There are many common literary themes touched upon in this book. Can true love stand the test of time, despite years of absence? How much do our experiences change us from who we were? Can you go home again? How do you survive, alone, against the worst super-villain team ever assembled? Okay that last one isn’t exactly common, but it should be. Prepare to Die! by Paul Tobin was published in 2012 at 309 pages long. Most of you should know Tobin from his comic book work, including a fantastic run on multiple titles in the Marvel Adventures all-ages line. This book is far from all-ages and deals with a lot of adult situations in a straight-forward, refreshing, and enjoyable way.
Nine years ago, Steve Clarke was exposed to the standard vat of chemicals, as can typically happen. After several months in a coma, he awakens with superpowers eventually becoming Reaver, one of the premier superheroes of the world; with superstrength, an impressive healing factor, superhuman speed, and a punch that can literally take a year off your life. This is the story of his final two weeks; a brief reprieve to settle his affairs before the supervillains of the world come to kill him. How does one prepare to die? In Reaver’s case it’s a short bucket list with the primary goal of returning to his childhood home and finally seeing the girl he left behind a decade ago.
There is a lot going on in this book. It’s a deconstruction of the superhero ideal. It’s a love story. It’s an examination on the loss of innocence and a nostalgic return to the childhood home. All explored in insightful, extremely descriptive, wonderfully written prose. In the midst of constant flashbacks, we explore Reaver’s return to his home town, one he hasn’t seen, for safety reasons, since he awoke from his coma. We see his history with Adele, his childhood sweetheart, and how they attempt to reconnect. I don’t want to give too much away about the plot because most of the enjoyment from this read comes through the pacing and the way in which Tobin hits each storybeat and plot point with a flawlessness that borders on perfection. Don’t be put off by the idea that this is simply a love story, there is a lot of humor, action, and sex as well. Teenage sex, adult sex, supervillain sex, lesbian sex, like I said NOT an all-ages book. Reaver was a kid when he got his abilities, in a world just discovering that superpowers are possible and very real. What do you think would happen? He’s an instant celebrity with the ability to rip your head off, it’s about what you’d expect: lots of sex and lots of death, and Tobin explores it all masterfully, both the fantastic and the ordinary while keeping it all very human.
I’ve already mentioned a lot of what this book has to offer and I’ve barely scratched the surface. There’s also his relationship with his best friend, Paladin, and his brother who were also hit with the same vat of chemicals. The laundry list of supervillains with all of their crazy scary powers, all of whom are coming to kill him. The examination of what it really means to be superhuman in a regular world, and even how good and evil are relative concepts depending on your viewpoint. The debate on whether it’s better to have a secret identity or not. Even the surprise “twist” ending, so much to mention. A compelling insightful deconstruction of the superhero genre including a host of ideas and themes all handled beautifully, with lots of punches and handjobs. What’s not to like?
Rating: 5 stars – Andrew LOVED it.
Andrew McBride is the newest THN Love Slave. This is his second report; the beatings will continue until morale improves.