It’s a classic story: Man loves a woman who is unaware of his romantic feelings for her, so man makes a series of poor decisions that lead to all-out war with love itself.
Wait, there’s nothing classic about that. But, at least I’ve got your attention.
The first issue of Death of Love, a new five-issue miniseries from Image Comics, doesn’t hit stands until Feb. 14, 2018, naturally, but I got my hands on an advance copy. And you know what? This story from writer Justin Jordan and artist Donal DeLay may just be the perfect Valentine for anybody who’s ever wasted a chunk of their life pining after someone who has no intention of reciprocating their feelings.
Hey, it happens to the best of us.
Death of Love’s lead, Philo Harris, is your average single guy. In fact, he’s probably been single a little too long, and rather than changing his outlook and behavior, he’s going to blame the rest of his world for his romantic problems. Chief among them is a lovely lady named Zoe, who, in Philo’s opinion, is wasting time fixated on “her asshole dudes.” And, you know, not Philo.Philo brings Zoe gifts, listens to her vent and he even watches her cat! So why can’t she realize he’s her one true love? Did I mention he watches her cat?!
If you’re cringing because this reminds you of someone you know, or even yourself, don’t worry–Philo’s best friend Bob is there to shoot his “eyebrow of disapproval” Philo’s way whenever he gets on his woe-is-me soapbox.
As this comic’s release date is still pretty far off, I don’t want to reveal too much. But it’s no spoiler that a series of events in the latter half of issue 1 lead to Philo gaining the ability to see the bow and arrow-wielding Cupidae. And if you’re a guy like Philo and can suddenly see a bunch of winged troublemakers, you’re of course going to pick up a chainsaw and go to war with love itself.
Overall, it’s a fun concept and one, in my opinion, that lends itself well to a film adaptation. I know Edgar Wright likes to build his own worlds from scratch, but I feel like he’d do a great job balancing the quiet, human moments in Death of Love with its comedically gory action scenes.Of course, beyond the war with the Cupidae, this is very much a story about Philo, who may not be every reader’s cup of tea as a protagonist. He can get whiny, and doesn’t seem to be the biggest fan of self-reflection. He’s the kind of guy no woman wants approaching her at a bar, because he’s not above resorting to tired dating tricks (he gets called out for it). But hey, war changes people, right? Maybe Philo will come out of this series a better man.
I feel like Jordan deserves credit for avoiding the tradition of being a male creator who gives the world yet another male character who has been wronged by yet another woman. It’s very easy for artists to take out their personal romantic frustrations of the moment on the object of their affection through whatever art they’re making, whether it’s a passive-aggressive poem or a whiny emo song. Jordan doesn’t make you root for Philo and hate Zoe–he calls out Philo via Bob, and the scummy things some dudes do throughout the issue.
Visually, DeLay does a great job of capturing the fun of this series. We’ve got coffee machines about to blow, mysterious strangers draped in shadows and bloodthirsty, winged, baby creatures. And, yes, his Zoe is definitely cute, so we get it, Philo. All together, it’s a series of dynamic panels that highlight the characters’ emotions–sometimes to an exaggerated extent.
But, that’s love, isn’t it? The feeling that someone’s turned your emotions up to 11? You know, just without the chainsaws and murderous tendencies, preferably.
Death of Love #1 goes on sale Feb. 14, 2018.