|Real Name||Mark Meadows|
|Wild Card Traits||Metamorphosis|
|Place of Birth||California, USA|
|Citizenship||Citizen of the United States with a criminal record|
|Occupation||Biochemist, superhero, store owner|
|Base of Operations||Takis, South Vietnam, New York City|
|Affiliations||People's Paradise of Africa, Cosmic Pumpkin|
|Relatives||Sunflower (ex-wife) , Sprout (daughter)|
|Allies||Dr. Tachyon, Durg The Mechanic, Popinjay, Quasiman|
|First Appearance||Wild Cards|
|Final Appearance||Suicide Kings|
Captain Trips is Mark Meadows, one of the world's most brilliant biochemists. He is also an ace with the unusual ability of transforming into several different and powerful aces by ingesting special powders made of psychoactive drugs. He refers to these alternate identities as his "friends." As Captain Trips, he leads a double life as a hippie superhero, the last believer in the peace and love ideals of the 1960s.
Mark effectively ceased to exist in 1994, when he transformed permanently into the Radical, an extremely powerful combination of all his superpowered identities. Unfortunately, the Radical is a violent, almost insane extremist. Mark Meadows existed as a submerged personality within the Radical and was eventually able to reassert himself.
Mark Meadows was born in a suburban, middle-class family in South California. He was the typical nerd: extremely intelligent, socially awkward, tormented by the high school bullies, and nursing an unrequited love for the beautiful Kimberly Ann Cordayne, his neighbour and the popular girl at school. Mark went to college at MIT, where he was hailed as the Einstein of biochemistry, and then to University of California for his doctorate in 1970. In Berkeley, Mark became fascinated with the chemistry of mind and the hippie subculture. He then met Kimberly again, now turned hippie and calling herself Sunflower.
Mark wanted three things desperately: Sunflower, being a part of the hippie culture, and becoming someone more decisive. In May 5 of 1970, Mark took LSD for the first time, at Sunflower's urging. His wild card activated, and he transformed into the Radical, the greatest hero of the Counterculture, the blond god of revolution. In a legendary showdown at People's Park, the Radical defeated the first Hardhat, a conservative ace. But in the following morning, he reverted back to Mark Meadows, with fragmented memories of what had happened. Becoming the Radical again became a long-term quest for Mark. He experimented with LSD several more times, but without success.
Mark became an extremely successful scientist in the late-1970s, publishing several important works, some of them about the wild card virus. He married Sunflower and they had a daughter, the beautiful but mentally challenged Sprout Meadows. For several reasons, both Mark's marriage and his academic career deteriorated. He and Kimberly divorced, and Mark gained Sprout's custody due to Kimberly's alcoholism.
Mark's experimentation with psychoactive drugs continued, and he discovered that he could release other aces living inside him. He was able to develop ingestible powders to release/transform into five specific alternative personalities - each a different ace: Jumpin' Jack Flash, a pyrokinetic with an impulsive, hyper-active personality; Moonchild, the beautiful female Asian martial artist and committed pacifist; Cosmic Traveler, the megalomaniac coward capable of becoming insubstantial and changing his appearance; Starshine, the solar-powered champion and passionate environmentalist; and finally Aquarius, a surly were-dolphin, disdainful of surface-dwellers. Mark called his alternate identities his "friends."
He moved to New York City in 1986, taking his daughter with him. He opened a head shop in Greenwhich Village, the Cosmic Pumpkin. He also adopted the superheroic identity of Captain Trips, a defender of the ideals of peace and love. Mark met and started a close friendship with Dr. Tachyon and worked with some other members of New York's wild card community, but most of them saw Captain Trips as a joke. His "friends," particularly J. J. Flash and Starshine, became famous superheroes, but almost no one knew they were actually facets of the socially awkward Captain Trips.
In 1989, the country had become hostile to wild carders, and Mark lost custody of his daughter when it was revealed to the world that he could transform into several different aces. Mark Meadows became public enemy number one when the Bush administration and the DEA made him into a target on account of his drug-use and dangerous superpowers. He became a fugitive. In 1990, Mark accompanied Dr. Tachyon into an epic adventure on Tachyon's home planet, where a part of him died. Starshine, one of his friends, was killed by a Ly' bahr cyborg in a space battle. He returned to Earth the following year.
