Megadeth-Death By Design (Book Review)

Spread the metal:


Review Date: April 2020
Released:  2019
Publisher: Heavy Metal
Rating:  4.5/5
Review: JP

2019 was the 35th anniversary of thrash titans, Megadeth.  To commemorate the milestone the band issued a pair of items, a CD and a book.   The CD, is a triple disc, 35 track, ‘Best of’ called WARHEADS ON FOREHEADS.  It was nicely done but really just a standard compilation with no really rare or unreleased tracks to entice die-hard fans.   What I felt was much more interesting was the book, almost a companion piece called DEATH BY DESIGN.

Released in conjunction with the Heavy Metal magazine publishers, DEATH BY DESIGN is a monstrous, 368 page graphic novel.   This over-sized, hard cover graphic novel is a thing of beauty and heavy as hell, in more ways than one. It even has that little ribbon bookmark thing!  It is no coincidence that the dimensions match that of a vinyl record.   For the record, there are four different versions for every budget each with various cool additional features.   I’m reviewing just the standard edition.

The theme or design of the book is 35 years, 35 songs, 35 comics/stories.   Each comic/chapter is based on a particular Megadeth song, inspired by the lyrics. It is a neat idea and an amazing collection. In some nice attention to detail the 35 songs in this book are the same 35 songs on the best of CD.  So you can listen to each song while you read the book!

I’m not a comic collector anymore, so I can’t comment on who the artists and writers are. I’ll admit I don’t recognize any of the names except that of Brendon Small but a bit of research revealed that the creative artistic forces behind such comics and movies as Judge Dredd.   In a moment of sheer unprofessionalism unbecoming of a review writer, I’m going to cut and paste this next part from the press release so you have a better idea of he caliber of talent involved in death by design.

An A-list talent pool rounds out the roster featuring Tim Seeley (Hack/Slash), Ben Templesmith (30 Days of Night), Brian Wood (DMZ), Justin Jordan & John Bivens (Spread), Leah Moore & John Reppion (Judge Dredd), Joe Keatingue (Popgun), Christine Larsen (Holy Diver), Frazier Irving (Annihilator) and more than 50 other talented creators.

Each story has it’s own merits, some loosely based on the lyrics, some are a more literal interpretation, but each is appealing and attractive in it’s own way.  His is probably not the place to do a full review of all 35 stories or this review would be five pages long!   Suffice to day,  most fans of action, adventure, horror, violence and bloodshed,…and Metal… will really enjoy these creations.

Perhaps my only criticism of the book is that there is nothing in the way of ‘extras’.  It would have been nice to have an introduction, a foreword from the editor, a message from Dave Mustaine, some background on the development of the project…something, anything to add more info to how this cool collection came forward to termination.  I’m sure that info is on-line somewhere but it would not have hurt to include a couple of pages at the beginning.

This is the second Megadeth comic published further cementing the relationship between music and art and the natural evolution of Vic Rattlehead from mere band mascot to iconic comic book character.  As with most specialty projects of this style, this is becoming scarce, so grab your copy today!