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Dr. Tachyon

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.
  • Doctor Whomage: Possibly based on The Doctor. Like the Doctor, Tachyon is a long-lived, very human alien with a flamboyant dress sense that harkens back to Earth's past, has an arrogant personality and a big ego, is a brilliant scientist, is protective of Earthlings, and even has a living, sentient spaceship. In usual Wild Cards-style, Tachyon is also a deconstruction, being a shameless womanizer, a borderline alcoholic, and prone to failure, while the Doctor usually wins, and is somewhat chaste.
  • 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.
  • Impossibly Tacky Clothes: One of Tachyon's trademarks and endlessly discussed in-universe. His fashion sense runs to 18th century aristocratic costumes, but with lots more color. He despises black clothes because black is the color of the working class in his planet.
  • 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.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: The first book says that in this universe, Klaatu from The Day the Earth Stood Still is thought to have been based on Tachyon.
  • 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.
  • 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 Eleven after Ace in the Hole.


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.

  • Bait the Dog: 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Sleeps with Everyone but You: A non-romantic example. When Blaise was younger, and not completely sociopathic, Tachyon was desperate to be accepted and loved by him. That never quite happened. Instead, Blaise formed friendships with several of Tachyon's male friends - Popinjay, Golden Boy, Polyakov, Dr. Finn - all of whom were able to bond with the kid in a way that always eluded Tachyon.
  • 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.
  • Villain Has a Point: Surprisingly enough, given how much of a complete monster Blaise turns out to be, his criticisms of Takisian society in Double Solitary are correct, even though Blaise himself could care less about politics and is doing it just to gain power. Tachyon himself acknowledges it and urges the heroic side to make their own attempt at social reform.
  • Villainous Incest: Blaise being Tachyon's own grandson makes his actions in Jokertown Shuffle even more shocking and horrific.

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 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.
  • Beast Man: Looks like an humanoid walrus.
  • 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 and Popinjay 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.

  • 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 develop 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 Supremacist: Interestingly, this character type is almost completely absent in Wild Cards. The rationale for this is that aces are usually individualistic and have strong egos, they do not share some sort of ace identity (unlike jokers, who usually feel solidarity with other jokers). So there are no aces struggling to form an all-ace movement. There are aces that are political extremists, but they use their powers to advance causes they'd believe in even without their powers.
  • 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.


One of Captain Trips's alter egos, Aquarius is a massive, surly dolphin-man.

The Astronomer

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.

  • Above Good and Evil: Fond of using this justification in his Hannibal Lectures.
  • 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.
  • Homeless Hero: Though she is more in the anti-hero category.
  • 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.

Black Eagle

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 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.
  • 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 Shadow

A 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.

  • An Ice Person: Creates a cloud of darkness and bitter cold. In his "Mr. Gravemold" persona, this is the only power he uses.
  • 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.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Though he can get very ruthless at times.
  • Double Consciousness: Played so many roles for so long that he has trouble figuring out who he really is.
  • Evil Smells Bad: Not "evil", but his Mr. Gravemold persona is frightening. Shad uses formaldehyde to give himself a corpse-y smell when assuming it.
  • Fights Like a Normal: Restrains himself from using any powers in his "No Dice", "Simon", and "Mr. Diamond" personas, in order to come off as a nat.
  • Functional Addict: In his "Mr. Gravemold" persona, he covers himself in formaldehyde and snorts cocaine so the smell doesn't bother him.
  • 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.
  • Obfuscating Disability: As "Mr. Gravemold" he uses a deaths-head mask and douses himself in formaldehyde in order to imitate a joker.
  • 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.
  • That Man Is Dead: As mentioned above, he now feels so removed from his former life as Neil Langford that he adopted "Shad" as a stable identity.
  • 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. In his "Wall Walker" persona, this is the only power he uses.

The Amazing Bubbles

Michelle Pond, a famous supermodel and internationally active ace in the later novels. She is a key member of the Committee, an UN-sponsored superhero team. Bubbles is one of the most powerful aces around in the 21st-century. She is pratically indestructible, since she can absorb the energy from any attack and convert it into mass; she can then use this extra mass to fuel kinetic blasts in the shape of multi-coloured bubbles. She is also openly a lesbian.

  • Abusive Parents: Her incredibly grasping parents exploited her finantially from an early age, as she was a child model and essentially a cash cow to them. Later, they also tried to have her life support unplugged when she was in a coma, hoping to get their hands on her wealth.
  • Action Mom: She continues her career as a public ace even after adopting Adesina.
  • Betty and Veronica: A lesbian version. Bubbles is the Archie in a love triangle with nice and level-headed Juliet Summers (Betty) and dangerous bad girl Hoodoo Mama (Veronica).
  • Charged Attack: Her bubbles. She sheds body mass to fuel their energy. The other half of her ability is Energy Absorption that allows her to take the energy of any attack and convert it into mass.
  • Fat and Proud: An unusual variation. Bubbles changes from very fat to very thin and back again constantly. Her whole outlook is more along the lines of "be proud of yourself regardless of your weight".
  • Incompatible Orientation: With fellow contestant Tiffani in the American Hero TV show in the novel Inside Straight. It doesn't help that Tiffani is also a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing.
  • Informed Judaism: Somewhat justified, as Bubbles mentions a couple of times that only her Mom is Jewish, and her parents didn't seem to rise her as a Jew.
  • Mama Bear: She is extremely protective of her adopted child Adesina.
  • Nigh-Invulnerability: She absorbs any physical or energy attack directed at her, becoming heavier and larger after each attack. However, she isn't truly immortal. She still needs to breathe, for instance. She is also vulnerable to exotic ace powers, like the Mummy's dehydration power. She even absorbs a nucler explosion once, but is locked into a comma for a year.
  • Statuesque Stunner: Very tall and very beautiful. When she has a lot of extra mass also qualifies as a Big Beautiful Woman.
  • Temporary Bulk Change: A rare non-comedic, non-cartoon example. The more energy she absorbs, the heavier and bulkier she gets.