In 1991, Mark escaped to Vietnam, where he became involved in a rebellion that ended with his alter-ego Moonchild becoming president of South Vietnam. By that point, he was reunited with his daughter Sprout. During this period Mark was forced to use powders of questionable quality and transformed into the hideous Monster, a towering creature of utmost rage and evil. It was during Mark's internal mental struggle to contain Monster, that all of his "friends", including the then-deceased Starshine and several other never-identified friends, worked together to suppress the Monster persona forever.
In 1994, Mark was attacked and removed from power by the Card Sharks, a conspiracy of anti-wild card conservatives. They abducted his daughter too, and forced Mark to work on the Black Trump, a virus designed to eradicate all the wild carders. Eventually Mark escaped and tried to stop the plans of the Card Sharks, but ended up beaten almost to death by Layton, a thug in the employ of the Sharks. In a desperate move, Mark ingested a mixture of several psychoactive drugs and transformed into the Radical again, after almost 25 years. For some reason, this transformation proved to be enduring, and the Mark Meadows persona became submerged indefinitely.
The Radical helped defeat the Card Sharks, but in the following years the former hero of the revolution showed his true face: bloodthirsty, fanatical, stopping at nothing to advance his leftist political agenda. He became the enforcer and power behind the throne in the People's Paradise of Africa. One of the world's greatest heroes had unquestionably become a villain. Mark Meadows was reduced to just a conscience that haunted the Radical in his dreams.
Wild Card Traits Edit
Mark Meadows had the power to transform into several different aces by ingesting psychoactive drugs. The transformations were extensive, as Mark not only changed physically, but adopted a complete different personality when he became one of his alter egos. He called these alternate identities his "friends." His power first manifested in 1970, when he experimented LSD for the first time and transformed into the Radical, the greatest hero of the Counterculture. But this change only lasted one day, and the Radical reverted to Mark Meadows in the following morning.
In the following years, Mark developed special powders that enabled him to release/transform into five specific alternative personalities - each a powerful ace, all of them named after popular rock songs of the 1960s and the 1970s. He carried small vials of the powders in his coat pockets. Each variety of powder had a different color: orange (Jumpin' Jack Flash), black and silver (Moonchild), blue with sparkly bits (Cosmic Traveler), yellow (Starshine), and silvery-gray (Aquarius). Upon ingesting the appropriate powder, Mark changed into one of his friends for one hour. The transformation ended sooner if Mark ingested a smaller fraction of the vial. Even when he was in his normal identity, the five friends existed as personalities inside his head that could communicate with Mark and each other.
No one knew exactly what the friends were and from where they came from. One popular theory assumed that they were different facets of Mark Meadows's own personality. In that case, Flash would represent Mark's extrovertion and sensuous appetites, Moonchild his feminine side, Traveler his fear and self-preservation, Starshine his voice and self-righteousness, and Aquarius his most remote, inner side. Another theory held that the friends were extra-dimensional individuals somehow captured and incorporated into Mark's head.
Mark always took great care to ensure the powders he used were meticulously prepared with great care for their purity and quality, to ensure the desired "friend" would come when summoned. There is evidence to suggest that there were plenty more possible "friends" awaiting the right mix of powders to be released, but once Mark had these five identified, he apparently lost interest in trying to identify more. In 1991, Mark transformed into a seventh friend when he ingested powders of questionable quality. Monster was a 70-foot tall behemoth with a demonic appearance and an unstoppable urge to destroy. This alter ego represented all the rage, pain, jealousy, unbidden desire, and every other negative feeling Mark Meadows ever had. Fortunately, Mark and the other personae managed to defeat Monster in a inner struggle and suppress the destructive personality.
In 1993, Mark once again was forced to ingest untested powders in a moment of despair. But this time he transformed into the Radical for the first time in 25 years. Unlike all the others, this transformation has proven to be indefinite, and the Radical remained dominant for a number of years. This incarnation of the Radical is far more powerful than the original, as he combines all the powers of Jumpin' Jack Flash, Moonchild, Cosmic Traveler, Starshine, and Aquarius. He is also far more malevolent than he was in the halcyon days of 1970s. This Radical is capable of any atrocity in the pursuit of his extremist political ideology, even coming to relish the murder of innocents.
