Mannequin appears to be an exceedingly intelligent and oddly playful individual; he toys with Armsmaster when he goes to 'recruit' him, and purposefully brushes up against Skitter's insects several times to show her that he could get around the sensing part of her power. He injures Armsmaster just enough to make a point.
It should be noted that "like other serial killers, Mannequin favored certain types of people as victims. His prey of choice included Rogues, those individuals seeking to make a profit from their abilities, especially those looking to better the world… and tinkers."
He had something of a deathwish, which led him to attack powerful opponents.
Although he was unable to speak, Mannequin had a variety of methods for communicating: he could, for example, spell out words or use sign language to get his meaning across.
Appearance & Equipment
It is unknown what Mannequin looked like before he cocooned himself in his new 'Mannequin' body. Now, however, he survives in an ecosystem of his own creation. His body is made up of several 'pieces' which seem to be able to operate independently of each other. They are attached with chains or ball joints; his shoulders and hips are ball joints, while his lower arms and, presumably, lower legs are attached to chains. These chains are capable of extending and retracting, to devastating effect.
He is 9 feet tall; his head scrapes the ceiling of an average sized room. Furthermore, his head has "no eyeholes, no earholes, nor any vents for air intake. There was only a head as white and smooth as an eggshell, with shallow indents where the eyes and mouth should be and a small bump for the nose."
It is noted that anyone who looks at Mannequin before the two halves of his chest come together can see the organs that are inside of him. The right and left side of his body, which appear to be able to work independently of each other are "cut cleanly down the middle" and the organs inside of him "pulsed with activity, throbbing wet against the glass or glass substitute." It is also noted that there is a substantial amount of technology keeping him alive, "regulators and filtration systems, and other gear that was designed to fit into the gaps between the most vital systems." His carapace was durable enough to resist his own blades.
Skitter speculates that each part of Mannequin's new body is "a self-contained system," with "everything nonessential stripped away and replaced." This appears to also include Mannequin's voice, as he uses keys from a keyboard to communicate with Armsmaster. Due either to the trauma he suffered or his own body modification, people who sense emotions have a hard time tracking him.
He is also bristling with 'weapons' and 'tools'; however, they seem to 'seamlessly' flow into his body, making it almost impossible to see the number of weapons he has. Among other weapons, he has a "telescoping blade" that comes out of the center of his hand that can be 'speared' forward as well as retracted so quickly that it causes recoil in his forearm and hand. Further, he can swap out any of his tools for other materials to deal with the situations at hand. He likely has replacement materials for his body for whenever he is seriously injured; that Bonesaw had enough of technology to assemble a 'Sarcophagus' makes this highly likely.
This repair ability has served him well in the Slaughterhouse Nine, with its high member turnover rate. It was mentioned several times by different people that Mannequin is one of the Nine's longest-serving members. Bonesaw mentioned once that she could count the members of the Nine that lasted more than a few years on one hand with fingers to spare, with Mannequin being one of them.
Every one of Mannequin's joints is flexible, "capable of moving in every angle" and his fingers are described as "like worms, each knuckle bending in impossible directions."
Mannequin's ability is described as a "tinker who specialized in sustaining life, sheltering it from outside forces; forces that included water, weather, space… and bugs." After the death of his children and wife, he changed from trying to protect others to "using his power to help and protect himself and himself only." The modifications he performed on himself separated him from his humanity forever, inside ceramics and systems that would keep him a mockery of life for millennia.
As a tinker, Mannequin can retain the benefits of his technology even if his powers are suppressed, but he grows noticeably less coordinated using it. His entire makeup allows him to operate easily in especially hostile environments. The mechanical nature of Mannequin's movement effectively makes him tireless as long as the systems hold out.
Due to being mostly modular, his fighting style is never quite the same twice, and his flexibility and many weapons give him a lot of options. He used a different configuration with each confrontation, approaching a problem from different angles and rapidly finding out how to defeat his opponents.
Body - able to move around and balance in a way humans can not, also fitting through tight spaces.
Internal Rifle - concealed in a arm larger than previously seen.
Various forms of gas, presumably generated by microorganisms that he can use to create a killing gas or consumable propellant for his internal rifle.
Multi arms - Gives him extra force as well as another set of hands.
