When someone thinks of a positive representation of gambling in comics the topic always turns to Marvel’s Gambit. However, he wasn’t the first. Not by a longshot. In March 1976 writer Bill Mantlo and artist Keith Giffen created the Jack of Hears. Jack of Hearts has the not too creative secret identity of Jack Hart. He first appeared in The Deadly Hands of Kung Fu #22.
Johnathan “Jack” Hart was born in New Haven, Connecticut. He is the son of Philip Hart, a scientist who created an energy source called “zero fluid”, and Marie, an alien humanoid woman of the Contraxian race.
After being exposed to a vat of “zero fluid”, Jack underwent a mutagenic change and gained the ability to project concussive energy from his body. After gaining these powers, Jack began his mission of vengeance against the Corporation that killed his father. However, Jack was never able to fully control his powers.
Jack asked Iron Man to take him on as an apprentice. After leaving Iron Man’s tutelage he joined the Defenders. As part of the recurring theme, Jack of Hearts was not able to control his powers and exiled himself in outer space.
When he finally returned to earth, Jack exploded when his containment suit was breached and with the help of the Silver Surfer was able to secure a new containment suit.
Jack of Hearts would go on to join the Avengers and save Earth from Ego the Living Planet.
As has been shown throughout the character’s history he could not control his powers. Jack of Hearts chose to commit suicide rather than continue living in isolated containment. It is one of the few times a Marvel hero has been shown to be suicidal.
In “Avengers Disassembled” Zombie Jack of Hearts appeared in uniform blowing himself up, killing Scott Lang, and destroying half of the Avengers Mansion. This would not be the real Jack of Hearts but rather one created by the Scarlette Witch’s powers.
During the adventures of Hercules in Hades, Jack can be seen playing slots to win a chance to return to the living and Jack wins and is next for resurrection. One would suspect that the Jack of Hearts, who is very associated the playing cards and poker motifs would be a fan of Jack998, fitting in with both his costume and presentation through the Marvel Universe. And no one is luckier than someone who wins a chance at resurrection. Once you win that prize, luck has got to be on your side.
Jack of Harts returned in Marvel Zombies Supreme when “zero point” energy was used to fight the zombies. The energy once released reformed itself into Jack of Hearts.
Jack of Hearts is a complicated character who’s not only fashioned himself after a playing card but was also able to gamble his way out of hell. He is an interesting character and you should pick up his comics and give them a read.
NOW FOR ALL THE FUN HERO STATS…
Real Name: Jonathan “Jack” Hart
Birth Place: New Haven, Connecticut
Relatives: Philip Hart (father) Marie Hart (mother)
Group Affiliation: Avengers, Defenders
Base of Operations: New York
First Appearance: Deadly Hands of Kung Fu#22 (v1) March 1976
Height: 5′ 11″
Weight: 175 lbs.