Mark is tall and thin at 6' 4", with a gangly and clumsy appearance. He has blonde hair that he usually wore long, a goatee, and watery blue eyes behind thick Coke-bottle glasses. He had a homely face that was nonetheless pleasant because he usually seemed so kind and gentle. When dressed as the superhero Captain Trips, he wore a multicolored and absurd Uncle Sam suit. This costume included a purple tailcoat, a yellow paisley vest, a pink shirt, an immense green bow tie with yellow polka dots, green pants, yellow gloves, and a enormously tall purple stovepipe hat.
Captain Trips is very gentle, kind, and sweet. He genuinely believes in the ideals of peace and love of the 1960s. Mark experimented with several mind-altering drugs, but his favorite was marijuana, that he consumed constantly. Even though as a hippie he is supposed to be distrusting of authority, capitalism, and materialism, Mark Meadows is too good-hearted to be judgmental. The other major influence in his life were superhero comic books, as Mark delighted in helping people and fighting evil. He always tried to be a "real hero." He is very uneasy about physical violence himself, but several of his alter egos have been called to action when the need arises. Mark is utterly devoted to his daughter Sprout, and protecting her is an imperative that was shared even by his alternate personalities. He also can be quite innocent, and insecure around beautiful women.
Mark often came across as a harmless goof, constantly talking in a typical hippie way with lots of "like" and "man," tripping over his own feet, and feeling unsure about himself. But underneath this comical surface, Mark was an unquestionably loyal friend, always overcoming all hardships when the time came to be a hero.
In the years following his debut as Captain Trips, Mark had every one of his cherished ideals abused by an uncaring world. Being forced to use violence to rescue his daughter Sprout, having his faith in socialism shattered when he experienced real socialism in action in Vietnam, having his belief in mysticism exploited by a false guru. Mark gradually became much more hardened and frustrated, while at the same time becoming more capable and self-reliant. By the time he transformed into the Radical permanently in 1993, Mark already had most of his innocence stripped away from him.
Nowadays, after being stuck as a voice in the Radicals subconscious for over 20 years and finally regaining control of his body, Mark has fled to Takis where he lives with his daughter Sprout and his lover Sun Hei-lan.
- All of Mark's "friends" with the exception of the Radical are named after songs popular with the 1960s counterculture.
- Mark got Cosmic Traveler's name wrong. It should have been Mystic Traveler, which Mark himself acknowledged in Turn of the Cards.
- According to Croyd Crenson, another notorious wild carder with a predilection for drugs, Mark once changed into a still unidentified friend while they were both testing some windowpane acid. Croyd claims this friend was a giant, talking, six foot tall raccoon. Of course, Croyd was on acid at the time and Mark himself has no recollection of the event so this particular manifestion of Mark's ace must remain unverified.
- Two other possible friends/names based upon songs from the 60s were mentioned in Turn of the Cards; Crown of Creation and Ramblin' Man.
- The Mark Meadows name is yet another homage to the alliterative names in traditional superhero comicbooks.
Selected Reading Edit
- Wild Cards Volume I: Wild Cards -"Transfigurations" (Mark transforms into the Radical for the first time in 1970)
- Wild Cards Volume II: Aces High
- "Relative Difficulties" (Mark makes his debut as Captain Trips, helping Tachyon and the Turtle deal with Tachyon's relatives)
- "With a Little Help From His Friends" (Mark and Dr. Tachyon investigate an unusual murder in Jokertown)
- Wild Cards Volume VIII: One-Eyed Jacks - "Nowadays Clancy Can't Even Sing" (Mark loses custody of Sprout, his secret is revealed to the world)
- Wild Cards Volume IX: Jokertown Shuffle - "Madman Across the Water" (Mark tries to free Sprout from a juvenile institution, battles Blaise Andrieux)
- Wild Cards Volume X: Double Solitaire (Mark travels to Takis with Dr. Tachyon and Popinjay)
- Wild Cards Volume XII: Turn of the Cards (Mark's adventures as a fugitive across the globe, becomes President of South Vietnam)
- Wild Cards Volume XIV: Marked Cards - "My Sweet Lord" (Mark and Moonchild fall prey to a false guru)
- Wild Cards Volume XV: Black Trump (Mark fights the Card Sharks, becomes the Radical once again)
- Wild Cards Volume XIX: Busted Flush (The Radical battles the aces of the Committee)
- Wild Cards Volume XX: Suicide Kings (The Radical slowly loses control)