After his rebirth, Mannequin started traveling the world as a serial killer, targeting predominantly Tinkers and Rogues who sought to better the world with their powers as his targets.
He attacked the Moonwalkers in 2007 in an ongoing campaign to seemingly wipe out his former legacy.
Eventually, he joined the Slaughterhouse Nine and has been with them for an unknown amount of time, though it has been several years.
Mannequin came with the Nine to Brockton Bay. He nominated Armsmaster, a fellow tinker, who he visited in holding by climbing through the air vents and injured him just enough to make a point.
Possibly spited by the unusually low death count of Shatterbird's attack as a result of Skitter's involvement, Mannequin sought the young villain out. He attacked her in her territory while she was providing medical treatment to Shatterbird's victims. Skitter swore to make him pay.
Fleeing, he later met up with the other 7 members and was rebuked for his failure. The morning after, Jack posted the rules of the Nine's visit to Brockton Bay, and Mannequin was seen lurking at the edge of Skitter's territory. Later that day, he ambushed the Undersiders and maimed Panacea while she was meeting with the teenaged villains. He attacked Skitter's territory again with a toxic gas, orphaning several children. The Undersiders overwhelmed him, and he forfeited his turn to Burnscar so she could kill them.
When the Slaughterhouse Nine were cornered by the combined protectorate team, Mannequin fought with Weld.
While fighting the Wards, Mannequin and Crawler were immobilized in a trap of Clockblocker's. He was killed by Bakuda's bombs utilized by the PRT and turned into a glass sculpture.
Like Andrew Norton was not an intentional homage to emperor Nortan, Mannequin was not given the first name of Alan as an intentional homage to the musician Alan Menken, who wrote the song Mannequin Attack.
The word “Alan” also means “statue” in ancient Sumerian.
Mannequin is referenced in a chapter of Wildbow's later serial, Twig, where two dime novels appear titled "Doll Man and the song of the moon" and "Doll man and the revenge of the swarm queen".
These titles likely reference Mannequin's run-ins with the Simurgh and Skitter, respectively.
↑ 3.03.13.2When it comes to Sphere, keep in mind that he effectively second triggered, except it wasn't really a true second trigger. In Weaverdice terms, he got the Renovamen/Angel Life Perk. Get taken out of action, come back in another form. So he had a different power, but when he broke, it took on a complete other angle. Best not to compare Sphere and Mannequin too much. If it helps, think of Mannequin as a tinker creation of Sphere, chopped up brain handling the corona differently. - Excerpt from comment by Wildbow on Reddit
↑ 4.04.14.24.184.108.40.206.74.84.9Her voice was quiet behind him. As much as anything, it helped keep him calm. “Mannequin. Original name Alan Gramme. Tinker, originally went by the name Sphere. Specialty is in biomes, terraforming and ecosystems… or it was. [...] He became newsworthy when he took on a project to build self sustaining biospheres on the moon. He had ideas on solving world hunger, and building aquatic cities near cities plagued by overcrowding. And he was putting it all into effect. Until The Simurgh [...] His wife and children were killed in the attack, years of work ruined. Everything fell apart. He went mad. He cut himself off from the rest of the world. Literally sealed himself away.” - Excerpt from Interlude 11d
↑Ridtom: True, it's just that he has a habit of underestimating his opponents.
↑“Doing it differently? This isn’t that complicated,” Burnscar said.
“How’s it going to look if you do it wrong? I imagine Mannequin’s going to get punished for fucking up,” Grue said, “But he at least tried. If you screw up here, right at the beginning, you really think your team is going to be impressed? No, they’re going to be embarrassed. And I bet they’ll take it out on the person who embarrassed them.”
Mannequin tapped on Burnscar’s shoulder. She turned, and he parted his mouth slightly before drawing an ‘x’ over it with one finger.
↑Mannequin made a gesture at Crawler, fingertips of two hands all touching, pressed to his ‘mouth’, then he pulled his hands away, splaying his fingers. Crawler cocked his head and Mannequin pointed at the frozen heroes. I heard Crawler rumble with guttural laughter. - Excerpt from Prey 14.5
↑Mannequin – A tall (nine-foot) man encased in a sealed, protective suit, loaded out with various weaponry. Member of the Slaughterhouse Nine. - Cast
↑The ceramic has shown itself to be fairly durable as far as resisting the impact from Mannequin’s own weapon (the whirling blades, during the scene with Armsmaster), so that’s one clue as to its durability. - Comment by Wildbow on Plague 12.6
↑I realized what was happening too late, when my feet were hauled off the ground. In the span of a second, I soared up six or seven stories, the counterweight to a nine-foot tall man in featureless white armor who plunged downward to land in a heap on the ground.
