Titan Shattered, the sequel to last year’s Titan Sinking: The Decline of the WWF in 1995, picks up in 1996 during a tumultuous time in Vince McMahon’sTitan Shattered, the sequel to last year’s Titan Sinking: The Decline of the WWF in 1995, picks up in 1996 during a tumultuous time in Vince McMahon’s wrestling empire. Feeling the increased pressure from rival organization World Championship Wrestling and their attractive guaranteed contracts, McMahon would struggle throughout 1996 to keep the talent he already had, hoping that loyalty would mean more than money.
Unfortunately for Vince, not only would WCW throw out obscenely high salaries but also a reduced work schedule, something McMahon could not offer. This would lead to the departure of many of the WWF’s most well known wrestlers leaving Vince with little to no choice but to try anything he could to stay competitive. This included:
Attempting to give long time roster member and gifted performer Shawn Michaels a shot at carrying the company as WWF Champion despite Michael’s childish behavior and rampant drug problems;
Bringing in veteran Mick Foley and repackaging him as the sadistic “Mankind” and immediately injecting him into a high profile program with The Undertaker;
Re-signing Jim “Ultimate Warrior” Hellwig in a desperate attempt to bring star power back to his dwindling roster;
Storylines that blended fact and fiction, one of which involved two of the hottest stars in the business.. and a handgun;
A series of vignettes parodying World Championship Wrestling showcasing characters such as “Billionaire Ted”, “Scheme Gene”, “The Huckster”, and “The Nacho Man” in an attempt to convince their audience that WCW was where past WWF stars went to take it easy.
With Titan Shattered, Dixon continues with his practice of meticulous research with digestible prose that makes the book an easy read. Footnotes are again scattered throughout offering additional information that expands upon already thorough work. I’d like to consider myself an information sponge when it comes to anything wrestling-related during this period and despite having listened to hundreds of episodes of wrestling podcasts, reading dozens of books and watching several documentaries, I still managed to learn a lot. That’s how comprehensive a work Titan Shattered is.
For those looking to dig as deep as possible into the American wrestling scene of the 1990s, Dixon’s two books (a rumoured third is on its way next year) are essential reads....more
Forced into paying off his dead brother’s debts, Tracy Lawless has been employed as a hitman for powerful crime boss, Sebastian Hyde. For the past yeaForced into paying off his dead brother’s debts, Tracy Lawless has been employed as a hitman for powerful crime boss, Sebastian Hyde. For the past year, Tracy has been knocking off slimy folks deemed expendable by his maniacal master. However, there’s been some issues with Tracy’s efficiency. Regardless of his orders, Tracy has to make sure that his target is truly deserving of death, which as you can imagine, does not lend itself to an employer with little to no patience.
The only thing keeping Tracy on the job is just how good he is, so rather than throw away an asset like Tracy, Hyde gives him another job. Several high ranking members of the crime community are being knocked off. The problem? These folks should be considered untouchable and seeing as Hyde hasn’t been authorizing these hits – Hyde wants to know who’s behind them.
Adding fuel to the fire, Tracy has been sleeping with Hyde’s wife for months, somehow managing to keep the affair away from prying eyes. Not only that, but Tracy went M.I.A. from the US Military when he got tangled up in this mess and a rather driven military inspector is on the lookout for him, hoping to return Tracy to active duty.
What The Sinners lacks in steamy scenes, it excels in in the unsettling violence category. Tracy Lawless appeared in an earlier volume of the series and Brubaker brings him back to close out his story with enough misdirection to throw the reader off the map. While it isn’t quite as strong as the volume that follows it, it’s still an excellent piece of work.
While I suppose Frank Miller paved the way for modern noir with his Sin City series, I would go so far as to say Brubaker and Phillips have perfected the genre....more
Jake spends his days in a waking coma. He walks the streets at night, produces a syndicated comic strip during the day, and grabs sleep when he can. IJake spends his days in a waking coma. He walks the streets at night, produces a syndicated comic strip during the day, and grabs sleep when he can. It’s not a bad life considering he was once accused of murdering his wife, a charge he managed to avoid due to a lack of evidence. But Jake isn’t entirely innocent. While he never did kill his wife, he did at one point run a counterfeit ring in his youth, but those days are long behind him. Or so he thought..
After witnessing a young couple fighting inside a local diner, Jake takes a shot at an honest-to-goodness good deed and offers one half of the couple – the beautiful and sexy Iris – a lift home. Fortunately for Jake, the two end up back at his place and after a wild night in bed, he awakes alone. However, it isn’t long before she returns, this time with her criminal boyfriend, and the two threaten to kill Jake unless he mocks up a fake FBI badge.
