George Steele
Biographical Information
Real NameGeorgy Vladimirovich Polyakov
AliasesPolyakov, George Steele
Wild Card TraitsPyrokinesis
Social Information
Place of BirthSiberia
CitizenshipRussian defector
OccupationGovernment agent
Base of OperationsNew York City, Moscow
AlliesDr. Tachyon, Kahina, Gimli, Sara Morgenstern
First AppearanceAces Abroad
Revised First AppearanceWild Cards
CreatorMichael Cassutt

George Steele (AKA Polyakov) is a fictional character in the Wild Cards series of books.


Born in a Siberian village, Polyakov was serving as a political officer fighting counterinsurgents in the Ukraine after World War II when his ace first manifested. He snapped when he witnessed his commanding officer torturing a teenage boy, and when Polyakov fought him off he was shocked by the man's sudden and complete combustion. It was years before Polyakov learned of the wild card virus and given the Russian treatment of wild carders, he felt it prudent to keep his power secret. In the next forty years he only used his power once, and that was to assassinate Joseph Stalin, who had likewise been struck by the wild card and had become a joker.

In 1987 Polyakov became interested in two incidents surrounding Gregg Hartmann, where the American senator had been at the mercy of hostile parties and yet had escaped under mysterious circumstances. After debriefing the GRU ace, Mólniya, he became convinced that Hartmann was secretly also an ace, a prospect that Polyakov found alarming in a presidential candidate. In pressing for more information in London he was mistakenly presumed, by his successor in the KGB and Mólniya's ally in the GRU, to be plotting a defection. When the pair tried driving him to an isolated location to execute him, Polyakov fought them off and used his power to incinerate their remains and their car. With little other recourse, he opted to turn their false assumption into a reality and defected to the United States, from then on under the assumed identity of George Steele.

Still believing Senator Hartmann to be a threat to his beloved Soviet Union, Steele tracked down remnants of Mólniya's botched operation in Berlin weeks earlier, and enlisted Gimli to his cause. His unlikely alliance grew with the further addition of Kahina, who had been at the previous mysterious incident involving Hartmann, and who had also divined the senator's secret.

Wild Card TraitsEdit

George Steele has a limited pyrokinetic ability. He can cause any animal life form, including humans, to spontaneously combust in seconds. He must touch his victim in order to make this happen and the temperatures they can reach are contingent on how long he remains in physical contact. A brief moment can raise a person's body temperature, causing them to feel sick. Longer contact can boil a brain or take them beyond the point of ignition.


George Steel is a short and stocky man with grey eyes.


George Steele is a strong-willed, sharp and attentive man. He knows all the tricks to make someone divulge sensitive information and will use every one of them. He also holds a strong sense of duty to the Soviet Union, even after being forced to defect.


  • Polyakov was added to the 2010 Tor Books reprint of Wild Cards for a minor appearance in the story, "Powers".

Selected ReadingEdit

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