Wherein the great Wizard Gillen decrees that it is long past time we had a horror comic based around a role-playing game, and delivers the goods with awesome visuals and a Trent Reznor soundtrack while birthing a new role-playing game along with the comic.
The View From The Cheap Seats
Kieron Gillen has created many good things for comic book readers. His Phonogram series explored how music affects humans and humanity as a whole. His excellent series The Wicked + The Divine explored the idea of what our classic mythology looks like filtered through the lens of modern pop music and culture. Even Uber, his meditation on the idea of superheroes developed by Nazi Germany during World War II was stellar. He’s had a few misses over the years, every great writer does, but his newest series Die is shaping up to be a grand spectacle, worthy of the best of comics.
Die started as a conversation Gillen had with one of his friends. They were musing about the 1980s Dungeons and Dragons cartoon where the kids get sucked into the D&D realm and take on the personas of some of the classic character archetypes. The cartoon was cancelled before it ever really had a proper ending and the kids were just sort of permanently stuck there. It’s conversations like this, the game of What If, that often breeds magic.
And so Die was born. A group of kids get together to celebrate a birthday by playing a role-playing game… only this isn’t just any run of the mill RPG. The game sucks the kids into its world where they get to spend the next few years fighting for their lives. Eventually the kids make their escape but they have to sacrifice one of their own in the process. They go back to their real world lives and they grow up.
And then one day one of them receives a mysterious package and the whole ordeal starts all over again, only this time they’re 40 something adults who get to come to the train wreck realization that the world they created as teenagers is a twisted nightmare of mal-adjusted youthful fantasy. It’s sort of like Jumanji crossed with Stranger Things and tangled up in a Steve Jackson nightmare.
The “How To Make An Excellent Comic” Master Class
When you get Stephanie Hans to paint your comic it’s always going to look spectacular and Die is no exception. Her paintings are beautiful and set the mood perfectly. The colors are an exact match for the emotion being conveyed by the story. She’s just exceptional. The lettering by Clayton Cowles is fantastic. Everything is clearly defined and well placed so that words of the story highlight the art. This is comics done brilliantly well. The three creators mesh seamlessly together turning this into a wonderful comic book that stands on firm ground with Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing and Jamie Delano’s Hellblazer.
Die #3 is outstanding but you need to read the first two as well. Die #3 is a middle part of the larger story and though it’s a visual feast for the eyes, if you can find them I highly recommend picking up the first two issues. This is a series that will work amazingly well when it’s collected in trade but if you wait for it, you will miss out on some of the fun as Gillen is fantastic at leaving the story beats in little cliffhangers that make it a must to catch the next monthly issue.
For those of you like me who are addicted to behind the scenes back matter, Gillen does not disappoint. Each issue has a long essay detailing everything from the origins of the world building and what references he used, to an overview of how the first round of play testing the upcoming Die RPG went. This is a must buy for fans of horror comics or just great storytelling in general.
- Great story
- Jaw-dropping art
- Insanely detailed world-building
- There are none