Often, in the early morning hours or late at night, when my thoughts turn to comic books and the stories that inalterably shaped the adult I am today, I ponder Vertigo Comics and its myriad of sophisticated, poetic, fantastical and horror-centric titles and lament the loss of that publishing imprint.
Vertigo Comics was borne from some of my favourite comic books in Swamp Thing and Hellblazer but it was The Sandman that delivered that particular publishing baby.
Releasing out-of-the-margin stories by a myriad of great writers and artists, new voices and old, established and burgeoning, was a treat each and every week at the local comic book shop and Vertigo Comics did it successfully for nearly three decades, until it was quietly folded by parent company, DC Comics, in early 2020.
The new, Boom! Studios five-issue mini-series, The Many Deaths of Laila Starr feels like it could rank up with the best of those sophisticated, more adult, offerings.
Written by highly acclaimed Ram V. (Swamp Thing, Justice League Dark, Blue In Green, These Savage Shores), who has recently done head-turning, darkly fantastical work on the Future State Swamp Thing (which we gave a heads up to, right here) and illustrated with lush and evocative line work that leaps off the page by Felipe Andrade (Captain Marvel), The Many Deaths of Laila Starr is a work that puts mankind’s greatest and most important philosophy – death and life – front and center.
The embodiment of Death, here, is fired from her post, chiefly due to mankind being on the verge of a breakthrough to immortality. What role does death have now in the business of existence? Cast below to live out a finite number of days in the body of the twenty-something Laila Starr, the bustling city of Mumbai is death’s new home.
What better place is there, for a writer and artist to stretch themselves and tell a magical story about all of the seemingly mundane, and altogether important, things life has to offer – from the perspective of someone who has not only seen death, but once was death! And Laila’s time, as the creation of a new, all-powerful being comes closer and closer to fruition, is whittling away.
Here is a chance then, to set the course of the future history for all life.
While Andrade’s art inhales and exhales and jumps off the page, Ram V’s story is both entertaining and thought-provoking, full of human frailty and endeavour and it elicits those beloved stories from my Vertigo Comics reading history.
Vertigo Comics, you see, didn’t die when it ceased publication of titles. No, those stories moved elsewhere. Like here, with The Many Deaths of Laila Starr.
Make the run to your local comic book shop and pick up The Many Deaths of Laila Starr #1 and be witness to something beautiful and new and worthy of your time.