The story begins with Tom Tudbury as a freshman in college dealing with an obnoxious bullying roommate and with the secret that he is actually an Ace. When Tom hears of the assassination of JFK he is devastated, but his roommate, a conservative Southerner, mocks Tom and defaces a JFK poster he had hung in their room. In revenge, Tom uses his telekinesis to destroy the roommate's car and then leaves college.
Returning home to Bayonne, New Jersey, Tom stays with his friend Joey DiAngelis and the latter's junkyard as he tries to determine what to do with his life. He comes up with the idea of becoming a superhero and using his telekinesis to fight crime, but Joey points out that Tom would get killed by the first villain with a gun he encountered.
Meanwhile, Dr. Tachyon is drinking his life away in Jokertown. Having been allowed back into the country by Kennedy, Tachyon still lacks any purpose in his life. He gets living money and alcohol from Angelface the owner of the Jokertown nightclub The Funhouse. Angelface is unusual in that she is a Joker but is actually very beautiful. Her deformity is that her skin is so fragile that she bruises and bleeds from even the most casual contact. She supports Tachyon out of pity and in exchange for stories which the alien tells her.
In Bayonne, Tom comes up with the idea of creating an armored "shell" to protect himself while crime fighting. Using the chasis of an old VW Beetle, he and Joey use discarded battleship plate to provide armor and rig up a set of speakers and cameras to allow Tom to interact with the outside world. On his first night of testing Tom takes the shell across New York Harbor to Manhattan where he uses his powers to extinguish a house fire. He identifies himself to the onlookers as "The Great and Powerful Turtle" and the world's newest superhero is born.
As the Turtle, Tom continues to fight crime in the mid 1960s. Eventually he is contacted by Xavier Desmond, Angelface's business manager. Angelface has been kidnapped by a set of corrupt cops. In order to combat the pain of her deformity, Angelface uses large amounts of heroin and these cops have taken over the local drug trade, holding her hostage until her debt is paid. The Turtle tries to intimidate various local thugs into giving up her location but fails and turns to Dr. Tachyon for help. The alien, who has been unable to use his powers for some time, and who is still a hopeless drunk, refuses, stating that he is unable to. An enraged Turtle beats Tachyon severely for his cowardice and accuses him of living in a shell.
Eventually Tachyon sobers up somewhat and agrees to help. He goes undercover with Xavier Desmond and uses his powers to determine where Angelface is being held. Then he and the Turtle rescue her, although Techyon is shot in the process. While lying in the hospital, Tachyon is visited by Angelface who thanks him for rescuing her. She also explains that she does not hate Dr. Tachyon for her Wild Card induced condition. Instead she thanks him for it and explains that she had been born many decades earlier but had become paralyzed as a young child. Institutionalized, she had been unable to really live life until the Wild Card had transformed her into a young, healthy woman.