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Death Sentence


Death Sentence

DEATH SENTENCE is raw and gritty. The art is jagged, the characters broken and the story insane. And yet somehow it all works, coming together to create a surprisingly fresh and awesome miniseries.

In the world of DEATH SENTENCE, there is a new STD going around called the G+ virus. Those who are infected with it have six months to live --- and they get superpowers, too. For most, there is increased speed, strength and mental capacity, leading to super athletes and amazing artists. But for some, they develop actual superpowers.

"Imagine if the X-Men got drunk, took drugs, had sex, and then went to go fight crime at a Ramones concert.... DEATH SENTENCE is an awesome read for anyone who likes to see the superhero genre twisted around."

The three main characters are such people. There’s Verity, the struggling artist; Weasel, the washed-up punk rocker; and Monty, the stand-up comedian who is so very obviously supposed to be Russell Brand.

The book is the collection of the six individual issues in the storyline. In addition to the story, there are about 30 pages at the back of the book in which the creators, writer Monty Nero and artist Mike Dowling, talk about their creative process, breaking down all the sections of all six chapters. It’s a nice addition for those readers who are interested in that sort of thing.

The characters, for the most part, are believable and nuanced. Weasel may be a drug-addled rocker, but you feel bad for him when he’s no longer allowed to see his son. The book takes time to show you why each of the characters are screwed up, each in their unique way.

While the characters are solid, the archetypes might seem like something of a retread at first glance: 20-something artists and creative types with varying degrees of fame. Yes, they’ve all been done before. But never quite like this.

The book is gritty. Mike Dowling’s art is somewhat stilted, but not in a bad way. It lends itself well to the glorified acid trip that is DEATH SENTENCE. And this book is most definitely a trip. Things get very crazy, very fast. It’s a frenetic story that ends in a place much different than would be expected from the beginning.

Nero’s characterization is fantastic. It’s fascinating to follow these people who have found out that they are going to die in six months, but also then have to grapple with newfound abilities. Weasel learns he can phase through solid matter, but soon learns it’s as much a curse as a gift. Monty uses his mind control powers to, among other things, have sex with a nun.

Speaking of sex, there’s a lot of it. DEATH SENTENCE is a guidance counselor’s nightmare --- it’s all sex, drugs and rock n’ roll. It’s definitely not a superhero story for kids, not that it’s really a superhero story at all. Every chapter starts with the issue’s cover art, which invariably shows Verity wearing less and less clothing as the series progresses. Once Weasel runs out of hookers, he finds a large supply of crack. And Monty does some of his best thinking mid-coitus.

The story does more than just show the three main characters grappling with their mortality and superpowers. It also shows how governments are reacting to the new virus, which could potentially wipe out all of humanity. What do you do when segments of your population become superhuman before their death? Everyone wants to leave a legacy behind, and these people have the means to do it --- sometimes violently.

It’s hard to say what genre DEATH SENTENCE really falls into. Imagine if the X-Men got drunk, took drugs, had sex, and then went to go fight crime at a Ramones concert, and you might be able to start picturing what the book is like.

DEATH SENTENCE is an awesome read for anyone who likes to see the superhero genre twisted around. It’s a new and refreshing take on the “people suddenly getting superpowers” trope --- with lots and lots of sex and drugs.

Reviewed by Alex Costello on August 29, 2014

Death Sentence
by Monty Nero and Mike Dowling

  • Publication Date: July 22, 2014
  • Genres: Fantasy, Graphic Novel, Humor
  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Titan Comics
  • ISBN-10: 1782760083
  • ISBN-13: 9781782760085