Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Too Dead to Die, Graphic Novel

Simon Cross is a prime example of unrepentant “toxic masculinity.” He has also saved the world several times over. You have to have a swaggering attitude and a willingness to fight and kill to get the job done. Like Bond, he also enjoyed his time with the ladies. His time has passed. Now the espionage game is played by a more modern breed of spy, but when the world needs saving again, the retired Cross will have to do it in Marc Guggenheim’s graphic novel, Too Dead to Die, illustrated by Howard Chaykin, which goes on-sale today.

Cross is rather disappointed in the current state of the world, considering all the megalomaniacal villains he killed to protect it. Honestly, he does not even remember Liberty Nuance, one of his former conquests when she comes to tell him something important. However, he starts paying attention when a sniper kills her through his window. She just barely manages to tell him the daughter he never knew they had is in danger.

Immediately reverting to his old ways, Cross detects signs of the involvement of his late but not lamented nemesis Baron von Tsuma’s old Spectre-like group. After Cross dropped him into a fiery volcano, the organization “rebranded” itself as an international environmental science conglomerate. Cross’s daughter Lily Nuance works for them. She has developed a radical scheme that could completely halt the global warming process. The danger is not that Northshire Holdings will not pursue her proposal—it is the certainty that they will—at the cost of billions of lives.

It is extraordinarily bold of Image Comics to publish
Too Dead to Die, given the way it portrays the mindset surrounding climate change issues. Yet, there is a good point in there about applying cold, hard cost-benefit analyses to climate policies, exactly like the Paris Accords. Regardless, the graphic novel never gets bogged down in such dreary controversies. It is an unapologetic romp, in the spirit of Bond-followers like The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and Our Man Flynn.

Yet, Guggenheim forces his larger-than-life hero to take stock of his life and choices in rather thoughtful ways. The mere existence of his daughter is dose of reality James Bond never had to face. Frankly, Guggenheim and Chaykin do a better job modernizing their James Bond-like character than the woke signaling coming from the current custodians of the Bond franchise—so maybe Hollywood should start making Simon Cross films instead of potentially unrecognizable Bond reboots.

Chaykin’s flashy, splashy art perfectly suits the graphic novel’s rock’em-sock’em action. It is a lot of fun, because it stays true to its roots, even while acknowledging the inevitable passage of time. Recommended for all fans of super-spy affairs,
Too Dead to Die is now on-sale where books and comics are sold.