Grim_Noir Sentences Death Sentence #1
to the Discount Bin

Title: Death Sentence #1 (of 6)

Script & Covers: Montynero

Artist: Mike Dowling

Letterer: Comicraft’s Jimmy Betancourt

Publisher: Titan Comics

Reviewed by Grim_Noir

Sex Sells. Madison Avenue has been following this adage for decades. And, ever since William Moulton Marston used his own theories on B & D to flavor his creation of Wonder Woman, the comic book industry hasn’t been too far behind them. Recently, Howard Chaykin has been revisiting his sexy shaggy dog tale Black Kiss, Matt Fraction has given us Sex Criminals and Image Comics’ Sex has been disappointing us for six issues now. Add to that short stack Montynero’s Death Sentence (and, no, I didn’t misspell his name).

The concept of Death Sentence is very elevator pitch: “An STD that gives you superpowers and then kills you in 6 months! Oh, and by the way, it also makes you super-horny, baby!” Montynero’s story follows three people who contract the disease and their sexual escapades. Trouble is, this book is more like watching a suicide jumper: Everything whizzes by very colorfully, but you never get to know these people and part of you is just too depressed by the foregone SPLAT on the concrete that you know is coming at the end.

Worst of all, in this age of the internet, any attempted titillation is wasted. Even the most sexually frustrated fourteen-year-old can find naked people on the web for free and not pay for a $4.00 comic book.

"Monty"
Interior artist Mike Dowling works hard to make everything at least visually interesting. However, it is all very uneven. And there is good reason for this. You see, Death Sentence was originally started as serial in Mark Millar’s CLINT magazine in 2012. Dowling is creating “linking” pieces today to hold together the pages and panels previously created for the serialized version. Dowling is a good artist, make no mistake, but the results are very patchwork. And, sadder still, even his best artwork is in service of a spun-sugar soufflĂ©.

When you strip away the floppy breasts and scissoring, to borrow a quote from Gertrude Stein, “there isn’t any THERE there.” All the jabs at the military, the Anglican Church and greedy, grasping corporate executives are very British, but, like a Benny Hill marathon, what was terrific in small doses becomes tiring in its overkill.

VerityMost of the women in Montynero’s near-future London of Death Sentence exist merely as holes to be plugged by the male characters. Which is a huge problem when one of his main characters is allegedly female. Although you would never know it from the writing: Verity Fette is basically a man that happens to complain about the fit of her expensive shoes and tell her ex-boss that he has a small penis. Ultimately, it doesn’t really matter since no one in this book has any personality.

More unforgivable, the writer has created a complete Mary Sue story. Another one of the three main characters is an incredibly popular Russell-Brand-style comedian who deals with his disease perfectly, has international interviews and gets young, attractive nuns to jump into bed with him. The name of this unbelievably amazing character? Monty.

Weasel

NOTHING happens in this issue. There is no action whatsoever. Three people find out they have a life-ending disease. No one appears to be working on a cure. These “characters” sit around in various states of self-pity and/or debauchery. In real life, this may be quite realistic, but narrative-wise it is the equivalent of watching paint dry on a cold day.

There is the seed of a good idea here. It just never germinates in this issue. If you really feel the need to dip your toe into this series, I recommend starting with issue #2. You will miss nothing.

Ol' Grim Hisself

* GRIM_NOIR is convinced that the internet is a figment of his imagination. Please comment below and/or follow @Grim_Noir on Twitter or Friend on Facebook or Good Reads to end his self-delusions.

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