|Real Name||Gregg Hartmann|
|Aliases||Senator Hartmann, Puppetman|
Joker (jumped body)
|Wild Card Traits||Mind control (emotion manipulation), empathy|
|Place of Birth||Ohio, USA|
|Event Participant||1976 Great Jokertown Riot, 1987 WHO Tour, 1988 Democratic National Convention|
|Base of Operations||New York City|
|Affiliations||Democratic Party, SCARE|
|Allies||Dr. Tachyon, Golden Boy, Hannah Davis, Hiram Worchester, Mackie Messer, Succubus|
|First Appearance||Wild Cards|
|Final Appearance||Black Trump|
Gregg Hartmann was a liberal politician often heralded as the defender of the wild carders, particularly the jokers. He was an influential senator in the 1970s and 1980s, and almost became the Democrat candidate to the presidency in two occasions (1976 and 1988), but suffered from public, mental breakdowns on both occasions. Few people know that Hartmann was actually a powerful, depraved ace. As the sinister Puppetman, he used his emotion manipulation powers to both achieve his political ambitions and feed on human suffering. A twisted sadist, Hartmann enjoyed playing games with the very jokers he was supposed to be helping.
Gregg Hartmann was born in Ohio in 1939 and developed his ace powers at an early age. Gregg was an incredibly vindictive child. When Andrea Whitman, his childhood crush, rejected his attentions, Gregg used his ace to manipulate a retarded teenager into raping and murdering her. He was only 11-years old at the time. This first murder both thrilled and frightened him, and became a precursor to several more killings through his teenage years and as a young adult. He developed a secondary personality that he called "Puppetman," an incarnation of his power and darker nature. In 1961, Gregg graduated from Harvard Law School and became a successful lawyer. He moved to New York City in 1962, and in Jokertown he found all the pain, despair, and violence he could ever need to feed his vile appetites.
As way to hide his secret behind a benevolent façade, Hartmann entered politics as a liberal politician and defender of joker rights. He was elected councilman in 1965, became mayor from 1968 to 1972, and finally was elected senator. Hartmann became the chairman of SCARE, a senate committee that commanded the services of several aces. Loved by both the ace and joker communities, Senator Hartmann was influential and powerful even without his ace abilities. No one knew he was actually a monster feeding off the anguish of his supporters. Hartmann was responsible for many atrocities, the greatest of them the Great Jokertown Riot of 1976.
Senator Hartmann became the leader of the World Health Organization sponsored tour of the global status of wild carders. He was accompanied on this tour by his married personal aide Amy Sorenson whom he manipulated into having an affair with Golden Boy.
Hartmann tried to become President in 1988, and came very close to winning the nomination in the Democratic Presidential Convention in Atlanta. But a small group of aces discovered his secret, after Hartmann had left a trail of mysterious murders behind him in the last few years. The ace Demise destroyed Hartmann's superpowers, while Dr. Tachyon mind-controlled Hartmann into making a fool of himself in national television. Gregg Hartmann's political career was finished.
Gregg Hartmann surfaced again in 1993, when investigator Hannah Davis asked for his help in exposing the Card Sharks, a conspiracy of anti-wild card fanatics. Hartmann saw it as a chance to atone for his past sins. He fell in love with Hannah, and his powers started to return, though he tried to keep his darker nature in check. In the many struggles against the Card Sharks, Hartmann was mind-switched into the body of George G. Battle, a hideous joker, but somehow his emotional manipulation powers resurfaced yet again. In 1994, Hartmann sacrificed his life to stop the destruction of Jerusalem by a nuclear device planted by joker terrorists fighting the Card Sharks, and died a hero. In his final moments, Hartmann also managed to win his inner struggle against Puppetman once and for all.
Hartmann was capable of sensing and manipulating people's emotions. To do so, he had to first physically touch someone, opening the neural pathways that would allow access later. A brief touch, like that of a handshake, was enough. Once touched, the person became a "puppet," and was forever after susceptible to Hartmann's control. Hartmann could sense and manipulate his puppets from a distance of a few miles.
Hartmann could "see" people's emotions as a multicolored aura. Rage was red, fear was yellow, respect was azure, etc. He could then amplify or diminish any emotion, at will. Hartmann was capable of turning a person's faint dislike into a murderous rage. Or he could turn a slight desire into overwhelming passion. He couldn't just make a person feel an emotion from nothing, though. He could only work with what was already inside the person.
