By MontyNero (writer) and Mike Dowling (artist)
Publisher: Titan Comics
On Sale: 22nd July 2014
The Book: SEX, SUPERPOWERS AND SIX MONTHS TO LIVE! Verity: frustrated artist. Weasel: struggling guitarist. Monty: rogue media icon. Three people infected with the G+ virus, which grants them incredible powers – but which will kill them in six months! Will they fade away – or go out in a blaze of glory?
From the streets of London to the North Atlantic, from muses lost to futures thrown away – Death Sentence is the jaw-dropping next step in superpowered storytelling! Funny, fearless and frightening, this collection of the hit series is an unforgettable comics debut.
The Review: Titan Comics have pulled out all stops with their collection of one of their first hit series, not only re-presenting this adult-oriented tale of genetically enhanced but terminally ill humans in a terrific hardback, but including an intriguing creator commentary that offers some insight into the inner workings of the story, and hints of things to come when the series returns at an as-yet unannounced date.
Death Sentence is a black, bleak but insightful look at the human condition and the impermanence of us all, great or small. It plunders stories pulled from our very British obsessions, such as a love of bizarre larger than life characters, particularly some in the deeply flawed music industry; and features some glorious homage to past TV greats, such as The Avengers.
It is not aimed at the younger reader, given its extreme violence and sexual themes.
The G+ virus that gives its victims great powers and the ’death sentence’ of some six months to live is the crux of this often amoral tale which, despite the widespread nature of the sexual plague, focuses on just three disparate characters who respond to their condition in different ways, but find their paths inexorably intertwined. It’s an intriguing virus in itself, possibly artificially created in an attempt to give Britain some kind of superhuman army (or a bio-weapon to spread destruction within an enemy population, perhaps). And yet, from some very subtle dialogue choices (and MontyNero’s dialogue is very well written, so perhaps the inference might just be deliberate), there are hints in some of the the final statements of antagonist, mind warping, Queen and Prime Minister killing Monty, that the virus may be more than just that… That something is re-shaping those infected with a life of its own.
Accompanied by Mike Dowling’s fast developing, gritty art is a tale of loves betrayed, horror, black comedy and, for some, redemption of sorts as this first Death Sentence story introduced an intriguing premise, background and initial characters, the A story primarily character Monty’s fast-moving takeover of London using his mind control powers.
Given that the G+ infected only live for six months, you have to wonder just why the US responds to character Monty in such force, rather than simply wait a while and let him irreparably destroy a potential economic rival power before stepping in to deal with the mess (after all, that’s been the basis of US foreign policy for much of the past 100 years). But that the US does react as it does, suggesting it might have had already had to deal with its own G+ troubles, provides a suitably Armageddon-styled finale to a story that has garnered huge and for the most part, well deserved praise.
For my money. MontyNero’s characters and plot are well realized and Mike Dowling’s art brilliantly executed, and Death Sentence offers a dark, savagely funny take on what it means to be human… Or, indeed superhuman.
While I’m dubious about some scenes – the brutal killing of the Royal Family, for example, and the villainous Monty’s controlled sexual adventures – Death Sentence clearly sets out to challenge your thinking and achieves that with aplomb. So while there do seem to be sequences more intended as black humour rather than for any real advancement of the story, it is a strong story, well told and deserving the fine treatment Titan Comics have given it with this collection.
• Death Sentence is on sale from 22nd July 2014
• Monty Nero’s Blog: montycomics.blogspot.co.uk
• Mike Dowling: www.mikedowling.info
“Death Sentence is one of the truest representations of superpowers appearing overnight. What I realized after absorbing all six issues, and the bevy of extras like a Q&A with the team dissecting pivotal moments, was that Death Sentence was going to transcend death to also unveil the meaning of life. Mission accomplished, gents.”
• Brian Cronin, Comics Should Be Good, Comic Book Resources
“The characters are well-developed and lively and Dowling’s design work is impressive – his art has a great, Sean Phillips-esque feel to it. I’m fascinated to see where they go. ”
“This story is full of twists and turns…”
• Danica Davidson, CNN, Los Angeles Times
“An edgy, moody feel, with plenty of mystery and fear in the air. The premise and unique characters are intriguing.”
“If you’re looking for a more adult take on superheroes, then the collection is definitely worth checking out. It’s like X-Men meets The Dallas Buyers Club, except on crack.”
“It’s a brilliantly original concept, and a features an incredibly smart script by Montynero, highlighted by fantastic character work and strong dialog. Mike Dowling has a great grasp of what colors work best in a scene, and how to use light sources to the best effect. The characters he draws for this story are all fully realized and seem to have their own personalities, which just jump out of the page. ”
“The story is very interesting, and the art is pretty cool. If you are in the market for something different than your typical super hero book then pick this one up. Just be warned that this is a very adult oriented book so don’t be surprised by the amount of sex, nudity, and graphic violence in it.”
“Death Sentence is fast paced, brilliantly funny and completely unique. It looks great and really is great fun to read. There are so many graphic novels being released at the moment it can be really hard to know what new ones to try but this is a must read. I hear on the grapevine that there’s more to come from Death Sentence in the future and I can’t wait!”
“Having three disparate stars could potentially make for a jumbled mess of a story, but here the storylines are beautifully intertwined and the plot flows with a fast-moving pace that’ll hook you into reading all six issues from cover to cover in a single sitting.”
A copy of Death Sentence was provided by Titan Comics for review purposes