Captain Trips

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.
  • Alliterative Name: Captain Trips' civilian name is Mark Meadows.
  • All-Loving Hero: Mark tries hard to be this, with Tachyon remarking that Mark always tries to see the good in everyone. Obviously, it gets deconstructed. His time as a fugitive from the law, his adventures on Takis, and the complicated realpolitiks of his time as Vietnam's chancellor all combine to make him more cynical and bitter.
  • 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. Also, a wonderfully recursive example, as he is seeing reading a Turtle comic book in his origin story, and the Turtle himself was also an Ascended Fanboy.
  • 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.
  • Demoted to Comic Relief: Captain Trips' appearance in Book 3, Jokers Wild.
  • Ditzy Genius: Mark both plays it straight and subverts it. On the one hand, he IS a genius-level scientist that is totally lacking in common sense. On the other hand, he is noted as being surprisingly perceptive when it comes to other people's emotions.
  • Foil: Dr. Carter Jarnavon in Black Trump. Jarnavon is a younger biochemist that has a fanboyish admiration for Mark Meadows. Jarnavon is also a genocidal anti-wild cards bigot and, more personally, a nerd that has never "moved on" from the sort of youthful insecurities Mark used to suffer from.
  • 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.
  • Hearing Voices: Usually his other personas are dormant in his mind, though he can occasionally hear them. When he's recently summoned one, their voice becomes clearer and he sometimes vocalizes their thoughts.
  • Hero with Bad Publicity: Captain Trips gets hit with this hard after Book 8, with the American government treating him as a drug kingpin.
  • Heroic BSoD: 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.
  • Impossibly Tacky Clothes: His superhero costume is a multicolored Uncle Sam suit that is tacky even when compared to other superhero costumes in the setting. Of course, his best friend Doctor Tachyon is the only one who throughly approves of it.
  • Loves My Alter Ego: In the conclusion of his very first story, "Transfigurations", Sunflower is infatuated with the Radical, while nerdy Mark Meadows seems to have been definitely consigned to "just friends". A few years later Mark and Sunflower end up in a rocky, unsuccessful marriage.
  • 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 very incompetent shop owner.
  • 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.
  • Nice Guy: One of the sweetest guys in the Wild Cards universe, even though most of his alter egos have rather extreme personalities, and a couple of them are on Superpowered Evil Side territory.
  • Out of Focus: Of all the protagonists introduced in Books 1 and 2, Mark Meadows is hit with this the hardest. He has only minor appearances between books 3 and 7, before returning to the series big time in One-Eyed Jacks.
  • 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.
  • Sexier Alter Ego: Both J. J. Flash and the Radical.
  • 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 relationship 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!
  • Superpowered Evil Side: Of the five main "friends", Cosmic Traveler comes closest to this, though he is more of a huge jerk and a dirty coward than evil. More straight examples are Monster and the second version of the Radical.
  • 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.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: With J. Robert Belew after Book 12. Belew is Mark Meadows's opposite in many ways: a cynic, a political conservative, and a lifelong military operative.
  • "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Downplayed. It's mentioned a few times that Mark's father is a General in the United States Air Force, 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.

  • Badass in a Nice Suit: Whenever he isn't wearing his superhero tights.
  • 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.
  • Butter Face: A rare male example. He is a fairly athletic and graceful man, but his face looks really peculiar and asymmetrical, since his healing factor doesn't care for aesthetics. Whenever his face gets really bad, he has plastic surgery to regain a normal appearance. It doesn't last though, since he gets into fights and scrapes a lot.
  • Casanova Wannabe: A somewhat downplayed example. Billy isn't quite as repellent as typical examples of this trope, and it's implied that he still gets laid fairly often, but there is a bit of a running gag of Billy Ray hitting on female characters and being shot down.
  • 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.
  • Confusion Fu: One of Ray's powers actually is an instinctive combat sense that makes him a master of freeform mayhem - without any need to properly study and learn martial arts.
  • Expy: Carnifex is a very physical fighter who heals very quickly. He even originally called himself "Wolverine".
  • 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 Chaison

A Cajun girl with the power to manipulate 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. However, she does learn how to use her powers to revive someone suffering from shock, or to restart a stopped heart.
  • 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.
  • Thou Shalt Not Kill: Cordelia believes in this, due to her Catholic background. She is very troubled by having a power that is mostly useful to kill and is committed to not using it on human beings.
  • 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.

Cosmic Traveler

One of Captain Trips's alter-egos, Cosmic Traveler is a featureless, glowing being in a cloak with a powerset based upon survival and escape.

  • Batman Can Breathe in Space: He's immune to cold, radiation, suffocation and vacuums, so he can survive in space.
  • Crippling Overspecialization: Not due to his powers, but his personality: His cowardice and self-interest limit his usefulness to getting Mark out of nasty situations.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: Can and has dropped everything he was doing for the chance to get laid. His powers uniquely suit him to being a peeping tom, too.
  • Dirty Coward: The one thing you can rely on him to do is run. One of his favorite things to do once his time starts running out is to phase his body into hidden place, preferably one that locks from the outside so Mark can't get into trouble.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Like most of the other personas he loves and is protective of Sprout.
  • Flight: He floats at about ten miles an hour. Not fast, but he can go through things, which helps.
  • Intangibility: One of his powers.
  • Invisibility: Ditto.
    • This seems to be a bit of an Informed Ability. The RPG mentions it, but Traveler never becomes invisible in the novels, even when it would be very useful to do so.
  • It's All About Me: Easily the most self-absorbed of Mark's personas.
  • Jerkass: Greedy, selfish, pompous, horny and cowardly to boot.
  • Mysterious Past: The other personas have at least vague (if false) memories of another life, but CT refuses to talk about his. An comatose accountant with the same name as his (Damon Strange), did have his plug pulled at the same moment he manifested for the first time, however.
  • Power Glows: He glows blue.
  • Psychic Block Defense: Has an extremely powerful mind shield.
  • Shapeshifter Default Form: He's a stoop-shouldered guy with skinny limbs and a potbelly. Naturally, he uses his powers to look more impressive.
  • Shapeshifting: He appears to be limited to humanoid forms.
  • Stealth Expert: The best infiltrator and escape artist among Mark's alter-egos.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: He hates Mark for constantly getting into trouble, and Mark doesn't like him much for being a big ol' douche.
  • Telepathy: Mildly telepathic.
  • Voice Changeling: Capable of flawlessly imitating anyone.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: He's a little afraid of everything, but creepy crawlies like bugs top the list.


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. Giving that it's implied by the narration that he was an antisocial weirdo even before acquiring his powers, this is probably an invocation of Villainous Aromantic Asexual.
  • Back from the Dead: He was one of the 90% of fatalities from the virus, but Tachyon brought him back with an experimental process.
  • 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, leaving him in a near constant state of pain so bad that he has to get badly drunk to even be able to fall asleep.
  • 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 practically 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.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: As shown under Pet the Dog, Demise dislike the idea of killing actual nice guys he gets to know. In the sixth book, the narration also dwelves on his reasoning for being who he is. Essentially, he always was an antisocial loner which is the cause of his cynical streak and his justification for acting like a jerk. The virus and the state of constant pain it left him in only worsened this state of mind. However, meeting people who show him kindess and/ or care about him prompts him to think better thoughts and act as a better person. So much so, that in the conclusion Ace in the Hole, he takes upon on him to kill Hartmann, not only to collect his reward, but because the time spent with an old friend of his compels him to act heroically for once.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: From an antisocial failed accountant to a regenerative serial killer that can cause someone to die simply by looking in their eyes.
  • Healing Factor: His other major power. Demise can recover from practically 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.
  • Hitman with a Heart: Usually, the heart part doesn't come up often except for two times. In Joker's Wild, he struggles with his decision to kill a vagrant, a witness to his crime, as the man treats him fairly decently. In Ace in the Hole, he has been hired to kill Senator Hartmann, and meets he meets an old acquaintance from school, one of the very few people in his life he seems to like. Said acquaintance's attitude rubs on him and influences his decisions to abandon his kill and then take it up again when he learns of Hartmann's true nature.
  • Iron Butt-Monkey: Constantly suffers amusing injuries and setbacks but thanks to his healing powers he's always back on his feet. Except when Tachyon burns his decapitated body.
  • 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.
  • Loners Are Freaks: Doesn't have any friends and is a sociopathic killer.
  • Morality Pet: His old acquaintance from school he runs into in Ace in the Hole acts as this to him. The guy is the only person in his life to treat him as friend (despite having never been particularly close to him and having not seen him in years) and Demise very much appreciate him for it.
  • 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 an altruistic 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.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Zig-zagged. In Ace in the hole, he has something of a change of heart after running into an old acquaintance of his. Said acquaintance is such a nice guy that it almost convinces Demise to not kill Hartmann, his target of the moment. Eventually, he decides to finish the job because he learned what Hartmann really was and it indirectly causes him to die, for good this time.
  • 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.


