In the happy, happy Nick-event of 2008, I present to you my review of Inside Straight: A Wild Cards Novel. Now in case you don’t know what the Wild Cards series is, you are looking at one of the grand-daddies of superhero fiction right here. This new book obviously hopes to capitalize off the success of George R. R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series as evidenced by his massive name on the cover. It’s all good if it means we can now see regular updates to a great franchise.
Inside Straight does a lovely job of reintroducing the world to all the people who haven’t been around for the last seventeen books in the series. I personally have only read about ten of those books, so I appreciate the little backtracks that give any pertinent knowledge myself. Inside Straight revolves around two pertinent subjects: an upheaval of the Egyptian government that leaves the joker (freaks that the Wild Card virus left horribly disfigured) population in dire straits. Meanwhile in America, a new television show called American Hero debuts. Basically a reality show with twenty-eight aces (super-powers) competing to determine who will be the next big superhero. Much of this saga is told in stories of several new or rarely used characters: Jonathan Hive (whose narrative ties the entire book together), the Amazing Bubbles, Earth Witch, Rustbelt, etc.) Their plot suddenly ties in with the Egypt plot midway through the book and everything pretty much goes crazy from there.
A lot of Ultimate Marvel-style concepts seem to pop-up as the stories intertwine, but all in all Inside Straight is an excellent new edition to the Wild Cards franchise. Do yourself a favor, go pick this book up, and then hunt down as many of the previous books in this series as you are able. You’ll be glad you did.
Oh, and it looks like you will soon be able to enjoy both a new Wild Cards comic (hopefully better than the previous weak attempt from Epic in the late 80’s) and role-playing game (using the excellent Mutants and Masterminds system instead of the clunky GURPS system of yesteryear). Looks like it may be a renaissance year for Wild Cards, something every superhero fiction fan out there should cheer!