Mr. Nobody (Wild Cards)

Mr. Nobody (Wild Cards)

Mr. Nobody (Jerry Strauss) is a character from the Wild Cards anthology series. His first appearance was as "the Projectionist", a throwaway cameo in the story "Shell Games" by George R. R. Martin, but his character was more fully developed starting in "The Teardrop of India" by Walton Simons, which appeared in the fourth Wild Cards book, Aces Abroad.

Character background

Jeremiah Strauss was a wealthy playboy, who wanted more than anything to be in show business. When he became infected with the Wild Card virus and found himself with minor shapeshifting powers, he developed an act of sorts, doing celebrity "impressions" at clubs, but his lack of success drove him to a nervous breakdown in 1965. He was transformed into a King Kong analogue called the Great Ape, which was quickly captured by New York's abundant Ace heroes. His transformation also caused a blackout all across New York and parts of New Jersey. Every few years thereafter, he would escape from the zoo, grab the nearest attractive blonde, and attempt to climb the Empire State Building; thanks to New York's aces, he never made it more than halfway.

In "The Teardrop of India", the Great Ape is brought to Sri Lanka to shoot a film; coincidentally the "Aces Abroad" world tour is also in Sri Lanka at the time. When a precognitive vision from G.C. Jayewardine shows that the Great Ape is actually a transformed Ace, Dr. Tachyon manages to unlock Strauss' submerged consciousness and return him to normal.

When his attorney brother is killed by his law partner St. John Latham, Jerry manages to use his skills to discover the culprit and get revenge, eventually killing Latham in his own penthouse. As his powers and confidence slowly rise to new levels, Strauss becomes a more prominent character in the later novels, eventually becoming the partner of private detective Jay Ackroyd.

Powers and abilities

Jerry Strauss can shapeshift to look like anyone he imagines, usually choosing film stars. He can also increase his size and mass, though doing so can black out electricity around him; it is theorized by Dr. Tachyon that at least some of this mass is actually converted from the electrical energy he absorbs. He is able to use his malleability to pick locks and vehicle ignitions by forcing a finger into the keyhole and conforming to the proper shape, though it is painful to do so since his finger is not as durable as a genuine key; in addition, driving a vehicle that he has commandeered in this fashion is awkward, as he is forced to drive one-handed and in pain while keeping his finger in the ignition slot. He can also cause certain drastic, inhuman changes to his appearance, such as making his flesh appear to run like melting wax, or elongating a pointed fingerbone out of his flesh (the method he used to kill St. John Latham, extending the bone into Latham's ear canal and literally "scrambling" his brain matter). Straus' primary limitation is reliance on a basically humanoid shape; to date, he has never assumed a form that was not basically humanoid (such as non-humanoid animals), or appeared able to stretch or deform his body (a la Mister Fantastic or Plastic Man) on a grand scale.

Originally a poor actor and impressionist, he has honed his skills to a much greater degree since returning to normal life (after years as the Great Ape). He has also developed investigative skills and learned the rudiments of computer hacking. Jeremiah Strauss is also a millionaire, and has access to all the resources that wealth can provide.

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