In the world of Death Sentence, superpowers are the side effect of a fatal, sexually-transmitted disease known as the G+ virus. Once contracted, the infected can expect to be underground within 6 months, but, in the meantime, they develop incredible powers that can reach god-like levels. Monty Nero’s script focuses on three individuals infected with the G+ virus: Monty, a nihilistic and vicious comedian (Think an evil, super-powered Russell Brand.); Weasel, a helmet-wearing burnout who loves his son and is channeling some serious Axel Rose bomb-out energy; and Verity, a neo-punk rocker and millennial who still searches for the ability to express on canvas what she feels inside before her time is up. (Side note: I couldn’t help but see Breaking Bad’s Krysten Ritter in the role while reading Death Sentence. Are you ready for superpowers, Ms. Ritter?) While Monty becomes a more and more powerful and terrifying super-presence, Verity and Weasel must deal with their struggles, learn to master their power, and work together to stop Monty’s reign of unprecedented terror and destruction.
While Death Sentence doesn’t carry the true weight of a legendary work like Watchmen, it is an ambitious, dark, interesting take on the superhero genre. Monty Nero’s script starts off slowly, but the slow build definitely pays off in the latter half of the book, with several emotional moments that are sure to hit readers strongly. While both Weasel and Verity are used by the writer to humanize the super-powered experience, Monty Nero creates a terror-inducing villain in Monty, whose path of destruction rivals both Superman’s and Zod’s action in the recent Man of Steel film. (No mean feat!) While the plot of Death Sentence is complex and nuanced, the moments that stuck with me the most were the chilling and callous demonstrations of Monty’s ultimate power. Readers be warned, this book has bite!
Of course, no good comic book or graphic novel can succeed without a talented artist attached, and Mike Dowling certainly brings his A-game to Death Sentence. Dowling’s style has a similar quality to that of Fiona Staples’ recent work in Saga, and his gritty, realistic visuals are an apt match for the tarnished, real-world feel of Monty Nero’s script. Nero also delivers some eye-catching covers that are totally worth some repeat viewings.
FINAL VERDICT: If you’re a fan of new twists on the superhero genre, anywhere from the real-world feel of The Ultimates to the disturbing, cerebral tone of books like The Authority, then Death Sentence is not to be missed. It’s certainly a book for mature readers (featuring a fair helping of sex, violence, and adult situations), but for those who can handle the rough edges, this is definitely a worthy addition to your collection.
You can find out more about Death Sentence and purchase a copy at the official Titan Comics website.
That’s all for now, comic book sniffers! And, please, just leave the Queen alone. She’s an old woman, for God’s sake . . .
’Till the end of the world,
Bryant the Comic Book Slayer