Philip 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 gratuitous 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.
  • The Starscream: Fadeout is very ambitious and his ultimate goal is to replace Kien Phuc as head of the Shadow Fist Society.


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.
  • Distant Finale: Fortunato is one of the protagonists in the novel Death Draws Five published in 2006, about 20 years after Fortunato's last appearance.
  • 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.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: The older Fortunato in Death Draws Five, after spending more than a decade in a monastery, is much nicer. He even admitted in one scene that he was wrong to give Dr. Tachyon such a hard time. He is also the Big Good in the dystopian alternate timeline created in Low Chicago.

Golden Boy

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.
  • 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.
  • Horrible Judge of Character: Poor guy always seems to end up backing the wrong horse.
  • The Immune: Jack is immune to disease.
  • 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.
  • Nigh-Invulnerability: One of the toughest aces around.
  • Nostalgic Narrator: In his origin story, "Witness".
  • Once Done, Never Forgotten: Golden Boy gets this. 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 21st century.
  • 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.
  • Power Glows: He glows gold whenever his power is active. The greater the exertion of strength or the more powerful the impact he suffers, the brighter the glow.
  • 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.
  • Required Secondary Powers: He's missing one that doesn't often get addressed with super-strong characters. When he throws a punch at Mackie Messer, Messer phases and the punch goes right through him. But the punch is so powerful that when it doesn't connect with anything it lifts Jack right off his feet and throws him out a window. He was too light for his own strength.
  • 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.
  • Undeath Always Ends: Jack isn't really undead per se, rather he is invulnerable and ageless, but he became somewhat paranoid that this trope would raise its head and kill him once and for all in Book 6, when he had run-ins with Demise and Mackie Messer, two extremely powerful killer aces.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Golden Boy and Tachyon, after their reconciliation in Aces Abroad.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: As mentioned above, he's afraid of heights, since that's one of the only things that can kill him.
  • 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).

Zoe Harris

Zoe is a businesswoman and scientist (more specifically, a chemist) with the power to animate objects by a kind of molecular manipulation. She is one of the protagonists in the Card Sharks trilogy.
  • Embarrassing Nickname: Once or twice she is referred to by the ace name "Blowjob", because she can animate objects by blowing on them. Luckily for her, people almost always call her by her real name.
  • The Everyman: Zoe certainly qualifies, despite being an unusual example. She has powerful ace abilities, her parents are jokers, and she was raised in Jokertown. Yet, her personality is still very much an ordinary woman's and she is very, very unsuited to superheroics. She ends up being a deconstruction of the concept of the Everyman, as instead of thriving or emerging as the voice of sanity, all the strangeness of her ace life really takes a toll on her sanity.
  • Love Imbues Life: The superpowerful version of this. Only her power isn't activated by love, but by fear or excitement. She learns to control it in her first story.
  • Meaningful Name: Zoe means 'life'.
  • Ragtag Bunchof Misfits: Zoe's Escorts, a gang of five joker street kids that become intensely loyal to her.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: She is very much the Blue Oni to Croyd Crenson's Red Oni in their interactions.
  • Required Secondary Powers: Zoe has a kind of extrasensory awareness of physical objects's molecular structures.
  • Self-Made Woman: A successful entrepreneur, despite her humble beginnings. However, she is screwed over by her nat partner.
  • Team Mom: Pretty much assumes this role for a gang of joker children, her Escorts.
  • Trauma Conga Line: Like many Wild Cards heroes, she suffers this. Particularly as she lives through a time of intense anti-wild card sentiment.

The Hero Twins

A 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.

Jonathan Hive

Real name is Jonathan Tipton-Clarke. A blogger and journalist active in the later novels set in the 21st-century. He has the power to transform into a swarm of glowing, green wasps. Hive is very much a smart-ass, but his heart is generally in the right place. He is a founding member of the Committee, an UN-sponsored superhero team. He's often called by his nickname, "Bugsy", much to his annoyance.

  • Animal Eye Spy: Hive is an extraordinary spy and scout, since he can see through any of his wasps. it also comes in handy in his day-job as a reporter.
  • Bad Powers, Good People: His power is very creepy, but he is pretty much a good guy.
  • Bee Bee Gun: The Type 3 version. He can use his wasps to painfully sting enemies. He is also not above using a few well-placed wasps to humorously target jerkasses or anyone who annoys him.
  • Cool Loser: Hive is reasonably attractive, rich, smart, and charismatic, and a powerful ace to boot; yet, he is sometimes treated as the annoying loser of the Committee. This is partially justified due to his abrasive personality and off-putting powers. Particularly, few women are willing to date a guy that turns into bugs.
  • Deadpan Snarker: The resident snarker of the Committee.
  • Hidden Depths: Hive is often capable of deeper soul-searching than his smart-ass façade would imply.
  • Intrepid Reporter: More or less a 21st-century version of this. Also a deconstruction, as Hive ends up doing paparazzi work.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Pretty much. His cynicism goes hand-in-hand with a fair amount of idealism.
  • Nigh-Invulnerability: As a side effect of his powers, Bugsy is very hard to hurt. He just decomposes into a swarm as a response to physical attacks. He even has his hands cut off in one occasion, and they just turn into wasps and later rejoin his body. Having a large portion of his wasps destroyed by fire or other such attacks targetting a large area is among the few things that can harm him.
  • Old Money: Hive comes from a rich Massachusetts family, but he averts most of the tropes usually associated with wealthy types. His particular brand of cynicism and jerkass-ery is more of a general young wiseguy variety, rather than the spoiled rich kid variety. He is a self-professed Liberal, and so comes closest to Bourgeois Bohemian.
  • One to Million to One: Jonathan's superpower is the ability to transform into a swarm of wasps. He is also able to partially transform, converting only some pieces of his body into wasps.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Almost everyone calls him "Bugsy". His official ace name of "Jonathan Hive" is almost never used.
  • Only Sane Man: He is more or less this in the Committee novels, in addition to being the plucky comic relief.
  • Straight Man and Wise Guy: Lohengrin and Jonathan Hive have this dynamic going on.
  • Synchronized Swarming: He is capable of this, since all his wasps are basically like a single organism commanded by his intelligence.