He’d repaired himself this fast? Did he have spare parts lying around?
I reached up and tried to wind my arm, wrist and fingers around the chain, to alleviate the pressure on my throat, and to give me a grip in case he decided to let go.
Mannequin hauled himself to his feet and the chain that stretched from his arm to the rooftop and back down to me made me bounce with every small movement. He advanced on Amy, who backed away. - Excerpt from Snare 13.2
↑Cherish[...]Following the escapades in Brockton Bay, she was trapped in an impervious, life-sustaining shell of Mannequin’s design and sunk to the bottom of the derelict Boat Graveyard, where she is expected to live for several thousand (or tens of thousands of) years. - Cast Page (In-Depth)
↑Might as well share: Siberian’s real body was being kept in a specialized case created by Bonesaw with some Mannequin components. Left in there for an hour to regenerate/weather the venoms. Relatively easy process to get him out, put Cherish in, do the surgery on her corona aurora, change some settings and seal her inside. - Comment by Wildbow on Prey 14.11
↑ 14.014.1She’s hooked up to the same systems that keep Mannequin going. Chances are strong she’ll live for a few thousand years. Maybe ten or twenty thousand, depending on the degree of wear from tides. - Comment by Wildbow on Chrysalis 20.3
↑Most members of the Nine had lasted only weeks or months. She could count the ones who’d lasted longer than that on the one hand. A shame she didn’t have samples for all of the past members, but she had most of the good ones.
↑“I had bad information. Cherish has her uses, but she was never going to be a long-term member of the group. The people who can are truly special. Bonesaw, Siberian, me. Perhaps Mannequin, but it’s hard to say. He’s not terribly social, but he’s been with us for some time.” - Excerpt from Prey 14.10
↑Grue reached out for another power. Mannequin’s power wasn’t useful, but the other-.
I felt my power fading, just as the swarm-decoy was gaining enough bulk.
I wasn’t the only one. Crucible’s forcefield shorted out. Clockblocker had been in the midst of reaching for Breed-bugs to lock down, and found himself only giving them easier access in climbing up his arms.
The Mannequin staggered back, tripping on the stairs. Just a little less coordinated. - Excerpt from Sting 26.3
↑ 19.019.1They had to have anticipated the possibility of Crawler interfering before they all recovered, but Mannequin? I was surprised he was able to function in the midst of this blaze.
I had to remind myself he was a specialist in hostile environments, and they didn’t get much more hostile than this. He was a genius, a problem solver, and a survivor. He was relentless, and as much as I’d managed to take the advantage in our previous confrontations, that was because he’d been out of his element, taking us on directly.
This was Mannequin’s specialty: attacking from the indirect angle, at the unexpected moment to target the weak. He favored Tinkers both because they were often vulnerable if you caught them without their gear, and for his own neuroses. - Excerpt from Prey 14.5
↑Both Weld and Mannequin had seemingly unlimited physical reserves. Both had equipment they could spring from nowhere – Mannequin had his concealed equipment and weapons, Weld had his crude shapeshifting abilities.
That wasn’t to say they were evenly matched.
Mannequin could have hit Weld with everything he had, and I doubted he would have even slowed Weld down. The opposite wasn’t so true – I suspected that one solid blow from Weld would leave Mannequin a wreck.
The problem was that even though Weld was strong, he was heavy, and this put him somewhere near the upper limits of what you’d expect an athlete to be able to perform. Mannequin, by contrast, was faster than any olympic runner, more agile than any gymnast. He could contort and slide through the space beneath a car, change directions on a dime, and that was without getting into the other advantages he brought to the table. I suspected he could see through the fire and smoke, and where Weld’s shapeshifting was largely limited to hitting stuff, Mannequin could use his arms like grappling hooks to cover more ground and keep his distance. - Excerpt from Prey 14.5
↑He’d have some countermeasure for my bugs and my cocoon strategy. There was no way he’d let himself get caught up in the same trap twice. Grue’s power didn’t affect him. Bitch’s dogs did affect him, but they weren’t bulletproof.
