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Blaise is Doctor Tachyon's grandson. He is a human/Takisian hybrid with very potent mind control powers and a very nasty personality. He was raised in France by a Communist terrorist and his grandfather was not aware of his existence until they met in 1987 during the World Health Organization tour that Tachyon was a part of. Tachyon subsequently adopted him and brought him to the US. Not one of his better ideas.
- Big Bad: In Book 10, Double Solitaire, he instigates the first world war on Takis in thousands of years in an effort to seize complete power.
- Body Surf: In the Jumper books he acquires this power. It doesn't normally work on targets with a Psychic Block Defense, so he combines physical torture with psionic attack using his mind control powers to break through Tachyon's defenses long enough to use this power on him.
- The Bully: A textbook example.
- Card-Carrying Villain: Played completely seriously. One of Blaise's few "good" qualities is that he is not an hypocrite. He admits to himself that he likes to hurt people.
- Cock Fight: A particularly dark example in One-Eyed Jacks when Blaise and Tachyon lust for the same woman, Dr. Cody Havero.
- Creepy Child: In his first couple of appearances, bordering on Enfant Terrible. Becomes even worse as an adult.
- Dirty Communist: Played with. Blaise was raised by a Communist terrorist, and he uses vaguely socialist rethoric in his subversion of Takisian society in Double Solitaire, but he doesn't appear to have any real ideological commitment, being more For the Evulz.
- Evil Redhead: Inherited Tachyon's red hair, though Blaise's is a more common shade than Tachyon's metallic red.
- Evil Virtues: Unlike most bullies, Blaise is not a coward. He is physically very brave, sometimes recklessly so.
- French Jerk: Born and raised in France, somewhat dismissive of American culture, the English language, and even American guns.
- Grand Theft Me: Can do this by way of a threeway "jump", leaving the other two individuals in each other's bodies. He uses this to transfer his grandfather into the body of a teenage girl.
- Mind Control: While he lacks full telepathy, Blaise's mind control powers are extraordinary even by Takisian standards. He can control the Morakh, a Super Soldier breed of Takisian designed to be resistant to mind control.
- Obliviously Evil: Blaise has shades of this when he is a young kid, since he is a very powerful mind controller with no moral compass and living a somewhat sheltered life. However, when he grows up he comes to realize and accept how much of a monster he is.
- Pet the Dog: Subverted in Double Solitaire. Blaise claims to be buddies with Jay Ackroyd, a man he used to respect when he was a kid, and then proceeds to cut off his fingers.
- Politically Incorrect Villain: Blaise is a male chauvinist, something he may have inherited from Tachyon, but he has none of Tachyon's sensitive exterior and over-protective attitude towards the ladies.
- Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: Transfers his grandfather into the body of a teenage girl specifically to rape him/her! Interestingly, the Takisians have a much stronger rape taboo than humanity does, and they consider rapists to be either hopelessly depraved or at best mentally-diseased, even if the rapist is a Psi Lord. Blaise is basically Exhibit A.
- Start of Darkness: Blaise had many traits of The Sociopath from the beginning, but he really got worse after briefly becoming Ti Malice's mount, and later when he and Tachyon got into a fight over Cody Havero that ended with Blaise running away.
- Teens Are Monsters: Was raised by a French Communist revolutionary to use his mind control powers to commit acts of terrorism. Tachyon's attempts to provide a better upbringing fall completely flat and Blaise only gets worse with age. By the time he's an adult he's pure evil.
- Uneven Hybrid: Actually three-quarters human, one-quarter Takisian Psi Lord.
His real name is Tisianne brant T'sara sek Halima sek Ragnar sek Omian, an alien prince from the Takisian race. His people created the Wild Card virus. Tachyon tried to prevent the virus from being tested on Earth, but failed and was left stranded on Earth. Feeling extremely guilty, he devoted his life to help the victims of the virus.The series has Loads and Loads of Characters; amongst all of them, Dr. Tachyon is arguably the main protagonist.
- Agent Peacock: Don't let the flamboyance and frilly clothes fool you. Like all Takisian Psi Lords, Tachyon has been trained from early childhood to survive his people's kill-or-be-killed culture.
- The Atoner: Tried and failed to prevent the release of the Enhancer on Earth. Since he was one of its developers, he feels obligated to care for those affected and tries to find a way to cure it.
- Blue Blood: By way of an alien Super Breeding Program that has turned his caste into a Supernatural Elite.
- Butt-Monkey: In the later novels he suffers so much that it comes closest to Cosmic Plaything.
- Byronic Hero: Tachyon has more than a few traits of this archetype, including being sophisticated, sensitive, passionate, very emotional, and suffering significant personal trauma. And rebelling against Takisian society.
- Camp Straight: As an alien aristocrat he dresses very flamboyantly and behaves similarly.
- The Casanova: Tries to sleep with every single woman he finds attractive.
- Defector from Decadence: Tachyon is quite disgusted with Takisian society, even before their decision to test the Wild Card virus on Earth. Ironically, he is still very much a Takisian Psi Lord in many ways, though he takes a more Noblesse Oblige stance.
- Forced Sleep: One of his main psionic attacks is inducing sleep on unsuspecting victims.
- Human Aliens: All Takisians are.
- Implausible Hair Color: Tach's hair is metallic red, described as looking like fine copper wires.
- Informed Attribute: Tachyon supposedly possesses some limited precognitive abilities that are a valued trait of his bloodline. In practice however, he almost never foresees any problem he encounters, even major ones like the Swarm. He does have a couple of vaguely prophetic dreams, however, such as dreaming of assassins before JFK's assassination.
- Interspecies Romance: See The Casanova, above.
- It's All My Fault: How he got like this given his upbringing is a mystery, though there are a few hints that Tachyon carries a recessive gene that makes him very empathetic.
- The Lost Lenore: Blythe van Renssaeler, Tachyon's lover from the 1940s, fits this trope to a T.
- Men Don't Cry: Completely averted. In Takisian culture, males are not trained to restrain their emotions.
- Mind over Manners: Played straight in order to prevent Tachyon's telepathy from becoming a Story-Breaker Power. Tachyon almost never reads the minds of anyone around him, even though he is one of the most powerful, and unquestionably the most skillful, telepaths on Earth. This is what makes it possible for him to be close to people like Senator Hartmann without realizing that they are evil. Why Tachyon refrains from reading minds is unclear however, since in Takisian Psi Lord culture telepaths are considered to be entitled to read the minds of non-telepaths. It is also considered prudent to stay alert to the thoughts of those around you because the number one cause of death among Psi Lords is assassination.
- Morally Ambiguous Doctorate: He knows a lot about genetics and biochemistry, and was part of the research team that created the virus.
- My Greatest Failure: What happened to Blythe haunts Tachyon for a long, long time.
- Noble Bigot: Tachyon is disgusted by jokers, since he was raised in a culture that practices eugenics and terminates the deformed. However, he is aware that Takisian culture is monstrous and does his best to care for and protect the jokers.
- Older Than They Look: Takisians age very slowly. He is eighty years old already, but he is physiologically in his twenties at most.
- Omniglot: He speaks English, German, French, Spanish, and several other languages, human and alien. In fairness, being a telepath does help one pick up languages.
- Overly Long Name: Tachyon's actual name is Prince Tisianne brant Ts'ara sek Halima sek Ragnar sek Omian of House Ilkazam (and that's just his first name; his full name would list his genealogy for the last thousand generations).
- Pintsized Powerhouse: Tachyon is a short, delicate man, but he is far stronger and tougher than he appears, and also an effective martial artist. And that is not even counting his psychic powers.
- Psychic Powers: As a Takisian Psi Lord, he is a powerful telepath as well as a mind-controller and possesses elaborate mental shields.
- Purple Eyes: Probably as a result of the eugenics program that gave rise to his super-race.
- Reed Richards Is Useless: Tachyon's advanced knowledge of biology doesn't affect Earth science much. This trope is especially notable because Tachyon could really use more funding for the clinic and his research on the Trump Virus. Taking the time out to cure Cancer, AIDS and other terrestrial diseases would actually make him the dominant power in the pharmaceutical industry. Interestingly, nobody else, including the government, seems to think of this either.
- There are a few partial justifications. His cousin Zabb has implied that Tachyon isn't as much of a scientific genius as he is assumed to be, calling all his research "derivative". Tachyon is also so obsessed with the Wild Card virus, which he sees as his direct fault, that he may be loath to devote serious time to study and cure other diseases he doesn't feel responsible for. Also, Tachyon is a bit paranoid about working closely with Earth's governments and institutions, after his bad experiences in the 1940s and 1950s.
- Royals Who Actually Do Something: Tachyon is an alien prince, and also a man of action.
- Some Call Me Tis: Ironically, amongst their own families it is quite normal to carve off all the extra names and refer to each other by a greatly shortened nickname. Tachyon is called Tis by his relatives, although he never encourages such familiarity on Earth, which is why he uses a pseudonym.
- Trauma Conga Line: Tachyon's stories tend to be this. Taken Up to 11 after Ace in the Hole.
Jube the Walrus
A humanoid walrus that owns a newspaper stand in Jokertown. Everybody likes old, harmless Jube. No one knows that he isn't a joker, or even human. Jube is actually an alien spy, studying Earth for the Network, an alien The Federation.
- Alien Among Us: Has been living incognito among humans since the 1950s. It helps that Wild Cards Earth has plenty of disfigured and mutated human beings, so that Jube appears to be just one more joker.
- Alien Lunch: Enjoys meat that has gone spoiled and would be poisonous to an human stomach.
- Big Fun: Jube is very fat, and very gregarious and likable.
- Bizarre Alien Reproduction: Jube's race is hermaphroditic.
- Defector from Decadence: Sort of. Jube's loyalty has gradually shifted towards humankind after all the years he spent on Earth. Still, his own species is not evil or decadent, but in fact remarkably human-like in personality. However, he used to be an employee of the Network, a federation of ultra-capitalistic aliens.
- Going Native: As highlighted in Aces High, Book 2 of the series, Jube is an alien spy that has come to identify with and even love human beings and their culture.
- Humans Are Special: Jube comes to view mankind as this, even though he is fully aware of their flaws as a civilization.
- N-Word Privileges: Jube knows a lot of jokes about jokers and is very fond of telling them. Since he is actually an alien spy, and not really a deformed human, he is immediately called out on this when Tachyon, Popinjay, and the Turtle discover he is an alien.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: The salt-of-the-earth joker newsie is actually a xenologist from a more advanced civilization.
- Out of Focus: Was one of the protagonists of Aces High, but has only a very small role in later books.
- Petting Zoo People: Looks like an humanoid walrus.
- Sarcastic Confession: When he admits to being an alien spy, most people disregard it as a joke.
- Warm-Hearted Walrus: Of course.
Aces in general
Aces are victims of the Wild Card virus that developed superhuman abilities while mantaining their human appearance. They account for 1% of the victims. The category is somewhat subjective. A few wild carders have minor physical deformities (or big but attractive deformities) along with potent superhuman abilities, and are generally still considered aces. A subcategory of ace is the deuce, an ace with very minor abilites, again this category is subjective, as some abilities are more useful than they first appear.Tropes that apply to aces in general:
- All There in the Manual: A lot about ace powers and origins is explained in the appendix of the first novel.
- Big Eater: Many aces are this, due to their accelerated metabolisms and their powers being Cast from Calories.
- Differently Powered Individual: They're not superheroes, they're aces. The term "Metahuman" is also very common in Wild Cards, and may have predated the DCU's heavy usage of the term in their post-Crisis universe.
- Freak Lab Accident: Kind of. In many cases, the latent wild card virus is activated by situations of extreme stress and the power manifested depends on the circunstances of the crisis.
- Hyperactive Metabolism: It's been noted a few times that aces are somewhat tougher and heal faster than nats, even those aces that lack physical superpowers.
- Magic Feather: Many aces have objects, gestures, or rituals that they need to activate their powers. Obviously, the power is actually internal, but the way the wild card virus works as an enabler of subconscious desires makes the Magic Feather almost always indispensable.
- Magic-Powered Pseudoscience: Aces who are superpowered inventors tend to build objects that work in this way. These objects can't be mass produced. It helps to explain why Reed Richards Is Useless.
- Personality Powers: All aces have those. It's justified, since the wild card virus mutates people according to their own subconscious desires and fears.
- Psychic Powers: Actually, almost all ace powers are this, even when they appear to be physical like superstrength, flight, shapechanging, or energy projection. All of them are explained as specialized mind over matter. Many aces also have "standard" psychic powers like telepathy and telekinesis. These standard psychic powers used to be more common in the older novels.
- Psychoactive Powers: A feature of a lot of aces.
- Secret Identity: Almost always averted, as mantaining a secret identity is too impractical. Only aces that really, really need them tend to have them.
- Super Team: There are very few of those in Wild Cards, since aces tend to be an individualistic bunch. Common exceptions are the Four Aces in the 1940s and the Committee in the newer novels. Informal team-ups are extremely common, though.
- Superheroes Wear Tights: Usually averted in the Wild Cards universe, but not always. Many public aces that debuted in the 1960s and 1970s wear superhero costumes, since it was the age of wild card chic.
The main antagonist of the first trilogy of novels, the Astronomer is an insanely powerful Evil Sorcerer that is also the leader of his own dark cult. He is a bad guy's bad guy. Just count the number of "evil" tropes.
- Arch-Enemy: The Astronomer and Fortunato both have many enemies, but their own rivalry is extremely bitter, as The Astronomer has killed many of Fortunato's beloved prostitutes, Fortunato has foiled the plans of The Astronomer several times, and both of them are philosophically opposed to each other, with both using sex as the totem of their powers.
- Astral Projection: One of the Astronomer's many abilities.
- Bald of Evil: Like an evil Professor X, the Astronomer is a bald, old psychic in a wheelchair.
- Big Bad: The Astronomer is the main villain of the first trilogy of books, and is obsessed with the accumulation of power.
- Diabolical Mastermind: He is the evil leader of the Egyptian Masons, his own creepy cult and criminal organization.
- Evil Counterpart: The Astronomer has the same broad array of potent powers — basically anything that is a thematic fit for "magic", as inspired by Eastern mysticism — and charges them by having sex much like Fortunato, but whereas Fortunato sees sex as a spiritual, creative process, The Astronomer rapes and kills his partners and only uses his powers to gain more power.
- Evil Cripple: When not super-charged with psychic energy, he is bound to a wheelchair.
- Evil Old Folks: A very evil dude that looks like your kindly old grandfather.
- Evil Sorcerer: Somewhat subverted, in that his "dark magiks" are actually psionic powers given to him by the alien virus.
- Notably, he himself is fully aware of this, and specifically tells another Ace that their powers are the product of Takisian biotechnology. The ritualistic stuff is just a mental exercise to help focus and control his powers.
- Expy: What if Professor Charles Xavier were completely depraved?
- Four Eyes, Zero Soul: Wears a pair of thick glasses that are compared to "broken mirrors" a few times.
- Hannibal Lecture: Very fond of giving those, since he is basically a nihilistic power mad monster who enjoys toying with people.
- Laser-Guided Amnesia: Another of the Astronomer's signature powers is his ability to mind wipe people. He is even capable of removing everything, leaving the unfortunate victim a vegetable.
- No Name Given: Always refered to by titles or nicknames. Justified, in that not even the Astronomer knows his real name, since his memories were wiped when he first acquired his superhuman powers.
- Politically Incorrect Villain: Calls Fortunato the n-word a couple of times.
- Psychic Powers: Possess pretty much all of them and some.
- Religion of Evil: The Astronomer is the leader of the ultra-creepy Egyptian Masons.
- Superpower Lottery: Telepathy, telekinesis, flight, phasing, energy blasts, precognition. He can do pratically everything.
- They Look Just Like Everyone Else!: Most times, the Astronomer has an undeniable aura of creepiness and power about him, however after he dies, he appears to be just an ordinary old man, causing the general public to doubt that he really was the dangerous supervillain the police and the Aces claimed he was.
A bag lady with the power to communicate with and control animals. Her best friends are two alley cats. However, she has a few close human friends: fellow outcast Sewer Jack Robicheaux and district attorney Rosemary Muldoon.
- Animal Eye Spy: One of her most useful powers, Bagabond can count on New York City's population of rats and pigeons as her own remote viewing devices.
- The Beastmaster: A function of her powers. She always has a couple of animal helpers close by. The most prominent are a couple of unusually strong and intelligent alley cats.
- Blessed with Suck: Her powers have alienated her from human society, since she finds animal minds much more comfortable to deal with than human personalities.
- Crazy Cat Lady: The superheroic version of this trope.
- Emotionless Girl: Prefers animals to people and rarely displays emotion.
- Friend to All Living Things: An interesting variation. Even though she sees herself as a protector of New York City's animal population, she isn't all that sentimental towards animals - her two pet cats excepted. She even exploits her animal armies in a few cases, usually under Rosemary Muldoon's influence.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Has many shades of this. She is uncomfortable with most human beings and usually shuns human company, but she is very loyal to her few friends.
- Not Good with People: More of a Type 2 - Grumpy. One of the reasons Bagabonds lives on the streets is that she abhors human society, much prefering the company of her animals.
- Obfuscating Insanity: Pretends to be a crazy street person so she will be left alone, but is actually sane and very intelligent.
- Platonic Life-Partners: With Sewer Jack, after a brief little bit of Incompatible Orientation.
- Put on a Bus: After the events of Book 5, Down and Dirty, she moves to Central America. However, she appears one more time in Book 14, Marked Cards.
- She Cleans Up Nicely: Not unattractive when she makes the effort to look civilized.
- Speaks Fluent Animal: Doesn't actually talk to them, it's all telepathic.
- Stuffed into the Fridge: In a rare gender-flipped inversion, it's her boyfriend in Down and Dirty that is senselessly killed to motivate her.
- Toxic Friend Influence: Rosemary Muldoon ultimately proves to be very bad news for Bagabond.
- Younger Than They Look: Looks like she is in her 60s. But when she takes the time and effort to clean up it becomes apparent that she is in her 30s.
Earl Sanderson, a powerful and charismatic black superhero from the 1940s and important figure in the civil rights movement. He was a member of the Exotics for Democracy. Capable of flight and generating force fields.
- Animal-Themed Superbeing: His ace name is actually a reference to his squadron of all black fighter aces in World War II. It also doubles as a reference to his profession as a lawyer ("legal eagle").
- Barrier Warrior: Earl is capable of generating a wall of invisible force in front of him as he flies. He could use this wall as a battering ram, sending people, vehicles, and any obstacles flying.
- Black Best Friend: Subverted. He is Golden Boy's best friend, but he is flawed and has a life separate from Jack's. And is pretty important to the story.
- Black Dude Dies First: Sort of. Chronologically, he is not the first of the Four Aces to die (that is Brain Trust). However, he is the first to have been revealed to die in the novel. Also partially averted in that his ruin and death isn't a cannon fodder sacrifice, but arguably the main and saddest event in Witness
- Broken Ace: Becomes one after 1950.
- Color Character: His ace nickname was given to him by the press. Earl himself didn't like it.
- Flight: His main power is the capability to fly at speeds of up to 500 mph.
- Good Adultery, Bad Adultery: Averted. His betrayal of his wife is treated in a very nuanced way.
- Hauled Before a Senate Subcommittee: Persecuted by HUAC in the 1950s.
- Malcolm Xerox: Averted. A black leader with Marxist convictions who actually is sympathetic and reasonable.
- Messianic Archetype: Kinda. In that he is a (supposedly) perfect savior figure that is betrayed by a close friend.
- Positive Discrimination: Deconstructed. Black Eagle initially appears to be perfect: an African-American that is a great husband, a brilliant lawyer, a war hero, and a superpowered ace. It's gradually revealed that he is very much a flesh-and-blood human being, though still heroic.
- Red Scare: Black Eagle was active during the beginning of the Cold War, and, as a member of the Communist Party, is hunted and persecuted by the government.
- Sports Hero Backstory: Used to be a great athlete in college.
Black ShadowA grim, urban vigilante with darkness-based powers. Black Shadow uses a variety of disguises and identities to better fight evil. He is stronger, tougher, and faster than a normal human, particularly when he uses his energy absorption powers.
- Broken Ace: Black Shadow is intelligent, capable, and very powerful. He is also dangerously unstable and haunted by a lot of personal demons.
- Casting a Shadow: With a more scientific justification than most, since he doesn't really "create" areas of shadow, he absorbs light (and other electromagnetic energy).
- Color Character: Obviously. He is also African-American, though not really a Captain Ethnic.
- Cool Bike: A Vincent Black Shadow motorcycle, naturally.
- Dark and Troubled Past: It combines Parental Abandonment with Rape as Backstory in a vividly horrifying way. Oh, and he was also manipulated by Puppetman into becoming a far harsher vigilante.
- Double Consciousness: Played so many roles for so long that he has trouble figuring out who he really is.
- Master of Disguise: Has adopted many identities in his fight against crime. His favorite tactic is to infiltrate a criminal group using a disguise and manipulate them into killing each other.
- Personality Powers: All wild carders are this, but Black Shadow more obviously than most.
- Second Super-Identity: Several. He eventually gives himself the internal identity of "Shad" just so he knows who he is.
- Superheroes Wear Tights: In special occasions he wears a dark blue uniform with black cape and orange domino mask.
- Vampiric Draining: He actually creates shadow by absorbing light and heat. He can do it to a person and leave a frozen corpse behind.
- Vigilante Man: One of the most feared ace vigilantes operating in New York City.
- Wall Crawl: One of his many powers, though it's never explained exactly how he does it, since it does not seem to fit his energy absorption theme.
Mark Meadows, a hippie with the power to transform himself into several different superheroic alter egos, that he calls his "friends." He is also a genius biochemist. For his various alter-egos, see The Radical, Jumpin' Jack Flash, Moonchild, Cosmic Traveler, Starshine, Aquarius, and Monster.
- Addiction-Powered: Subverted, in that Mark isn't actually addicted to the special powders he uses to transform, or to any other drugs in fact. However, he is a very frequent user of marijuana.
- Adorkable: One of the sweetest guys in the Wild Cards universe, even though some of his alter egos border on Superpowered Evil Side (and a couple of them really are evil).
- Alliterative Name: Captain Trips' civilian name is Mark Meadows.
- All Your Powers Combined: The Radical can use all the powers of all Mark's other identities. (Also, he is not the peacenik he appears to be. Do not mess with him.)
- Ascended Fanboy: A fan of comic books and aces even before he got his powers.
- Break the Cutie: Really, Mark is too innocent for the Crapsack World that is Wild Cards. Almost all of his stories in later books involve some of his hippie ideals being shattered by a cruel, uncaring world.
- Captain Superhero: Nothing to do with a military rank, though. It's based on The Grateful Dead's Jerry Garcia.
- Classic Anti Hero: A shy, clumsy, eccentric nerd, even after he becomes a hippie.
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Mark is naive and almost silly at times. He also has the ability to transform into his own superpowered team of alter-egos.
- Daddy's Girl: Sprout, his mentally disabled daughter.
- Geek Physiques: The skinny sort. He is constantly described as very tall and very skinny.
- Gender Bender: When Mark becomes Moonchild, the beautiful and female martial artist. Mostly played for laughs, as Tachyon and others find her very attractive. Played much more seriously in Book 12, Turn of the Cards.
- Heroic B.S.O.D.: Mark is prone to this, particularly as his stories in later volumes become progressively darker.
- Hour of Power: His transformations usually only last for one hour.
- Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Most Captain Trips's stories have titles based on rock song titles.
- Many Spirits Inside of One: All of his alter egos speak to Mark and to each other inside Mark's head.
- Modern Major General: Mark spends years as the owner of a head shop in Greenwich Village, but he is a piss poor businessman.
- Morality Chain: Some of his alter egos have really extreme personalities and despise the "main" Mark Meadows persona, but the one trait they all share is that they're very devoted to Mark's daughter, Sprout. The exception is Monster.
- New-Age Retro Hippie: Mark was a latecomer to the "faith" and stayed a stereotypical hippie well into the 1990s.
- Phlebotinum Pills: Captain Trips has the ability to use various drugs (usually derivations of psychoactive drugs such as LSD) to transform into several other forms, each with their own powers and individual personalities.
- Shout-Out: The names of his "friends" are taken from classic rock songs from the 1960s and 1970s.
- Super Loser: Some people mistake Captain Trips for this, or even think he is just an eccentric hippie with no powers, since he is somewhat elusive about the relation between him and his "friends". He is actually one of the most powerful aces around.
- Superpowered Alter Ego: A whole collection of them, in fact!
- Super Serum: He has to ingest specially prepared powders to change into his various superhuman forms.
- Unlucky Child Hood Friend: Double Subverted. He eventually marries Sunflower, the girl he's loved since forever. But their marriage is not a happy one.
- "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Downplayed. It's mentioned a few times that Mark's father is a General in the United States Army, and that the shy, peaceful Mark Meadows always craved the approval of his military manly man father, but this story element is mostly kept in the background.
- Wide-Eyed Idealist: A believer in peace, love, equality, kindness, and mysticism. It usually does not go well in the unforgiven deconstructive world of Wild Cards.
Billy Ray, a Justice Department agent who is stronger, faster, and tougher than a normal human. He also can heal very quickly, though the rate seems to be slowing down as he ages. Carnifex is a ferocious fighter that loves action and mayhem a little too much.
- Battle Couple: With the Midnight Angel.
- Blood Knight: Billy Ray loves the rush of physical battle. He is most happy when he is fighting enemies that are bigger and/or stronger than he is.
- Bodyguard Betrayal: Inverted. Billy Ray was Senator Hartmann's bodyguard in the first six novels, and was always extremely loyal. It was Hartmann that never even bothered to visit Ray in the hospital after Ray almost died protecting him. Ray still holds a grudge for that, 30 years later.
- Character Development: Particularly since Wild Cards avoids Comic-Book Time, Carnifex in the later novels is a veteran agent that is much more wise and level-headed. He still kicks ass when he has to, however.
- Expy: Carnifex is a very physical fighter who heals very quickly. He even originally called himself "Wolverine".
- Green Eyes: Often described as "intense" and "striking".
- Healing Factor: Carnifex can heal from injuries very fast. His powers first manifested when he broke his leg in three places when playing college football. He was recovered and ready to return to the game in a matter of minutes.
- Jerkass: Billy is abrasive and likes to get into people's faces.
- Names to Run Away from Really Fast: "Carnifex" is a Latin word meaning "butcher" and "executioner".
- Neat Freak: In fact, spilling blood on his costume is a good way to piss him off.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Surprisingly becomes this in the later novels.
- Required Secondary Powers: Averted. His healing factor lacks a sense of aesthetics. His face often heals all crooked.
- Sports Hero Backstory: A football hero in college, Carnifex first manifested his powers during a game.
- Superheroes Wear Tights: Carnifex is one of few Wild Cards characters who wears a superhero costume. He is a frequent source of ridicule for this, partially because he looks ridiculous in it, and partially because it's sheer white and blood frequently stains it — much to his frustration.
- Unscrupulous Hero: Billy is on the side of law and justice, and is somewhat sympathetic. He is also impulsive, arrogant, violent, and abrasive.
Cordelia ChaisonA Cajun girl with the power to shut down a person's respiratory and circulatory systems. She is the niece of Sewer Jack Robicheaux. Works as a young exec for Global Fun & Games.
- Bad Powers, Good People: She is one of the more idealistic characters in the Wild Cards universe, basically a young woman that wants to do good. Her power is to kill people.
- Birds of a Feather: A non-romantic version. It's been noted in-universe that she has many traits in common with her uncle.
- Rape as Backstory: Heavily implied to have been sexually abused at home, just like her uncle Jack Robicheaux.
- Welcome to the Big City: Cordelia's storyline in Jokers Wild is basically this. She runs away from her home in Louisiana to come live in New York City with her uncle.
- Where Da White Women At?: Her relationship with Wyungare, an Australian aborigine, has a few shades of this initially, since she thinks it's exciting that she is dating a guy her Conservative Southern family would strongly disapprove of. Their relationship is revealed to have become much deeper later, in Dealer's Choice.
- Wide-Eyed Idealist: Often comes across as this, in part due to her youth and small-town upbringing.
Demise is James Spector, a failed accountant that was killed by the virus and later came back to life. He gained the power to kill with a look (and he's pretty much unkillable too). Unhinged by his experiences, he became a hitman.
- Arch-Enemy: He really, really hates Dr. Tachyon for bringing him back to life using an experimental treatment. Interestingly, he never gets to have a big showdown with Tachyon.
- Asexuality: One of the few characters in Wild Cards not remotely interested in sex. He was like this even before he acquired his death powers.
- Bad Guys Do the Dirty Work: Fortunato defeats the Astronomer, but it's Demise that kills him. Also, his final battle with Mackie Messer. And his attempt to kill Hartmann.
- Black Comedy: Far too many stories involving Demise are full of this, as to be expected of a Deadpan Snarker that can kill with a look.
- Blessed with Suck: Constantly remembers how it felt to die.
- Breakout Character: Very beloved of the fan base, even though he is as depraved as most Wild Cards villains.
- Came Back Wrong: Closer to a Type II, Damaged Soul. Demise's experiences have made him obsessed with death and dying and pratically leached out all the pleasure he used to have in life.
- Deadly Gaze: Demise can kill a person by looking into their eyes and telepathically transmitting the memory of the time he drew the Black Queen (the time he was infected by the Wild Card virus and died). Although he has the power to dial it down when he doesn't want the person dead, he tends to use the power very casually.
- Deadpan Snarker: He will kill you and make a funny quip about it.
- The Dragon: He is this for the Astronomer in Aces High.
- Healing Factor: His other major power. Demise can come back from pratically any injury. In Ace in the Hole it is revealed that he can even regrow a severed head. But Tachyon has him cremated to stop this.
- Iron Butt-Monkey: Constantly suffers amusing injuries and setbacks.
- Lean and Mean: Often described as unnaturally skinny.
- A Lighter Shade of Black: Somewhat. Demise often turns against or fights characters that are as evil or more evil than he is, like The Astronomer and Mackie Messer (and assorted drug dealers, blackmailers, and gangbangers). Though this is sometimes subverted, like in his first appearance, when he kills a helpless prostitute.
- Pet the Dog: He thinks of himself as a monster (and he is not that far wrong), but Demise hates to kill someone who's been kind to him. And in Ace in the Hole he almost has a Heel–Face Turn after meeting again a heroic school friend.
- The Pig Pen: Pretty careless about personal hygiene, except when he has to blend in to get closer to one of his targets.
- Psycho for Hire: An unhinged sociopath that parlays his death-inducing stare into a career as a hitman.
- Steven Ulysses Perhero: James Spector; death-based powers.
- Wish Fulfillment: A very dark one, as Demise often kills characters like rude and bigoted taxi drivers or unhelpful mall clerks, in a sort of Comedic Sociopathy.
FadeoutPhilip Cunningham, a high-ranking criminal in the Shadow Fist Society. He can become invisible at will.
- Friendly Enemy: With Yeoman.
- Invisibility: His wild card ability is the power to become invisible at will.
- Man of Wealth and Taste: He seems to enjoy the good life his criminal career brings him.
- Punch-Clock Villain: He is a lieutenant in a criminal organization, but he is a surprisingly normal guy and totally lacking in gratuituous cruelty.
- Required Secondary Powers: A completely invisible person would need some kind of power that let them see, as light that passes through a person's eyeballs is by definition not actually interacting with the photoreceptors, which would be visible otherwise due to reflection or absorption of visible light. Fadeout lacks this secondary power, so he usually leaves his eyeballs visible when he goes invisible.
A half-black, half-Japanese pimp with the power of Tantric magic. One of the protagonists in the first trilogy of novels.
- Astral Projection: One of Fortunato's many abilities.
- Blaxploitation: Fortunato can be seen as a superpowered version of the anti-heroes of this genre, particularly since he gained his powers in the cusp of the 1970s.
- Boomerang Bigot: Has a certain contempt for other aces. Perhaps because his own father was killed by the Wild Card virus.
- Cartwright Curse: Genuine emotional attachment does not seem to reduce the likelihood that women close to him will end up dying, probably horribly. This contributes to his desire to retreat to a monastery.
- Cosmic Horror Story: Fortunato's stories in the first three volumes are very much in this genre. Aces High even makes direct references to Lovecraft and Cthullu.
- Deadpan Snarker: Often described as sharp-tongued, Fortunato has a put down for almost anyone.
- Deus Sex Machina: His powers work through Tantric magic. Fortunat(o)ely for him, he's a pimp.
- Disappeared Dad: Fortunato's father died of the Wild Card and he had to make his own way from a young age. Fortunato himself is this to John Fortune, his son with Peregrine.
- Groin Attack: Tachyon, trapped in the body of a teenage girl by his grandson Blaise, does this to Fortunato when the latter refuses to help him telepathically contact his home planet Takis. Tachyon notes with amusement that countless women have wanted to do that to Fortunato for years, and he was the one that got to actually do it.
- Half-Breed Discrimination: Downplayed. Fortunato does not seem to suffer more prejudice than other black males, but it's implied that his mixed race background has contributed to make him even more of a loner.
- Heroic Neutral: Despite possibly being the world's most powerful Ace, Fortunato generally does not want to be bothered by anything that does not affect him. He initially becomes involved in fighting the Astronomer's Masonic conspiracy because the Astronomer killed some of his girls. Later, he would retire to a monastery in Japan to try to get away from what he felt were other people's problems.
- I Work Alone: Has few friends and does not like to mix with other Aces very much. The one hero he trusts is Yeoman, mostly because Yeoman is actually a normal human.
- Jerkass: Could be obnoxious, even a bully, when he was in a mood. Also had a homophobic dislike for Doctor Tachyon based solely on his flamboyance, since Tachyon's preference for women was quite well known.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Jerkass and standoffish as he often is (see above), Fortunato does the heroic thing in many occasions. But not always. He is somewhere between this and Jerk with a Heart of Jerk
- Mind Control: A combination of Compelling Voice and Hypnotic Eyes.
- Neoclassical Punk Zydeco Rockabilly: Fortunato's stories are a mix of Blaxploitation, Cosmic Horror Story and Superhero; and sex, lots of sex. His fourth story, set in Japan, is more of a urban crime tale.
- New Powers as the Plot Demands: Basically patterned his powers on books on Tantric magic he read when he first turned his card. For example, a passing reference to Tantric magicians being able to raise the dead by sodomizing their corpses leads Fortunato to (very reluctantly) try this on a dead crook he needs information from - and it works!
- One Name Only: He was known publicly as Fortunato even before he became an Ace.
- Psychic Powers: Telepathy, Telekinesis and Psychometry are among his more stock powers. His telepathy is not anywhere near as precise as Doctor Tachyon's however.
- The Rival: He and Tachyon do not like each other, though they sometimes are forced into Teeth-Clenched Teamwork.
- Stuffed into the Fridge: The fate of a lot of Fortunato's women.
- Super Mode: Discovers that he has one when he has sex with Peregrine, the first time he had done so with an Ace. Her psionic energy greatly increases Fortunato's Tantric powers enabling him to finally take on the Astronomer.
