ADVANCE Review: Death Sentence TPB
It’s always great to see new takes on old tropes. Death Sentence is an enjoyable mini-series that uses dystopian England and super powers in an interesting way that had me glued to the book.
The main focus of Death Sentence is the G+ virus. It’s a virus that gives people super powers, but they also die within six months of contracting the virus. It’s an interesting set up that Montynero uses quite well. Montynero spends most of the six issue mini-series arguing about life and what is worth doing if you know you are going to die. What grabbed my attention was how Montynero covered most sides of every argument. And while there is a lot of a talk of super heroics, Montynero doesn’t show them that often. Much like a monster movie, you want to keep people wanting more. When they do come in, Mike Dowling’s pencils shove them in your face and they become more fantastical. We are given three leads; Monty, Weasel, and Verity. Weasel and Month are celebrities, but Montynero gives enough differences between the two that Weasel doesn’t feel like a true celebrity by the time the series is over. Verity, who adorns all the covers, is supposed to be the main hero, but more on that later.
Montynero creates some great characters in a short amount of time. Each is given a decently sized back story so we have a great feel for them as characters. Weasel gets the most screen time for back story and is arguably the main character over Verity. She doesn’t get much in terms of back-story other than she has a crap job before everything goes to hell. We understand she’s a damaged person, but what happened that made her so messed up when her powers finally kick in? At points she seems apathetic towards everything, so having her suddenly want to be the hero to save everyone comes off as odd. We root for her and love to see her kick ass, but I found myself wondering where this decision came from other than, “I’m dying might as well save the world.” Monty is a complete jack-ass who I didn’t mind hating. Montynero doesn’t give Monty a concise set of powers early on though, and this leads to many scenes reading like Montynero wrote himself into a corner and needed to find a way out.
Mike Dowling’s artwork is brilliant throughout Death Sentence. He reminds me of Sean Phillips with very realistic characters and a penchant for gore. But he can pencil super powers better than Phillips. The attention to detail that Dowling puts on every page was fantastic. The intricate tattoos on each character must have been a bitch to pencil throughout the series. When Verity’s powers kick in, Dowling stretches his muscles a bit and creates some great looking sequences. They were trippy as hell, but it was clear as to what Verity was looking at and helped us understand her issues a bit.
There is a whole host of extras for fans of the series. Montynero and Dowling give an in depth commentary on each issue, broken down by a few pages at a time. Think of it as a director’s commentary on a movie. I’d like for this to be a common things in books. It’s interesting to get the author/artists’ insight on the final product. There is also a variant cover collection as well.
Death Sentence gets 4/5.
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