Comic Review: Death Sentence Vol.1 Hardcover Collection

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Comic books typically are about superheroes gifted with amazing superpowers, wearing masks and capes, doing heroic deeds to overcome the evil deeds of a rival supervillain. Death Sentence is anything but a typical comic series.

Written by Monty Nero and inked by Mike Dowling, Death Sentence is based around the scenario of an incurable sexually transmitted disease that grants its host extraordinary powers. Hey, that’s awesome. Have some casual sex, score a cool superpower. What could possibly go wrong? Oh, just the fact that anyone infected with the disease, known as the G+ Virus, will die in six months. You see, the virus overclocks the function of every cell in the human body, imbuing the host with increased creativity, intellect, muscle tone and speed. It also boosts sexual drive, thus perpetuating the spread of the make-believe STD. However, this drastic increase in activity also causes cells to quickly burn through their supply of protein, subsequently leading to the shutdown of the immune system, which in turn leads to death.

Three lead characters star in this oddly intriguing tale of sexually active superheroes. Actually, superhero probably isn’t the proper word to use, as the characters in this comic aren’t exactly beacons of hope. There’s Weasel, a fading rocker who kind of fits into the Jesse Pinkman mold as this druggie burnout slacker who does terrible things but in moments shows that he has a good heart. The chief villain of the story is Monty, a douchebag comedian, sex fiend and all-around despicable dude who finds it fulfilling to deflower a nun, doggie style a woman while shoving her face down into a dirty toilet bowl, and piss in a teapot to be served to police officers, among countless other horrible acts. And then there is the true lead, Verity Fette, a struggling artist who has big dreams but has become beaten down by a general lack of self worth. Or as she says in her own words at one point, “Another pointless vessel in a sea of meaninglessness.”

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All three have contracted the G+ Virus and with it a unique superpower, but each character chooses to live out their death sentence in different ways. Weasel gains the abilities to phase through objects and throw balls of acidic discharge. Verity ultimately finds some meaning to her existence after fully embracing her powers to cause explosive blasts and manipulate the electromagnetic spectrum to animate horrific manifestations. Monty simply chooses to go out with a bang, fully unleashing his creativity to use Jedi-like mind control over the population and pop people’s heads like Gallagher taking a giant mallet to a stage full of watermelons.

Having three disparate stars could potentially make for a jumbled mess of a story, but here the storylines are beautifully intertwined and the plot flows with a fast-moving pace that’ll hook you into reading all six issues from cover to cover in a single sitting. The introspective writing style works to great effect as well. Many panels and even entire scenes forgo traditional dialogue between characters for caption boxes which allow the characters to drive the story forward through their inner thoughts and feelings. This way you become more attached to the characters and gain a deeper understanding of their personal history and motivations.

Death Sentence very much is a NSFW comic for mature audiences. While you won’t find any XXX imagery, there are plenty of R and NC-17 rated sexual encounters and orgy scenes. The overriding sexual themes are counterbalanced by exciting action, riveting drama and a heavy punch of lewd humor. This graphic novel is packed with quotable lines that are sure to conjure an immature giggle, as long as absurd sexual humor is your cup of tea. Like: “First I gave her a shuddering orgasm with my tongue, officer, just to loosen the door a little…Then she played a faltering melody on my love trumpet, so to speak, before we shared an enjoyable evening of uphill gardening.” And: “I left nothing in that room but love — and a smattering of cock porridge!” And one last beaut: “Ha! I wanna bumfuck Rihanna while Britney tickles my balls! Ain’t gonna happen, is it?” The humor is ridiculously over the top, but when read in the context of the story the dialogue is often hilarious.

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Confidently written and artistically captivating, Death Sentence is a bold and brash newcomer to the comic book biz. Relating to video games for a moment, this outrageous mix of sex, drugs, violence, superpowers and comedy is like something born from the brilliantly twisted brain of Suda51 — only it was created by two dudes from the UK. It’s weird, but that’s the genius of Death Sentence.

All six previously released issues of Death Sentence have been compiled into a new hardcover release by Titan Comics for $19.99. In addition to the full first volume, the collection includes a gallery of cover artwork variants as well as a DVD bonus disc style commentary section featuring the transcript of a conversation between Monty and Mike as they looked back over each issue and reflected on the design process.

Disclosure: A copy of Death Sentence Vol. 1 was provided to VGBlogger.com by Titan Books for review purposes.

About the Author

Matt Litten is the full-time editor and owner of VGBlogger.com. He is responsible for maintaining the day to day operation of the site, editing all staff content before it is published, and contributing regular news, reviews, previews and other articles. Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website BonusStage.com. After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found VGBlogger.com. After a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez, Matt assumed full ownership over VGBlogger, and to this day he is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere. Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn't mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary!