08th Jul2014

Graphic Novel Review: ‘Death Sentence: Volume 1’

by Paul Metcalf

Written by Monty Nero | Art by Mike Dowling | Published by Titan Comics | Format: Hardcover, 192pp


Fantasy comics can take you anywhere they choose to. Many like to keep you in a realm that has a touch of realism while some take you to other planets where anything is possible. Death Sentence: Volume 1 is something of a battering ram to the senses, taking the serious subject of a fatal sexually transmitted disease and turning it into a tale of super powers and redemption where the crazy is turned up to eleven.

When people catch the G+ virus they are given six months to live. This is the bad news that Verity, Weasel and Monty find themselves receiving when they test positive. Verity the frustrated artist, Weasel the struggling guitarist and Monty the rogue media icon all feel they have wasted their lives and when they feel the finality of the virus they realise what they have wasted. G+ just doesn’t kill people though, it gives them special powers and super charges their artistic potential. While Verity and Weasel find themselves captured by a secret government organisation who teach them to control their new abilities, Monty uses his new-found potential to take on the world.

When saying take over the world, the first place he conquers is the United Kingdom. With both extreme violence and refreshing originality Monty’s new found powers release his pent-up need to be the centre of attention and he soon reigns supreme. What about the government and monarchy? They don’t matter and you’ll see why on the page, but the obvious outcomes of his actions make the country a no go area and the rest of the world go to war again Monty. The only people who hold the key to his defeat though are Verity and Weasel.

While Monty is the irredeemable character Verity and Weasel are the ones who look for redemption and actually have reasons to do what they see as morally good. I see them as anti-heroes in a way because it’s not that they are nice characters, their actions have landed them with the virus in a way you could argue is karma, though in their redemption it would be nice to see them find a cure, or at least a way to stay alive, especially for Verity. It’s not that the two are evil characters, they just aren’t that nice, so perfect anti-heroes.

If the story for Death Sentence is crazy, the artwork definitely fits the words that has led to its creation, and this is very much an adult graphic novel. With plenty of sex, exploding heads and even more destruction Death Sentence pushes to the extreme and then tries to go that step further.  It’s fun, brash and sexy which is no surprise when you see that Monty Nero and Mike Dowling have a history of working with 2000AD, who are known for their creative and extreme styled comic books.

If Death Sentence looks to carry a message it is to promote the artistic nature of people who hold it back. The fact that the G+ virus kills, yet awakens artistic impression says that when all else is lost what you are left with is your talent because that is free, let it reign and let it out. This artistic call oozes onto the page, where the world of the non-infected is dark coloured where the infected are full of colour, especially when they use their powers. Art is colourful, the real world is generally just a bore.

Death Sentence: Volume 1 brings together the first six chapters of the comic books and hits the ground running in terms of catching the reader’s attention. Brash, sexy and unashamed there is an explicit nature to what we see on the page, but as long as it fits your taste for anarchy the pure craziness is addictive and leaves you waiting to see what happens next.

***** 5/5

Death Sentence: Volume 1 is available from Titan Comics now.

Review originally posted on PissedOffGeek

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