(Jeremy Renner needs to play Repairman Jack)
I have a confession to make. I'm cheating on my collection of sci-fi and fantasy novels.
My brother introduced me to Repairman Jack back in March. He'd been going on for years about how I would really like him but I have such a vast pile of books to read that I never listened to him. But then, I had the awesome chance to meet the creator of this fictional fix-it man at C2E2 - F. Paul Wilson. I figured 'dI better read The Tomb so I didn't seem like a complete tool when I asked him to autograph a book for my brother.
My plan was to read the first Repairman Jack book and be done with it. I'm more of a fantasy and young adult oriented reader. I didn't think I had the time or interest for 15 books about vigilante justice. And I was completely wrong.
He flies way under the legal radar, taking pains to make himself as invisible as possible. He doesn't have a single license, social security number, or credit card in his own name. He doesn't work for free, and he only works for just causes. He doesn't kill people unless he has to.
Jack is like the Punisher, but with a narrower scope of anger and hatred. He won't shoot you in the face for running a red light, but piss him off, and your unmaimed days are probably numbered.
So yeah, this is way cool. The Punisher is one of my favorite comic book characters. I find the idea of street justice really appealing. I can't even tell you how many times I've felt the need to punch people in the mouth for saying something ignorant, or how often I think about lying to the liars and cheating the cheaters.
What takes Jack from cool to awesome is the supernatural element running throughout the series. When we first meet Jack in The Tomb, he's been hired for two jobs: first, find and return a stolen necklace, and second, find an old lady who just up and vanished. Of course these two fix-it jobs end up being related, ending in a showdown with evil incarnate. Jack is forever marked by the experience - figuratively and literally. He continues to take fix-it jobs, but continuously runs into various agents of evil in each book, known in the series as the Otherness. Repairman Jack is what would happen if the Punisher wandered into the land of Mulder and Scully.
However, Repairman Jack was originally intended as a one off character. While The Tomb is the first Repairman Jack book, it's the second book in Wilson's Adversary Cycle. I actually don't have a whole lot to say about the Adversary Cycle because I haven't yet read the first book - The Keep. My plan is to finish all 15 Repairman Jack books and then go back and start the Adversary Cycle. From what I understand, this doesn't hurt the reading experience.
I find Jack's growth as a character interesting. There are 14 years between the first book and the second, Legacies. I'm talking 14 real years - not 14 years in the life of Jack. I'm only on the 7th book (Gateways) but I've come to appreciate Jack as a character so much that tearing myself away from his story to read all of Wilson's books in chronological order has been impossible.
Jack has an unwavering moral compass and I love that. I also love his addiction to bad horror movies (because I totally didn't marry someone with the same addiction) and fascinations with all things kitsch (again, I didn't marry anyone remotely resembling this). Wilson is a great writer because Jack is more than his job - he comes across as a real person.
And Jack isn't the only relatable character in the series. Other regulars include Jack's heart attack-waiting-to-happen best friend, Abe (complete with blue parakeet, Parabellum), and his girlfriend Gia and her daughter Vicky. Abe, Gia, and Vicky all contribute greatly to the appeal of Jack, but they're their own people as well. Too often, I find a main character's love interest just that - a love interest. But Gia is her own entity and when we first meet her, she's dumped Jack. In fact, she's still not too happy with Jack's line of work, but she grudgingly accepts what he does if it means keeping Vicky safe (and often it does, because sometimes Jack does some dumb shit things to put Gia and Vicky in danger).
Wilson's one off side characters are also well written and there are a few that I hope to see again, especially the psychic medium Kenton brothers from The Haunted Air, and Anya and her chihuahua Oyv from Gateways. I haven't finished Gateways yet, so Anya might be dead - I don't know. But I just read the part where Oyv ate his way out of a motherfucking alligator. A chihuahua ate his goddamn way out of an alligator's stomach! That is so badass. You should all read the books for that scene alone.
I'm completely enamored with Repairman Jack and can't decide if I want to date him or be him. I'm really excited to see where this series goes and how it all ties into the Adversary Cycle. Speaking of, the finale to the Adversary Cycle, Nightworld, has just hit book stores. If I wasn't so far behind with Wilson's work, I'd be reading it right now. For all things Repairman Jack, including Wilson's time table for the Secret History of the World, check out www.repairmanjack.com.