Volume Xlll: CARD SHARKS

Mighty Wurlitzer, AKA, MW - Previously a church choir director, now he is the choir. Taking up the entire loft of Jokertown's Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Misery, MW is basically a 10 foot long, thick tube of exoskeleton, out of which protrude dozens of hollow spines through which he can vent air - resulting in a painful racket that sounds like bagpipes being strangled. The faithful seem to lap it up though, so he's obviously doing something right.

Twisted Dragon - Chubby little Joker and owner of a restaurant named after himself (or the other way round), Dragon looks like what he is with the large, scaled, whiskered face of a Chinese dragon, and can usually be spotted wearing an oversized suit in an effort to cover up his twisted form. Like David Byrne in that Talking Heads movie. The suit, that is.

Cheetah - In no way feline related, but in fact named after Tarzan's best pal. Cheetah's an agile Joker who's essentially a chimpanzee from the waist up, albeit one who can speak English. And he's not laughing with you, he's laughing at you.

Biff - Eat at Biff's! It's snug, it's cheap, the burgers aren't bad and the owner's a large, upright, furry brown chipmunk. Bring your friends.

Peking Doc - One of Jokertown's medical practitioners, Doc's a fairly normal-looking Joker in most respects, with the notable exception of the large duck's beak smack in the middle of his face. At least he's given himself an original name - most people wouldn't have been able to resist the 'Q' word.

Waffle - And continuing the food analogy, Waffle's a flat, almost two-dimensional Joker who, in both colour and texture, closely resembles a human-shaped cookie that's been cut out of his namesake. Mmmm...human-shaped waffle.

Fingers - A quartet of upright forearms with pseudopods for feet who communicate by sign language. One can only assume that the fingers also serve as sensory organs, otherwise what would be the point?

Snake Boy - Although his form's still basically human, this African Joker's got a body that's been twisted sharply into curves, with legs that have been fused into a single limb, and a single, large, hollow tooth in his mouth with which he can inject poison into the unwary. Although, to be fair, if you fail to notice a human-sized shape slithering along the ground towards you, you've really only got yourself to blame.

Tube Neck (Dalila) - The girl with the descriptive name is a tall, intense, African Joker with a 2-foot long neck, who keeps her ears close to the ground thanks to a pair of ear lobes that come down to her breasts.

Al Dearborn - Some say you make your own luck in this world. Al's one of them. A test pilot in America's space program and one of the original 'True Brothers', Dearborn is an Ace with the power to subconsciously (or more likely, unconsciously) manipulate luck so that the odds are always in his favour. Not a bad talent for a pilot to have. Or a gambler, for that matter.

Woody Enloe - Another member of the space race team, Woody's an Ace pilot who doesn't actually need a plane in order to fly, and looks like something out of a U.S. Air Force recruitment poster with his blond hair and good looks. The only man to have waxed Chuck Yeager in a dogfight - although it's not known whether he was in a jet at the time or not.

Casey Guinan - The third Ace member of the troupe, Casey's a plain-looking, dark-haired multi-engine pilot who's able to become one with his machine by literally 'flowing' into the controls and projecting his consciousness throughout. Unlike The Mechanic, however, he doesn't have to cut off any limbs to accomplish this. Which is good, since the process is gross enough as it is.

Dr Wilson Rowe - The head honcho at the USAF Muroc Lake Test Site, Rowe is a clairvoyant Ace who, similar to J.C. Jayewardene, receives visions of the future in his dreams. Unlike J.C., however, they're of a far more general nature and he's powerless to change the outcome. But as long as they're nice dreams, why worry?

Dive Bomb (Paul Chung) - This Chinese-American Special Forces Sergeant is also an Ace with a massive chip on his shoulder about his lack of height, and the ability to adjust the weight of any or all parts of his body at will. He can become light as a feather and glide on wind currents, or add enough mass to a punch that the guy on the end of it will never get up. So he's short. Diddums.

Damsel (Amy Mears) - Small, nymph-like Ace with curly blond hair and a talent that enables her to turn nats into temporary Aces, and Aces into more powerful Aces, by the simple act of a kiss. But she has to care for the guy for it to work. Isn't that always the way?

The Librarian (Harvey Melmoth) - Looks exactly how you'd expect him to look with a name like that. This little, balding fellow's got the requisite thick, round spectacles, can only talk in a whisper, and has usually got his head stuck in a book. He's also an Ace with the power to project a zone of silence around him for a radius of about 5 metres.

Lady Black (Joann Jefferson) - Possessing abilities similar to her somewhat less legit male counterpart, Black Shadow, Joann's a tall, attractive Justice Department Ace with the ability to absorb most types of energy and then let it loose at will. Wears an insulated, form-fitting, black body suit and cape in an effort to regulate her powers. Finds it difficult to form relationships as she's under the delusion that men are wary of a woman who can drain all the energy from a human body with a single touch. Silly girl.

Panda Bear - A large female Joker who, despite the Mexican accent, closely resembles a... aw, you guessed.

Flattop (Peter Le Fleur) - Fairly good-looking Joker/Deuce who seems to disappear from view unless you're looking directly at him. Which would be kind of understandable if not for the fact that he's got candy-striped orange irises, elongated fingers and toes, and a coke bottle permanently screwed into the inside of his left elbow with which he can ingest liquids and impress people at parties. Named after his haircut, before you ask.



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