cover image The Many Deaths of Laila Starr

The Many Deaths of Laila Starr

Ram V and Filipe Andrade. BOOM! Studios, $14.99 trade paper (128p) ISBN 978-1-68415-805-8

The opening pages of this dynamically drawn but unevenly scripted graphic novel by V (Grafity’s Wall) and Andrade (the Rocket Raccoon & Groot series) brim with explosive energy before losing momentum. Mrs. Shah, in labor and trapped in a Mumbai traffic jam, screams at her husband over the phone. A disinterested young woman named Laila Starr reclines on the ledge of an open window several stories above. And “in a high place, far beyond mortal clouds,” the goddess Death prepares for an uncomfortable meeting with her boss. These three story lines collide when Laila leaps, Shah gives birth to her son, Darius, and Death is unceremoniously fired—because Darius is destined to discover immortality. But Death, now in the resurrected body of Laila, sets off to eliminate Darius, only to be hit by a truck, then resurrected again. Laila and Darius meet at intervals throughout his life, which unfolds through a series of staid recaps. Darius tells Laila of recent events, most of them tinged with loss and guilt, and, predictably, Laila/Death starts to respect the sanctity of human life. The sudden shift in pacing kills the narrative momentum, even if Andrade’s kinetic art captures both the busy chaos of Mumbai and meditative moments alike. But despite cool art, these mortal and immortal characters don’t live up to their promising start. [em](Jan.) [/em]