A big welcome to Nicholas Kaufmann who is here counting down his Top 10 Immortal Heroes and celebrating the release of Dying Is My Business, (published on October 8, 2013 by St. Martin’s Griffin). Want to win a copy? Enter via the widget below.
Nicholas Kaufmann’s Top 10 Immortal Heroes
I love All Things Urban Fantasy! It’s one of my favorite book sites on the Web. I’m especially fond of the Cover Art Coverage feature, because as much as I love seeing beautiful book covers, I love seeing bad book covers, too. And there have been some doozies! But I digress. Because I love ATUF so much, I was thrilled when they asked me to write a Top 10 list in conjunction with the release of my new novel, Dying Is My Business.
Dying Is My Business is a hardboiled urban fantasy-noir about Trent, a thief for a Brooklyn crime syndicate. As if life working for a psycho crime boss with a penchant for torture isn’t bad enough, Trent has two very big problems. The first is that he doesn’t know who he is, where he came from, or even his real name. His memories only go back a year. The second problem is even worse. Trent discovers the hard way that he can’t die. Or rather, he can’t stay dead. Every time he’s killed on the job—which is often—he comes back to life a few minutes later, fully healed. While that may not seem like much of a problem, it comes with one hell of a catch. Every times Trent cheats death, someone else must die in his place.
But Trent is hardly the first undying hero. There have been plenty of others before him. So, without further ado, I give you my Top 10 list of immortal, or seemingly immortal, heroes.
James “Logan” Howlett, a.k.a. Wolverine, is a member of the X-Men, a superhero team comprised of mutants. Sure he’s got mean-looking adamantium claws, but his mutant power is actually an accelerated healing process, one so powerful that he has successfully bounced back from everything from a bullet wound to an atomic explosion. His healing ability is so strong that even his cells are in a constant state of regeneration, meaning old age isn’t something he ever has to worry about. In fact, it was recently revealed that Wolverine was born in the late 1880s, making him over 125 years old!
Corwin is a Prince of Amber, the magical realm that is the one true world (even Earth is just one of its shadows) in Roger Zelazny’s series, The Chronicles of Amber. In the first book, Nine Princes in Amber, Corwin awakens in a hospital after a car crash, unaware of his identity or his miraculous ability to heal from almost any wound. It’s only when his body starts to heal itself at an unusually fast rate that he realizes he’s something more than human, and something more than mortal.
An immortal champion of the ancient forces of the Ally, Glaeken first appears in F. Paul Wilson’s novel, The Keep. His sworn enemy is Rasalom, an ancient sorcerer who, like Glaeken, hails from the “First Age” of humans. Because Rasalom serves the Other and feeds off of sorrow and despair, Glaeken built the keep as the sorcerer’s eternal prison. Things don’t go quite as planned. Glaeken and Rasalom are linked by destiny and would later face off again in the Wilson’s novel Nightworld.
Captain Jack Harkness
Jack, a conman and former Time Agent from the 51st Century, quickly became one of the most popular characters to emerge from the revamped Doctor Who. He appeared on the program a handful of times before finally getting his own spinoff, Torchwood. But of the many things that make Jack such an interesting character, perhaps the most interesting of all is that he is immortal. After being killed by a Dalek, he was resurrected by his friend Rose Tyler when she momentarily possessed an unbound cosmic power. But Jack didn’t just come back from the dead. Now he can’t be killed at all.
When Alan Moore took over as writer for DC’s Swamp Thing comic in the early 1980s, he radically altered the character’s backstory. Swamp Thing was no longer the scientist Alec Holland transformed into the plant creature by a chemical explosion at his swampland laboratory. Instead, Moore reinvented Swamp Thing as an immortal elemental entity, one who had absorbed the dead Alec Holland’s memories and for a time believed himself to be Holland. But once Swamp Thing accepted the truth and said goodbye to the person he mistakenly thought he was, his adventures opened up on a timeless and cosmic scale, revealing that Swamp Thing has actually had many incarnations going back to the dawn of time.