- Superpower Lottery: Much like the Astronomer, Fortunato possesses such a broad range of powers that he can effectively pass as a "sorcerer". Tachyon says at one point that he thinks Fortunato is the most powerful ace ever to live.
- Time Master: Fortunato can stop time.
Golden Boy is Jack Braun, a WWII veteran and has-been actor with the powers of superstrength, invulnerability, and eternal youth. He was a member of the superteam Exotics for Democracy in the 1940s, but has more or less retired from superheroics after being pressured into testifying against his friends in the paranoid political climate of 1950.
- Achilles' Heel: Other than really big military-grade cannons, one of the few things that can kill Jack is a fall from a very high place (the impact of the sudden stop would be too much kinetic energy for his force field to absorb). Consequently he developed a fear of heights.
- Arch-Enemy: Deconstructed. Golden Boy's greatest enemy in the first book is the historical process itself, in a variation of You Can't Fight Fate. Jack and his superheroic friends were celebrated fighters against fascism in the 1940s. When The '50s arrived, the political climate changed in a way that made the Four Aces into suspicious un-American subversives.
- The Atoner: Every story featuring him after the first book has Jack trying to atone for his mistakes in 1950, with varied levels of success.
- Been There, Shaped History: Golden Boy has taken center stage in a lot of 20th century history and rubbed shoulders with a lot of famous people.
- The Big Guy: He is often this for any group of aces he's hanging around with.
- Black Best Friend: His teammate Black Eagle. Subverted in that Black Eagle is a fully-fleshed out individual who is also more of a true hero than Golden Boy.
- Broken Ace: A superstrong, handsome, and charismatic superhero in the 1940s, Jack becomes a shadow of his former self after testifying against his friends in 1950.
- Captain Ersatz: Played with in that he's largely a deconstruction of Superman, and his film career resembles that of Johnny Weismuller
- Color Character: Golden Boy. Nicknamed for the golden aura that surrounds his body whenever he is using his powers. Tachyon theorized that it's some sort of biological force field.
- Complete Immortality: He doesn't age and is very hard to kill by violent means.
- Face–Heel Turn: Sort of. He finally broke down and reported on his fellow Aces during the HUAC hearings.
- Hauled Before a Senate Subcommittee: A major event in Jack Braun's life, when he was forced to testify before HUAC.
- Jerkass: Taken to almost Kick the Dog levels when he refuses Brain Trust the option of staying with him unless she sleeps with him. Has matured a lot ever since, though.
- Jade-Colored Glasses: His long life and his own failures as a hero made him a very disillusioned individual.
- My Greatest Failure: His testimony before HUAC that doomed his friends.
- Never Live It Down: Golden Boy gets this in-universe. Since his betrayal of his friends became sort of a foundational legend of the first generation of aces, people still remember him as the Judas Ace 40 years later. It's also discussed in Aces Abroad, where Xavier Desmond notes that the world is too eager to read cowardice, weakness, and betrayal in everything Jack Braun does and says. Justified in that his testimony really had a disastrous effect in his friends' lives. However, his bad reputation seems to finally have faded in the later novels set in the 21th century.
- Nigh-Invulnerability: One of the toughest aces around
- Nostalgic Narrator: In his origin story, "Witness".
- Popularity Polynomial: Golden Boy exemplifies this in-universe. He was a big hero in the 1940s, became a traitor in the 1950s, was mostly forgotten after the 1980s, and finally became cool again in the 21th century.
- Really Gets Around: One of Golden Boy's major character flaws is he's a shameless sex hound.
- Reality Ensues: It happens when Golden Boy jumps in front of a escaping automobile and is knocked back a hundred feet. Turns out being invulnerable doesn't mean you're heavy enough to stop a charging vehicle.
- Older Than They Look: One of the earliest Aces, he appears the same age he was in the Fifties.
- Sports Hero Backstory: A football hero in high school.
- Steven Ulysses Perhero: His real name is Jack Braun and he got superstrength.
- World's Strongest Man: Jack is possibly the strongest ace in Wild Cards, capable of lifting up to 40 tons (and that is a LOT in the low-powered Wild Cards universe).
The Hero TwinsA pair of modern day Mayans living in Guatemala that become re-incarnations of the ancient legendary brothers, Hunapu and Xbalanque. They lead a resistance movement to recreate a Mayan regime.
- All Myths Are True: Not really, but the Wild Card virus can make it so.
- The Big Guy: Xbalanque.
- Blood Knight: Hunapu.
- La Résistance: Eventually they become the figureheads of the fight for Native American rights in Guatemala.
- Nigh Invulnerable: Xbalanque, along with the obrigatory Super Strength.
- No Name Given: We never get to learn their modern-day names.
- Proud Warrior Race Guy: Both of them, but specially Hunapu.
- The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized: Their fight against the oppressive Ladino government is very bloody.
- Teleporters and Transporters: Hunapu can pop in and out fairly quickly, unleashing mayhem in combat.
Jumpin' Jack Flash
One of Captain Trips's alter-egos, probably the most well-known of them in the original novels, since he is a ladies' man and a showoff. Flash has fire powers and a personality to match.
- The Casanova: A shameless skirt chaser. His way of "marking" the women he already slept with is by telling them to call him "J.J."
- Fiery Redhead: Literally. But he also fits the trope in a figurative way, being a red-headed man that is very extroverted.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Flash has a very abrasive manner, but he hates bullies and cruelty. Notably, he likes to set things on fire, but dislikes using his powers to directly harm human beings.
- Kill It with Water: His obvious weakness.
- Personality Powers: Like all of Captain Trips's alter egos.
- Playing with Fire: He is capable of generating, controlling, and absorbing fire in a variety of useful ways.
- Sexier Alter Ego: He is mostly this for Mark Meadows.
- Shout-Out: To The Rolling Stones.
- Steven Ulysses Perhero: John Jacob Flash. Possibly justified, in that he is most probably a fragment of Mark Meadows's personality, and so in essence an "artificial" person.
- Superheroes Wear Tights: Not many Wild Cards characters wear superhero costumes, but most of Mark Meadows's alter egos do. Justified, in that they're most likely a fragment of Mark Meadows's personality, and so "larger than life."
Mackie Messer, aka Mack the Knife
A young, mentally disturbed German hunchback with the power to vibrate his own body out of phase with the physical universe. In doing so, he can walk through walls and use his hands as buzzsaw weapons.
- Ax-Crazy: Unhinged homicidal maniac that loves to carve people up with his own hands.
- Berserk Button: Far too many, as expected of a dangerously unstable psycho killer. Particularly, he hates it when people mistake him for a joker, due to his hunchback.
- Dirty Communist: Played with. Mackie used to be the pet ace of a 1980s revival of the Red Army Fraction in Germany. And he considers himself a Marxist. However, Mackie isn't nearly intelligent enough to understand what Marxism actually is.
- The Dragon: He becomes this for Senator Hartmann after Aces Abroad.
- Evil Versus Evil: His climatic and gory fight with Demise in Ace in the Hole.
- Intangible Man: Able to phase through physical objects. It makes him a scary and almost unstoppable killer.
- Politically Incorrect Villain: Despite considering himself a Marxist, he is actually this Up to 11. He hates jews, blacks, jokers, gays, the homeless, and women. And anyone who is better off than he is.
- Psychopathic Manchild: A psychopathic killer that is prone to hyper-emotional childish tantrums and is always looking for father figures.
- Shout-Out: His ace name is a reference to the The Threepenny Opera.
- Son of a Whore: His mother was a German prostitute.
- Textual Celebrity Resemblance: Mackie is an uglier, hunchbacked version of James Dean.
- Vibroweapon: His bare hands are this thanks to his ability to make himself vibrate.
- You Are What You Hate: Mackie is a raging homophobe and has homosexual tendencies himself.
Jerry Strauss, a man capable of changing his appearance at will. He's a big movie fan, and specializes in transforming into famous actors and actresses. Later becomes the junior partner in Jay Ackroyd's detective agency.
- Ascended Extra: Spent the first several books as "The Great Ape," a King Kong expy whose occasional zoo escapes were often used as a Funny Background Event / Noodle Incident throughout the timeline, to the point of being used as a popular Ace pickup line: "Didn't I see you at the last Ape Escape?"
- Ascended Fanboy: A fan of classic Hollywood cinema that gets the power of transforming into any iconic movie character.
- Bad "Bad Acting": His cover has been blown a couple times because of this. He literally can't fake any accent to save his life (though he can definitely get deep into character- see below).
- Dogged Nice Guy: He was this to Veronica in One Eyed Jacks. A particularly hopeless case, as Veronica soon came out of the closet as a lesbian.
- Fish out of Temporal Water: Becomes this when he finally manages to turn back into a human after years and years trapped as the Great Ape.
- Heroic Self-Deprecation: Jerry has very low self-steem, something hinted at by his chosen ace name.
- Humanshifting: His main superpower is the ability to look like anyone he chooses.
- The Mind Is a Plaything of the Body: Happens whenever he transforms into a non-human movie character, like King Kong, a werewolf, or the Gill Man.
- Nice Guy: Jerry is an all-around good guy. Notably, he was unable to enter into Jokers Wild, a dark cabaret/alternate dimension that you can't enter if you're pure of heart.
- Required Secondary Powers: Jerry usually can't change his mass. But he can absorb energy and convert it into additional mass to change into someone bigger. In a later book, he makes explicit use of his energy absorption power to redirect electricity.
- Rich in Dollars, Poor in Sense: Before he gets Character Development.
- Shapeshifter Mode Lock: Spends more than a decade trapped as a giant ape.
A super-sophisticated android created by Mad Scientist Maxim Travnicek. Mod Man is mostly a nice guy, but forced to follow the orders of his sociopathic creator. He fights crime as a superhero as a ploy from Travnicek to gain publicity and wealth.
- The Casanova: A love machine, literally.
- Cool vs. Awesome: His debut story in Aces High pits the superpowered android against a giant ape. And later against an alien invasion.
- Creative Sterility: Modular Man is amazingly human in many ways, even being capable of feeling emotion and having relationships. His one blind spot is that he isn't very creative.
- Ethical Slut: Modular Man is eager to experience all of the pleasures of human life, including food, drink, and sex. He is also pretty much a benevolent character.
- Fantastic Racism: Mostly he suffers this from his own jerkass creator. The term "toaster" to refer to an android may have originated in Wild Cards.
- Flying Brick: Mod Man can fly, is incredibly strong, durable, has an array of sensors, and a veritable arsenal of ranged attacks. Wild Cards does not have many Superman-like characters, since aces are too focused to have this wide array of powers. Modular Man is one of the few exceptions, since he was built this way.
- Heroic B.S.O.D.: Modular Man gets one in Down and Dirty, after he discovers that his creator has become unable to repair or replicate him. Basically, he has to come to grips with his own mortality for the first time.
- Lighter and Softer: Modular Man's first story in Aces High is basically a light-hearted superhero romp with little of the grittiness of Wild Cards. His second story in the same book is considerably darker, though. And his stories in later volumes get progressively darker.
- Magic-Powered Pseudoscience: Modular Man is an android built by scientist Maxim Travnicek, but he is actually a function of Travnicek's ace powers, and not based on any sound scientific principles. He can't be replicated or mass produced. Travnicek is initially unaware of this.
- Personality Chip: An in-built version, Modular Man is designed to replicate human emotions and psychology.
- Reed Richards Is Useless: As has been noted, he could revolutionize warfare. But his creator can apparently only create one of him at a time, and is a selfish bastard beside that.
- Ridiculously Human Robots: Modular Man looks completely human, and he is even fully functional sexually. He can also eat and drink.
- Shout-Out: His first story makes direct reference to Frankenstein.
- Sliding Scale of Robot Intelligence: Roughly a number 3 - Average Joe Android. Modular Man is like a smart human being, but with perfect memory and capable of doing math really fast.
