Review: Death Sentence: Liberty #1

Having finally got up to speed on the amazing Death Sentence, we are over the moon that it is back with a new Kickstarter funded series, Death Sentence: Liberty. Monty Nero and Martin Simmonds visceral tale of sex, drugs and superpowers feels like it hasn’t missed a beat as this new series smashes you in the face with another dose of sweary, sexy, smart, super-powered stories.

Publisher: Monty Nero
Writer: Monty Nero
Artist: Martin Simmonds
Price: Liberty Girl #1 (and #2) will be available again via Kickstarter from November 13th

Death Sentence: Liberty picks up the action, straight from the end of Death Sentence: London with FBI agent Jeb attempting to infiltrate the UK’s G-Plus lab on a remote Scottish island, the newly pregnant Verity is attempting to resist the invasion of government sponsored Goemels in the the Brixton Free Zone (with the help of half woman half plants 100% badass Roots), while Weasel is just interested in getting high.

With Death Sentence now a firmly established series, there is only the very basic of catch ups and so for new readers getting into this world via Liberty may not be the easiest (but that is also a nice excuse to catch up on the brilliant first volume and also Death Sentence: London which can be found easily enough). However for existing fans this is everything we’ve been clamouring for since the final page of Death Sentence: London and it doesn’t disappoint.

In the years since London finished, Nero and Simmons have both plied their trade for larger publishers and they have come back to this world sharper and ready to rumble. Nero’s script continues to fizz with smart ideas and sarcastic and salty dialogue. He continues to balance classic superhero tropes, with outrageous and over the top moments, but giving it all a smart and 21st century twist – and without ever being snarky or self aware. The concept for Death Sentence is so strong that it allows him to venture off into flights of fancy (the opener with Jeb reflecting on his family) and also the more outrageous moments (the horny couple on the lab) which make it as entertaining as ever, but without losing sight of where the story is heading. At a time when mainstream comics are lacking an edge to them, striking the balance of mature themes and superheroes is never easy, but Nero manages it just right in Death Sentence and it helps it to stand clear from the crowd as a result.

Death Sentence gets off lightly

Meanwhile, Simmonds’ artwork continues to excel. It’s been a landmark year for him with Punks Not Dead and Friendo, but this is some of his best work yet. His artwork is always the better for being in complete control of it, especially the colours, and he revels in that autonomy here creating some truly epic panels. From the subdued opener to Verity unleashing her powers against the Goemels which is just jaw dropping, his work is really coming into it’s own. And he is also not holding back on some of the more adult elements of the series too, so be warned!

We were always a little underwhelmed by Death Sentence: London, especially when compared to the complete arc that was the first volume, as it felt like it was building and building only to be cut off in it’s prime. So it is a huge relief to know that the story is being continued and built upon by Liberty. This first issue is all about continuing the action from the last volume, but also getting the ducks in a row for what is about to happen and it does this expertly.

Death Sentence always felt like it was building towards a larger and more far reaching story with London, with the addition of new characters and a larger scale narrative. So with Liberty continuing that fine work, Death Sentence is now feeling like the established comic it deserves to be, with a definite long term goal in mind. And with Death Sentence: Liberty Nero and Simmonds are cementing it’s status as one of the best UK superhero stories going.