Years ago, our adventuring party were kids trapped in a fantasy world after playing a game with their friends. They escaped, only to have to return as adults as part of a rescue mission. During their second stint, things have been a bit up and down for our heroes, with the party split and each doing something equally dangerous. With one side of the party ruling the land of Angria and the rest traveling to help one of their own, the world of Die has gotten more dangerous, as well as more complex.
This is a very layered series, as the adventuring party are not only themselves, but also their characters. Dealing with that dual mindset can be challenging, especially when you’re trapped in the world of your character, unable to escape. As being able to differentiate between yourself and your fictional form gets more challenging, the obstacles inside the world of Die become more complex, as well. It makes for an interesting split between who these characters are, who they’re pretending to be, and how much they’re actually pretending. While some seem to be playing a role, others in the party seem to be embracing their true selves, one not held back by societal pressures or constraints.
Our current adventure shows the very divisive Ash leading the Angrian empire, dealing with all of the issues that could come up with what has been a very sudden rule. Politics and espionage are the common threads of royal rule, and it seems to be something that Ash is struggling with. That all seems to change as members of neighboring lands begin some good, old-fashioned diplomacy with the new queen inside the world of Die. This adventure is set against the rest of the party, all finding a way to get aid for Angela’s daughter who has run into difficulties of her own after finding her way inside the world of Die. It’s a certainty that these two forces will be brought back together again, but, for now, it’s been interesting to see the party split into two groups while they navigate their current normal.
Touted as “Goth Jumanji” by co-creator and writer Kieron Gillen, Die is an odd series in a sea of unique titles from Image Comics. It is a complex, character-driven story inside a fantasy world. By placing this group into an unknown world and adding in some trauma and a whole lot of new wrinkles, Die can go anywhere and most likely will.
Artist Stephanie Hans is brilliant; her artwork is some of the most beautiful I’ve seen in comics. With a robust world and an incredible painted style, there is something ethereal and haunting about the way Hands has brought the world of Die to life. There is simply no other way to describe her work other than breathtaking, and world the cover price alone.
I love weird books, and I also love role-playing games. Combining these two into one project is a difficult, but worthwhile, challenge and one that this team does beautifully. By bringing this world to life, Die does something unique, letting us as the reader watch as people from the real world live inside a fantasy landscape. Plus, readers can live inside the world of Die, as Gillen has created a working version of the role-playing game for us to play along with our adventuring party, something so complex that it’s wild to even comprehend. Read Die. Play Die. Live Die. It’ll be worth your time.
Creative Team: Kieron Gillen (writer), Stephanie Hans (artist), Clayton Cowles (letters)
Publisher: Image Comics
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