Usually, when the villain tells the hero to prepare to die, they mean right now. But it’s points to Reaver that he has the idea to ask for a reprieve. Well, not a reprieve so much as enough time to actually prepare. And so the supervillainous Octagon grants him two weeks. Two weeks in which Reaver has a lot of work to do.
Wait, back up. Who are these comic book characters and why haven’t you heard of them?
Because they’re the leading cast members of Paul Tobin’s wildly entertaining novel Prepare to Die!. The novel is something of an insane thrill ride with a giant heart—while Reaver (real name Steve Clarke) has a lot of ass-kicking on his agenda, he’s also got a lot to atone for from his earlier life. Letting his sidekick die, for one thing. (He plans to set up a scholarship in Kid Crater’s name for that one.) And letting the girl of his dreams get away, for another. (And that one’s wholly his fault—after the accident that turned him into Reaver and granted him the ability to shorten people’s lifespan by punching them, he couldn’t exactly go home again.) And now, with two weeks before his public execution, Reaver plans to fix all of his problems, get the girl, and maybe—just maybe—save the world.
Tobin comes from the comic book world, so he knows whereof he speaks in the world of creating superheroes and supervillains. His characters are more human than anything, though—yes, they have powers, but they also have wants, needs, and all that jazz. (Something else they have? Sex, and a fair amount of it. Yep, supergroupies exist in this world, and why shouldn’t they?)
I heartily recommend Prepare to Die!—it’s a bit like Watchmen, a bit like The Count of Monte Cristo, and a lot like itself.