The Hard Call is a comic book format story set in the fictional Wild Cards universe. First published in 2008 it ran as a six-issue limited series.
The plot revolves around Alex, who inadvertently triggers a Wild Card outbreak in a Colorado high school science fair. He and two others students who were involved in the accident survive and find themselves changed in ways they would not have expected. Alex soon crosses paths with Croyd Crenson and the pair form an unlikely partnership when they set out to solve two mysteries at once.
A nurse at the Jokertown Clinic is murdered and the clues implicate Croyd Crenson, otherwise known as "The Sleeper". As Croyd sets out to find the real killer, horrifying events unfold at a Colorado high school science fair where spores of the Wild Card virus are accidentally released.
Alex, a student at the school, is taken to the Jokertown Clinic where he finds himself plagued by his new ace ability to discharge lethal amounts of red electrical energy, and haunted by the memory of his brother dying in the outbreak. Simon, who had likewise contributed to the accident, relishes every moment of his new life as an ace, and Kira, their fellow schoolmate, is forced to cope with her new maggot-like form.
When Crenson is discovered breaking into the clinic, he escapes to the roof to find Alex preparing to leap to his death. The resulting conversation pulls Alex back from the brink before they go their separate ways.
The murder mystery deepens when jokers start dying, or finding themselves cured, after coming into contact with the Trump virus, an experimental and risky counter agent to the Wild Card. While investigations into the murders continue, Kira disappears and Alex begins to suspect foul play. He seeks out Crenson, now a wanted man, to aid him in his search and the pair form an likely partnership to address their respective mysteries.
- "I thought the same things everyone else did. I thought that most people who got the Wild Card drew the Black Queen, and the virus just killed them. A few drew the Joker. Got twisted by it. Deformed. Broken. And a few – maybe one in hundred – drew the Ace. Just like everyone else, I thought they were the special ones. The blessed ones. I thought that the Aces were the ones who got lucky. I know more now. I know better."
- Alex Miller - An ace with the ability to discharge lethal red, electrical energy.
- Kira Apfelbaum - A joker with a lower body of a giant maggot.
- Croyd Crenson "The Sleeper" - An ace with a new form every time he awakens, this time can morph his hands and feet into immensely strong crab-like appendages and climb up walls.
- Michael Fallon - A transition counsellor at the Jokertown Clinic. Was a joker who took the Trump Virus.
- Simon - A ace with the ability to travel through another dimension using mirrors as his gateways between points in the physical world.
- Jack Miller - Alex's younger brother, slain by the Wild Card
- Sascha Starfin - Joker-ace with the ability to read minds
- Troll - Head of security at the Jokertown Clinic
- Stephanie Winters - A nurse at the Jokertown Clinic