Toxic Masculinity Is A Selfish Purgatory In Death Of Love #3

by Angel Carreras

Death of Love #3  further continues its light exploration of toxic masculinity via its brotagonist, Philo. A fedora-clad, self-proclaimed Nice Guy, Philo endangers his and his friend’s lives in the name of love (in his eyes), brutally killing a couple cupids (err, cupidae) to kick off this issue.

On the run from the many winged-love-matchmakers looking to avenge their winged cohorts, Philo races home from a bloody cupid crime scene only to find a swarm of cupidae waiting for him. Terrified, he bolts to his friend Bob’s place.

Philo previously attempted telling Bob that the drugs he took in issue # 1 allowed him to see and interact with these cupidae; there wasn’t much to show in terms of proof that issue, but this time, Philo has a hand punctured by a cupid’s arrow to show for it.

Justifiably, Bob thinks Philo needs help but agrees to take him to the object (quite literally, with this guy) of his affection, Zoe, to hear him out. What begins as listening to a troubled friend turns into a mental health intervention– until Philo loses his shit.

Having been the sole person to take the love-drug, only Philo can see these winged creatures and, apparently, is being attacked by them, being tossed about, slamming into and destroying everything around him.

Though from his friend’s perspective, dude just destroyed Zoe’s mom-and-pop coffee shop. Rage-filled, Zoe’s held back by a calming Bob, telling her that somewhere deep down, Philo is a good guy and they need to be there for him in his time of need.

Being the consistently unlikeable protagonist (see: Asshole) he is, Philo drugs his own goddamn friends in a manipulative effort so that they, too, can see these winged avengers.

Now that they can see that Philo wasn’t lying, Bob summates the series: “Philo, what did you fucking do?”

******

The art on display by Donal Delay suits the story perfectly, zany and cartoony when the story calls for it (those cupid guts, woof! Near-disgusting in their melted-meat look!) and appropriately toned down and serious when interpersonal interactions, weighed with drama, arise. The writing, however, is what makes a lasting impression.

Yes, these characters have been quippy and fun, with distinct personalities, during the entirety of this series, but it’s this issue where Jordan has the ancillary characters confront Philo, pointing out the selfish purgatory of his own making.

I don’t envy Justin Jordan. Can he make readers actually like Philo in just five issues? Not only does Philo think he deserves Zoe’s love just for being her friend, he refuses to believe he is at the root of his own problems, disregarding his own shortcomings, and doesn’t even flinch while dragging his friends into his spiraling, miserable (and murderous cupidae-filled!) world.  Three issues in, maybe a redemption arc for Philo isn’t the point.

As a male reader, I hope this comic makes other men have the same thoughts I had reading this: Have I been Philo? Have I been the Nice Guy? Have I been a manipulative, self-destructive user of others just to fulfill my own needs? It’s a difficult mirror for most men to look at, and especially to see themselves in. I admire Jordan for writing this comic in the age of #edgy YouTube comic reviewers and red-pilled, gorilla-mindset, faux-alpha bros. I doubt those are the targets for his arrows, but I assume he’s attempting to thwart these things with this comic mea culpa– empathy and understanding of the other, trojan-horsed, via a cupid-killing comic.

Despite all the pick-up gurus’ advice that you can pay for and love pills that you can take, shitty behavior isn’t rewarded– in fact, you may just lose love and your friends.

Death of Love #3 is currently available from Image Comics.

Story by Justin Jordan
Art by Donal Delay
Colors by Omar Estévez
Letters by Rachel Deering