By Justin Jordan, Donal DeLay & Omar Estévez
With an interesting premise and honest depiction of relationships from varying perspectives, Death of Love is a refreshing jolt in comics. The book revolves around Philo Harris, a man fed up with the situations he consistently finds himself in, in the romance department. He makes a ridiculous decision, as one does, and finally sees the truth about love and its puppeteer…
From page one, this creative team immerses the audience into the throes of love literally and figuratively. They frame the issue as a flashback leading to the absolutely bonkers situation taking place, going right into a truthful, direct scene talking about what it means to be a friend to the opposite sex. It’s a simple, yet potent sequence that one would not expect based on the preceding pages. It grounds the material and is another example of how writer Justin Jordan has a strong sense and ability for writing meaningful, realistic moments and dialog. His work on the Luther Strode saga is another example that comes to mind (it’s well worth any reader’s time). After these two key scenes, readers will have seen two sides of and two very different situations that involve Philo and now get a clear picture from the outset of how this story will play and the key player involved. It’s sharp, economical storytelling that is absolutely aided by the art team of Donal DeLay and Omar Estévez.
It’s a bit of a struggle to really want to follow the plot, when the main character is truly unsympathetic. Some readers may relate to his circumstances, but in truth, it truth it reveals the selfish nature of the Philo and the reader’s self. Yes, that’s part of the lead’s journey of self-discovery, but there has to be something redeeming to keep an audience coming back. Also, there are some exposition scenes that are necessary, but seem to pass slowly, even when Jordan tries to keep them short and direct. It’s in these moments where the comic’s narrative feels a little stale, but it’s the over-dramatic artwork that carries the book through those moments.
DeLay’s work feels reminiscent of Rob Guillory’s work on Chew. He depicts characters in a caricature/cartoonish style similar to Guillory, but there is a slightly cleaner, more detailed element to the art. He highlights the emotions of the characters, which, for a comic about love, is important. Some of the heightened parts of the comic also work well in this style because they’re exaggerated, but in the world these creatives have made, it flows and doesn’t feel incongruent. The color work only furthers to highlight the pencils and inks, while still making each page crisp and vibrant. Omar Estévez uses a flush, varied palette to keep the material fresh and interesting. Overall, this art team clearly knows how to deliver the best version of this material.
This is a comic worth being on a comic enthusiast’s radar. Yes, it may have some minor flaws, but it’s quite a fun, and genuine ride. This is a story that seems to want to shine a lens on the complexities and dynamics of relationships and gender roles, while framing it through an over the top situation. This only furthers to drive the point home of how important the key personal character moments in the book, which show how much these creatives want to tell this tale of love.