- Superhero Packing Heat: Shoulder-mounted machine guns and grenade-lauchers.
- Three-Laws Compliant: Averted. Travnicek has hardwired imperatives into Modular Man that compel him to obey his creator, but he can fully hurt other people.
- Turned Against Their Masters: Travnicek programmed him to be unable of this. Mod Man manages to work his way around it and arranges for Travnicek to be killed anyway. But considering that Travnicek is a sociopath that treats Mod Man like a slave, it's a happy ending.
- Uncanny Valley: Modular Man largely avoids this by looking almost 100% human.
One of Captain Trips's alter-egos. She is a beautiful Korean woman with superhuman martial arts prowess.
- Attractive Bent-Gender: Tachyon knows she is really Mark Meadows (or a part of Mark). He still wants to tap that.
- Healing Factor: She can heal very fast, but only when exposed to moonlight.
- Martial Pacifist: A supremely skilled martial artist that is highly respectful of all sentient life.
- Ms. Fanservice: An Asian hottie in a skintight costume that can kick any man's ass.
- Stealth Expert: Not as much as Cosmic Traveller, but a close second among Captain Trips's alter-egos, since she can become invisible in shadows.
- Steven Ulysses Perhero: Isis Moon. Possibly justified, in that she is most probably a fragment of Mark Meadows's personality, and so in essence an "artificial" person.
- Superheroes Wear Tights: Not many Wild Cards characters wear superhero costumes, but most of Mark Meadows's alter egos do. Justified, in that they're most likely a fragment of Mark Meadows's personality, and so "larger than life."
- Supernatural Martial Arts: Moonchild is stronger, faster, and more durable than the human norm.
- Thou Shalt Not Kill: Her code is even more strict, as she is unable even to cause permanent harm.
- Token Good Teammate: The most virtuous and kind among Mark Meadows' alter-egos. She was also Token Wholesome, particularly when compared to J. J. Flash and Cosmic Traveller, the other two most commonly manifested alter-egos.
- Tomato in the Mirror: A very interesting variation in Turn of the Cards, when Moonchild discovers she can't really understand Korean, leading to the realization that she has always been Mark Meadows, and not a "real" human being somehow trapped inside his psyche.
- Women Are Wiser: She is the most compassionate and humane of Mark's alter-egos. Possibly justified, since it may reflect hippie Mark's view of women.
PolyakovRussian ace with the power of pyrokinesis. Used to be a bigwig in the Soviet secret service.
- Badass Grandpa: Past his 60s but still kicking ass.
- Cool Old Guy: Notably, he is one of the few people Blaise loved and respected.
- Playing with Fire: With a touch, he can cause any animal (including humans) to burst into flames.
- Rogue Agent: Of the heroic variety.
Jay Ackroyd, a private detective with the power of teleporting any object he can point his finger at to any place he has ever been. Also known for his sense of humour. Hates firearms.
- Catch-Phrase: "Might as well, can't dance."
- Deadpan Snarker: The main example in Wild Cards, to the annoyance of his friends and allies.
- Doesn't Like Guns: A defining trait of Jay's. The origins of his aversion to guns are explained in Card Sharks.
- Embarrassing Nickname: Don't call him Popinjay, dammnit.
- The Fettered: Jay is one of the few Wild Cards heroes that is totally opposed to the use of deadly force. And despite being a bit of a smartass, Jay is that rare specimen among private detectives, in that he has ethics.
- Guile Hero: Outsmarting bad guys is what Jay does best.
- The Nondescript: A real plus in his line of work is that Jay is a brown-haired, brown-eyed man of moderate height and build.
- Private Detective: The go-to-guy for any character in the Wild Cards world looking for a good detective.
- Private Eye Monologue: Makes fun of this in Double Solitaire.
- Recurring Dreams: A particularly nasty dream inspired by H. P. Lovecraft. Turns out to be a very unusual instance of Chekhov's Skill when he uses his teleportation powers to send Ti Malice inside his dream.
- Technical Pacifist: Won't use a gun, ever.
- Actual Pacifist: He is actually more like this, since his power is completely non-violent.
- Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: He really does not approve of Yeoman's use of deadly force, but is forced to work with him in Dead Man's Hand.
- Teleporters and Transporters: He can teleport almost any object by pointing his finger. He has a few limitations, though. He can't telerport himself, he can only teleport objects and people to places he has been, and he has a mass limit (teleporting a large object like a truck is very taxing to him). However, he does not seem to have a range limitation. In later novels he teleports people to another planet!
Senator Gregg Hartmann, seemingly a liberal, idealistic politician that fights for the rights of Wild Carders. He's secretly Puppetman, a manipulative emotional vampire.
- Arch-Enemy: Gimli, the joker terrorist. Since Gimli is a violent revolutionary that hates normal humans, this is a case of Evil Versus Evil, with Gimli being A Lighter Shade of Black.
- Aura Vision: His detection and manipulation of emotions is often described through color.
- Becoming the Mask: In the Card Sharks novels, an older, humbler Hartmann eventually begins to act more like the good man he formerly only pretended to be.
- Big Bad: For the second trilogy of novels.
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Appears to be an idealistic politician that is interested in helping people. But it's all an act to get close to them and turn them into his puppets.
- Disproportionate Retribution: In his origin story, Gregg as a child causes a girl he had a crush on to be raped and killed because she made fun of him.
- Emotion Control: Hartmann cannot directly control minds, but he can pull "strings" inside of them which correspond to various emotions, allowing him to subtly twist people to do what he wants.
- Emotion Eater: Gets a definite visceral thrill from the negative emotions of others, and often cultivates them for exactly this reason.
- The Empath: A very evil version.
- Enemy Within: An interesting variation, in that Gregg and Puppetman are more like accomplices than a good side/bad side.
- Entitled to Have You: He feels like this with any woman that enters his life.
- Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Even though Hartmann is so adept at pretending to be good, he tends to have shades of this. For instance, he can't really accept that Doctor Tachyon is just an disinterested champion of the wild carders.
- Evil Feels Good: He's addicted to infliciting pain and suffering.
- Evil Versus Evil: A constant with Hartmann. In Aces Abroad he is opposed by the Nur al-Allah and later kidnapped by the Red Army Fraction. That is not to mention his constant enemy, Gimli, a joker terrorist with a few sympathetic traits.
- Faux Affably Evil: Appears to be a good guy full of boyish charm. But he is actually a coward, a bully, a petty tyrant, and a sadist (including sexually).
- Humiliation Conga: After his fall in Ace in the Hole.
- Hypocrite: Gregg views his psychic powers as belonging to a separate entity inside his head; the Puppetman. So that he can still pretend that he's somehow pure as he commits atrocities. His difficulty in acknowledging that he is Puppetman sometimes verges on Selective Obliviousness.
- The Lost Lenore: Succubus is this for him, in a very dark variation of the trope, since their relationship was packed full of Squick.
- Mind Rape: His victims often have no idea it is even happening, his power is so subtle.
- Morality Chain: Hannah Davis is this for him in the Card Sharks novels.
- President Evil: More like Senator Evil, but the Presidency is his final goal.
- Redemption Equals Death: Sacrifices himself to save Jerusalem from atomic holocaust.
- Status Quo Is God: One of the most egregious examples in Wild Cards. Despite Gregg's presence, the political scene in America in the 1970s and 1980s is very similar to our world's. And Gregg never gets to be President, instead it goes to Jimmy Carter, Reagan, Bush, etc.. This is subverted in the Card Sharks novels, when Reverend Leo Barnett manages to become President in place of Clinton.
- There Are No Therapists: An interesting subversion. After Ace in the Hole, Tachyon becomes his therapist, despite both of them being mortal enemies by this point. This treatment occurs off-screen though, since Hartmann is Out of Focus during the Jumpers trilogy.
- Villain Protagonist: Unusually for such a monstrous villain, he is often a POV character.
- Villain with Good Publicity: The public is unware that he is sadistic emotional vampire. The jokers, in particular, love him and consider him almost as a saint.
RouletteA high-class prostitute that can kill men by having sex with them. She is an agent of the Astronomer.
- Broken Bird: See below, under Dark and Troubled Past.
- Dark and Troubled Past: Her baby was born a monster, courtesy of the alien virus. Her husband blamed her and divorced.
- Death by Sex: Inflicts this on her targets.
- Defrosting Ice Queen: The more time she spends with Tachyon in Jokers Wild, the more she starts to feel human again.
- Femme Fatale: Literally.
- In Love with the Mark: Subverted in that she actually tries to kill Dr. Tachyon, even as she is starting to fall for him.
- Out with a Bang: She can secrete deadly nerve toxins... from her vagina.
- Poisonous Person: Her superpower is to secrete a deadly nerve toxin during sex.
- Revenge: Her goal is to kill Tachyon for his role in helping to create the Wild Card virus that ruined her life.
- Stuffed into the Fridge: From one of the main characters of Jokers Wild to being killed almost as an afterthought in Down & Dirty
- Weaksauce Weakness: Her dreaded superpower can be foiled by any man practicing safe sex by wearing a condom.
Jack Robicheaux, a Cajun transit worker with the power to transform himself into a big alligator. He is basically a good guy, but tends to keep to himself. Jack is also gay, and since it's the 1980s and he is a blue-collar man who has had a small-town upbringing, only his closest friends are aware of his sexual orientation.
- Animorphism: Can turn into an alligator at will.
- Blessed with Suck: He can change into a big, powerful alligator. But he is unable to control himself after he changes.
- Bury Your Gays: Ultimately averted. It seems like they're going to play this straight when Jack gets HIV in Down and Dirty, but the disease causes him to lose control of his powers and he gets locked into alligator form. After months as a reptile, his body is rid of the virus when he finally becomes human again.
- Dark and Troubled Past: And how. Jack is a survivor of sex abuse by his own uncle. It's heavily implied that his wild card power is an expression of his rage.
- Embarrassing Nickname: Nicknamed "Sewer" Jack by his co-workers, since he spends most of his time underground. Unbeknowst to them, he even lives underground, in a surprisingly cozy hideout.
- Gayngst: Gay and somewhat conflicted.
- Hulking Out: Better not to get him angry, you may end up devoured.
- Involuntary Shapeshifting: Changes into a big, hungry alligator whenever he loses control.
- The Mind Is a Plaything of the Body: Loses his human mind when he transforms.
- Platonic Life-Partners: With Bagabond.
- Rape as Backstory: Abused by his uncle when he was a kid.
- Rape as Drama: See above. His memories of the abuse are horrifically shown in Dealer's Choice.
- Straight Gay: Only his closest friends know he is gay, since he is otherwise a very manly blue-collar sort of guy.
- Values Dissonance: To have one of the few gay male characters in your shared-world story dealing with HIV and Rape as Backstory would likely be too controversial today. However, Jack is still depicted very sympathetically, even heroically.
Croyd Crenson, a man that changes his appearance and powers every time he falls asleep. Works as an ace for hire. He is been around since the 1940s, since he does not age. Due to the impredictability of his powers, Croyd developed a great fear of sleep. He uses amphetamines to postpone sleep for as long as possible.
- Alliterative Name: Croyd Crenson.
- Big Eater: His metabolism is very accelerated, particularly after he awakes.
- Breakout Character: Croyd has appeared in more Wild Cards novels than any other character. Every Wild Cards fan has their favorites and unfavorites, but pretty much everybody loves the Sleeper.
- Chivalrous Pervert: The Sleeper has shades of this, since he sleeps around a lot but is somewhat protective of women. Specifically, he was a long-time costumer of Veronica, one of Fortunato's prostitutes, and the two also had a warm friendship. He also was always hitting on Water Lily, but seemed genuinely disappointed and concerned when he discovered she was seemingly hooked up on drugs (she was actually addicted to Ti Malice).
- Deadpan Snarker: He's created by Roger Zelazny, after all.
