Writer: Kieran Gillen / Artist: Stephanie Hans / Image Comics
Die #5 concludes the first arc of this utterly brilliantly composed comic, and I’m honestly hard-pressed to think of a single comic that brings me this much intrinsic joy and utter desolation every time I crack it open. The world that Gillen, Hans, and Cowles have crafted takes familiar pieces from all of the fantasy worlds in your memories and slowly twists and distorts them until the end results in something alluring and alienating. Lay on that a beautifully stress inducing narrative of a tabletop group entirely in over their heads, and you have the makings of one of best pieces of storytelling of the last couple years.
Gillen is a master of layering background information in incremental doses that provide just enough for the reader to meditate on and draw their own conclusions. The opening page features a flashback to 1985 (long before the fateful night that intertwined their lives with the world) that utilizes less than 40 words to tell us everything we ever needed to know about Sol’s personality. It effortlessly transitions to the current predicament at Glass Town and Ash’s preparation for the pending skirmish before showing us yet another new facet of the world: Eternal Prussia, a land of terrible machinations. It continues to flesh out the multifaceted inner workings of Die while also giving chance for Hans to flex some more sci-fi inspired work.
But all of the artwork is just absolutely incredible. Hans’ page layouts are nothing short of a masterpiece and panels feature a wonderful fantastical flourish. Whether it is the characters channeling their magical powers or the grand austerity of the magnificent set piece that is a Glass Town at war, Hans presents breathtaking moments. Couple that with Cowles’ brilliant lettering that evokes desperation and determination, and they manage to elevate Gillen’s already enthralling story.
Die is Bast-damn near a perfect comic. With the conclusion of its first arc, you have absolutely no reason not to dive deep into the story. The stakes start out high and only continue to escalate, and the end result is a tour-de-force of comic book goodness. I cannot wait for the start of the next issue and the pending release of the Die RPG rulebook later this summer. So please, read this book and share in the joy and grief, the brilliant words and visuals, and the childhood idealism and adult cynicism. It’s unlike anything else you’ve read.
10 “Fallen” out of 10
Reading Die? Find BNP’s other reviews of the series here.