Philo Harris is a man in love with the owner of a local coffee house. He buys her gifts, listens to her gripe about her boyfriend and occasionally pet-sits for her cat. Philo is a “nice guy” and not in a good way. After a night of hard drinking with some friends, a mysterious stranger offers him some red pills to help his love life. Philo takes them and the next thing you know he’s in the bathroom staring down a very pissed off looking cherub with a bow and arrow.
Writer Justin Jordan is no stranger to gallows humor. It runs like a black thread through much of his catalog but Death of Love is the first time, to my knowledge, that he’s attempted a straight up satire and it works pretty well. While a lot of the laugh out loud moments are in-jokes for those who follow him on social media, Jordan has a fine grasp of the dark absurdity baked into his scenario and produces a piece of work that is more akin to the Coen brothers than it is to the Farrelly brothers. While it wears its point of view on its sleeve, the characters are fleshed out and compelling enough that it never feels like a polemic.
Artist Donal Delay is a relative newcomer to mainstream American comics but he’s the perfect collaborator for this project. His work here recalls Rob Guillory’s early issues of Chew with just a dash of Venture Brothers thrown into the mix. There’s a quiet confidence to his line and his layouts are interesting to look at in themselves without ever being distracting from the story. The first two page spread is also one of the most inspired pieces of mayhem I’ve seen for a long time: equal parts Quentin Tarentino and Chuck Jones. I predict we’ll see a lot of big things from him in the next few years as more people take notice of his obvious skills.
The colors (by Felipe Sobreiro and Omar Estévez) really help to set the scene. A different palette is used for every venue, and this is used to great effect to quickly ground the reader in the particular ambience of what is going on. Letterer Rachel Deering adds a touch of much needed subtlety with a few understated sound effects that actually force you to pay more attention to the edges of every panel lest you miss something. It’s a nifty trick and something I’ve never seen used by a letterer to help the artist.
In a time when toxic masculinity has become a subject of regular discussion and female creators across all media come under regular attack for daring to even point it out, Death of Love is both a cogent and relevant critique of sexual relations wrapped up in what promises to be a brilliant (and bloody) farce. It is at once a great big middle finger in the face of Gamergaters, MRAs, “nice” guys and a valentine for everyone who despises them… or for anyone who just wants to see some angels cut down with a chainsaw.
Story: Justin Jordan Art: Donal Delay
Color: Felipe Sobreiro and Omar Estévez Lettering: Rachel Deering
Story: 8.0 Art: 8.0 Overall: 8.0 Recommendation: Buy
Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review.