Jumpin' Jack Flash

One of Captain Trips's alter-egos, probably the most well-known of them in the original novels. 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."
  • Catchphrase: "It's a gas-gas-gas!"
  • Fake Memories: "Remembers" being a lawyer in a parallel universe full of superheroes, but not how he somehow became trapped inside Mark's head. He's resentful of his present situation and would like to get back to his awesome life, please.
  • Fiery Redhead: Both literally and figuratively.
  • Flight: Can fly at about 100 mph.
  • 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."
  • Super Toughness: Resistant to small-caliber firearms.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: Water. Even a light rainfall inflames and blisters his skin.

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.

  • Abusive Parents: His mother abused Mackie both physically and emotionally.
  • 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 vs. Evil: His climatic and gory fight with Demise in Ace in the Hole.
  • Freudian Excuse: An absent father, an abusive mother who was also a hooker, and a life spent in public institutions for troubled youths give plenty of reasons for Mackie to be so twisted, but these background elements are never quite used as an excuse, since Mackie's madness and cruelty have an innate vibe to them.
  • Intangible Man: Able to phase through physical objects. It makes him a scary and almost unstoppable killer.
  • The Pig-Pen: Not particularly careful about personal hygiene, it's sometimes remarked that he smells of week-long sweat.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Despite considering himself a Marxist, he is actually this Up to Eleven. 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.

The Mechanic

J. Robert Belew was a lifelong government operative who was set up by the Card Sharks organization to be killed alongside several other aces in a botched attempt to rescue the Iranian hostages. After leaving government service, he made an unlikely friend in Mark Meadows.

  • Arch-Enemy: O.K. Casaday, the Card Shark agent who ensured the failure of the 1980 mission.
  • Badass Mustache: Very proud of his walrus mustache.
  • Badass Normal: After a fashion. He is an ace with technopathy and a healing factor, but his multiple skills as a secret agent are not dependant on his powers. Mark notes that no one outside of the movies is as competent as Belew.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Escaped from prison in time to save Sprout from getting molested by Ganesha, who had kidnapped her.
  • Chivalrous Pervert: He is both very active sexually and very considerate of his partners. Lady Black is impressed by how he is the only male ace in the Iran mission that doesn't act like a sexist douche. He then reminds her in a sardonic way that he *is* a card-carrying male chauvinist, just not when he is on a mission.
  • Cool Old Guy: Pretty much, particularly in his introduction in Turn of the Cards when he is contrasted with younger characters like Mistral and a couple of Cowboy Cop DEA agents. Belew is the oldest but also the coolest of the bunch.
  • Cultural Rebel: He surprises Mark Meadows by being well-read in Underground Comics, despite being a Cold War conservative. He notes that he is pretty ecletic in his tastes.
  • Cultured Warrior: He is a military man that is fond of quoting classical works, though he also is a Pop-Cultured Badass, noting that he is fond of both Giuseppe Verdi and Van Halen.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: He was leader of the ace mission to rescue the Iranian hostages in 1980—secretly a set-up by the Card Sharks to kill off several aces and give President Carter and the Wild Cards a bad image. He and Popinjay smelled a rat too late to save most of the other aces.
  • Dying Moment of Awesome: Not only does he pull a Heroic Sacrifice, he also uses his rotors to decapitate O.K. Casaday..
  • The Exile: Even though he hadn't harmed Sprout, Mark's cynicism had developed to the point that he was still suspicious of Belew's intentions with her. Belew was thus exiled from Free Vietnam. His counsel would probably have been very useful in the coming days.
  • Healing Factor: When not controlling a machine, his body parts regenerate, with a severed hand taking several weeks to return to full functionality. Also he has a generalized one which has kept him young in body in spite of his advanced chronological age.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: With his body fatally wounded, Belew sacrifices the helicopter he's possessing to stop the Card Sharks from releasing the Black Trump virus over Hong Kong.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: He's not shy about showing people how much smarter he is than them, and he's secretive and manipulative. Everything he does is for his friend and his fellow Wild Cards, however.
  • May–December Romance: Hooks up with Mistral as she's searching for Mark Meadows in order to capture him. He also covertly keeps her from finding him.
  • Mistaken for Pedophile: Happens in Marked Cards, and tragically ends his friendship with Mark Meadows.
  • Not What It Looks Like: Mark saw Sprout get into Belew's lap and kiss him, and thanks to Ganesha's manipulation thought that he'd been molesting her, throwing his friend into prison.
  • Older Than They Look: Has the body and appearance of a middle-aged man in spite of being in his sixties or so, due to his healing factor. Since his healing factor replaces cartilage and other things which should have worn away with time, he's even healthier and more spry than he looks.
  • Technopath: By cutting a piece of himself (like a fingertip) off and sticking the stump to a machine, he can place his consciousness inside it in order to control it.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: He and Mark come from opposing viewpoints and life experiences, so this is natural. He also has a similar dynamic with Jay Ackroyd, even though they're not as close.

Mister Nobody

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.

  • Arch-Enemy: The Jumper gang as a whole. Interestingly, Jerry was a bit of a Unknown Rival to them, since his powers allowed him to have a different appearance every time he met one of them.
  • 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-esteem, something hinted at by his chosen ace name.
  • Humanshifting: His main superpower is the ability to look like anyone he chooses.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: All of his stories and the individual chapters in his intersticial in One-Eyed Jacks have the word Nobody somewhere in the title.
  • 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.
  • Super Loser: When he first gained his shapeshifting powers, he wasn't able to use them effectively, because he was an horrible actor with no stage presence. He got better in his later career, as a junior partner in Jay Ackroyd's detective agency.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: After decades trapped in the form of a giant ape, he develops paranoia about shifting into non-human shapes.