That was without factoring in any additional weapons he had. - Excerpt from Snare 13.3
↑Remember that he’s working with biological organisms, and his focus was more on getting them to produce lots of the gas vs. producing a gas that organisms don’t often produce. - Comment by Wildbow on Snare 13.3
↑It was Mannequin. Of all of them, he was the hardest to make out as he moved close to the ground, slipping between cars and through the flames to disappear from Weld’s sight. He had four arms, one set longer than the other, which combined with his jerky movements to give him an almost bug-like demeanor.
I watched as he paused at the rear of one car, crouching with his two sets of arms at the bumper, then unfolded explosively, steam or vapor billowing around him as he launched the car through the air. It wasn’t much distance, only ten or so feet, but the car rolled and slammed into Weld, knocking the junior hero into his frozen teammates and pinning him there. [...] There was no swagger, no monologue, nothing from Mannequin but the methodical execution of his simple plan. He approached the front of the pickup, tore off the hood and grabbed the engine block with all four arms. Again, the billowing vapor and that explosive strength, as he brought it over his head and down on top of the second car he’d thrown, stacking them two high. He crouched beneath the sedan and prepared to launch it as he had with the first two cars. - Excerpt from Prey 14.5
↑Team - Moonwalkers: Started by the sole cape survivor of the Evacuation Earth project. Then-rookie cape WPK pledged to find a way to continue Sphere's work and managed one of the most noteworthy crowdfunding campaigns in history, with a total amount raised of 316 million, an amount that has increased to an estimated 500 million in the intervening years (actual numbers undisclosed, with some sources positing amounts as high as 750 million - Thoth). Controversial, as the crowdfunding did not seem to evidence real-world results, updates were scarce, with periodic years-long silences. Some were excusable (Mannequin's 2007 attack, killing key staff and team members) and some were not. The Moonwalkers have six core members and two subteams, all based in Chicago. - PHO Sunday, Capeball Breakdown: Moonwalkers v. Lich Five
↑Think of it as punishment. Hypothetical (don’t take this as gospel): Cherish reports that less people died than usual, maybe there’s even something in the collective emotions that points to Skitter’s involvement. Gratitude?
Mannequin volunteers to see what’s up, finds that she’s helping people? Organizing things, on top of what she did to reduce Shatterbird’s casualty count?
“Jack’s rules, not mine. But fine,” Burnscar said. Something about the tone in her voice: it sounded casual, but there was something in it that reminded me of Shadow Stalker and Sophia. It wasn’t angry like Shadow Stalker was, but it had the same emptiness. I just hadn’t really picked up on it in the past.
Burnscar gave Mannequin a hand in getting to his feet. Cracks marred his lower body, and his left arm was a mess of cracked ceramic and pale gray organic pulp. I heard her murmur something.
Mannequin shook his head. Burnscar said something else.
He raised one hand, and Burnscar slapped it in a lazy high-five.
She turned towards us. “There. He just tagged me in. Forfeited his turn.” - Excerpt from Snare 13.3
↑“Crawler and Mannequin observed to be in the blast site.”
“How did they disengage while keeping them there? They- they did disengage?”
“Clockblocker managed to tether Mannequin in place. Crawler freed himself from the same trap by tearing himself in two against the immovable object. - Excerpt from Prey 14.7
↑Mannequin, Alan Gramme (Turned to Glass) – Once known as Sphere, a tinker working on sustainable energy and living spaces in hostile environments, including ocean-borne cities and a moon base. Was attacked by the Simurgh, saw his wife and child die, and snapped. Butchered himself and sealed the parts in an impervious, doll-like shell, with ball joints and chains separating the sections and a loadout of various retracting blades, gases and guns. Turned to glass by a bombing run utilizing some of Bakuda’s weaponry. - Cast (In Depth)
↑I found members of Bonesaw’s Slaughterhouse Nine. Clones who’d fled, or who’d been left behind, lurking in dark corners, or simply hiding. A Mannequin, two Damsels that were keeping each other company, a Night Hag-Nyx hybrid, and a Crawler-Breed hybrid. - Excerpt from Speck 30.4