With martial law being declared, gangs roaming the streets and super-powered drug dealers vying for territory, the city has been coming to the boil for some time now. In this sixth and final issue of Death Sentence London, that steam is released. This series has always been a riot of excess, and the conclusion of this arc sees pitched battles in the streets and the main characters, for the most part, helpless in the face of such adversity.
Fortunately, writer Monty Nero never lets his characters take too much of a back seat, despite the scale of events. They've been the heart and soul of the series right from the beginning, making Death Sentence more than a simple “what would happen if complete bastards and no-hopers received superpowers” story. Scratch the surface of what at first glance appears to be an outrageous tale of sex and violence, and you'll find political commentary, thoughts on the creative process, and a deep desire to provoke thought as well as entertain. Crude and vulgar it may be, but it's an effective and often frightening portrayal of people and a world that, despite the craziness of events, is only around the corner from our own; not for the faint of heart, in either respect.
Artist Martin Simmonds maintains his usual high standards, too, providing stunning pages with incredible detail in every panel. His style, like that of original series artist Mike Dowling, feels perfectly suited to the story, capturing both intimate and grand moments with equal relish. He brings pencils and inks to life with a rich colour palette, making some scenes appear dreamlike when they are often the stuff of nightmares.
It's heart on the sleeve stuff, which makes it incredibly refreshing, the emotion that has gone into the work reflected in the enjoyment of the reader. Reading in monthly issues can be difficult, as the ending of each creates a yearning for the next, so the upcoming collection will be welcomed with open arms, a worthy addition to the shelves of older comic-book fans. The next series can't come soon enough either, with this issue finishing on a cliffhanger worthy of those old Saturday morning serials.
Anyone concerned that Death Sentence may have lost its initial impact will be delighted to know that it remains an uncompromising vision that pushes boundaries and defies expectations, another reminder that comics can be used to tell stories of social and political relevance, while still being gloriously entertaining.
DEATH SENTENCE LONDON 6 / WRITER: MONTY NERO / ARTIST: MARTIN SIMMONDS / PUBLISHER: TITAN / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW