Review – Death of Love #1 (Image Comics)

Publisher: Image Comics
Writer: Justin Jordan
Colourist: Donal Delay, Omar Estévez (colours), Felipe Sobreiro (colours)
Release Date: 14th February 2018

Right from the opening scene, which sees our leading man Philo Harris attacking a bunch of Cupids with a chainsaw, it’s pretty clear that Death of Love – a brand new Image Comics series from Justin Jordan and Donal Delay – isn’t going to be your usual Valentine’s Day comic.

After this rather attention-grabbing opening, the bulk of the issue concerns itself with introducing us to Philo in all his Nice Guy (capitalisation intended) glory. It’s something Jordan himself fully acknowledges in his short piece at the end of the issue, but Philo is most definitely not a particularly likeable protagonist. And, as his flatmate Bob points out just a few pages in, he views the ‘love of his life’ – in this case his platonic friend Zoe – as little more than a vending machine where, if he puts in enough “nice” tokens, sex will fall out. We all know the type, right?.

Showing that Philo’s actions make him an asshole is a worthy message, but its delivery does bog the issue down somewhat, sidelining the story and character development in favour of a fairly heavy-handed “misogyny and treating women like commodities and prizes is bad” (which it is) lecture. We even get to see Philo and Bob going to a seminar on how to “screw them bitches” and “become an alpha instead of a beta”.  Y’know, in case the message wasn’t clear enough already.

That said, things do pick up considerably in the latter pages once the shady gentlemen offering drugs that will allow Philo to “see the world as it really is” shows up, leading us full circle as he makes a fairly foolish drunken decision and the previously invisible Cupids start appearing.

Delay’s artwork gives the book a suitably light-hearted feel, falling somewhere between Skottie Young’s I Hate Fairyland and Rob Guillory’s Chew. Everything is suitably exaggerated and caricaturised, but Delay also makes sure to capture the more subtle comedic moments – such as Bob’s “eyebrow of disapproval” – to really help the humour of Jordan’s script hit the mark.

The opening and closing pages hint at a wildly chaotic story, and now that the nuances of Philo’s personality (i.e. he’s an asshole) have been well and truly laid out, I can’t wait to see Jordan and Delay actually getting to tell it. It’s going to be interesting to see whether this ends up being a road to redemption and reassessment for Philo, or merely a cautionary tale for the reader, but whatever it is, there’s a huge amount of potential here for Death of Love to become one of the most inventive and irreverent Valentine-themed comics ever made.

Rating: 3.5/5.

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ceejThe writer of this piece was: Craig Neilson-Adams (aka Ceej)
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