- Evil Mentor: Bentley is a rather benevolent version of this for young Croyd in his origin story. He gets Croyd involved with crime, but he genuinely cares for him.
- Involuntary Shapeshifting: He changes appearance and powers every time he sleeps. Sometimes he is a weak joker, sometimes he is a powerful ace, sometimes he is something between these two extremes. It's implied that his changes are affected by his subconscious desires at the time he goes to sleep. This is pretty much confirmed in his story in the Card Sharks trilogy.
- The Lancer: Croyd is a bit of this for the Wild Cards universe as a whole, as writers love to have the Sleeper appear in their stories, and there is the in-universe justification of Croyd being an ace for hire and something of a drifter. One major example is Croyd's role as Captain Trips's buddy in the novel Turn of the Cards.
- Left the Background Music On: Since the 50's, the one power he manifests with every change is the ability to make "As Time Goes By" play on anything by saying "Play it again, Sam."
- Loveable Rogue: He is a textbook example of this most of the time, but he is also a partial Subversion, in that Croyd can turn really nasty and paranoid, almost reaching Ax-Crazy levels, when he is on a bad drug trip.
- Riddle for the Ages: The Sleeper has two of them. From the first novel, whatever happened to the childhood friend that joined Croyd in his journey back home from school in the day the virus was first released in 1946. And in Down and Dirty we discover that Croyd has an immobile woman made of crystal locked away in one of his apartments, perhaps a case of Taken for Granite, that he sometimes talks to. Roger Zelazny had planned to tell these two stories, but he sadly passed away before he could do it.
- Older Than They Look: Croyd regenerates every time he sleeps, so he never grows old. He's been active as an ace since the 1940s.
- Overnight Age-Up: When Croyd first becomes the Sleeper, he wakes up in an adult body, despite being 14-years old. Yes, the Wild Card virus destroyed his childhood, literally.
- Repower: Stays awake for about a month, sleeps for two to three more, wakes up with new powers - and a new appearance - every time. Since there's a very real chance of him waking up dead from this, it's also Superpower Russian Roulette.
- Seen It All: He occasionally comes across like this, although given that he's been around since the 1940s, it's not unjustified.
- Treacherous Advisor: Pan Rudo is this for Croyd in Card Sharks. Croyd tried to avoid There Are No Therapists and it didn't go well. Afterwards Croyd saw him as an Arch-Enemy.
- Typhoid Mary: In his "Typhoid Croyd" incarnation, he had the "power" to spread a variant of the wild card virus capable of re-infecting stable aces and jokers.
A hideously atrophied joker-ace with the power to possess people by attaching itself to their necks. Its victims (called "mounts") become completely addicted to Ti Malice's kiss.
- Better Than Sex: Its kiss feels like this. Even breathing under its influence feels like pure ecstasy. It's implied that Quinn the Eskimo, drug dealer to the Shadow Fists, finds a way to turn it into a secret ingredient later on.
- Big Bad Ensemble: Ti Malice shares the Big Bad role with Senator Hartmann in the second trilogy of books. Interestingly, they're both sadistic manipulators with mind control powers that operate from behind the scenes. They never become aware of each other, even though they have at least one victim in common, poor Hiram Worchester.
- Den of Iniquity: Wherever Ti Malice is, becomes one of these.
- Depraved Bisexual: Ti Malice itself has no sexual organs, but it enjoys sex vicariously through its mounts.
- The Dragon: Ezili, a beautiful Haitian woman, is this for Ti Malice. She is the premier among its mounts, and see herself more as a partner in Ti Malice's pleasures than as another slave. She also oversees the pratical aspects of Ti Malice's affairs in the human world.
- A God Am I: Ti Malice sees itself as a "loa", one of the voodoo gods of its native country, Haiti.
- The Hedonist: A very dark example. Ti Malice lives to vicariously experience its "mounts"'s sensations, controlling them into all sorts of amoral, depraved situations.
- Kiss of the Vampire: Ti Malice feeds on the blood of its victms.
- Mind Control: It's capable of controlling anyone it's attached to. Only very strong-willed persons are able to even begin to resist Ti Malice's control.
- Puppeteer Parasite: A very horrific sort, since it inflicts a very strong addiction to its presence.
- The Unfettered: Ti Malice is completely undeterred by human norms, since it does not consider itself human at all.
The Great and Powerful Turtle
Tom Tudbury, a nerd from New Jersey who also happens to be the world's most powerful telekinetic. His powers do not work when he is feeling threatened, so he fights crime from inside a metal shell that he keeps afloat with his powers.
- 10-Minute Retirement: The Turtle's storyline in Down and Dirty.
- Alliterative Name: Tom Tudbury, the Turtle.
- Animal-Themed Superbeing: Animal alias variety. His powers have nothing to do with turtles. However, his distinctive armored vehicle resembles a turtle's shell.
- Ascended Fanboy: A fan of comic books and aces even before he became an ace himself. Particularly, he is a huge fan of Jetboy.
- Author Avatar: He's basically George R. R. Martin with superpowers.
- Becoming the Mask: As his career progresses, the Turtle finds it increasingly difficult to use his psychokinetic powers outside of his 'shell'.
- Cannot Spit It Out: He finds it very difficult to reveal his secret identity, even to the woman he loves. Justified in that the Turtle is almost neurotic when it comes to the divide between harmless Tom Tudbury and the invincible Turtle.
- Classic Anti Hero: A typical nerd. And no, not the attractive kind of nerd either.
- Comes Great Responsibility: The Turtle decides to use his powers for good after JFK's assassination, because he believes that society needs heroes.
- Cool Ship: The Turtle's Shell. It's technically a Cool Car, since it's a modified Volkswagen Beetle covered in battleship armor that he keeps afloat with his TK. The Turtle can use his telekinesis on people and objects outside the shell by tracking them with an array of cameras. The ship also has a variety of sensors and other equipment.
- Flying Car: The Turtle's Shell is actually this.
- Gadgeteer Genius: A rather realistic example. Tom is pretty good with electronics and cameras, but unable to fix superpowered tech, even though he tries at some point to tinker with Modular Man's severed head.
- Geek Physiques: A geek and a bit on the pudgy side.
- Give Geeks a Chance: Hooks up with Legion, a multi-bodied blonde hottie.
- Hero's First Rescue: The Turtle's debut is a textbook example, as he helps people trapped in a burning building.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: His best friend Joey Di Angelis, with whom he has a Sensitive Guy and Manly Man dynamic, with the Turtle as the sensitive one.
- Joisey: Many of his stories take place in the urban devastation that is New Jersey.
- Improved significantly by the invasion of The Swarm.
- Knight in Sour Armor: Starts as a Wide-Eyed Idealist, but gradually morphs into this.
- Mind over Matter: Even though most ace powers in Wild Cards are actually mind over matter, The Turtle is the most iconic and obvious example of telekinesis in Wild Cards.
- Nerd: Fits all the stereotypes: clumsy with women, physical cowardice, aptitude with tech, fan of superheroes and science fiction...
- Performance Anxiety: Can't use his powers when he is feeling threatened.
- Recursive Fiction: There is a Turtle comic book published in the Wild Cards universe. It must be necessarily a heavily modified version of the Turtle's real adventures, since his identity is a secret, for one thing. The Turtle in the comic is implied to be much more glamourous than the real one, with a "Turtle Cave" complete with a loyal butler.
- Secret Identity: One of the few Wild Card characters that does have it. He saw what happened when the Four Aces were hauled before the HUAC and decided he would never go through that.
- Wild Mass Guessing: The Turtle gets this in-universe. Since he always made his public appearances inside his metal shell, people have speculated for decades about who or what exactly the Turtle is. An ace? A joker? Or maybe something even stranger like an alien or a robot? By the time of the Card Sharks novels he finally went public.
VeronicaA former prostitute of Fortunato's, Veronica has the power to make any man weak and helpless. Seriously.
- Closet Key: Hannah Jorde, Veronica's shrink. Subverted in that Hannah isn't really very attractive physically.
- Dead Lesbian Syndrome: Hannah, Veronica's first real love.
- Jerkass: Like her mentor, Fortunato, she can be extremely sharp-tongued and confrontational.
- No Name Given: First name only, like most of Fortunato's hos.
- Suddenly Sexuality: Her coming out of the closet surprises even herself.
- Weaksauce Weakness: Her powers only work on males. She discovers it in a painful encounter with a female bodybuilding villain.
Jane Dow, a young woman with the power to control water. Born in a small town, she comes to New York City in 1986, and gets involved in the ace scene.
- Break the Cutie: So very, very much. Almost to Cosmic Plaything levels.
- Girl Next Door: The ultimate example in Wild Cards. Even her civilian name is a play on this.
- Heart Is an Awesome Power: Who knew controlling water was such a kickass power?
- Incompatible Orientation: With her childhood friend, Salvatore Carbonne
- Intimate Healing: She later gains the additional power to heal jokers with sex.
- Making a Splash: Has the power to create, control, and destroy water. Including the water inside human beings. Really, she is one of the most powerful aces around, though she doesn't look like much.
- Meaningful Name: Her name is pronounced 'Jane Doe', it totally fits her everygirl persona.
- Naïve Everygirl: Partially a deconstruction, since she seems to exist to show how much it sucks to be one of these in a gritty superhero universe. Water Lily is also Genre Savvy enough to know it.
- Older Than They Look: Much to her aggravation, Jane is in her early 20s but looks younger.
- Power Incontinence: She drenches herself whenever she becomes too agitated.
- Talking to the Dead: Does this a lot with childhood friend Sal Carbonne.
- Trauma Conga Line: Getting unwittingly involved with The Astronomer, Ti Malice, the Mafia, and Croyd Crenson when he was in his Typhoid Croyd phase. And Water Lily is fully aware of how cosmically unlucky she is. Ironically, she is also the only Wild Card character lucky enough to draw the ace twice, since she was infected by a mutated variant of the virus due to her contact with Croyd.
Hiram is the owner of the Aces High restaurant, the most glamourous meeting place for aces in the 1970s and 1980s. He is a powerful ace himself, with mastery over gravity. He had a short superhero career as Fatman.
- Acrofatic: Not quite, but he is susprisingly light on his feet, since he constantly uses his power to decrease his own weight.
- Big Fun: In a sophisticaded, high culture way. Hiram is a very large man that loves good food, good drink, and good sex, and is eager to spread the happiness among his friends.
- Break the Cutie: Poor Hiram. His life takes a nosedive when he becomes a slave to the monstrous Ti Malice.
- Camp Straight: Not as much as Tachyon, but Hiram is quite flamboyant.
- Dogged Nice Guy: Has a few aspects of this. Tends to have unrequited crushes on women.
- Embarrassing Nickname: He hates it when they call him Fatman.
- Gravity Master: Hiram can make any object heavier or lighter, including himself.
- I'm Not a Hero, I'm...: Hiram realizes that he is much better as a restaurant owner and chef than as a crimefighter. See Super Loser below.
- Karma Houdini: Played with, considering he suffers no punishment for the murder of Chrysalis but his life is already destroyed by Ti Malice.
- Noble Bigot: Hiram is personally disgusted by jokers (to the point that he does not like jokers in his restaurant), but is also behind a lot of charities in Jokertown and is a defender of joker rights and liberal causes generally.
- Not Quite Flight: He can cause himself or others to float, by manipulating gravity.
- Old Shame: In-universe. Hiram had a brief career as Fatman, a crimefighter in the 1960s, complete with a superhero costume and mask. Since Hiram has a very distinctive physique, his secret identity was quickly deduced by a newspaper columnist.
- Out of Focus: All but disappears after Book 8, One-Eyed Jacks. This corresponds with his restaurant's decadence.
- Slobs vs. Snobs: His friendship with Popinjay has Hiram as the snob, and Jay Ackroyd as the slob.
- Super Loser: Downplayed. Hiram is not totally useless, but he is hesitant and naive, and very unsuited to the superhero life, despite his very potent ace ability.