Poor Larry Talbot is the doomed, lycanthropic hero of the classic horror film The Wolf Man. At the end of that film, he is killed by his own father, courtesy of a silver-handled walking stick, and released from his tragic curse. But Talbot isn’t allowed to rest in peace. Two years later, the double-sequel Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man opens with Talbot’s tomb being opened by grave robbers. The full moon shines down on his dead face and BOOM, Talbot’s back for a bite! What makes him a hero instead of a villain is that he’s always looking for a cure for his lycanthropy. He doesn’t want to hurt anyone. And though he supposedly perishes once more at the end of Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man, Talbot and his hairy alter ego would actually be revived three more times, in House of Frankenstein, House of Dracula, and Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein.
Guess what? In Middle-earth, wizards aren’t human! That’s right, they might look human, but they’re actually their own race. They age very, very slowly, and they’re immortal, though their physical bodies can be destroyed by violence, such as, say, riding an angry Balrog all the way down a bottomless pit. But with a little help from a higher authority, even a technically dead wizard can come back, and with a nice new white robe, too!
The question of whether Superman is immortal has been debated by comic book fans for decades. The theory is that Superman will never age or die as long as he has access to our yellow sun. The opposing viewpoint says Superman isn’t immortal per se, he’s just aging very, very slowly thanks to his superpowers, much like Wolverine. Possibly disproving both theories is the fact that Clark Kent grew up. If Superman can’t age, or ages very slowly, why isn’t he still the baby Ma and Pa Kent found in a corn field? The debate rages on. But all you really need to know is this: When Doomsday killed Superman, he didn’t stay dead very long. Whatever the reason for it, Superman appears to be immortal, borne out by the fact that in the comics he’s still alive in the 853rd century!
A 1200-year-old Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey, the Doctor once said of his race, “We can live forever, barring accidents.” While that’s not entirely true, Time Lords do have a rather ingenious way of cheating death. When they’re dying, their bodies undergo a radical regeneration, altering their physical form into an entirely new one. Some, like the Doctor’s Time Lady friend Romana, are able to choose what they look like. Others, like the Doctor himself, are stuck with whatever they get. (Though so far, he’s been pretty lucky in the looks department.) It’s clear the Doctor can still die if he’s killed so quickly that his body doesn’t have time to regenerate, but he’s essentially immortal. So is his TV show, Doctor Who, which has been airing, on and off, for 50 years now.
The Highlander. There can be only one. Plus four sequels, two live action TV shows, an animated TV series, two animated movies, several novels, a comic book series, an audio series, and a proposed reboot. Talk about immortality!
Nicholas Kaufmann is the critically acclaimed author of numerous books, including the Bram Stoker Award-nominated General Slocum’s Gold, the International Thriller Writers Award-nominated and Shirley Jackson Award-nominated Chasing the Dragon, Still Life: Nine Stories, and Dying Is My Business. His short fiction has appeared in numerous anthologies and magazines. He and his wife live in Brooklyn, NY.
One copy of Dying Is My Business by Nicholas Kaufmann
Available on October 8, 2013 by St. Martin’s Griffin
Given his line of work in the employ of a psychotic Brooklyn crime boss, Trent finds himself on the wrong end of too many bullets. Yet each time he’s killed, he wakes a few minutes later completely healed of his wounds but with no memory of his past identity. What’s worse, each time he cheats death someone else dies in his place.
Sent to steal an antique box from some squatters in an abandoned warehouse near the West Side Highway, Trent soon finds himself stumbling into an age-old struggle between the forces of good and evil, revealing a secret world where dangerous magic turns people into inhuman monstrosities, where impossible creatures hide in plain sight, and where the line between the living and the dead is never quite clear. And when the mysterious box is opened, he discovers he has only twenty-four hours to save New York City from certain destruction.
Read an excerpt
Enter the giveaway via the widget below – Open to U.S./Canada only
Interested in being a guest on All Things Urban Fantasy? Fill out our Guest Request Form