Modular Man

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.
  • Deflector Shields: One of the powers granted to him by his flux generator. Once the generator went kaput though, so did they.
  • 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 BSoD: He 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.
  • Intangibility: This was one of his myriad powers—until his flux generator got damaged and Travnicek was no longer able to fix it. Since MM is learning how to fix himself, however, who knows?
  • 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.
  • A Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Read: A telepathic/mind controlling ace tried to work his mojo on Modular Man and came away with his mind destroyed, endlessly babbling in binary.
  • Only Sane Man: Particularly in Dealer's Choice, but he always comes across as this when he interacts with Maxim Travnicek, his deranged creator.
  • 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.
  • Single Specimen Species: Travnicek's power apparently only let him create/maintain one Modular Man at a time.
  • 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-launchers.
  • Super Strength: He can lift about six tons, according to the M&M supplement.
  • Super Toughness: Fortunately for him, even after losing his force field and intangibility, he's still very tough.
  • 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 incapable 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.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: Her defeat of Durg at’ Morakh in combat led to him becoming her (and by extension Mark's) servant.
  • Driven to Suicide: Essentially. After she accidentally kills Ganesha, her horror at what she'd done caused her to subsume herself so deeply into Mark's mind that a subsequent attempt to summon her resulted in him going into convulsions and an hour-long coma. The Radical is/was later able to use her powers, however.
  • Fake Memories: She has memories of a life prior to becoming "trapped" in Mark Meadows's psyche, and upset to learn they're false.
  • Healing Factor: She can heal very fast, but only when exposed to moonlight.
  • Heroic BSoD:
    • She goes into one if she believes she's seriously harmed a sapient being.
    • She almost goes into one when she realizes she doesn't know Korean. Belew manages to pull her out of it by telling her essentially that she and the other personas are still people, even if they don't always have a physical form.
  • I Just Want to Be Free: She wishes that she and the other people trapped within Mark Meadows could be freed to live out their own individual lives. Then it turned out that they weren't and had never been individual people.
  • Invisibility: Only in areas of shadow.
  • 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 Traveler, 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.
  • Super Senses: Thanks to her mental discipline all of her senses are peak human, and she can see better than a cat in the dark.
  • Super Toughness: Moderately resistant to kinetic damage.
  • 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 Traveler, 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.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: Although moonlight heals her, she's extremely vulnerable to UV rays and sunlight.
  • 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.


Russian ace with the power of pyrokinesis. Used to be a bigwig in the Soviet secret service.


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.

  • Casanova Wannabe: Before he was married, he was an incurable flirt.
  • Catchphrase: "Might as well, can't dance."
  • Dark and Troubled Past: He was one of the aces sent to resolve the Iranian Hostage Crisis. Oh, sorry, he was one of the aces set up to be slaughtered during the Iranian Hostage Crisis. He and J. Robert Belew only barely managed to get out and save Carnifex.
  • 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.
  • Loners Are Freaks: Jay is a subversion. In Double Solitaire he notes that he has almost no friends. But he is still a pleasant, well-adjusted fellow, though a bit of a smart-mouth. However, in the same novel he feels the weight of loneliness for the first time, since he is stuck in another planet. Ironically, by the end of the novel he has met his wife-to-be and affirms his friendship with Mark Meadows, Kelly Ann Jenkins, and Dr. Tachyon.
  • Loophole Abuse: Jay can teleport a person to any place he's seen. This includes a place he's only seen in dreams.
  • 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!
  • Thou Shalt Not Kill: Definitely a part of Jay's personal moral code. He also can be quite self-righteous about it.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: With Captain Trips in Double Solitaire. They're both pacifist aces on the side of the angels, but have wildly different personalities.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?:
    • Following an incident during the Iranian Hostage Crisis where he shot a child pointing a fake gun at himself and J. Robert Belew, he developed a phobia of using guns.
    • He's also claustrophobic.


Senator Gregg Hartmann, seemingly a liberal, idealistic politician that fights for the rights of Wild Carders. He's secretly Puppetman, a manipulative emotional vampire.

  • Adaptation Dye-Job: Hartmann has ash-blond hair in the novels, but in virtually all the comics and book covers he has brown or black hair.
  • Arch-Enemy: Gimli, the joker terrorist. Since Gimli is a violent revolutionary that hates normal humans, this is a case of Evil vs. 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 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. The additional "Gimli" personality that appears in Ace in the Hole is a straighter example.
  • Entitled to Have You: He feels like this with any woman that he becomes interested in.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: One curious thing about Hartmann is that he hates using his power directly on women he's interested in, as "forced love" feels hollow to him. However, he is not above manipulating his love interests in other ways.
  • 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. Often described in physical terms.
  • Evil Is Petty: Besides his more monstrous actions, Hartmann also likes to covertly needle and annoy people close to him, such as rubbing his affair with Sara Morgenstern on his wife's face.
  • Evil vs. 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).
  • First-Episode Twist: Gregg Hartmann's story in Book 1 actually keeps his real nature as the evil Puppetman a secret until shortly before the climax of the story. This is spoiled to anyone who has ever read any of the other novels, comics, or roleplaying games in which the character appears.
  • 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.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: All of his stories after Book 1 have the word "color" or some synonym like "tint" or "hue" in their title.
  • The Lost Lenore: Succubus is this for him, in a very dark variation of the trope, since their relationship was packed full of Squick.
  • Manipulative Bastard: His powers make him an excellent example of this trope. Most notably in Aces Abroad, where he is kidnapped by a disparate group of left-wing terrorists and has to use his power and wits to cause them to turn on each other.
  • 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.
  • More Than Mind Control: His emotional control has shades of this. Notably, he can't cause a person to feel completely alien emotions; he can only amplify or diminish what is already there. This makes him an exceptionally dangerous manipulator, since his victims always have plenty of reasons of their own for the violent actions they eventually perform. Hartmann's manipulation isn't often detected.
  • Non-Action Big Bad: Like several Wild Cards villains. Physically, he is a middle-aged bureaucrat that lives a sedentary lifestyle.
  • Poetic Justice: the great controller of minds is eventually brought low when someone else controls his mind.
  • 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.
  • They Look Just Like Everyone Else!: One of the things that makes Hartmann so dangerous. Many people that are close to him find it almost impossible to suspect him, because he looks so ordinary.
  • Villainous BSoD: Twice, once in the late Seventies when he gets caught in a riot and is overwhelmed by the strength and number of emotions in the vicinity; the second time actually faked by Dr Tachyon, who controls Gregg and makes him act like he's having a breakdown while live on TV and about to accept the nomination for President at the Democratic Convention.
  • Villain Protagonist: Unusually for such a monstrous villain, he is often a POV character.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: The public is unaware that he is sadistic emotional vampire. The jokers, in particular, love him and consider him almost as a saint.

The Radical

The Radical was the first of Captain Trips's alter-egos. He is basically Mark Meadows's ideal self, the great Counterculture superhero Mark always wanted to be. There have been two versions of the Radical. The first one was a good guy and appeared a single time in 1970 in the climatic confrontation between students and National Guard in People's Park in San Francisco. The second one was far more long-lasting (and sinister) and assumed Mark's life after 1995.

