The crowdfunder for Death Sentence Liberty #6 by Monty Nero and Martin Simmonds launches this Friday, 1st July, a 28-page comic with two variant covers, the final part in a story begun in Death Sentence London #1, twelve issues ago.
Written by Monty Nero, this 12 issue arc features nine issues of fully painted art by Martin Simmonds (Image, Marvel, Vault), and three issues with art by Monty himself. (Marvel, DC, Titan).
For those coming late to this incredible tale, every issue of Death Sentence Liberty and Death Sentence London by Monty Nero and Martin Simmonds, and Death Sentence by Monty Nero and Mike Dowling, is available in this latest Kickstarter campaign, making 476 pages of story in total. That’s three critically acclaimed books, of six issues each, which can be read in isolation or as one whole.
The timely story tells of a deadly viral pandemic spread through sexual activity, and the government’s frantic efforts to lockdown the country and halt its deadly spread. Can those affected, like Verity, Roots, and Jeb, evade capture long enough to fulfill their life’s ambitions before dying?
Death Sentence Liberty explores themes of creative freedom vs public responsibility, self-expression and government hypocrisy, and is eerily reminiscent of the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown. It’s been described as “a masterwork” by Popmatters, “The best British comic in years” by Buzzfeed, “dazzling & wit-ridden” by Page 45 and “An outrageous, gritty and grounded hit” by The Hollywood Reporter.
Events reach an explosive finale in Death Sentence Liberty 6 as series co-creator and writer/artist Monty Nero here, along with pages from the new issue…
So, what is Death Sentence Liberty about?
It’s about a sexually transmitted virus that gives you superpowers but six months to live. So you’ve just got a short while to figure out what to do in that time. It’s tense and dramatic, with a lot of black comedy. At this point, a lot of new characters are involved in a climactic battle between the government and the oppressed masses. It’s a widescreen finale, where everything is resolved. And for the first time you can pick up the entire story, not just the final issue, and see these characters from their introduction to their final destiny.
Tell us about the new characters. They’re the ones dressed in gold, I take it?
Yes, The Young Praetorians. So far we’ve just seen mavericks and rebels, but this is a government group trying to keep order. They’re upper-class with a sense of style and sophistication, keen to help out their country in the time they’ve got left. So they’re in direct opposition to the other characters, Verity and Roots, who are running riot.
The Young Praetorians are led by Zuzu and Cosmo, who are a louche couple of aristocrats with a hedonistic attitude. Zuzu is a singer, alluring and persuasive, whereas Cosmo is a businessman looking to protect his own interests. And they’re joined by Glyph, who’s a double amputee who speaks purely in emoji’s. Except the emoji’s are superpowered, so the fire symbol sets fire to things and so on. It’s pretty cool, visually. It’s something I’ve not seen done before.
The superpowered emoji’s or the double amputee?
Well, we’ve occasionally seen amputees in superpowered comics before, but they tend to be given prosthetic legs or wheelchairs. But why do that if you can fly? I discussed all this with a pal of mine who has a prosthetic leg, well, a few prosthetic legs for different situations. And what a lot of people don’t realise is prosthetics are great but often leave you tired and sore. So the thought of being able to fly, and move so effortlessly and swifty when you’ve got nothing below the knee, is exciting.
Plus, Glyph’s emoji’s are visually interesting and a fresh take on superpowers. I’m always trying to approach things from a new angle.
What about the other characters?
Verity, from Book 1, is the main character, but her art powers have become so dangerous that she’s been imprisoned deep beneath the Alaskan tundra and has to escape. That leaves Roots in London, she’s a cross between Swamp Thing and Spider-man. And Jeb, our undercover agent, he’s just discovered something life-changing and has to deal with that in this issue. Everything coalesces in issue 6, thematically and dramatically.
There are quite a few parallels between recent events, with COVID-19 and so on. Was that deliberate?
It’s freaky how much the series has predicted: The pandemic virus, the lockdown, Boris becoming PM and failing us with his hypocrisy and incompetence. That was fairly easy to guess if you research his past behavior as thoroughly as I did. I basically wrote it all down four years before it happened.
I used the superpowers angle to exaggerate and satirise, but it turns out I didn’t go far enough. Aspects of the government response to COVID-19 were far more horrific and shameless than I imagined, as were elements of the public response. So satire became fact, in a terrifying way.
What’s next for the series?
Well, endings make for new beginnings. We’re doing something a bit different next – a noir thriller. That’s really stoking my creative fires right now, and it’ll be unveiled at the end of the year. Until then I’m focussed on really sticking the ending on issue #6, which has been years in the making.
Death Sentence was co-created by Monty Nero and Mike Dowling.