This is it! I have officially become the “old guy on the front porch yelling at the kids to get off of my lawn”. This is how I feel as I write this review for Titan Comics’ Death Sentence. This book has received critical praise from most comic book sites and media, but I am here to give the other side of it.
The premise of the book is that a new virus (G+ Virus) has been introduced in our society that is similar to HIV. The victim of the disease is infected through sexual contact and could carry the virus in a dormant state for years. Once the virus develops fully the person has about six months to live. This all sounds very doom and gloom, but one positive effect from it is that the person gains extraordinary powers.
The book focuses on three main characters; Monty, Weasel, and Verity. Verity is a graphic designer with a scene in the beginning of the book that reads like a comic creators ultimate fantasy for telling off their boss. Weasel is a failing rock singer that likes to reap the benefits of being a singer, without being very good at what he does. Monty is a media personality that has developed the ability to manipulate the thoughts of others and you can probably guess where that goes. I will not describe much of the plot because I don’t want to spoil it for you if you decide to pick this one up.
This is a very high concept, very low brow delivery type of book. Think X-Men mashed up with a Hustler magazine. I have to give it to creators Monty Nero and Michael Dowling for coming up with a brilliant concept that is very thought provoking. The thought of a disease which gives its victims a taste of the sweet life for a short period of time before killing them is wild and ambitious. The delivery of that concept has me worried for comics though.
Like I said in the beginning I have become the old guy on the front porch. In my teens I probably would have loved to read comics like Death Sentence. As I have gotten older and started my own family, my perspective has changed on things like this. In our culture of “Sex Sells” this type of book shouldn’t surprise me. Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy a “Mature” rated book every now and then. I loved Kick-Ass and its follow-up. Heck I even loved Wanted. Death Sentence desperately wants to be Kick-Ass with richer story and the ‘maturity” ratcheted up to 11. The difference is that Kick-Ass had identifiable characters where Death Sentence does not. There isn’t a single character in the book that has any redeemable qualities.
Some of the atrocities committed in this book range from sex with a nun to sex with the Queen of England. I honestly can’t believe that they could get away with some of the things they did in the book. Pushing the limit of boundries seems to be what the creators were aiming for here.
Honestly I may not be doing this book the service that it deserves. I probably over looked some important plot points and some amazing commentary on society, but the over use of sex made it tough for me to even get to the next page.
The one redeeming value for me in the book is the art. Mike Dowling does an amazing job with this book. He has an incredible style and I look forward to seeing more of his work in the future. Each panel flows to the next nicely and his line work is outstanding. Dowling has a real knack for visual storytelling.
Ultimately I give the book a 3 out of 10. The book is a self described “jaw-dropping next step in super-powered storytelling”, but for me the only jaw-dropping sense I got was the overuse of sex to help sell it. For those of you that can’t get enough of raunchy sexual scenes, this book gets a 10 out of 10.
Death Sentence Vol. 1 collects issues 1-6 of the series, is 192 pages and contains some nice background information about the development of the book. It will run you about $19.99 and you can find it at Amazon or any other comic retailer.
***Disclaimer - This book was provided to me from Titan Comics for review purposes***