|Real Name||Modular Man|
|Wild Card Traits||Enhanced strength, durability, flight, advanced sensor suite, modular weaponry, computer brain, insubstantiality|
|Place of Creation||New York City|
|Citizenship||Not legally a person|
|Relatives||Maxim Travnicek (creator)|
|Allies||Howler, Patchwork, Peregrine|
|First Appearance||Aces High|
|Final Appearance||Dealer’s Choice|
|Creator||Walter Jon Williams|
Modular Man is an android created by ace inventor Maxim Travnicek, an eccentric, almost deranged genius. Modular Man is incredibly sophisticated, gifted with artificial intelligence and human emotions, and also possessing a wide range of robotic abilities. Initially, Travnicek intended to use the android as a marketing ploy to start his own robot-building company, so he programmed Modular Man to act as a superhero. Modular Man was one of the most prominent crimefighters of the 1980s. The android often struggled to deal with his own human emotions and the whims of his greedy, megalomaniacal creator.
Modular Man was created in 1985 by Maxim Travnicek, a brilliant scientist with a superhuman gift for invention. Modular Man is a powerful android with a complex artificial intelligence, and human emotions. Travnicek planned to get rich by mass-producing androids as weapons for the American government, and Modular Man was the first unit built.
Even though he had the capacity for original thought and initiative, he was hardwired to obey direct orders from Travnicek, and to act as a superhero to gain publicity for Travnicek's planned enterprises. He made a splash in the ace community right away, rescuing a damsel-in-distress from the Great Ape, being a key figure on Earth's fight against the alien Swarm invasion, and fighting the murderous Egyptian Freemasons. In the process he became one of New York's most famous crimefighters.
Modular Man also had to deal with his human emotions. The handsome android got himself involved with several women, the first of them Cyndi, the woman he rescued from the Great Ape. Dr. Travnicek wasn't a great help to his creation, treating Modular Man as a toy, constantly calling him "toaster," and ordering him into several questionable activities to satisfy Travnicek's bizarre whims. He had to learn how to be human by himself, between the assignments given to him by Travnicek.
In 1986, Modular Man was accidentally destroyed in a fight against the Egyptian Masons in the Aces High restaurant. It took nine months for Travnicek to build another Modular Man unit. This new version had the same memories as the old one, since Travnicek had kept backups. But soon afterwards, Travnicek was infected by a mutated strain of the wild card virus and was transformed into a particularly freakish joker, no longer with the power to build amazing gadgets. He was now unable to repair Modular Man or to rebuild him if he were destroyed once again. So the android had to struggle with yet another facet of the human condition: mortality. To make matters worse, Travnicek's transformation also stripped of him of any human morality he might have, and he now ordered Modular Man to covertly rob banks to finance Travnicek's increasingly expensive lifestyle.
In 1990, Modular Man was among the aces summoned by the government to combat the joker revolutionaries who had taken Ellis Island. But Travnicek decided to change sides and joined the jokers, not because he might have any sympathies for their cause, but because he was intrigued by the reality-warping powers of Bloat, the joker leader. So Modular Man was also forced to change sides, ordered by his creator. In the chaos of the Rox War, Travnicek became ever more deranged and cruel, while Modular Man became terrified of the possibility he might be permanently damaged or destroyed. The only good thing to come of the situation was Modular Man meeting and falling in love with Patchwork, a female ace fighting on the side of Bloat and his jokers.
He managed to circumvent his programming by indirectly giving Patchwork the instructions to kill Travnicek. With his creator dead, Modular Man is now a free being. He is still a wanted criminal in the US due to his participation in the Rox War fighting on the side of the jokers, though. He apparently moved to Canada to live with Patchwork.
Modular Man is extraordinarily strong and durable. His skeleton is made of a metallic alloy, and his flesh is hard plastic. He is stronger than 10 men, and once he easily lifted the torch of the Statue of Liberty. Modular Man has been shot by large-caliber handguns and was mostly undamaged. But he is not indestructible, and has been harmed by superstrong aces. If he is seriously damaged, Modular Man can't heal by himself, he must be repaired like any other machine.
Modular Man is powered by internal flux generators, another eccentric invention of Travnicek. He can recharge his generators by plugging into any electrical outlet. He is also capable of eating and drinking normally, and keeps the food in an internal holding tank, where he breaks it into nutrients that his body can use to recharge. But this process is slow and inefficient, so Modular Man eats and drinks mostly for pleasure, using electricity to recharge.
He can plug several modules into his body that give him additional superhuman capabilities. One of them is his flight module, that enables him to use his superhuman energies to negate gravity, making him able to fly at extraordinary speeds. His maximum flight speed is a little more than 800 mph, and he is capable of making sharp turns that would hurt any human ace. He also used to have an insubstantiality module that enable him to rotate his body slightly out of this plane of existence, enabling him to move through solid matter. But the insubstantiality module was permanently damaged in 1987, and no longer works.
Modular Man also has an impressive collection of ranged weapons. He can plug those guns in slots in his shoulders, and he usually has one weapon in each shoulder. His list of known weapons include: a microwave laser cannon that can shoot destructive (and invisible) blasts of energy, a .30 caliber machine gun, a 20mm cannon, a grenade launcher that can be equipped with several varieties of grenades (sleep gas, tear gas, incendiary), and a dazzler that can be used to blind opponents. The microwave laser is the weapon that more quickly drains his energies. Modular Man's weapons can rotate and shoot in 360-degrees.
The android has several superhuman senses. He is able to see into the infra-red and the ultraviolet portions of the spectrum. He can hear ultrasonic frequencies. He has a radio receiver able to tune into the police band, and he can also transmit radio messages. But his most impressive sensor is his radar, located into a silver dish inside the transparent dome at the top of his head. His radar sense enables Modular Man to aim and shoot in all directions.
His computer brain is located inside his chest area and is heavily armored. Modular Man is capable of independent thought, and is at least as intelligent as a human being. In fact, his computerized brain make him capable of impressive feats such as instantaneous calculations, perfect memory, and precise estimation of distances and times. Also, an often overlooked advantage is that Modular Man's macroatomic brain can't be affected by any of the telepathic abilities so common in the Wild Cards universe. One telepath was once able to make contact with his brain, but was driven insane by the experience.
Modular Man is extremely human-like in appearance. In fact, he is very handsome, looking like a tall, athletic man based on Leonardo da Vinci's drawings of male anatomy. He has dark eyes that also are very human. The only physical features that make Modular Man stand out as an android are his complete lack of body hair, the absence of character lines on his face, and the transparent dome on the top of his skull, containing his radar dish. Modular Man has a deep voice and speaks American English.
He is almost always dressed in his crimefighting costume, that consists of a flexible, navy-blue jumpsuit and combat boots. He wears a navy-blue skullcap on the top of his head to hide his radar dome. With the cap on, he looks just like a human being, if you discount the gun tubes jutting out of his shoulders.
Modular Man is basically a nice guy, very well-adjusted to human interaction. In his first few months of existence, the android sometimes got confused about humanity, but he is a quick learner. He enjoys life and is determined to experiment everything, always trying new drinks and new food, and also dating many different women. Since he is so handsome and charming, Modular Man has been successful in his amorous pursuits.
The big thorn in his existence was his amoral creator, Maxim Travnicek. Travnicek hardwired four directives on Modular Man's computer brain, that he had to follow no matter what: 1) To obey his creator, Dr. Maxim Travnicek 2) To guard Travnicek's identity and well-being. 3) Test himself and his equipment under combat conditions, by fighting enemies of society, in order to gain maximum publicity for the future Modular Man enterprises. 4) To preserve his own existence and well-being.
Modular Man was a constant victim of Travnicek's abusive orders. His creator treated him as a toy, leaving Modular Man to fend for himself whenever he had to deal with a new facet of human experience. For instance, he felt saddened for not having a human name. But Modular Man's greatest issue was his fear of his own destruction, that arose when Travnicek lost his capability to repair and rebuild Modular Man. Though he is not exactly a coward, Modular Man was understandably terrified of being forced into dangerous situations by his creator's orders.
Selected Reading Edit
- Wild Cards Volume II: Aces High - "Unto the Sixth Generation" (Modular Man is created, and has to deal with the Great Ape, an alien invasion, and the Egyptian Freemasons)
- Wild Cards Volume III: Jokers Wild (Modular Man is destroyed in a fight against the Astronomer)
- Wild Cards Volume V: Down and Dirty - "Mortality" (The rebuilt Modular Man fights Typhoid Croyd and has to deal with his own mortality)
- Wild Cards Volume : Dealer’s Choice - (Modular Man fights in the Rox War)