  • The Ace: The Radical is athletic, charismatic, handsome, and referred to as the "golden youth" in the text. In short, he is everything that shy, clumsy Mark Meadows is not.
  • Actual Pacifist: The first version of the Radical fought only defensively and only attacked Hardhat when he absolutely needed to in order to protect innocents. The second version had no such qualms, to say the least...
  • All Your Powers Combined: The second version of the Radical could use all the powers of all Mark's other identities. He is probably the most powerful ace ever to exist in the Wild Cards universe.
  • Big Bad: The second version of the Radical is the main antagonist in the Committee triad of novels.
  • Dragon-in-Chief: In the Committee novels. He is really the main power behind the People's Paradise of Africa, even though he technically serves under President-for-Life Nshombo.
  • Enemy Within: Inverted with the second version of the Radical. He is a bad guy that still has the heroic Mark Meadows personality trapped inside him.
  • Evil Virtues: It has been noted that the second version of Radical really lives a very simple lifestyle befitting a man of the people, completely avoiding the hypocrisy of communist leaders that enjoy luxury.
  • Face–Heel Turn: The first version of the Radical is the incarnation of youthful Mark Meadows's desires to be a hero and is a good-natured champion of peace and love. The second version is a violent communist revolutionary that is willing to go to any lengths for the cause. This is probably due to Mark's growing bitterness and cynicism.
  • Grey-and-Gray Morality: His climatic fight with Hardhat in Book 1 is mostly portrayed in this way, with both sides being sympathetic.
  • Lightning Bruiser: The first version of the Radical has superhuman agility, speed, strength, and durability.
  • Meaningful Rename: The Radical adopts the civilian identity of "Tom Weathers", an homage to both Tom Marion Douglas, his rock and roll idol, and the Weathermen terrorist organization.
  • Morality Chain: Even the evil version of the Radical is still very protective and loving towards Sprout Meadows, Mark's mentally disabled daughter.
  • One-Winged Angel: He transforms into the gigantic Monster, another of Mark Meadows's alter egos, in the climatic final battle in Suicide Kings.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: The second version of the Radical. Like many 1960s revolutionaries, he is a male chauvinist.
  • Sexier Alter Ego: He is this for Mark Meadows in his origin story.
  • Split-Personality Takeover: Mark's decades-long goal of returning to being the Radical is achieved in 1994... But the Radical has become unhinged and evil.
  • Superpower Lottery: Particularly the second version. His vast collection of powers includes superstrength, flight, fire generation, insubstantiality, and the ability to turn into a beam of light... and into a giant dolphin.
  • Superpowered Evil Side: The second version of the Radical.
  • Variable-Length Chain: His peace medallion that works as an offensive and defensive weapon.


A 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.

Sewer Jack

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 sexual abuse by his own uncle. It's heavily implied that his wild card power is an expression of his rage.
  • Deadpan Snarker: The main source of snarky comments in the Bagabond/Sewer Jack/Rosemary Muldoon corner of the Wild Cards universe. And since he is a manly sort of gay, the snark is devoid of the cattiness or flamboyance usually associated with gay snarkers.
  • 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.

The Sleeper

Croyd Crenson, a man that changes appearance and powers every time he falls asleep. Works as an ace for hire. He is been around since the 1940s, and 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.

  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Croyd is quite popular with the female aces, his list of past lovers or would-be lovers includes Veronica, Water Lily, Zoe Harris, and the Understudy.
  • Alliterative Name: Croyd Crenson.
  • Big Eater: His metabolism is very accelerated, particularly after he awakes, so Croyd has an enormous appetite.
  • 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.
  • Functional Addict: How functional depends on what part of the "wake-up/try-to-stay-up-without-drugs/do-drugs-to-stay-up/do-drugs-to-counter-the-side-effects/do-more-drugs-to-stay-up/drugs/drugs/drugs" cycle he's in. Eventually he has to isolate himself to keep from hurting people.
  • 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. Another big example is his jaunts through time with John Nighthawk in Low Chicago.
  • 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 week, sleeps for a month, 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.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: As mentioned, he's terrified of drawing the Black Queen (or entering a nonviable Joker form that amounts to a much slower death) each time he sleeps.


The most overtly powerful of Captain Trips's alter-egos, Starshine has light and solar-based abilities, and is willing to lecture anyone about anything at length.

  • Batman Can Breathe in Space: Like the Cosmic Traveler, he can survive in a vacuum.
  • Boomerang Bigot: One of his favorite lectures is on the evils of drugs—never mind that he can't exist without them.
  • The Bore: More than willing to talk people's ears off with his unsolicited opinions.
  • Brutal Honesty: Deeply critical of everyone around him, and perfectly willing to let them know it.
  • Commonality Connection: Aquarius is the only persona he gets along with, due to their similar environmental beliefs—and very likely a common disgust with humanity.
  • Cultured Warrior: He makes his own poetry, and inflicts it on anyone unfortunate enough to be nearby.
  • Deflector Shields: Can create powerful force fields around himself or others.
  • Flight: Can hit about 1,000 mph in an atmosphere and turn into photons in order to move at light speed.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Flew to Brazil to stop the destruction of the rainforest—but his time limit ran out leaving poor Mark stranded in Brazil, in the middle of a smoldering clearing, with the Brazilian Army closing in, and no resources (not even powders). Yeah, it was a while before he got summoned again.
  • Hand Blast: Shoots powerful beams of sunlight from his hands.
  • Intangibility: As a beam of light he can pass through things that allow light through.
  • Jerkass: He puts the "self-" in righteousness.
  • Jerk Ass Has A Point: A lot of his speechifying is about legitimate concerns, but who's going to listen to a pompous ass like this?
  • Killed Off for Real: The first of Mark's personas to "die", his passing left Mark literally speechless for months. While he recovered his voice, Mark could no longer write or enjoy poetry.
    • Back from the Dead: On the other hand, Starshine and a number of other personas showed up to subdue The Monster, although he hasn't been seen since.
  • Ludd Was Right: Technology is one of his many, many pet peeves.
  • The Needless: Doesn't need anything but solar energy to live.
  • The Power of the Sun: Absorbs solar energy.
  • Soapbox Sadie: He's the voice of Mark's righteous indignation, and boy does he have a lot to say. He'll even put off things that need to be done urgently in order to rant.
  • Super Strength: Can lift a bit over 16 tons.

Ti Malice

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.

  • Above Good and Evil: How Ti Malice sees itself. It also encourages its mounts to adopt this worldview.
  • 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.
  • "It" Is Dehumanizing: That's what he calls his mounts.
  • Kiss of the Vampire: Ti Malice feeds on the blood of its victims.
  • 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 Sociopath: He will never take any action that isn't intended to benefit or amuse himself. All he cares about is the sensations his mounts can give him, and he'll submit them to anything that strikes his depraved fancy.
  • 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 basically follows this trope, though it's more realistic and lasts a bit longer than the usual.
  • 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.
  • Thou Shalt Not Kill: One of the main examples of this sort of heroic code in Wild Cards. When he is finally forced to kill during the Rox War, it's enough to cause him to retire as an active ace.
  • 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.
  • Your Approval Fills Me with Shame: In a fury, he made a tidal wave that destroyed the Rox, leading to the supposed deaths of Bloat and hundreds of other jokers (who actually teleported into the Dreamtime). That's bad enough, but people are congratulating him for it.


A former prostitute of Fortunato's, Veronica has the power to make any man weak and helpless. Seriously. (She also disrupts electrical currents)
  • Closet Key: Hannah Jorde, Veronica's shrink.
  • Dead Lesbian Syndrome: Hannah, Veronica's first real love.
  • Jerkass: Like her mentor, Fortunato, she can be extremely sharp-tongued and confrontational.
  • Never My Fault: She actually became a streetwalker prostitute of her own accord as a teenager to make spending money. Her mother, one of Fortunato's "geishas", brought her in for training so that she could at least get an education and earn a decent living. But Veronica later acted as if her being a prostitute in the first place was Fortunato's fault. Likewise, her drug problem was entirely her own, since Fortunato actually prohibited his "geishas" from using drugs.
  • No Name Given: First name only, like most of Fortunato's hos.
  • Walking Techbane: Her power disrupts electrical currents. Presumably that's how it affects the brain to cause nausea. Why it only affects men is harder to say.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: Her powers only work on males. She discovers it in a painful encounter with a female bodybuilding villain.

