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‘Die #1:’ Advance Comic Book Review

I’ve been a mostly avid tabletop gamer for much of my life, and there’s always that one person who takes the game way, way to seriously. For them, it’s life. Here is a comic that feels a bit like It meets The Chronicles of Narnia, but with roleplaying, and with someone who takes it way, way, way too seriously. I could throw in a few more “ways,” but I think you understand.

The book is narrated by our main character, Dominic, and like the first chapter of Crime and Punishment, he’s a little annoying at first. He’s judgmental and has to comment on everything – even what he says. He’s a bit paranoid. He’s weirdly detached. Like with Crime and Punishment, as the story progresses and we see what he’s been holding onto, the tone of his character begins to make more sense.

As a sixteen-year-old and sharing a birthday with his friend, Solomon, they would always celebrate together. That year, he proposed playing a game. So, along with his friends, his younger sister, and what appeared to be a magical set of dice, they played – each creating a character and being given one of the dice . . . except that they disappeared for two years. Like It, we’re thrust into their adult life. None of them can talk about what happened, but they are all haunted by it, including the fact that one of them has gone missing. When one of the dice appears in their lives again, the group of once friends are forced to gather to decide what to do.

Most of the first issue is mired in Dominic’s depression. The art is even dark and dreary. Like the characters, you’re trapped in this world whether you like it or not; however, when the fantasy elements kick in, that weary mise en scene is turned on its head and the comic book springs to life. The melodrama is replaced by the fantastic. Dominic comes to life, the world becomes vibrant – part The Cure and part Pink Floyd or a painted, ’80s version of Tarsem’s The Cell – it’s pretty awesome. The last 10 pages were enough to make me want to come back for issue two. Knowing Gillen’s work on everything from Thor to Star Wars to fan favorite The Wicked + the Divine, and with the resurgence of tabletop gaming the last couple of years, this is definitely timely and something for which I have high hopes.

Creative Team: Kieron Gillen (writer), Stephanie Hans (artist), Clayton Cowles (letterer), Rian Hughes (designer), Chrissy Williams (editor)
Publisher: Image Comics
Click here to purchase.

Phillip Kelly, Fanbase Press Contributor



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