I've had this book for just over a year, but I managed to forget about it for a long time once I'd put it on my bookshelves, though I've finally now gotten around to reading it.
I'd never even heard of the Wild Cards series before reading it, so I no doubt missed a lot of references to previous books, and can't really compare it to what's gone on before. I do get the impression the Wild Cards universe does contain a lot of characters and would probably take some dedication to remember what each of them can do. However, this book does seem like a good starting point to get into the series.
The first half of Inside Straight focusses more on a light-hearted Big Brother style TV show, before going onto more political issues in the middle east. Unlike many super-hero books, it shows that the heroes are not as invulnerable as the likes of Superman and presents some moral choices for the characters.
I was especially impressed with how it all fit together with different authors writing different bits of it, and apart for around the time when the TV show plot fizzles out it all flows together nicely.
The blurb on the back confused me at first as it seems to relate to the whole new series, not this book specifically. I probably will read the next book at some point, but it's not something I intend to rush out and buy.