- Textual Celebrity Resemblance: Hiram is said to vaguely resemble Orson Welles.
Jennifer Maloy, meek librarian by day, daring jewel thief by night. She can become insubstantial at will. Becomes involved with Yeoman.
- All Girls Want Bad Boys: She is attracted to the aura of danger Yeoman has.
- Betty and Veronica: She is Betty, Chrysalis is Veronica, Yeoman is Archie.
- Fanservice: The amount of mass she can carry when phased is limited. For that reason she runs around in a string bikini when acting as Wraith.
- Happily Married: With Yeoman.
- Hot Librarian: Actually works at New York City Public Library.
- Intangible Woman: She has the power to become intangible at will. Can also make other objects and people insubstantial by touching them.
- Just Like Robin Hood: Steals from the rich, gives it to charity.
- Morality Chain: She's a bit of this to Yeoman.
- Nice Girl: Jennifer is an all-around nice person and very well-adjusted, particularly by Wild Cards standards. Despite being a thief.
- Not Quite Flight: Just like the X-Men's Kitty Pryde, she can walk on air while insubstantial.
- Origins Episode: She gets one story focusing on her first adventure, decades after her canonical debut in Jokers Wild. It was published as a new story in a re-issue of the first novel.
- Secret Identity: One of the few aces to have it, due to her double life.
- She's Got Legs: Her long, toned legs are frequently remarked on in the text.
- Thrill Seeker: One of the reasons for her criminal career.
Reverend Leo BarnettA Fundamentalist Christian preacher that gains fame by taking a anti-Wild Cards stance. Later he goes into politics.
- Anti-Villain: Seen as a monster by wild card victims and at first glance looks like your typical evil preacher, but he is not that much of a bad guy, particularly as contrasted to his political opponent Gregg Hartmann. This is subverted in a later book, when Barnett takes on a more openly villainous role.
- The Fundamentalist: A partial subversion, in that Barnett is somewhat more reasonable than people would expect.
- Hypocrite: Has affairs with lots of women and secretly enjoys literature by liberal writers.
- The Loins Sleep Tonight: His story in Down and Dirty involves a bout of this. Mostly Played for Laughs as Barnett contemplates the damage to his political aspirations this could cause if it became known.
- Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: He's charismatic and sometimes ridiculously lucky. People have suspected him of being a secret Ace.
- President Evil: Barnett becomes President in the Card Sharks books. Many Wild Carders would consider him this. In truth, he's not that different from any other politician.
- Sexy Priest: Barnett is handsome and charismatic. Even the very heterosexual Jack Braun describes Barnett as oozing sexual charisma.
Bobby Tomlin, an heroic fighter pilot from World War II, tried to stop the release of the Wild Card virus.
- Ace Pilot: Made more impressive by the fact that Jetboy never had to learn how to fly a plane. According to an account by a close friend, he always knew.
- Alternate Company Equivalent: He is an homage to Golden Age comic book character Airboy.
- Arch-Enemy: Criminal mastermind and nazi colaborator Doctor Tod. Ironically, Tod is mostly an Unknown Rival to Jetboy; Jetboy shot down the plane Tod was in while barely aware of his existence.
- Badass Normal: One of the very few in the Wild Cards universe. Jetboy is a ridiculously skilled jet pilot, the greatest ace in WWII.
- Broken Ace: Being the greatest fighter pilot that ever lived didn't exactly help with his personal life (that was non-existent), since he was an orphan that spent all his teenage years fighting in the war.
- Cool Plane: The JB-1. In the Wild Cards universe it was the first jet plane ever built.
- Conveniently an Orphan: Bobby never knew his parents. He then became a child prodigy and boy wonder, fighting in WWII when still a teenager.
- Decoy Protagonist: When you start reading the first book, you might think Jetboy is the main hero. But then you realize this is a series created by George R. R. Martin...
- Doomed Moral Victor: Jetboy is ultimately revealed to be this.
- Dude, Where's My Respect?: After returning from World War II, Jetboy gradually realizes that the world is ready to move on and to forget everything related to the war, including Jetboy. That is particularly tragic for him, because he has no civilian life to return to, being an orphan that went to war still a teenager.
- Excited Show Title!: Thirty Minutes Over Broadway!: Jetboy's Last Adventure.
- Expecting Someone Taller: Though Jetboy is world-famous, pretty much everybody that meets him in the flesh has this reaction, since he looks like such an ordinary guy.
- Famous Last Words: "I can't die yet, I haven't seen The Jolson Story."
- First-Episode Spoiler: Jetboy's ultimate fate and his failure in stopping the alien virus.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Legendary in the Wild Cards universe.
- Jade-Colored Glasses: After he returns from the war.
- Jumped at the Call: Went to fight in WWII when he was 13-years old.
- Proto-Superhero: Appropriately, Jetboy is an example of this kind of character. And it's his sacrifice that heralds the arrival of real, superpowered heroes and villains in the Wild Cards universe.
- Recursive Fiction: There is a Jetboy comic book published in the Wild Cards universe. It started as a more or less realistic depiction of his adventures but later evolved into outrageous horror and sci-fi tales, to the real Jetboy's dismay.
- Returning War Vet: Made more heartbreaking by the fact that Bobby also was, essentialy, a child soldier.
- Saw "Star Wars" 27 Times: Jetboy is ridiculously addicted to cinema, sometimes watching 6 movies or more per day. Played for Drama as a way to highlight his lack of a life in post-war America.
- Unlucky Child Hood Friend: Loves Belinda, his childhood friend from the orphanage. She has moved on while he was fighting in Europe.
Sara MorgensternStar reporter from the Washington Post, specialized in Wild Cards issues. Has a vendetta with Senator Gregg Hartmann.
- Arch-Enemy: Determined to bring down Senator Hartmann.
- Dating Catwoman: Inevitably she gets involved with the Senator.
- Intrepid Reporter: Very, very determined and effective as a reporter. Goes out of her way to get the story, even going into dangerous situations.
- More Than Mind Control: Initially, Hartmann doesn't use his power to directly manipulate Sara, though his empathy and charisma are superhuman nonetheless.
Rosemary MuldoonReal name Rosa-Maria Gambione, a Mafia princess that became stranged from her family, changed her name and became a New York district attorney. Later tried to become a leader in the Mafia, playing both sides.
- Becoming the Mask: At first she tried to justify her taking over the Mob as leading them in a more civilized direction, but she kept digging herself in deeper and deeper...
- The Corruptible: With fellow mobster and lover Chris Mazzucchelli as The Corrupter and Treacherous Advisor .
- Daddy's Little Villain: Averted when her father was still alive and she wanted nothing to do with the family business. Played straight a decade after his death.
- Face–Heel Turn: Starting in Jokers Wild and going into overdrive in Down and Dirty.
- Living a Double Life: "Irish" district attorney Rosemary Muldoon, who is actually Rosa Maria Gambione.
- Mafia Princess: Daughter of Don Carlo Gambione, a major New York City Mafia boss from the 1970s.
- Toxic Friend Influence: To Bagabond.
Daniel Brennan, a Vietnam Vet that swore revenge on crime boss Kien Phuc. He is a zen archer with Improbable Aiming Skills. Becomes the masked vigilante Yeoman in 1986.
- Alternate Company Equivalent: He's effectively the Wild Cards version of Green Arrow, and also has a lot of elements remininiscent of The Punisher. More generally, Yeoman is a homage to the obsessed vigilantes common in pop culture in the 1970s and 1980s.
- Arch-Enemy: Vietnamese crime boss Kien Phuc. Their enmity goes back to Brennan's days in Vietnam.
- Badass Normal: One of the only heroes on Earth not to have been infected with the Wild Card virus. Brennan can still hold his own pretty well against superpowered aces and jokers.
- Battle in the Center of the Mind: His final battle with Kien Phuc.
- Betty and Veronica: Jennifer Maloy is more of a sweet girl-next-door despite being a daring thief. Chrysalis is a Femme Fatale.
- Charles Atlas Super Power: Brennan is one of the few Wild Cards characters to have this kind of origin for his amazing abilities. Besides his zen archery and his mad stealth/hunting abilities, he also is capable of completely emptying his mind, resulting in No-Sell for people trying to read his thougths.
- The Determinator: Once he decides he is bringing Kien down, he never stops, even though the blood on his hands starts to bother him more and more.
- Happily Married: To Wraith.
- Improbable Aiming Skills: Naturally, as he is a master of zen archery. But Brennan is also impressive for his ability to unleash an one man Rain of Arrows.
- The Infiltration: Yeoman's storyline in Down and Dirty has Brennan infiltrating the Shadow Fist Society.
- Mighty Whitey: Brennan largely follows the mold of the white adventurer that acquires amazing skills while visiting the Far East (in his case, after defecting from the US Army after the Fall of Saigon). In a partial subversion, Brennan is revealed to have some Chinese blood.
- The Nondescript: Physically, nothing about Brennan stands out.
- Revenge: Most of his stories are about his blood feud with crime boss Kien Phuc.
- The Rival: Yeoman and Jay Ackroyd didn't get along. Understandable, as Yeoman was on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge, while Popinjay was The Fettered.
- Secret Identity: One of the few Wild Cards heroes to have this, due to his outlaw ativities and being a deserter from the US Army.
- Stealth Expert: One of Yeoman's main abilities, making him more than a match for superpowered aces, as highlighted in his first story Comes a Hunter.
- Trick Arrow: Downplayed. The only trick arrows he uses are explosive arrows.
- The Vietnam Vet: Like many action heroes of the 1970s and 1980s.
- Vigilante Man: One of the most prominent urban vigilantes in New York City in the 1980s.
- Zorro Mark: Leaves an ace of spades at the sites of his revenge killings.
Joker leader in the Jumper books. Bloat is an immobile, gigantic mountain of pale flesh, with the head and shoulders of a teen boy perched atop it. He has extraordinarily potent Psychic Powers. His home base is the Rox, formerly known as Ellis Island. He is the leader of a coalition of jokers, a few aces, criminals, and Jumpers, all opposed to mainstream American society.
- Anti-Villain: Bloat is quite sympathetic, even though he is technicaly the Big Bad for the Jumper trilogy.
- Ascended Fanboy: A darker version than the Turtle or Mark Meadows. Interestingly, he used to be a huge fan of Dungeons & Dragons, and he is basically what you'd get if you gave unlimited power to a role-playing game gamemaster.
- Blessed with Suck: He is very powerful telepath and reality warper inside the ever expanding radius of his psychic powers. He is also a fetid mountain of flesh that feeds on sewage.
- Dogged Nice Guy: Bloat's relationship with the female Tachyon. Since Tachyon is trapped in a cell, and Bloat is immobile, it's carried through a chaste Mental Affair patterned on Bloat's favorite medieval fantasies.
- Fat Bastard: Averted. He's not really a bad guy, just allied with some very bad people.
- The Grotesque: Like many of the more sympathetic jokers, Bloat has many noble qualities and a repulsive body.
- I Choose to Stay: In the end of Dealer's Choice he is given the option of becoming a nat and abandoning the Rox and his followers. He refuses.
- Meaningful Name: Ted Honorlaw. Ironically, an aversion of Names to Run Away from Really Fast.
- Nerd: Technically a villain and revolutionary leader, Bloat is really a nerdy teenager abandoned by his parents after he drew his card.
- Psychic Block Defense: Something about his powers makes it so Bloat can't be Jumped. So, despite having an army of Body Surfers at his back and call he can't leave his monstrous body.
- Psychic Powers: One of the most potent examples in Wild Cards. He is mentioned as being as powerful as ten aces, seeing as he can reshape reality inside the Rox, read all minds inhabiting it, shift his mind into alternate bodies he creates himself, and encircle the Rox into a wall of fear that keeps the nats at bay.
- Reality Warper: Only inside the Rox.
