The Many Deaths of Laila Starr #1 sold out before it even was released, and that was for a good reason. It’s a good story by two creators at the top of their game, about gods, death, and the humanity we find along the way. Issue #2 is out this week, and it carries forward Laila Starr’s story as she contemplates taking the life of a human child who ended her career as Death because he will discover eternal life. It sucks to get laid off, but does Starr have something to learn? Based on this issue, indeed she does.
This issue opens with Starr speaking to a crow after her first death, as seen in the preview. She has some insider help so as to not stay dead, but she’s seriously questioning her life goals at the moment. For a second issue, this is new-reader friendly — Starr recaps the last issue while also building on the trepidation Starr is having about killing a life. In fact, the crow has some good advice for Starr which helps her change her view a bit. Really the entire issue has Starr a bit contemplative and whimsical. There’s a deep emotion writer Ram V is capturing that’s unmistakable and rare to see in everyday comics.
The main story of this issue focuses on the boy who will find eternal life and what he’s been up to since Starr failed at killing him when he was a baby. There’s a story within a story here about the boy’s family and a man who works the land for his family. There’s a touching story at work here about caring for others, empathy, and the loss of those who may not be our family but mean more to us than others may know. Much like the first issue, this series continues to find new ways to honor and lift up humanity and life.
There are also interesting cultural elements that some readers like myself will be unfamiliar with, but are compelling and deeply meaningful. How crows serve as transport for souls, for instance, or how marigolds are used to honor the dead. These elements bleed into the supernatural elements well, particularly the ending reveals, and make this world feel tethered to reality yet otherworldly too.
The visuals are exceptional, with the uniqueness of Filipe Andrade’s lines apparent on every page. Andrade is backed up by color assistant Ines Amaro and letters by Andworld Design. The art is particularly good at capturing a moment in time or in everyday life — a boy sitting on a curb as people walk behind him on a busy sidewalk. Two people embracing as they sit on a wall in front of the sea, a dog chasing birds behind them. The lonesome feeling of a shopkeep sitting at their stall waiting for a customer in shadow as if they are the only person alive. For a story about life and death, Andrade sucks you into the world like a child experiencing it for the first time. And hell, he captures a lot of personality in a crow who really shouldn’t be talking in a believable way but does.
The Many Deaths Of Laila Starr #2 is a great example of how comics can lift up life in a way no other medium can. As the godlike Laila begins to understand humanity, she’s also very close to the supernatural in ways that harness the deep value of life that’s all around us every day. Ram V and Andrade have crafted a story of magical realism that’s a celebration of life and its deep value in its everyday experiences.
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