I don’t want to call this a superhero book. It’s a book that has people with superpowers and who only have six months to live. Creative team Monty Nero and Mike Dowling have created a world without the tights, capes and bright colors. It’s not a book for every readerl it isn’t a happily-ever-after type story, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t entertain and examine.
Death Sentence is all about the G-plus virus, a fatal STD that gives you a rush before it kills you. (Imagine the posters at the clinics: Protect yourself…don’t fly and die.) The trade follows three characters: Verity, a frustrated artist; Weasel, fringe punk musician and Monty, a rogue comedian. All three of them have contracted the virus and Death Sentence volume one shows how these people deal with it and eventually with each other. The first thought I think many of us have when we hear this idea of short-term superpowers is will we see these characters fade away or go in a blaze of heroism or villainy. What Monty Nero did was show us what is likely to happen is that we become selfish uncaring twits.
What Monty Nero unveils to us also becomes a problem. There is nothing to like about these characters. With Weasel and Monty we witness degenerates continuing their selfish desires cranked to 11 while their moral volume is turned off. Verity is more subdued and struggles with art and creativity but we’re not given enough to care about them. These are similar personalities, and their struggles, as bad as they are, don’t resonate with the average reader except on the surface. Using someone more decent that made a bad choice like a married woman who regrettably had an affair would have changed the curve. We also get a glimpse of organizations that are studying the infected, whether to cure it or take advantage of it might be bases for further stories.
Don’t let all this deter you, though. It is still a well-written story (be prepared for an excessive amount of sex and foul language) about interesting circumstances with some pathos and humor. The events that take place with those involved and their conditions seem very possible, although the Akira-scale like finale is a little over-the-top. And Mike Dowling’s art complements and makes the work better. His works flows and his panels from the every-day ordinary, to the sex, to the graphic gore, are crafted well. Another nice feature in this collection is the DVD-like commentary between the two collaborators.
If you like stories with an edge then you’re sure to enjoy Death Sentence. It will feel right at home on your bookshelf with other U.K. collections.