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The Many Deaths of Laila Starr Review

"You can't just fire me! I'm an absolute consequence, it's in the job description. I bet taxes still has her corner office, doesn't she?"

I have to admit, in a book that often feels quite profound and poetic at times, with more of a focus on thoughtful character moments than comedy (just due to the type of book it is) I thought that was a fun moment of levity that made me laugh.

The Many Deaths of Laila Starr was one of the most highly acclaimed books of last year. I remember seeing so much hype and praise about it, and it appeared on many "best of the year" lists when the end of the year came around. So, naturally, I was eagerly anticipating the release of the collected edition, and it did not disappoint.

After hearing lots of great things about his work, I first experienced Ram V as a writer with Image Comics original graphic novel Blue in Green, a couple years ago. "Experienced" being the key word here. I found that book difficult to review and talk about in the sense that it was different from anything else I'd read up to that point, and it's something I noticed again here.

I can't speak for his other work as I haven't gotten round to them yet (although I hear fantastic things about how he's been writing The Swamp Thing) but both Blue in Green and The Many Deaths of Laila Starr have a very smooth, almost lush and flowing poetic style to their storytelling. In that sense, I wouldn't call them quick reads necessarily, but it's incredibly easy to be swept away in the emotion and the atmosphere of the story.

That is of course helped by the beautiful artwork of Filipe Andrade, with color assists by Ines Amaro. It compliments the writing so well, in that it also feels so lush to look that.

The colors are gorgeous, vibrant and really give it this enchanting feel that helps captivate your attention and imagination as you're reading through the book.

The description uses the phrase "magical realism" and that's apparent in the artwork. It feels wistful and out there at times, but remains so grounded in the emotion and the characters throughout.

The final thing I want to mention is the use of time throughout the series. I won't talk about it too much so you can experience it for yourself, but basically, to do with the title of the series there's a time jump at the end of every issue. Even that has a pattern, a certain rhythm to it, I loved that, I thought it was a great detail.

The way it builds up throughout the series, leading to some revelations and genuinely heavy, dramatic moments in the last couple of issues, I was absolutely enamoured. Especially that last issue? Again I won't spoil it here, because you deserve to experience it for yourself if you haven't already, but yeah, absolutely loved it.

The way each issue explores the idea of life, death, mortality, what all that means, was just absolutely fascinating to me.

As I saw many people express praise for in particular, there's even one issue from the point of view of a cigarette of all things.

The idea of it narrating the issue for it's relatively short life, illustrating what that means for our two protagonists and the themes of the series, and actually making that work and feel poignant, felt like such an achievement to me.

"It's what happens when things die. They go away, but you don't realise all the parts of you that they were holding up until after.

And in the days that follow, the possibilities of what could've been begin to fall away. Leaving you with less, each time - more precious, to be savoured.

Like a cigarette.

The point of life, my friend, is to be smoked."

Anyway, so glad I finally got around to reviewing this wonderful, incredible book. Well worth all the praise and a read if you haven't already. I don't think you'll regret it.


Have you read this? What did you think? Let me know over on Twitter at JoeLovesComics, where you can find (albeit shorter) thoughts on other comics I love.

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