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|Real Name||Jack Braun|
|Aliases||Golden Boy, the Judas Ace|
|Wild Card Traits||Superhuman strength, high durability, immortality, disease immunity|
|Place of Birth||North Dakota, USA|
|Citizenship||Citizen of the United States|
|Occupation||Real estate tycoon, formerly an actor, soldier|
|Event Participant||1987 WHO Tour, American Hero|
|Base of Operations||Los Angeles|
|Relatives||Kim Wolfe (ex-wife)|
|Allies||Amy Sorenson, Senator Gregg Hartmann|
|First Appearance||Wild Cards|
|Final Appearance||Inside Straight|
|Creator||Walter Jon Williams|
Golden Boy is the strongest man in the world. He's been around since the 1940s, when he was a member of the Exotics for Democracy, a superhero team in the postwar years. He betrayed the team during the anti-communist hysteria of the 1950s, and became infamously known as the Judas Ace. He also has had a colorful, uneven career as an actor. Golden Boy doesn't age, and is still powerful and vital today, even though he keeps a somewhat lower profile.
Jack Braun was born in 1924, in a farm in the small town of Fayette, North Dakota. Very soon he developed a wanderlust; he wanted to see the world and believed there was more for him out there than growing up to become a farmer just like his father. When he finished high school in 1942, Jack volunteered for the Army and ended up in the 5th Division in Italy. World War II was terrifying. Jack saw a lot of death and didn't believe he'd ever come back in one piece. But he fought bravely and was promoted to Master Sergeant, and was awarded one Bronze Star and three Purple Hearts. When the war finally ended, Jack Braun came back to America and went to live in New York City, starting his career as a minor theatrical actor.
In September 15 of 1946, Jack was infected by the wild card virus and became the strongest man in the world. He was contacted by Archibald Holmes, an idealistic politician that founded the Exotics for Democracy (popularly known as the Four Aces), a superhero team that would fight for American ideals. Holmes became a sort of mentor for Jack. He also met Earl Sanderson, the ace Black Eagle, another member of the team, and they became the best of friends. Those were the glory days of Jack's life. He was nicknamed Golden Boy by the press, and took part on several international missions promoting democracy and tolerance, including deposing fascist Juan Perón in Argentina, capturing several Nazi war criminals, and saving Gandhi's life in India. Jack and the other Exotics for Democracy became international celebrities. Jack went to work for MGM and starred in two major movies, the first of them was "Golden Boy," loosely based on his real-life adventures in Argentina.
It all fell apart in 1950, when the political climate in the country started to change. HUAC, a powerful and conservative Senate committee, started to persecute wild cards, accusing them of communist sympathies. The Four Aces were summoned to testify. In a moment of weakness that he'd forever regret, Jack cooperated with the committee and denounced his friends to save himself. The Four Aces were discredited and destroyed.
Throughout the 1950s, Jack's acting faltered. After betraying his friends, he lost all conviction and couldn't see himself as a hero any more. His movies bombed, and he was soon reduced to making numerous B-movies. He married and divorced three times, losing almost all of his money. He realized many people avoided him at parties. Some whispered behind his back, calling him the Judas Ace. The one bright spot in his 1950s career was his participation in the Korean War. Jack briefly returned to the Army and was promoted to lieutenant colonel, and saved many American lives while playing his ace in the conflict. Unfortunately, he was soon discharged when a jealous General MacArthur used his influence to get rid of Jack. He never again worked for the government.
When the 1960s started, Jack had lost all his money and his movie career was dead. He went to work on television, becoming the star and executive producer of "Tarzan of the Apes" on NBC. The series was a hit, and Jack became typecast. His acting career was truly dead now. Jack went into real state business, first selling old actor houses in Hollywood, later investing his money and building shopping malls and community centers. He became a multi-millionaire, but was still a profoundly unhappy individual. Aces were back in vogue, but most in the modern ace community wanted nothing to do with him. His betrayal of the Exotics for Democracy had made Jack a pariah.
He started to come out of his shell in 1987, when Senator Gregg Hartmann contacted him and invited Jack to the WHO Tour that would investigate the living conditions of wild carders all around the world. In the tour, Jack started to mingle with the modern aces, achieving much to redeem himself in their eyes, and even managed to make his peace with Doctor Tachyon, who still blamed Jack for the destruction of the Four Aces. In 1988, Jack Braun worked on Hartmann's presidential campaign and was the head of the California delegation for the senator. Gregg Hartmann's political career was destroyed when the senator lost his composure publicly, and Jack once again abandoned the public eye, though by now he was a lot better regarded by the wild card community.
