Imagine there were a disease that would kill its host in six months, guaranteed, but before it did the sick man could get any number of possible superpowers and those powers would continue to increase in intensity until shortly before the end. If you had that kind of power available to you, what would you do? That’s the question that Death Sentence, a new graphic novel by Monty Nero from Titan Comics,asks reads.
Death Sentence follows three very different characters, Monty, a narcissistic comedian, Weasel, a burned out, drug addicted, former rock star, and Verity, a young woman stuck in an art job she can’t stand. The only thing the group has in common, aside from the G+ virus, is that they are highly creative people. While Monty plunges into the depths of his narcissism, Weasel and Verity struggle to make use of their gifts, even as the virus heightens their creativity. While much of the plot is a bit farfetched, there are themes within the book that make it a worthwhile read. The frustration of Weasel and Verity is palpable. For someone with a creative gift, the most aggravating thing in the universe can be when he can’t make things come together the way he knows they should, which is a theme repeatedly shown in Death Sentence. Throughout the entire book, Weasel is trying to write a new hit song, but he isn’t able to record anything with any value.
Monty’s story is an interesting exploration into what people are willing to do if they feel there are no consequences. Monty does whatever he wants because he feels he is entitled to do so and no one can stop him. The fact that he only has six months to live only drives his pursuits into darker places at near breakneck speeds. I was disappointed that Nero didn’t choose to follow up on some plot threads that were dropped towards the end of the book. I feel like they could have been interesting additions, though maybe they are part of some future project. If that’s the case, I’ll be patient.
An introduction to Verity.
The art by Mike Dowling is solid. His style is animated, and seamlessly transitions from more abstract shots to very detailed up close panels. At no point did I have an issue following what was going on, and things flowed well from panel to panel. Dowling also makes effective use of color palates, changing them to suit the mood of the scene, but not so much that it was jarring or disruptive to the story. Dowling does a good job of portraying all the ridiculous things that go on in this book without being overly obscene. Obviously there is quite a bit of adult content, but it never felt as though I were looking at animated porn. In fact it was clear that great care was taken to only show what needed to be shown and that the rest was implied. I also really enjoyed the portrayal of the drug aided creative surges that both Weasel and Verity experience. They were almost like acid trips, but far more productive and lacking the negative side effects.
Death Sentence isn’t a bad read, though in the end I was much more enthralled by the art than the story. The end of the book contains a commentary by Nero and Dowling that makes for an interesting read and provides a depth of insight that is hard to find elsewhere. Death Sentence goes on sale this Tuesday, July 22. 3/5 Death Stars