Water Lily

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.

  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Water Lily is attracted to "bad boy" aces like Jumpin' Jack Flash and the Sleeper, and feels guilty about not being able to return the affections of "nice guy" Hiram Worchester.
  • 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.
  • Ship Tease: Water Lily has a major crush on Jumpin' Jack Flash. She even wears a J.J.Flash T-shirt in Book 3. This fangirlish crush never goes anywhere, though.
  • 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.
  • Water Is Womanly: The only ace with water powers and an everyday girl whose innocence gets broken throughout the course of the story.

Hiram Worchester

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.

  • Accidental Murder: Lost control while interrogating Chrysalis about an assassin, then covered it up by making it look like Yeoman had done it.
  • Acrofatic: Not quite, but he is susprisingly light on his feet, since he constantly uses his power to decrease his own weight.
  • Addled Addict: After Ti Malice's kiss, his behavior becomes progressively becomes more erratic and distracted.
  • Big Fun: In a sophisticated, 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.
  • Cast from Calories: Using his powers leaves him famished.
  • 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.
  • Frame-Up: Leaves an ace of spades on Chrysalis's body.
  • Gravity Master: Hiram can make any object heavier or lighter, including himself.
  • Hero-Worshipper: Like many aces and jokers, he had high hopes for Senator Greg Hartmann. He's tricked into accidentally killing Chrysalis after being told that she'd hired an assassin to take the senator out, and is later crushed to learn his true nature.
  • 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 a slap on the wrist for the murder of Chrysalis but his life is already destroyed by Ti Malice.
  • More Than Mind Control: Hartmann/Puppetman has his hooks in him, but Hiram didn't need encouragement to be a big fan. And then there's 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 Barnett

A Fundamentalist Christian preacher that gains fame by taking a anti-Wild Cards stance. Later he goes into politics.
  • Affably Evil: And even the "evil" bit is pushing things a bit. Barnett genuinely believes the Wild Card is a tool of Satan, but he harbors no ill will against individual wild carders, and he is personable and charismatic to a fault.
  • 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.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Particularly in later books. In Death Draws Five, his manipulative nature is more apparent. He even has something of a Villainous BSoD by the end of the novel.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Barnett can come across as this to people who don't share his religious beliefs. He is intelligent, competent, charismatic, personable, and also utterly genuine in his belief in his particular brand of Christianity, including end-times and millenarian elements.
  • The Dreaded: He is first mentioned in Aces Abroad, and all through the book he is seen as the personification of the prejudice and hatred fueling the anti-Wild Card hysteria that is beginning to grip the US in late-1986. When we finally meet Barnett in Down and Dirty, he is surprisingly sympathetic.
  • 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. The Card Sharks - conspirators against the wild cards - consider him a wimp.
  • 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 didn't have 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.
  • Artifact of Doom: In the comic, the jacket he was wearing on the day he died is used by a high-schooler in her science project about the Wild Card virus. Unbeknownst to her, it still had dormant samples of the virus on it, and an accident leads to them not being so dormant anymore...
  • 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.
  • Captain Patriotic: Downplayed, Jetboy is undoubtly very patriotic (he fought against the Nazis even before America entered the war) and even wears an uniform that is red, white, and blue, but in keeping with Wild Card's deconstructionist approach, he is somewhat jaded and low-key.
  • 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 Twist: 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.
  • Rewarding Inactivity: A non-video game example in that while he failed to stop the virus from being released, he still has a monument and is generally well-regarded among the populace for at least trying.
  • 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.
  • You Can't Go Home Again: Post-war, he had problems adapting to a normal life.

Sara Morgenstern

Star 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.
  • Creepy Loner Girl: A rather downplayed example. Sara is high-strung and more than a bit awkward with social interactions when her personal life is involved, even though she is a great reporter.
  • 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.
  • The Un Favourite: She is this to her parents, who always favored her dead older sister, Andrea.

Rosemary Muldoon

Real 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.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Becomes infatuated with mobster Chris Mazzucchelli, seeing him as a "romantic rebel", despite obvious signs that he is a selfish bastard. She eventually comes to realize that he is just a "vicious punk", right before he tries to kill her.
  • 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.
  • Pet the Dog: Even when she is deep into villain mode in the later portion of Down and Dirty, she still risks her life to help out Water Lily.
  • 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 1985.

  • 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. Notably, he's one of the few people anywhere that Fortunato respects.
  • 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.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Brennan's stories after Book 1 all have the words "Dead" or "Death" in their titles.
  • 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.


Jokers in general

Jokers are victims of the Wild Card virus that develop physical or mental deformities. These deformities vary from minor to nightmarish. They account for 10% of the victims. Most jokers have no superhuman powers; the ones that have them are sometimes called "Joker-Aces". Superhuman strength is very common among big, burly jokers, for instance.

Tropes that apply to jokers in general:

  • Blessed with Suck: In the case of Joker-Aces, who have both potent superhuman powers and physical deformities. Could count as Cursed With Awesome, except that anti-joker prejudice is pretty big in the Wild Cards universe.
  • Body Horror: Quite common with the more extreme jokers.
  • Dirty Coward: One of the stereotypes often applied to jokers by bigoted nats.
  • Fantastic Racism: Jokers suffer from this much more than the Aces. They're seen as the great downtrodden minority of modern times, and usually forced to live in ghettos, the biggest of which being New York's Jokertown. The fight for joker rights, the existence of joker activists and revolutionaries, etc. all elaborate on this theme.
  • Sliding Scale of Anthropomorphism: Animal-like jokers can fall in any point of this scale.


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 a 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.
  • Giggling Villain: Unusually for this trope, he is shown to be doing it more out of nervousness than any sort of evil glee.
  • The Grotesque: Like many of the more sympathetic jokers, Bloat has many noble qualities and a repulsive body.
  • Hypocrite: Even though he is sympathetic, he has many shades of this, considering that he claims to be a idealistic defender of joker rights, but is willing to ally himself with pretty bad people. Modular Man in particular is not impressed by his protestations, and gives him an epic What The Hell, Anti-Villain? speech in Dealer's Choice.
  • 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 with 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.


A 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's story in Down and Dirty, where he is a very serious menace.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Extremely homophobic and sexist.
  • Villain Decay: Bludgeon suffers from a very bad case of this, to the point that he is seen in-universe as an almost pitiable joke in Dead Man's Hand.
  • 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.

Xavier Desmond

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 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.

Drummer Boy

Drummer Boy is actually Michael Vogali, the drummer and front man of punk rock band Joker Plague. He is a bad boy rock star and an iconic joker-ace in the later novels. DB is also a powerful superhuman with six arms, super-strength, and sonic powers.

  • All Drummers Are Animals: Hell yeah.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Drummer Boy both plays this trope straight and subverts it. He is incredibly successful with many of the female aces in the American Hero reality show, but Curveball - the one female ace he really cares about - breaks up with him and is not amused by his bad boy antics and hooks up with nice guy John Fortune instead. It's made clear that only the more shallow, cynical celebrity aces are vulnerable to Drummer Boy's rock god charm. There is also a bit of Double Subversion, in that Ana Cortez, Curveball's best friend and shrinking violet, is implied to have strong unrequited feelings for him.
  • Betty and Veronica: He is the Veronica in a love triangle with Curveball (Archie) and John Fortune (Betty). Drummer Boy actually thinks he is the Betty and John Fortune the Veronica, as he wants Curveball to see his bad boy antics as a harmless façade, and is wary that John Fortune's idealism and heroics put Curveball in danger.
  • The Big Guy: Pretty much fills this role in the Committee.
  • Boisterous Bruiser: Very much. He has to be reminded several times by his friends that he is not bulletproof, despite his tremendous strength.
  • Chekhov's Skill: In the climax of Inside Straight, it's Drummer Boy's sonics that kill the Righteous Djinn.
  • The Face Of The Band: In-universe he is this for Joker Plague. It's unusual for a drummer to be the face of a rock band, but their vocalist is invisible. Literally.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Starts as a plain Jerkass, but gradually evolves into this. Particularly, he has little stomach for the hypocrisy of the politics the Committee gets involved in.
  • Make Me Wanna Shout: Drummer Boy has a series of throat openings that release the powerful sound waves generated by his drumming on the tympanic membranes on his chest.
  • Multi-Armed and Dangerous: DB has six arms. Useful both in his career as an ace and as the drummer of Joker Plague.
  • Mundane Utility: His unique joker physiology mostly makes him a living drum set. His main career is as a rock musician. It's incidental that his multiple arms and sonic powers also make him a pretty powerful ace.
  • Odd Friendship: His best friend in the Committee is probably fellow joker-ace Rustbelt, who is extremely kind, naive, chaste, and polite; everything DB is not.
  • Sex, Drugs and Rock & Roll: Mostly focused on the sex part, and not so much on the drugs.
  • Super Strength: Pretty much his basic power. Interestingly, he lacks Nigh-Invulnerability.

Dr. Bradley Finn

A charismatic and brilliant medical doctor working in the Jokertown Clinic. Since the 1990s, he's been effectively the chief physician of the Clinic. Finn is a pony-sized palomino centaur. He is a fairly attractive man, despite his jokerhood. He is also an all-around good guy.

  • Arch-Enemy: Dr. Etienne Faneuil, genocidal anti-joker doctor and member of the Card Sharks conspiracy.
  • Ascended Extra: Like many Wild Cards characters. Finn is introduced in Book 5 and mostly remains in the background. He becomes a protagonist after Book 13.
  • Fantastic Racism: While he is pretty handsome, wealthy, and well-adjusted, Dr. Finn is hit with this even more than other jokers when it comes to romance and sex. Since his body parts are equine, he invockes a Bestiality Is Depraved reaction in bigoted nats. Finn notes that the few nat women interested in him tend to be thrill seekers.
  • Foil: Initially introduced as a foil to his colleague Dr. Tachyon, in that Finn is level-headed, optimistic and traditionally masculine, as opposed to the Camp Straight, Byronic, and dramatic Tachyon.
  • Forbidden Love: In A Dose of Reality, Dr. Finn and fellow doctor Clara van Renssaeler fall in love. Clara is not only a nat, she's been raised in an extremely anti-wild card family. The later books reveal that they eventually marry.
  • Nice Guy: One of the most triumphant examples in Wild Cards.
  • Non-Idle Rich: Comes from a very wealthy family, since his Dad is a major Hollywood producer and director. He still selflessly toils away at the Clinic.
  • Our Centaurs Are Different: Finn looks like a fantasy centaur, courtesy of the wild card virus.
  • Positive Discrimination: Dr. Finn is almost unique among jokers in the Wild Cards universe, in that he is almost completely adjusted to his jokerhood. He is also seen as this in-universe, being an example to young jokers.

Father Squid

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.
  • Super Strength: As strong as three or four men.
  • Super Toughness: Somewhat more resistant to damage than a normal human.
  • The Vietnam Vet: Used to be known as Sergeant Squidface.

The Oddity

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.
  • Bury Your Gays: Well, your bisexuals. Patti is the only one who gets to survive the Oddity, whereas her two bisexual lovers die inside it.
  • Extra Eyes: As you can see in the picture, since their face is constantly shifting, it sometimes doubles or triples up on features.
  • 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.
  • Hurting Hero: The "dominant" personality suffers most of the physical pain of their unstable body.
  • 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.
  • Lightning Bruiser: At least three times the strength, speed, and toughness as a normal person.
  • Multi-Armed and Dangerous: As their body is constantly shifting, at times they have extra limbs.
  • 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.
  • Protectorate: They've taken it upon themself to protect Jokertown and its inhabitants.
  • Required Secondary Powers: Their body has a healing factor, which is good as it's constantly warping and shifting into inhuman configurations.
  • Split Personality: Three distinct minds inhabiting the same body and capable of communication with each other. One is dominant, and as mentioned, feels the most pain, one is sub-dominant, and one is passive, suffering the least and thus able to rest.
  • Split-Personality Takeover: After John develops Alzheimer's, the others force him into the passive position as mentioned above. Unfortunately their control slips during a moment of extreme pain, and John takes over and harms Charles Dutton during a fit.
  • Super Strength: The combined strength of three people.
  • Super Toughness: Also the combined toughness.
  • 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.
  • Magic Feather: Even though her wings don't actually help her fly, if they're damaged or restrained, she can't do it.
  • Ms Fan Service: Probably the sexiest female character in the novels. She is also this in-universe. She even posed for Playboy Magazine.
  • My Beloved Smother: In the later novels, she is this to her son John Fortune. This is justified, since Fortune is a latent and can die anytime if his wild card virus ever manifests.
  • 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.


Hunchbacked 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.
  • Bizarre Alien Senses: Judging from his POV narratives he gets sensory input from where and when his scattered molecules are.
  • 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. He gets injured when pieces of him end up in inhospitable locations.
  • 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.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: He's literally not all there.
  • 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, super-strong 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.
  • Moment of Lucidity: During the Card Sharks crisis, he managed to pull himself relatively together and concentrate for months in order to help out, at the cost of ending up even worse off than before, mentally.
  • The Omnipresent: Kind of. His molecules/existence is spread out in different places, on different planets, in different times, across planes of reality. And he can sense them all.
  • Seers: His consciousness randomly scatters between the past and the future, so he can see events relating exclusively to he or part of himself as experiences in time. His scattered consciousness is also technically clairsentient. Unfortunately, he can't express this properly.
  • 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.

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