Down and Dirty is a bit of an odd duck, with some stories taking place at the same time as the world tour of Aces Abroad while others take place after. There are mafia plotlines, political plotlines with the Puppetman, and a bit of an internal struggle for both Tachyon and the Turtle. As with any of the short story collections, there’s a wide variety of stories, for better and for worse.
Only the Dead Know Jokertown : Yeoman is surprisingly interesting and I’m intrigued by his developing relationship with Wraith. The actual crime families storylines are not my favorite, but I do like the characters.
All the King’s Horses : The story of the Turtle (one of my favorite characters) after the events of Jokers Wild. Seeing Tom as independent from the Turtle and investigating all the baggage and PTSD that can come from clashing super heros is fascinating. A good story, split into parts throughout the book.
Concerto for Siren and Serotonin : Croyd/The Sleeper is another one of the most interesting stories of the Wild Cards series. It’s always interesting to see what new powers and trouble he’ll have and with the added trouble of stimulants driving him more and more mad the longer he stays awake… It’s a crazy story (and a fun title). The Typhoid Croyd story is a bit odd as well, but interesting. How do you stop and contain someone that powerful who may not be in entire control of themselves? Without killing them…
Breakdown : Bagabond is one of my favorite characters, Rosemary is one of my least. I don’t really care for the Mafia storylines. It feels out of time (despite the fact that the Mafia is still active in organized crime even today in some cities, particularly in the Northeastern US) and despite the feeling of ‘people doing the right thing for the wrong reasons’, I can never quite getting as far as rooting for Rosemary. So it goes.
Jesus Was an Ace : Connects the plotlines more or less and gives Barnett as a counterpoint to Puppetman. But a weak story.
Blood Ties : Tachyon is not my favorite character, but there’s little to doubt that he’s the very core of the Wild Cards series. It is interesting to see some of the more ‘human’ aspects to his character. And playing him off his part human grandson (who might actually be more powerful) is fascinating.
The Second Coming of Buddy Holly : This is actually one of my most liked stories in the series so far, especially the absolutely bizarre final concert by Buddy Holly. It builds and builds through the story and I am rooting for things to all come together the entire time. On the other hand, it barely relates to anything else going on at best, so doesn’t really ‘fit’ with the rest of the stories. Also, the last rapey scene at the end… could have just not been a thing.
The Hue of a Mind : Man Puppetman is creepy. Seeing a variety of ‘evil’ Jokers and Aces come together is interesting. The way this entire book treats homosexuality is… odd at best. Something of a product of the times?
Addicted to Love : Ti Malice is the perfect example of dark and creepy, body horror type stories that you get sometimes in these stories. It’s terrifying to realize just what Ti can do to Hiram and Jane and no one realizes enough to help them. Oy.
Takedown : So ends one of the subplotlines at least. I like Bagabond.
Mortality : Modular Man! I’m glad he’s not gone forever and it’s actually pretty interesting to see an exploration of what it means to be humanity and think about mortality–from the point of view of an otherwise theoretically immortal android. Also lots of crazy fight scenes and interactions of various Wild Card powers.