Grim Leaper is an unusual four part love story from Image Comics, the company responsible for publishing titles such as Spawn, Invincible, and The Walking Dead. The story follows a man named Lou Collins who finds himself in a cycle of constantly dying and reincarnating into the bodies and lives of various random people in his hometown. He believes himself to be cursed, constantly getting a second chance to do something with his new lives, but he keeps getting killed before he can figure out what that something is. Then, on his fourteenth body, he meets Ella Patrick, a girl who shares his curse. She dies soon after they meet and the hunt is on for both of them to try and find one another again. They continue to meet up with each other and grow as people throughout their constant quest to reunite.
Ella learns to cast aside her fears and thoughts of inadequacy as she embraces the freedom that constant reincarnation provides while Lou, when he is forced into the body of a married man, begins to understand and accept that his actions have consequences. Finally, after a few reunions and subsequent deaths, the two of them find themselves back in their original bodies. Excited, they meet up and realize that they had originally met right before Lou died. Glad to have figured out their original connection, they kiss and accidentally kill each other as each of them has the remnants of a food the other is allergic to on their lips. They wake up in their typical limbo, though this time they wake up in the same place and jump into their next bodies together. The comic ends with them reviving in the bodies of two newlyweds, uncertain of whether they will continue to reincarnate or how much time they have left, but happy to have each other for whatever lies ahead.
The other interesting feature of these comics is that every issue has a three-page mini story at the end. The stories are brief looks at different love stories which start off relatively light-hearted and get darker as the series goes on. The tales respectively involve a couple that only manages to get together once they run into each others’ cars, a man who plans to murder his unfaithful girlfriend, a man who believes he is in a relationship with the Apple voice assistant Siri, and a girl who convinces her boyfriend to murder her parents so that she can leave him for another guy.
The art style in the main story of the comics is very visceral and graphic, particularly during death scenes, where the violence is exaggerated almost to the point of ridiculousness. In scenes without action, the details are often a bit blurred or not particularly well-defined and the glare throughout the series is noticeably greater than is typical for comics. This is definitely a gory series, with graphic death scenes meant to show how trivial and yet unflinchingly real death is to these characters. They also portray how after experiencing death, life for the main characters is little more than a reflection and period of anticipation before their next deaths. The methods of death vary from everyday accidents such as car accidents to deliberate killings, as in the case where Lou found himself in the body of a serial killer and was killed by one of the victims.
As time goes on and the two lovebirds begin to grow, they recognize how little control they have over what is happening and take greater control over the timing and methods of their inevitable deaths, turning them from accidents to deliberate endeavors. Overall, the story and character growth in this series is a bit clichéd, but the odd gimmick of the body jumping and violent fixation on death makes the comic unique enough to remain interesting. The mini-stories at the end of each issue provide brief glimpses of interesting and somewhat morbid views on love and humanity that can also keep the series interesting. The artwork on those stories moves from old style dot-shading, to cartoonish, to fairly realistic with a still-visible comic style as the stories get darker and more sickening. The mini-stories also become more realistic and plausible as they become more horrifying.
Overall, the two elements of the main plot and the mini-stories make for an interesting series of comics. The speed at which the couple falls in love in the main storyline is a bit unrealistic but then again, this is a tale of two people who jump between bodies every time they die so implausibility is a relative term. The short stories at the end are all a bit shorter than many readers will be used to, but they manage to convey their strange ideas very effectively with very little space. This is not necessarily a must-have series for anyone without a morbid fascination with death, but it is an entertaining comic and a nice change of pace from the stereotypical superhero staples of the comics industry.