Since he could only sense and control emotions, Hartmann's powers were not as precise as those of mind-controllers such as Dr. Tachyon. But his powers had several unique advantages. They were very subtle, almost impossible to detect. His puppets always thought their actions had been of their own initiative. None of them ever felt as if some foreign mind were playing with them. They just felt themselves snapping in the throes of strong emotion. Hartmann also was capable of manipulating many puppets at once, almost effortlessly. He could calm down an angry crowd, or incite a tense group to rioting.
As a side effect of his powers, Hartmann had great charisma. Even though he was a plain, slightly overweight man, people saw him as handsome and vital. Hartmann also had a moderate mind shield. Not enough to stop most telepathic powers though.
After finding himself in the body of a joker, Hartmann gradually discovered a range of physical abilities associated with the new form. His sense of taste was altered and was connected to an oral reflex that could trigger a corrosive discharge from his mouth. The fluid was capable of dissolving metals. He could also see into the infra red portion of the light spectrum giving him some degree of vision in pitch blackness. For regular locomotion Hartmann could propel himself on all limbs, on walls as well as the ground, and had a fairly pronounced leaping ability. He also had a curious panic reflex that pushed his limbs into a high-speed overdrive. In this state he would careen uncontrollably around, aware of his surroundings, but unable to exert much control over his fast-moving body.
Gregg Hartman was an average man of undistinguished appearance. He had ash blonde hair with a widow's peak. He was round-shouldered and slightly overweight from his sedentary lifestyle. On account of his power, people often thought him handsome and compelling. His trademark was his half-smile, that was reproduced in every caricature made of him in the political pages of the newspapers.
After being swapped into the body of a joker, Hartmann had the appearance of a 4 foot long yellow caterpillar with a mostly human face. In this form his voice was thin and high-pitched.
Hartmann was a sadist who enjoyed using his powers to cause pain. He particularly liked to make his puppets commit awful acts like murder and rape, while staying in mental contact with them, savoring their intense emotions. Hartmann was actually addicted to the thrill he got from his puppets, almost in a sort of psychic vampirism. A part of him was abhored by his own actions, and so he split his personality, developing the Puppetman persona, a disembodied voice in his head that was the personification of his powers and darker urges. It should be noted that this wasn't a Jekyll and Hyde arrangement, though. Gregg and Puppetman shared all their memories, and treated one another as accomplices, with Gregg as the slightly hesitant partner, while Puppetman gleefully indulged in every depravity.
In order to avoid discovery, he was particularly afraid of aces, and even more so of aces with mental powers that could be able to detect his true nature, or aces with powers he didn't fully understand. For that reason, he avoided taking aces as his puppets, even though he had a few of them, like Hiram Worchester and Carnifex.
To the rest of the world, Gregg appeared like a compassionate, affable, idealistic man with a genuine concern for the victims of the wild card virus. He affected a slightly informal, self-deprecating manner, urging reason and tolerance while feeding the flames of hatred with his powers.
Selected Reading Edit
- Wild Cards Volume I: Aces High - "Strings" (Hartmann causes the Great Jokertown Riot of 1976)
- Wild Cards Volume IV: Aces Abroad
- "The Tint of Hatred" (Hartmann is the leader of the WHO Tour that travels the world to investigate the living conditions of wild card victims worldwide)
- "Puppets" (Hartmann is kidnapped by communist terrorists in Germany, and acquires a new, terrifying puppet)
- Wild Cards Volume V: Down and Dirty - "The Hue of a Mind"] (A small cabal of aces, jokers, and nats investigates Gregg Hartmann)
- Wild Cards Volume VI: Ace in the Hole (Gregg Hartmann in the Democratic Convention of 1988)
- Wild Cards Volume IX: Dealer's Choice (Gregg briefly resurfaces to help defuse the Rox rebellion)
- Wild Cards Volume XIII: Card Sharks - "The Ashes of Memory" (Gregg is contacted by Hannah Davis for help against the Card Shark conspiracy)
- Wild Cards Volume XIV: Marked Cards - "The Color of His Skin" (Gregg and Hannah fight to expose the Card Sharks)
- Wild Cards Volume XV: Black Trump (Gregg and Hannah travel around the world to stop the Card Sharks for all)