get Rockerduck to burn some money on a lousy investment and remain in second place. In another story, Scrooge takes out a massive insurance policy on his ship from Rockerduck's insurance company, and he makes it look like he deliberately sank his own ship for the insurance proceeds. Scrooge counts on Rockerduck to take him to court for insurance fraud, where Scrooge reveals that his ship never sank and that he stands falsely accused by Rockerduck. He points out to the court that Rockerduck smeared Scrooge's good name with the fraud accusations, and demands compensation. The sole purpose of this convoluted scheme? To force Rockerduck to hand over ownership of a small, worthlessalmost  island. An island that Scrooge wanted only because Rockerduck had it, and he didn't.
  • Superman once pulled one of these on Darkseid, and himself. After rescuing Supergirl from being a Female Fury, Supes inducts her as an official hero and sort of parades her around Earth. Angered about losing his prize, Darkseid comes to Earth and seemingly vaporizes her with his Omega Beams. Superman goes apeshit over losing her and beats Darkseid to a pulp and seals him inside the Source Wall. Superman then meets with Supergirl, who used a device to teleport away at the last second, and reports that the plan was successful. They were able to goad Darkseid into coming to fight them personally, and the mere sight of Supergirl's seeming death was able to trigger Superman's Unstoppable Rage so he could curb stomp Darkseid's ass. Batman muses that the plan had no input from him, it was all Clark, and it was brilliant.
  • Marvel's Odin of The Mighty Thor fame has one of his own, when it's revealed during the "Disassembled/Ragnarok" story arc that all of the trials and tribulations that Odin had put Thor through over the years (centuries, millennia) were preparing him to finally be the god to put an end to the Ragnarok Cycle once and for all.
  • Udon Comics has a fun one, in Street Fighter Legends. Karin challenges Sakura to a contest, ANY contest... and Sakura comes up with a Hot-Dog Eating Contest. Karin quickly comes up with the plan. She asks to, at least, be able to pick the time and place of the next contest. She cheats like mad, relying on Sakura to go all out. Sakura does so, and it looks like Karin might win, until it's revealed she was cheating. She goes to her back-up plan. Admit defeat in the stupid, stupid contest, and challenge Sakura IMMEDIATELY to a martial arts match, which Karin wanted. Handicapped. Right there, right now. Sakura, meanwhile, was busy trying not to throw up. It would be a good Xanatos Gambit, if it wasn't for the simple failure condition of Sakura calling foul. Sakura could have NOT exhausted herself in the hot-dog contest, or simply refused the fight. But Sakura is not the person to do that.
  • Believe it or not, Deadpool. You see, everyone thinks that Deadpool's a moron. He's not. This was proved without a doubt when he executed a plan involving the manipulation of the X-Men, HAMMER, Norman Osborn, some random called Kincaid, the SFPD, the public, the local news, and a chicken, over the course of five issues. Deadpool first declared to the X-Men that he was going to kill Kincaid, causing a public fiasco, making the X-Men look like criminals, then, he proceeded to interrupt a live broadcast, wearing a home made X-Men outfit, then, he let himself be captured by Domino, knowing that her morals would mean that when Cyclops ordered Wolverine to "take Deadpool out of the picture", she would protect him, then, Deadpool got Domino to tell him her greatest fear, then stuck the chicken, (which was Domino's worst fear) into an air vent in a train station, knowing full well that Osborn would put Kincaid in an open spot to GET him killed to make the X-Men look bad, fully expecting the X-Men to try to save Kincaid by way of a vent, pulling out the lights FIRST to add to the confusion. Then he flushed Kincaid into the open. While Kincaid was in the open, Deadpool kept an eye out for snipers, PROTECTING Kincaid, while making it look like he was going to kill him. Then, when Wolverine saved Kincaid, Deadpool made a run for it, and fought the X-Men (except for Wolverine who would, by now, be in on the plot, Deadpool made sure of that) on the roof, allowing a camera guy taken by Wolverine to film them, making the X-Men look like heroes, and Osborn to look like an incompetent buffoon, just as planned!
    • Deadpool's got moves.
    • This aspect of Deadpool's personality was lampshaded by Nick Fury in Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 where Nick Fury states that with his intelligence and skill, Deadpool would easily be the most dangerous being on the entire planet if it weren't for his insanity preventing him from doing too much.
