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‘Die #19:’ Advance Comic Book Review

We’re nearly there. With one more roll of the die, we will be through this journey, as the following issue of Die marks its last. This, the penultimate issue of the series, one full of twists and turns, of friendships blooming and decaying, of learning who you truly are through this nightmarish hellscape that is loosely defined as a game, is its finest yet. As the group, including undead game master and creator Sol, makes their final attempt to leave the world of Die, we find that the way out is much more complex than opening a door or finding light through a dark tunnel. Getting out means getting out of your own way, of finally admitting to yourself the things that you’ve hidden for so long, and using that as your way back into the real world. It’s classic, in a sense. Tabletop games have, for decades, given people an opportunity to live their truest selves, to be who they want without fear of remorse or judgment. These games have helped people understand their indentity and motives, to have that moment of not trying to hide or repress anything anymore, and to take that into the real world, living free as who you were meant to be.

This is the magic of tabletop gaming, it is the magic of Die. Yes, there’s a story, and it’s fantastic. It has incredible world-building, and everything is just as you expect a Kieron Gillen-led series to be. But, honestly, I feel like at this point, the story is getting out, going back to the world you’re escaping from, and how that happens almost doesn’t matter.

How they get out will be cool, dramatic, and visually stunning, thanks to the brilliance of Stephanie Hans, the artist who has led us along this quest. Her work is beautiful and dark, exactly like it should be. Her painted style, with its blurred edged and backgrounds that can blend into each other at times, is stunning, and something that every comic book fan should view as one of the most interesting styles in the industry, a stark contrast to the crisp, clean inking lines of most mainstream comics. Again, though, at this point in the story, every reader should know how great this series looks, how well it flows narratively, and how cool it is when it all comes together.

There’s a larger point, especially where the narrative is as we reach the end. It’s been bubbling towards the surface ever since this party went into Die the first time. It’s the oldest tale in tabletop gaming, and in storytelling. We’ve come to the point where every character is going through the final stages in their personal Hero’s Journey, where they come back changed for the better. For some in this group, it’s understanding who you are, what you’ve been hiding all this time. For others, it’s why you went on this journey in the first place. Each party member has their own personal reasons for going, and have each changed in myriad ways. That’s what’s important about this series and about cooperative storytelling, especially in RPGs.

The next issue is the last, and as the journey comes to an end, it’s one whose impact should be felt by all that read it. It’s the perfect blend of the joy of telling a story together and in telling one solo, because while Gillen is the author, many hands have touched this story in some way or another.

There’s also a great interview with Matt Mercer of Critical Role at the end of the issue, capping off a great series with creators in this space. It’s notable because Critical Role has been a sort of catalyst for the resurgence of tabletop gaming.

This is the best issue yet in this series, and with the finale coming soon, it’s exciting to see how it’s all wrapped up.

Creative Team: Kieron Gillen (writer), Stephanie Hans (artist), Clayton Cowles (letterer)
Publisher: Image Comics
Click here to purchase.


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