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‘Die #18:’ Advance Comic Book Review

Cross-media sensation Die returns for another issue of what could be one of the most interesting (and most depressing, in a good way) comics on the market. The group is still attempting to make their way to the center of Die to get themselves out of this nightmare-fueled game and back home, while fixing their mistakes along the way. It's here that the group navigates the ultimate landscape of table-top games: the dreaded dungeon. With the undead remnants of their trapped former friend in tow, the group continues their journey, despite everything that's happened between them - not only in the years since their return from the first time they were trapped here, but in the time since their return, of which there has been much.

This is the final arc of the series, and it's some bleak and incredible work from series co-creator Kieron Gillen. With everything winding down, we're finally getting some backstory as to what happened between the characters, especially to Sol - the undead creator of Die that was left inside the game when the group escaped so many years ago. Seeing their former close friend in this light - and finally knowing what took him from beloved Game Master and compatriot to arch-rival and back again - is really bittersweet way. It's a look into a tragic figure scarred by not only their own decisions, but by those they brought with them on this journey, and the consequences brought by those choices.

Getting a deeper look into Sol was something that this series needed, despite the dark nature of his tale. Sol has been examined in various ways by both readers and characters alike throughout the series, and I think this issue really brought to light how he became who he is and why. It also reveals some of the actions of those around Sol, and how that brought him to this point.

It's a special thing when Kieron Gillen really gets to leave his mark on a series. There's this odd and wonderful vibe of incredible talent, mixed with a lack of self-seriousness, combined with what is somehow the most seriousness to ever be granted to a comic. There's this dark humor, references to other media, and mesmerizing storytelling that all combine together into something very unique.

Along on this journey is Stephanie Hans who is - in the simplest of terms - an incredible artist. Her work is gorgeous and dark when it needs to be; it is full of emotion and storytelling in every image. It's hard to imagine what this series would be without her talents, as I feel like she perfectly fits the kind of story Gillen is going for. She excellently uses the emotional color palette, bringing deep reds and blues to pages to reflect what's going on with the characters or the tone of the scene, adding her oil-painted brush style to bring this fantasy nightmare to life.

I'll be sad when this series takes its final bow, but, thankfully, this will live on in its other form. While the story of Die as a comic will fade, the TTRPG based on the comic based on an TTRPG will still exist for fans to write there own stories. That's the beauty of this series to me. It's a love letter to the plethora of brilliant games that promote companionship, cooperative storytelling, and bonding. It's dark and deep, but it knows that it is, and it knows that it's also not all it has to be. This series is fascinating not only for the story, which is very good, but also for the million branching paths its creation can bring into the world. Being able to do that makes it one of the more influential comics out there, in its own, odd way.


Creative Team: Kieron Gillen (writer), Stephanie Hans (artist)
Publisher: Image Comics
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