Jack comes out of seclusion occasionally. The last such occasion was his special participation in American Hero, a famous reality TV show that started in 2007. As a special guest "villain" one of the teams of contestants had to go up against him, but even the Amazing Bubbles couldn't knock him down. He enjoyed the experience, especially because most of the new younger generation of aces had no idea who he was or what he had done decades ago.
Wild Card Traits Edit
Jack is tremendously strong. He can lift up to 40 tons, as long as he is properly braced. That is enough to effortlessly demolish brick walls, turn guns into pretzels, and juggle automobiles. He is widely known as the strongest man in the world, though a few other aces come close, and the Harlem Hammer may equal him in raw strength. Jack is also extremely resistant to physical injury. Bullets bounce off him, and he has survived car collisions and even being run over by tanks, all without a scratch. Still, it has been theorized that his invulnerability has limits: cannon fire or a fall from a great height could seriously injure or even kill him.
When Jack's powers are in use, a bright golden aura surrounds his body. Doctor Tachyon has theorized that Jack's body generates a biological force field. This force field is not under Jack's conscious control, it activates on its own whenever needed, protecting Jack even from surprise attacks. The greater the weight lifted or the attack repelled, the brighter the glow of his force field. After a few hours of extensive and constant use of his powers, his force field tends to weaken, and Jack has to rest to replenish his powers.
His powers also keep Jack forever young. He still looks like a 22-years old, even though he was born in 1924. Apparently, Jack also is immune to all conventional diseases. He has great physical stamina and can get by with just a few hours of sleep each night. Jack can be affected normally by drugs and poisons though. He has been shown with an alcohol hangover on several occasions.
Jack is a tall, broad-shouldered man with rugged good looks. He has blond hair, bushy eyebrows, and blue eyes. His looks also have been described as "B-movie leading actor" looks. He has big, powerful hands. In his missions as Golden Boy in the 1940s, Jack wore old US Army fatigues. Whenever his powers activate, Jack is surrounded by a bright golden glow that has earned him his nickname.
In a moment of weakness, Jack Braun helped destroy his friends and everything they stood for. His guilt is immense and probably will always haunt him. Some people think Jack Braun is synonymous with cowardice and selfishness, but the truth is a lot more complex. Within Jack there is still a genuine desire to be heroic and fight the good fight. However, this desire is balanced by his fear of failing again and the cynicism he developed after decades of seeing how the world works. The liberal-democratic ideals he loved in the 1940s are still important to him, and initially that is what motivates him to become a public ace again when Senator Hartmann asked for his support.
Most of the time Jack is a charming, likeable fellow. But with those he dislikes he can be extremely acid. After so many life experiences, he is a smart, knowing man. He enjoys the company of beautiful women and is usually quite successful in his conquests. Even though his superpowers are very physical, Jack isn't by nature a violent man. He needs some time to adjust himself to physical action. Jack developed a phobia of heights, since a long fall from a great height is one of the few things that can kill him.
The US was going to create a postwar Golden Age, and was going to share it with the rest of the world. We were going to be its symbol. It sounded great. I wanted in.
I still feel like a rat. But I only did what my country told me. Maybe I'll be the Judas Ace forever.
In many ways the Judas Ace seems almost an innocent, a bit lost in a world that has grown too complicated for him.
- Jack Braun's life story is recounted in the comic book published by Marvel Comics in the 1980s. His character sheet also appears in both incarnations of the Wild Cards RPG.
Selected Reading Edit
- Wild Cards Volume I: Wild Cards - "Witness" (The story of Jack Braun's life, his glory days and his terrible fall)
- Wild Cards Volume IV: Aces Abroad
- "The Journal of Xavier Desmond" (Jack joins Senator Hartmann's world tour, returning to the spotlight after years of almost seclusion)
- "Mirrors of the Soul" (Jack and Dr. Tachyon discover buried secrets of Tachyon's past in Paris)
- Wild Cards Volume VI: Ace in the Hole (Jack Braun works as a Hartmann delegate in the 1988 Democratic National Convention in Atlanta)
- Wild Cards Volume VII: Dead Man's Hand
- Wild Cards Volume XIII: Card Sharks - "Cursum Perficio" (A lost tale of the dark 1950s)
- Wild Cards Volume XVIII: Inside Straight