‘The Many Deaths of Laila Starr’ #2 is a stylish deep gorgeous celebration of humanity & the human experience from a creative team at the top of their game who clearly truly love the medium and are willing to take it to the heights that it can and should be reaching. The first issue set a bar that the second surpassed easily and the series promises to keep exceeding and subverting expectations going forward.
Life and death, two constants/concepts that are forever intertwined. What might have seemed to be a quirky story idea to see how a fallen Death god fares as a mortal upon first glance by some, is something far greater and deeper than that. First experiences with death/loss, the divides of class inequality, what funerals and celebrations mean for the living, and deep looks at the differences in taking and sparing lives are just the tip of the iceberg of what this issue accomplishes.
Even with all the supernatural beings and concepts that feature heavily in this story, essentially Ram V and Filipe Andrade are telling a story about humanity. Death within the mortal form of Laila Starr is having to learn about humanity and what it means while the young man destined to grant eternal life which forced her out of a job is learning similar lessons that cross their paths once again. There is so much depth and emotion that is spread across every single page as the two creators fully capture the human experience.
Despite it only being the second issue, because of the format of the series Ram V makes sure to include a recap page of sorts that is ingrained right into the issue. It flows naturally and fits as Laila recounts the events of 8 years prior to the funeral crow Kah who becomes her guide to humanity for but a moment.
There is a stunning and stylish uniqueness to every panel of art, making no two characters or places the same. Andrade and color assistant Inês Amaro work hard to make this world colorful in both moody and popping ways depending on the moment. Just the way the character Bardhan is drawn as this gentle larger-than-life giant of a man is such a great choice.
Personality flows off the pages as everything in the world feels real and has weight and a story it’s begging to tell. Even those that only feature in the background or as parts of other stories feel just as real as the main characters, it’s a lived-in world.
Deron Bennett’s lettering choices mirror this level of personality as there are creative differences between the way dialogue is presented from each character, alongside the style of the third person narration captions. There are other choices made that might escape notice but open things up so much once they are noticed.
One is how conversations between Darius/Bardhan and Laila/Kah are always done in a way where their speech bubbles are on equal footing where they are equals in a way, just conversating. Despite being an adult, Bardhan never is talking down to or around Darius, always to him and with him. Yet all bubbles from Darius’s parents directed at him are always above him, coming from that place of authority.
It still stands, as mentioned in the review for the first issue, that the team is working wonderfully to create one cohesive full story that at the same time could stand apart and still tell complete stories. There are many that focus on the super-heroics that comics do, because it’s one of the more famous facets of the medium, but there is so much more that can and should be done with them and this series is the embodiment of that.
This creative team is taking this joyous medium and stretching it to its greatest boundaries and doing something magical with it all. There are levels and things within this story that probably are still going unnoticed that will set off alarm bells of recognition upon further investigations or even when the story is more complete. It’s a rich fulfilling experience that proves why this is such a beloved and enduring medium.
The Many Deaths of Laila Starr #2 is now on sale from BOOM! Studios in print and digitally.