Reaver, a superhero with incredible strength and punching skills, has four weeks to put his affairs in order before his demise at the hands of Octagon, the world’s smartest super villain.
Prepare to Die! by Paul Tobin is about as good as superhero novels get. There’s plenty of action to go around, but you expect that from a superhero book. There’s also ample humor and sex. Lots of sex. Surprisingly, though, it’s the romance that proves to be the driving force behind the entire thing, which makes Reaver’s story fun and endearing.
Full Prepare to Die! Review
I’m a big fan of comic books. Been reading them since I was a kid. Despite the fact that most of the original ideas are coming from outside of the superhero genre, I’ll always have a soft spot in my heart for the heroes in tights. When it comes to superhero novels, however, I haven’t found a writer who can quite capture and translate that feeling I get when I read comics, that combination of adolescent angst and the desire for heroism.
Not until I read Paul Tobin that is. With Reaver, the nearly indestructible hero of Prepare to Die!, Tobin has created the quintessential superhero for the every man. A hero who saves the world, destroys the bad guy, and gets the girl. And who has lots of sex because he’s a hero. He’s exactly the hero a 14-year-old boy imagines he would be were he to get his own origin story. But Reaver also has regrets and makes mistakes, making him exactly who I’d be if I could immediately heal injuries and punch someone hard enough that he loses a year off of his life.
Early in Prepare to Die!, Reaver goes up against members of Eleventh Hour, a team of super villains. Things don’t go so well for him. Before his death, Octagon, the world’s smartest and deadliest bad guy, tells Reaver to prepare for death. Typical comic dialog. But what’s not so typical, is that Reaver says it’ll take a while to actually prepare for this death, and the two come to an agreement: Reaver has one month to put his affairs in order. After that, the villain will kill the hero.
This scene is an example of why this book works so well. Tobin takes a moment straight from the world of comics and puts his own spin on it, making it both expected and unexpected. The origin story, the fights, the man behind the mask, it all feels like an old friend, something you’ve come to appreciate and love. Just like the comics I read as a kid. At the same time, however, it’s always refreshing and new because it’s all done with a perfect balance of humor and emotion.
Emotion? In a superhero book? Surprising, perhaps, but this is the story of the common man thrust into the role of superhero, and there’s bound to be a few problems for him along the way.
In Tobin’s world of superheroes, civilians die in the crossfire, but so do the heroes and villains. But it’s not to make superheroes grow up and be serious. Instead, it feels real, in a make-believe kind of way. There’s pain here. And because Reaver is just like you and me, there’s guilt and confusion, anger and violence. And at the heart of it all is love. It’s all the more real and fun because Reaver’s an ol’ softie who just wants to see his high school girlfriend one last time before he dies.
The action, the sex, the cool gadgets the villains get to play with? All just a cover for what this book really is: a romance. Boy meets girl, falls in love, and thanks to a freak accident involving a tanker truck filled with chemicals, things don’t work out for them the way they should. So he goes on a mission to see if he can right that wrong.
That’s what sets Prepare to Die! apart. There’s action and sex (a crazy amount of action and sex), but it’s still a love story. A damn good love story. Highly Recommended.