Saturday, 23 April 2016

In 2014, Monty Nero’s sex-and-superpowers graphic novel Death Sentence shocked and entertained in equal measure. Set in a world in which the sexually transmitted G+ virus gives superpowers to those it infects, but also limits their lifespan to six months, it followed struggling musician Weasel and frustrated artist Verity as they sought meaning to their lives in the face of a very imminent death sentence.

The sequel, London, begins where Death Sentence left off, in a city torn into chaos, and follows a variety of characters. Verity is on the run from various groups who are after her powers. Weasel is taking advantage of his newfound heroic standing, while coping with his son’s death via sex, drugs and rock & roll. Drug dealer Roots is using her plant-manipulating powers to monopolise the cannabis market. FBI agent Jeb is balancing a secret mission and a collapsing family life. And London mayor Tony Bronson (who’s clearly Boris, but too prominent a character for Nero to get away with saying so) is fed up of all this riff-raff. 

Nero’s writing has a distinctly anarchic tone, with the story motivated by anger against the establishment. The government are pompous and selfish, while the chaos that breaks out in London is a clear mirror of the 2011 riots, sparked by an act of police brutality which feels all too familiar. Nero sympathises with these dissidents, even quoting directly from one of the real 2011 protestors at one point, while being careful to criticise those who turn political protests into mindless violence.

Artist Martin Simmonds, picking up from Mike Dowling’s work on the first volume, reflects this tone in his work, filling each panel with increasingly chaotic dynamism while nevertheless keeping it easy to follow and giving each character a distinctive look.


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