SEX, VIOLENCE, AND SUPERPOWERS
Note: The following review goes into detail about the comic. SPOILER ALERT!
Death Sentence Vol. 1 is the debut effort by cover artist and writer Montynero, with Mike Dowling handling the pages and colors. With an all new concept and story, Death Sentence is a mature breath of fresh air into comics, making it a debut effort that shouldn’t be looked past by any reader. The story itself revolves around three characters placed in the United Kingdom: Verity, Weasel, and Monty. Although leading different lives, their paths are set to meet with disruption when their vitality has been given an expiration date after they’ve contracted the sexually transmitted infection, the G+ virus. The G+ virus gives each of them a mere six months to live, but contrarily allows them to develop superpowers and hone in their individual strength, whilst unlocking unknown potential.
Verity, the lead female character, is a struggling artist who has brushed her dreams of fame and creativity aside in favor of a regular graphic design job. Out of the three main characters, she has the hardest time coping with life and self-discovery post-contraction. Weasel is a strung-out punk rock icon of sorts, who is on the downside of his career, seeing the disease as a chance to make a lasting impression on the music industry while at the same time being hounded by his less-than-impressed label. Monty is a self-made icon in the public media, and a comedian known for his brashness and sexual deviancy, who we quickly see become the antagonist as he unlocks his powers.
Monty is quickest to adapt to his newfound powers, using his established natural ability to lure and coerce to a much greater level that includes mind control. Using these abilities in the darkest of manners, he is able to have a quick rise to the top of authority while damaging others along the way. Conversely, Verity and Weasel have much less control over their powers, and for the majority of the issue, struggle to use them in an agentic manner, until they are taken under watch at The Island where they are given drugs and creative outlets that set them up with an eventual face off against the all-powerful Monty to set up a galvanizing conclusion.
In terms of the story line and scripting, the narrative and pacing that Montynero puts into motion in Death Sentence is executed skillfully, with there being an acute absence of any dull moments or frivolous text that hold up the story. Mike Dowling’s debut as a lead artist is also highly commendable. Bringing visual life to the characters and creating scenes that were both gritty and colorful was handled brilliantly from an illustrative and colorist perspective.
Packaged in with the trade, there is an additional 23 pages that feature commentary that breaks down each page, something that was not available during the initial 6-issue run of the series. This commentary allows for a bit of insight into the genius of the Montynero and Mike Dowling, and the process in which goes into creating a debut comic as well as additional insight as to what was happening in the story. This is something that is sure to appeal to both those who have an interest in the creative process and individuals who crave more story.
With sharp dialogue and expressive illustrations, Death Sentence Vol. 1 is a fun, fast, uncompromising ride that keeps the reader craving more. The balance between sex, violence, and superpowers make for some ridiculous moments that push the envelope in the narrative and illustrations. The additional commentary that is included with the trade paired with the 6-issue run makes this piece a definite pickup for anyone interested in comics, looking for a place to start, or wants something new to read. Whether or not we see Death Sentence continue on in the future, Vol. 1 has been an excellent collective effort that leaves me optimistic toward the future work of Montynero and Mike Dowling.
Have you gotten a chance to check out ‘Death Sentence’ yet? If not, are you dying to check it out? Let us know in the comments below.
*This review of Death Sentence Vol. 1 is based on a physical copy of the graphic novel provided by Titan Comics.
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