By Monty Nero & Mike Dowling
If you’re looking for a wild new story to check out, Death Sentence is definitely a solid option. This series has introduced an incredibly interesting premise, although it remains to be seen how much depth it will receive in future issues. While the first installment definitely has my interest piqued, this is more for the potential this story has. Despite this sentiment, Death Sentence #1 was a wild ride.
As far as a basic summary goes, this story is about an outbreak of a new STD known as G+. Those infected receive physical enhancements and/or other powers, but also end up with about six months left to live. There are some other very interesting twists throughout issue #1 which suggest that the story will get a whole lot bigger and wide-ranging than this already intriguing, yet relatively simple concept. The characters themselves are also quite provocative and add a lot to the overall plot through their backgrounds; one is an untalented rock star who is simply used as a corporate tool, exploited as a tortured artist, and now his management wants to run with the G+ infection angle. This aspect of the first issue covered some very relevant social commentary on the corporate exploitation of personality. A lot of the narration makes for great poetry and is presented with quite intelligent composition. However, for a somewhat large portion of the book, much of the story seemed devoted to shock value and a simple desire to push the envelope. When sincerely relevant to the story being told, this type of thing can be a fairly satisfying addition, especially when the story is meant to be grim and gritty. At this point though, it remains to be seen how far this aspect will take Death Sentence as a series; it was fairly effective in conveying the general tone of the story in this initial installment, but let’s hope the rest of the series doesn’t ignore real substance for shock. Monty Nero has crafted a very interesting concept, while the first issue has certainly hinted at some potentially big developments down the line. It felt like there was a little something missing, but this could easily change once the story is given more time to develop further; there is definitely a lot of potential here.
The artwork in Death Sentence #1 was much more consistently solid. The approach is familiar, employing simple-yet-realistic character renditions, and some solid backgrounds. The facial expressions and character poses were both quite well done, while the overall designs were interesting and make each of the apparently central characters immediately identifiable. Mike Dowling also provided the colors for this book, and they really help to convey the tone of each scene; the bright lighting effects and lush colors really shine through where appropriate, but the rest of the book is presented in a suitably drab palette which still manages to retain a depth and realism to it. The excellent shadowing and sharp illustrations really pop and bring a crisp sensibility to the book when juxtaposed with the perfectly matched colors. As the story progresses we’re sure to see a lot more of the dynamic action witnessed through brief glimpses in issue #1.
This series has a great concept that was eagerly anticipated for a number of months. As an opening issue meant to grab the attention of new readers, the subsequent opinion is one of relative neutrality mixed with hopeful optimism. While the premise is interesting and quite unique, the anticipation for more substance was not fully accomplished. It remains to be seen what the protagonists will attempt to achieve in their final six months among the living, but there were definitely hints at interesting and potentially far-reaching plot developments and consequences in future issues. The story is brimming with potential, and a lot of the writing was executed with masterful precision. In the end, it is absolutely worth sticking with this series to find out what new territory it may cover.