  • Pretty much all of Spider-Man's victories against supervillains depend on Batman Gambits, especially ones much more powerful than he is. Spider-Man will either set up in advance or improvise on the spot various traps and goad his enemies into falling into them, and even if he can beat a supervillain in straight combat, he'll joke around and mock them into fury and carelessness to make the fight easier.
  • Tombstone pulled one of these off in a Spider-Man Tangled Webs story that featured him as a Villain Protagonist. After suffering a heart attack (due to his very unhealthy diet) Tombstone was arrested and sent to the super-villain prison the Raft, where he quickly developed an enmity with a crooked correction officer and the Kangaroo, who the correction officer used as his enforcer to keep the inmates in line. Tombstone planned to murder the Kangaroo, but he had a problem – his cellmate, the Spot, learned of the plan, and didn’t want to be an accessory to murder, seeing as he was up for parole soon. Tombstone threatened the much weaker man, but the Spot betrayed the plan to the guards anyway (even though turning stool-pigeon on any inmate, much less one like Tombstone, is usually suicide) and Tombstone was caught in the act. He was sent to solitary, where the crooked officer tormented him and kept his medication from him, while the Spot was granted parole for his act. Eventually, Tombstone got sicker and sicker, until he had a second heart attack. The crooked officer knew he was in trouble, because Tombstone would be transferred, and the Kangaroo wouldn’t work for him if Tombstone survived. So his Number Two arranged for the guy to personally guard the villain as the ambulance transferred him so he could kill the villain and Make It Look Like an Accident. That’s when Tombstone’s long-prepared escape plan came to fruition, and it was revealed that the Number Two and the Spot had been in on it all along. The Spot opened a portal to Switzerland (where Tombstone could get better medical treatment with confidentiality) and the villain killed the correction officer during the transit. (Unfortunately for the Spot, Tombstone later repaid him by snapping his neck, showing that while his heart was healed, it was still black as pitch.)
  • Mr. Natural uses this on just about everyone, which makes them even madder when they realize how easily he's able to manipulate them.
  • The Mole on the team in Runaways attributes this to the success of their plan near the end of the first volume - specifically, they let Nico suggest part of it after arranging things so there wouldn't be many other options.
  • If you followed Thor since Avengers Disassembled, and through Dark Reign and Siege, and up until now, you probably already know this. If you didn't, read this and realize who the real orchestrator behind everything that happened was. Loki. In short? Loki was shown to ensure his own adoption by Odin, caused the last Ragnarok, made sure Thor would revive all the gods, manipulated humans, gods, demons and Doom to ensure he won't have an afterlife and that he would be reincarnated, caused Osborn's downfall, made it possible for Asgard to exist without harming Yggdrasil, all with everyone around him being clueless. And the best part? No one has yet realized the magnitude of the plan that was executed or the reason behind it.
  • W.I.T.C.H. had one that spectacularly failed. In the "New Power" arc, the Oracle learns that there's a new threat to Kandrakar, one so powerful that the girls wouldn't be able to handle it on their own. The big plan was to have the Oracle revive hidden memories inside Matt that made him realize he was once part of Kandrakar, have him take the girl's magic while they were asleep so the Oracle could give them brand new powers, have Matt train them in those new powers, then have them go and beat up the threat. And while they do that, he seals up Kandrakar and basically goes "It's on them, now. Let's wait and see." The Gambit fails due to the fact that the threat already had a foothold on Kandrakar way before he set things into motion and when the girls come to save the day, it takes Yan Lin to smack some sense into the suddenly-overly cocky team and get them to win. It's no wonder the Oracle stepped down and gave the position to Yan Lin after that.
  • In H'el on Earth, H'el was counting on Superboy to destroy most of his Star Chamber because he was actually destroying the fueling station for his ship and freed his ship from its launchpad, helping H'el in his plan to resurrect Krypton at the expense of Earth.
  • In My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic (IDW) Queen Chrysalis tricks the Mane Six into getting into a huge argument, knowing full well that they will inevitably reconcile and strengthen their bond, thereby giving the Changelings more energy to feed on, and making Twilight's magic more powerful for when she needs to drain it.