Sean Phillips is on point here, as always, presenting stunning artwork that is as integral to the story as Brubaker’s writing. One without the other would almost certainly present a weaker form of art when it comes to this series and like all of Brubaker and Phillips’ Criminal books, I read this in one sitting, which isn’t a difficult task to accomplish given how easily the pair suck you into their seedy, seductive world. I just had to know what happened next!
Criminal: Bad Night is fearless fiction with a frighteningly fantastic femme fatale....more
Do you remember the really popular, beautiful, “it” girl in high school? Remember thinking how perfect your life would be if you were her boyfriend? HDo you remember the really popular, beautiful, “it” girl in high school? Remember thinking how perfect your life would be if you were her boyfriend? Hey, maybe her rich father could hook you up with a great, cushy job. Well, I’ve got some great news for you – you’re married and you’ve got that job! You’ll most likely be pampered for the rest of your life. Oh, and no need to worry about supporting your crippling gambling addiction because there will always be money to cover your losses. So, wait.. why aren’t you happy?
Turns out you actually hate that job and your wife being popular and beautiful in high school isn’t exactly enough to support a marriage. Who knew? Maybe you just need a break from it all. Unfortunately (or fortunately), your father takes sick and needs you by his side. So you visit your hometown but rather than giving you some room to breathe from your crushing life in the city, it only makes you realize just how miserable you truly are.
So, what’s the solution? Do you go back and tell your wife it simply isn’t working out? Do you quit your job? Or.. do you kill your wife and try and screw your father-in-law out of millions of dollars? In Ed Brubaker’s work, ain’t nobody going to pick anything but option C.
The Last of the Innocent is a tremendous read, despite the fact that the plot sounds all too familiar. Let’s face it – you read that and think – “oh, isn’t this like ninety percent of noir novels?” Sure, I mean – you wouldn't exactly be wrong. However, there’s something subtly brewing under the surface that I didn’t quite get until I read Kemper's review – this is Riverdale, Riley is Archie! Sure, there’s a shift in artwork at certain points that harkens back to the gang in Riverdale, but I thought that was just a representation of a more innocent time for Riley. Turns out I’m just not that observant.
I've said it before, if you’re a crime fiction fan and have never explored the world of seedy, crime comics, you’re doing yourself a disservice. Brubaker and Phillips are like comics’ Scorcese and Deniro – they’re made for one another. There’s no better team working today....more
Seeing as Matt Scudder ages along with his creator, Lawrence Block doesn’t feel there’s much interest in following the activities of a detective in hiSeeing as Matt Scudder ages along with his creator, Lawrence Block doesn’t feel there’s much interest in following the activities of a detective in his mid-70s. Rather than write a follow-up to All The Flowers Are Dying, Block backtracks about thirty years, all the way back to Scudder’s first year of sobriety where he finds himself on the trail of a killer.
An old friend of Scudder’s, fellow AA member Jack Ellery, is found murdered. Having no friends or family, Jack’s sponsor hires Matt to look into his death by providing a copy of Jack’s eighth step, a list of individuals Jack has wronged during his life. Jack’s sponsor believes that one of the people on this list may be responsible for Jack’s untimely demise.
Lawrence Block has gone on record stating that with A Drop of the Hard Stuff, he believes he’s written his final Matt Scudder novel, but admittedly, he’s believed that on a few occasions. However, if that’s the case, you can’t blame the guy for wanting to go out on top. A Drop of the Hard Stuff is a tightly paced thriller that kept me guessing right up to the very end. **
Many of Scudder’s supporting cast members make an appearance or two. Danny Boy Bell, Jan and Jim Fader are present but series favorites Elaine and TJ are noticeably absent given that this story takes place prior to their heavy involvement in Scudder’s life. While they were missed, Scudder’s battle with booze plays a huge part in the story taking up all of Scudder’s free time outside of picking up phones and knocking on doors.
I’m sad to see Scudder go but seventeen original novels leave little room for complaining. A Drop of the Hard Stuff is a fine glass of sipping whiskey that goes down smooth.
** I read this novel on my Kindle. As you know, there’s a percentage that shows up in the lower right hand of the screen that indicates how much of the story you’ve read. Well, I had 91% left when the story finished, so the ending caught me off guard. It made sense but it seemed rather abrupt.
The remaining 9% was an excerpt from Block’s then soon-to-be-released Keller novel, Hit Me....more