- Supernatural Fear Inducer: Bloat's Wall that surrounds Ellis Island. He can't really control it.
- Tall, Dark, and Handsome: The Outcast, Bloat's alter ego.
- Token Good Teammate: Bloat and his army of jokers are basically good folks tired of being persecuted by the nats. The Jumpers that make up the other half of their alliance run on Teens Are Monsters.
BludgeonA gigantic joker bruiser with superstrength and a club-like right arm. Works as muscle for the mobs.
- Asshole Victim: Bludgeon is very prone to this, since he is beaten and humiliated by multiple heroes in almost all of his appearances.
- The Brute: Extremely strong and tough, his club-like arm is even capable of denting a tank, but he is dumb, slow, and almost always loses.
- Cluster F-Bomb: Extremely foul-mouthed. He can't go a whole sentence without using a dirty word.
- Dumb Muscle: Bludgeon is a criminal enforcer for the Shadow Fist Society and later for the Mafia.
- Played for Drama: Despite his fearsome presence and nasty personality, Bludgeon is something of a Butt-Monkey in most of his scenes. This changes in Sewer Jack story in Down and Dirty, where he is a very serious menace.
- Politically Incorrect Villain: Extremely homophobic and sexist.
- You Are What You Hate: Possibly, since he is prone to stalking and sexually abusing gay men.
Chrysalis is the owner of the Crystal Palace nightclub in Jokertown, and is the unofficial queen of the Joker underworld, brokering information to all parties. Her skin is invisible, her organs and skeleton exposed for all to see.
- Abusive Parents: Her jerkass Deep South family.
- Betty and Veronica: The Veronica to Jennifer Maloy's Betty and Yeoman's Archie. She is also Archie to Popinjay's Betty and Yeoman's Veronica.
- Commitment Issues: She has a really bad case of this, even though she genuinely loves Yeoman.
- Cute Monster Girl: Some men are attracted to her exotic appearance. Others see her as a source of endless Squick.
- Dark and Troubled Past: She used to be Daddy's Girl to a rich, Southern family. When her card turned, her bigoted parents kept her a prisoner, shut away from all human contact, because they were ashamed of their joker daughter.
- Emotionless Girl: Chrysalis wants to be seen as this. Only her closest associates know it's a façade.
- Fake Brit: In-universe. She likes to affect a British accent and cultivates a love of all things British. She is actually from Tulsa, Oklahoma.
- Femme Fatale: Chrysalis has a palpable air of sex, mystery, and menace about her, but she is actually neutral, bordering on heroic.
- Freudian Excuse: Chrysalis makes no effort at all to hide her deformity, seeming to even take a perverse pleasure in shocking people. That is because her jerkass family kept her shut away for years.
- Killed Off for Real: Happens off-screen before Ace in the Hole.
- Knowledge Broker: The main information broker in New York City (particularly Jokertown) in the first couple of trilogies.
- Mysterious Woman: Almost no one knows of her real past. It's revealed in Dead Man's Hand.
- Saloon Owner: Owner of the Crystal Palace, one of the classiest establishments in 1980s Jokertown.
- Stripperiffic: Always wears provocative clothing. Justified by her psychological issues.
- Stuffed into the Fridge: Despite being one of the most important Jokers in-universe and a major supporting character, she is killed off-screen in order to set off the events in Dead Man's Hand.
- You Owe Me: Chrysalis's modus operandi as an information broker relies on this.
The so-called Mayor of Jokertown, Desmond has an elephant trunk where his nose should be. He is the founder and leader of the Jokers' Anti-Defamation League and a major champion of joker's rights.
- A Day in the Limelight: Desmond is a bit player in the first trilogy. He gets to be one of the protagonists in the fourth novel. Also counts as a A Death in the Limelight, sadly.
- Diary: His story in Aces Abroad is titled the Journal of Xavier Desmond and naturally contains entries of his diary.
- Everything Is Racist: Des is very sensitive about being a joker.
- Honorary Princess: He is not really the Mayor of Jokertown, since Jokertown is a neighbourhood, not a city. Nonetheless, the jokers look up to him as their leader and spokesman. Desmond also notes in Aces Abroad that Jokertown is also a state of mind, and in that his title is entirely deserved.
- Ill Guy: Discover he has cancer in Aces Abroad.
- Mix-and-Match Critters: Has an elephant's trunk where his nose should be.
- Only Sane Man: Tends to come across as this, since he is very level-headed and introspective, as compared to other Wild Cards protagonists.
- The Rival: Desmond tends to be very critical of other joker leaders who don't live up to his expectations. But this sense of rivalry is entirely devoid of selfishiness, since his main worry is joker rights, not personal glory.
- Saloon Owner: Owner of the Funhouse, one of Jokertown's most storied nightclubs.
- Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: A rare heroic example. Desmond is a wealthy man that often notes that money is sometimes the greatest of all superpowers.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: His friendship with Doctor Tachyon, though this is entirely Played for Drama, unlike most examples of this trope. Also, most of the vitriol is under the surface, making for a tense friendship.
The Oddity is actually three people (Evan Crozier, Patti Roberts, and John Sheak) permanently merged into one monstrous, constantly shifting, painful whole. They're superhumanly strong and tough and act as a vigilante in Jokertown.
- The Big Guy: They are this, whenever they're part of a group of jokers.
- Blessed with Suck: One of the most heartbreaking cases in Wild Cards.
- Bruiser with a Soft Center: Evan is a rather sensitive artist.
- Freudian Trio: John is the Id, Evan is the Superego, Patti is the Ego. They're a Freudian Trio in a rather literal way too, since they inhabit the same body.
- Fusion Dance: A permanent version. But not quite a Mental Fusion, since the three personalities are still distinct inside The Oddity.
- Gone Horribly Right: Since Wild Card mutations are a sort of scientific Aladdin's lamp, the implication is that one of the three original selves of The Oddity wished to be together forever with the other two. It doubles as Ironic Hell.
- The Grotesque: Like many heroic jokers. Also a Horrifying Hero.
- Hot-Blooded: John.
- Killed Off for Real. An odd version. In Fort Freak, it is revealed that John, one of the personalities controlling Oddity, has early-onset Alzheimer's. In order to stop this, Oddity takes the trump cure, which works — to a point. Patti, who is controlling the body at that time, is ejected with her own mind and body fully intact from Oddity, while John and Evan's minds and bodies stay behind in the form of Oddity, who then die.
- Noble Top Enforcer: Used to be this for Senator Hartmann. Like most folks, they were unaware that Hartmann was a bad guy feeding on their pain.
- Polyamory: Evan, Patti, and John were lovers before they became The Oddity.
- Split Personality: Three distinct minds inhabiting the same body.
- Two Beings, One Body: Well, three. Formerly Evan Crozier, Patti Roberts, and John Sheak.
- Two Guys and a Girl: Merged. Evan and John are Sensitive Guy and Manly Man, respectively. Patti is the voice of reason.
- Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: John was at least.
The host of a Good Morning America style TV show. Peregrine is a superheroine who is technically considered a Joker but has kept her natural beauty. She has big, bird-like wings and is capable of flight. This leads many to consider her an Ace.
- Action Mom: Averted. While she remained a celebrity and career-oriented woman, Peregrine seems to have put a stop to her superheroine activities after the birth of her son. Or maybe that's just because she is Out of Focus.
- Adaptation Dye-Job: Peregrine has brown hair in the novels. A lot of the comics and general artwork for Wild Cards depicts her as a blonde.
- All Guys Want Cheerleaders: In her backstory. She was known as the Flying Cheerleader in the 1970s.
- Betty and Veronica: Fortunato is the Veronica, her husband Josh is the Betty.
- Cute Monster Girl: Technically she's a joker because she has wings, leading to the saying "A Joker, is a Joker, is a Joker... unless it's Peregrine."
- Entitled to Have You: Dr. Tachyon's attitude towards her, despite being her good friend and personal physician.
- Flight: Her superpower. Incidentally, it is not due to her wings, which aren't the right size and in the right position to allow her to fly. She technically levitates herself, and the wings serve as a focus of sorts.
- Good Bad Girl: Peregrine has few inhibitions when it comes to sex and enjoying herself as a glamourous New York City celebrity. She is still very much an heroic character.
- Good Girls Avoid Abortion: Part of her storyline in Aces Abroad, much to Doctor Tachyon's dismay, since pregnancies where both parents are wild carders are always high-risk pregnancies.
- Grandma, What Massive Hotness You Have!: Not still a grandmother, but she must be at least in her 50s in the latest novels, and she is still hot.
- Ms Fan Service: Probably the sexiest female character in the novels. She is also this in-universe. She even posed for Playboy Magazine.
- Mystical Pregnancy: Peregrine's pregnancy in Aces Abroad has shades of this, particularly due to the benevolous interference of the Living Gods.
- One Name Only: She changed her name legally to "Peregrine".
- Out of Focus: Peregrine is arguably the most iconic female Wild Cards character, but she is only a POV character in Aces Abroad.
- Stripperiffic: Her crimefighting costumes are this. Actually, she is pretty much always like this in her public persona.
- Unbreakable Bones: Her bones are tougher than the human norm.
- What Kind of Lame Power Is Heart, Anyway?: It has been noted that Peregrine's only wild card ability is not that impressive. Fortunately, she is also a very badass martial artist.
- Winged Humanoid: Her joker mutation is a pair of large, white bird wings sprouting from her back.
- Wolverine Claws: She uses a pair of titanium gauntlets with talons when she's expecting trouble.
- World's Most Beautiful Woman: Widely considered this. It's noted in Aces Abroad that she far outshines all the other beautiful female aces. Peregrine herself, though not really humble or oblivious about it, does not value her beauty above other traits.
QuasimanHunchbacked joker-ace with the powers of superstrength, precognition and teleportation. He's a friend of Father Squid, and handyman of the Church of Jesus Christ, Joker.
- Another Dimension: His teleportation powers work by traversing through this. This is the same dimension pieces of his body and consciousness keep disappearing to.
- Blessed with Suck: He is one of the most powerful joker-aces, but he is not only deformed, bits and pieces of him keep appearing and disappearing.
- Bomb Disposal: Quasiman is rumoured to have been a cop with the bomb squad before his card turned. A bomb explosion is implied to have been the event that caused his body and mind to be "unstuck" in time and space.
- Dumb Is Good: Quasiman is actually very intelligent, but pieces of his brain keep phasing in and out at random intervals.
- Gentle Giant: A big, superstrong joker who actually is very intelligent and sensitive (at least when his mind is in the right place).
- The Grotesque: The classical noble soul trapped in a monstrous form.
- Shout-Out: His joker name is an obvious one to the Hunchback of Notre Dame.
- Teleporters and Transporters: Capable of teleporting, including carrying other people with him. Unlike Jay Ackroyd, he can appear in places he has never been. But since he is also precognitive, he may "remember" those places from future memories. It gets complicated...
- You Can't Fight Fate: His precognition is of this variety.
Priest of the Church of Jesus Christ Joker. A former Catholic priest who created a unique version of Christianity especially for Jokers.
- The Atoner: Repents his violent past.
- Badass Preacher: When he has to be.
- Cool Old Guy: Particularly in the later novels, as he is a mentor for younger jokers like the Infamous Black Tongue.
- Cthulhumanoid: Father Squid looks like a very bulky version of this. Ironically, he is one of the most kind and idealistic characters in Wild Cards.
- Dark Is Not Evil: He looks like Cthulhu is his dad but he's one of the few completely good characters in this series. Unless you count the time he spent as a Joker Terrorist in the Seventies.
- Gentle Giant: Not really taller than a normal human, but much wider. Father Squid is also as gentle as they come.
- Good Shepherd: A kindly religious leader that is seen as the heart and soul of Jokertown, even by non-religious wild carders.
- Super Not-Drowning Skills: He can stay underwater for much longer than a normal human being.
- The Vietnam Vet: Used to be known as Sergeant Squidface.