In terms of billionaire superheroes there are: Batman, Iron Man, Moon Knight, The Golden Age Sandman, Professor Xavier, etc. The list of wealthy villains is even more dramatic: Lex Luthor, Ra's Al Ghul, Norman Osborn (The Green Goblin), Hush, Count Nefaria, Spymaster, Justin Hammer, Obadiah Stane, The Mandarin, Sebastian Shaw, etc. It seems that anyone who encounters a financial windfall in the comic book universe immediately invests all of money into either saving the world or destroying it.
In some cases, the actions of these comic book millionaires seem somewhat logical. Professor Xavier used his money to create a sanctuary for mutants who were being persecuted. He also used his money to train said mutants using a holographic "Danger Room" created with technology gleaned from alien bird-people. But with that superfluous spending aside, we can look at the Xavier Institute as version of the WMCA for people who can shoot lasers out of their eyes and with slightly less gay sex on the grounds (see: The Village People). Wealthy industrialist Tony Stark built the Iron Man suit to save his life and then continues flying around in it because he's a joy-riding arrogant ego-maniac. I understand that.
But then there's this man...
Norman Osborn started as a weapons and chemical designer. But like all wealthy industrialists do in the comic book world, he decided profit margins weren't enough. And as such he began riding around on a bat-shaped glider in a green and purple outfit and started throwing pumpkin bombs. It truly boggles my mind when i consider the amount of research and development that must have gone into the creation of pumpkin-shaped explosives. Some poor R&D guy had to sit in front of his computer screen, working on plastic explosive casings while dealing with Norman standing over his shoulder and shouting, "No, it needs to be MORE ORANGE!"
It simply boggles the mind that an industrialist who had made millions designing lucrative compounds, weapons, and technology would then perform an engineering about-face and decide that the best means of long distance transportation would be a halloween-themed glider that uses foot-grips to secure the rider. That's right, Norman Osborn expects a commando to be secured to a glider flying 800 miles an hour by the same technology that keeps boots connected to skis. Not to mention the fact that Norman Osborn decides that he is the best person to use this new technology. A company of hundreds spends millions of dollars to create a new series of weapons only to have the company CEO steal it all and fly around new york wearing a Halloween costume. In this economic downturn, it seems truly tragic for a company to nearly go bankrupt because their fourth-quarter profits were spent "trying to kill Spider-Man."
This persistent pattern of a wealthy individual building a financial empire through shrewd economic skill and then destroying it almost instantly through costumed antics shows only one thing. In comic books, all money is coated with a powerful hallucinogen. When you aquire enough of it you go crazy and then act accordingly. I will no doubt come back to this in later posts.