  • Snively pulls something like this a few times in trying to get rid of his dear uncle Robotnik/Eggman in Sonic the Hedgehog, befitting his role as The Starscream. The first Robotnik, his "dear" Uncle Julian, was killed when his superweapon, the Ultimate Annihilator, is destroyed - Snively had sabotaged it and knew it was a matter of time before the Freedom Fighters would find a way to aim it at him, as he was now the only one who could be killed. The second Robotnik, Dr. Eggman, was slowly being driven insane by his constant losses. All he had to do was call his new love, the Iron Queen, and let her know when the Egg finally broke.
  • The Iron Man comic showed that Howard Stark pulled an epic one during "The Secret Origin of Tony Stark". Howard and Maria Stark were expecting a child, but they come to find out that their child was very ill. He wouldn't be able to be active at all if not be dead. Enter the Rigellian Recorder robot 451, who promises that he can heal him in exchange for using him for a powerful robot that is said to help lead humanity into a golden age of peace and prosperity. However, Howard realizes that all of 451's talks of this use Alexander the Great as an example and realizes that his son would live, only to die years later. What does he do? He finds a way to negate 451's modifications, then, while hiding the child away, adopts another and proclaims him to be his son. The boy he adopted? Tony Stark. When 451 came to collect, he had no idea of what had happened.
  • Watchmen:
    • Ozymandias needs super-powerful Dr. Manhattan out of the picture in order to carry out his plan. To accomplish this, Ozymandias connives to induce cancer in several of Manhattan's associates, then arranges for him to appear on a live television talk show where a journalist will ambush him with the accusation of having caused the cancers. This predictably drives Manhattan (whose emotional connection to humanity had been weakening for years) to decide that life on Earth isn't worth the hassle and teleport to Mars.
    • The Comedian's murder had already left Rorschach wondering whether someone was "gunning for masks" (i.e., planning to kill all the active and retired superheroes). When Dr. Manhattan is forced into exile, Rorschach recognizes that he was framed, and becomes convinced that a mask-killer is at work. He's wrong, but Ozymandias decides to encourage Rorschach's belief by making himself the next target. Through intermediaries, he hires an assassin to kill him, then evades the attack, disarms the assassin, and kills him in a way that looks like suicide. This not only convinces Nite Owl and the others that Rorschach is right, but also puts Ozymandias himself beyond suspicion. Later, Ozymandias contrives to have Rorschach arrested under circumstances that make him appear to be the mask-killer.
    • In the end, Nite Owl and Rorschach discover that Ozymandias is responsible, but when they (along with Dr. Manhattan and Silk Spectre) confront him with the evidence, he reveals that his plot has averted World War III, and the others can't ever disclose what they know without jeopardizing the peace and possibly bringing about the destruction of all life on Earth. They are forced to help him cover up his crimes. It's also implied that Nite Owl and Rorschach only uncover the truth because Ozymandias has left the evidence for them to find on his office computer, protected only by a very weak password (and a user interface that actually tells them when they have a partial match and encourages them to keep guessing). By luring them to his Antarctic headquarters while Ozymandias's masterstroke is being carried out in New York, he ensures that they can't interfere with it (and, in fact, don't even know it's happening until too late).
  • In Loki: Agent of Asgard, the main villain of the piece manages to pull off one of these that involves time-travel, murdering a shapeshifter who looks like an otter, setting the shapeshifter's brothers against each other, a young Odin, Asgard's greatest hero, and shooting a giant fish that's actually a dwarf with a bazooka, all to cause the creation of a sword that the current Loki acquired before the series began.
  • During the climax of IDW's Angel comic series After the Fall, Angel pulls one off on the Senior Partners. Having realized that the Senior Partners' need him alive for their long-term Evil Plan, Angel provokes the now-vampiric Gunn into killing him, forcing the Partners to rewind time so the Fall of Los Angeles never happened.
  • In a crossover with Daredevil and The Defenders, the hero and team find themselves at the mercy of the Grandmaster and an old Doctor Doom robot called the Prime Mover and the Grandmaster is able to beat the Prime Mover and obtain the Earth. When he decides he wants to turn Earth into a breeding ground for super-powered pawns, Daredevil challenges him to a game of heads or tails, double or nothing, playing with the Grandmaster's addiction to gambling. Though Daredevil cheats to win, the entire plan hinged on Grandmaster accepting. Hawkeye would pull the same trick years later with even more blatant cheating.

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