Getting older is inevitable. Getting older means gathering experience and wisdom, but physically it also means gathering some wear and tear on the body. It can be shocking to discover that the activities you once took for granted are now done with a great degree of difficulty, if they can still be done at all. Now imagine you spend most of your life fighting villains and jumping out of moving vehicles. That’s the situation facing Simon Cross, America’s answer to James Bond, in what’s billed as his final adventure, Too Dead to Die: A Simon Cross Thriller, written by Marc Guggenheim and illustrated by Howard Chaykin.
Simon Cross was once America’s greatest super-spy, making a habit of both saving the world and having trysts with the various women he encountered. During one of these trysts, he apparently fathered a daughter, a scientist with a new method to combat climate change. But this new technology can also destroy the world, and when a nefarious organization targets his daughter, Simon must come out of retirement to save his daughter and the world.
People familiar with James Bond will be familiar with all the tropes that pop up in Cross’s adventure, and though Simon is a bit older, he is still more than willing to leap into dangerous situations with guns blazing, dry humor sharpened, and fists ready to fly. Many people remark that Cross just isn’t as young as he used to be, and actually demonstrating awareness of this fact slightly elevated this book above mere action adventure, almost becoming a meditation about people getting older and watching the world pass them by. The world where Simon once fought evil has lost its flavor for two-fisted, promiscuous protagonists, but when his daughter is in danger, it gives him the impetus for, as the book blurb says, one “final adventure.”
And this, billed as his “final adventure,” illustrated by Chaykin, doesn’t skimp on the action or explosions. There are plenty of panels to accurately show the scale of Cross’s daring, even superhuman feats, from the size of the explosions he’s narrowly escaping to his distance from the ground as he jumps from a massive plane into open space. Much of the book seems to be an homage to the ‘80s action genre, when all you needed to create an edge-of-your-seat thrill ride was guns, explosions, and a square-jawed action hero willing to run from said explosions. In that regard, Chaykin’s art doesn’t disappoint.
Librarians might consider getting this for their collection for its value as an action-adventure thriller. This trade paperback includes some comic stories and even some short stories of his earlier spy adventures to show who Cross was, in contrast with the main story that gives some surprising depth to a character who mostly quips and fights his way out of situations.
Too Dead to Die: A Simon Cross Thriller
By Marc Guggenheim
Art by Howard Chaykin
Publisher Age Rating: 16 years and up
NFNT Age Recommendation: Adult (18+), Older Teen (16-18)