Death Sentence by Montynero and Mike Dowling

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Death Sentence by Montynero and Mike Dowling

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Category: Graphic Novels
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: John Lloyd
Reviewed by John Lloyd
Summary: A very nicely presented book from Titan, now producing their own original comics, and getting off to a superb start with this engaging and gritty, subverted superhero title.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 192 Date: July 2014
Publisher: Titan Books
ISBN: 9781782760085

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It's AIDS, Jim, but not as we know it. G+ is the new sexually transmitted disease sweeping the nation's reckless youth, and it has even further-reaching consequences. It boosts your brain activity, and makes you a stronger and more promiscuous carrier of the virus – so you can be beating a supercomputer at chess one moment and rolling around a bed with a host of ladies the next. But either way, it kills you within six months. Here it affects three people with more cerebral, supernatural powers – a young female artist in need of confirmation, an egotistical junkie rock star, and a certain highly-rated comic with Russell Brand's hair and Kasabian's wardrobe designer. It's a combination of the three people and their own G+ that will make sure the world is most certainly aware of their activities – death sentence or no death sentence…

This is a perfectly balanced book, in that it can prove to be a very clever title about superhero comics, while also being a superhero comic. It's ideal for those who want to press on a friend that intelligence can be had in the format, for it concerns many issues at once – celebrity, the ego and the other parts of the subconscious, the value of creativity and the risks of our imaginations, and the scientific theories of the selfish gene. And it can entertain with fruity swearing, David Cameron dying in spectacular fashion and lots of (fictional) famous characters being quite debauched indeed.

The creators never let the fact this book is about something be dropped – which can be to its detriment in very small ways to begin with. But look more closely and you see many things happening at once – internal monologues that set the scene and the themes and define character. It's evident how powerfully the script can do one thing while the images show us something else, to further two completely different strands along their intertwining path. There's a few scattered 'bonus extra'-style documents that show how thoughtful the world-building has been, with the whole G+ scenario and its relation to the different characters. All this gives a great impression of the power of the creators, yet this is their first full book – and shows how people can really hit the ground running when the right inspiration takes hold of the right people (itself one of the themes here).

If anything Montynero gets my vote for the more promising of the pair, for not only does his script shine brightly with its multifarious topics and great lines of Mark Millaresque humour, he also provides some glossy covers. The actual artwork inside was not as close to my taste, although Dowling shows himself competent at some very stunning angles, and both wonky characterisation in the middle of action scenes and architecturally solid scenic reveals. He was certainly kept busy by the many different panels and the intricacy of his detail at times.

The book is furnished here by a great addition, even for those who collected the original issues – a full-length bonus commentary, adding to the understanding of the whole creative process, and illuminating us to whys and hows. It's also the only thing that definitely confirms the incoming volume two, which is great news, for this detailed world-building should not go to waste. It's hard to see what kind of story the sequel or even sister story will be, but it's easy to see that many will be on board to lap it up, myself included. At least I haven't got to demand it within the next six months, for such volumes must take a lot longer in fermenting and brewing to such a near-perfect state as this. Highly recommended.

For real-life celebrities being debauched, and not the made-up ones above, there is the adult-only Krent Able's Big Book of Mischief. For further looks at how comics are made, there is The From Hell Companion by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell.

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Buy Death Sentence by Montynero and Mike Dowling at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Death Sentence by Montynero and Mike Dowling at


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