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Die, Vol. 1: Fantasy Heartbreaker

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The Wicked + The Divine writer Kieron Gillen teams up with artist supernova Stephanie Hans (WicDiv, Journey Into Mystery) for her first ongoing comic. Die is a pitch-black fantasy where a group of forty-something adults have to deal with the returning, unearthly horror they only just survived as teenage role-players. If Kieron's in a rush, he describes it as "Goth Jumanji" The Wicked + The Divine writer Kieron Gillen teams up with artist supernova Stephanie Hans (WicDiv, Journey Into Mystery) for her first ongoing comic. Die is a pitch-black fantasy where a group of forty-something adults have to deal with the returning, unearthly horror they only just survived as teenage role-players. If Kieron's in a rush, he describes it as "Goth Jumanji", but that's only the tip of this obsidian iceberg. Collects issues #1-5 of Die.


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The Wicked + The Divine writer Kieron Gillen teams up with artist supernova Stephanie Hans (WicDiv, Journey Into Mystery) for her first ongoing comic. Die is a pitch-black fantasy where a group of forty-something adults have to deal with the returning, unearthly horror they only just survived as teenage role-players. If Kieron's in a rush, he describes it as "Goth Jumanji" The Wicked + The Divine writer Kieron Gillen teams up with artist supernova Stephanie Hans (WicDiv, Journey Into Mystery) for her first ongoing comic. Die is a pitch-black fantasy where a group of forty-something adults have to deal with the returning, unearthly horror they only just survived as teenage role-players. If Kieron's in a rush, he describes it as "Goth Jumanji", but that's only the tip of this obsidian iceberg. Collects issues #1-5 of Die.

30 review for Die, Vol. 1: Fantasy Heartbreaker

  1. 4 out of 5

    Sam Quixote

    Six kids find themselves magically transported into a D&D-type board game. Two years pass - and only five kids return to the real world. Twenty-five years later, the five are transported back into the game only to find their missing sixth friend has become the evil grandmaster of the fantasy world - and, this time, they must FINISH THE GAME! Which means, uh… they have tea and cakes and sing lovely songs about fish fingers…? I think it’s meant to be menacing or something. So: Die is basically dar Six kids find themselves magically transported into a D&D-type board game. Two years pass - and only five kids return to the real world. Twenty-five years later, the five are transported back into the game only to find their missing sixth friend has become the evil grandmaster of the fantasy world - and, this time, they must FINISH THE GAME! Which means, uh… they have tea and cakes and sing lovely songs about fish fingers…? I think it’s meant to be menacing or something. So: Die is basically dark Jumanji if the game was just D&D and mega-boring. Which could be a fun read with the right treatment but unfortunately Kieron Gillen’s ain’t it. The characters are a grim and dull lot. The world of the game is generic and depressing, which, coupled with the depressed characters, makes things very jolly indeed. There’s hardly any story and what little there is incorporates some of the worst aspects of fantasy storytelling: endless walking and talking in pubs with wankerous bloviating dwarves. The tedium is broken up with the occasional fight with orcs, dragons, etc. which our heroes effortlessly get through. Oh the excitement… zzz… Stephanie Hans’ painted art is really beautiful though and her character designs were interesting. The Tolkien cameo was cute, particularly the eagle wink, and fitted in well with the WW1 setting. It’s not much though and doesn’t make me want to hang around to find out the whys and wherefores of the tale. Die, Volume 1: Fantasy Heartbreaker is just another dreary Kieron Gillen book in a long line of them!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Sean Gibson

    Everyone* who has ever played a fantasy role-playing game (or, for that matter, first encountered fantasy literature as an impressionable young child) has wondered what it would be like, if not devoutly wished, to be transported to the setting of that game. Not everyone, however, has put the same degree of thought into it that Gillen has in crafting this very dark vision of what would happen if a game master brought his vision to life for his players with some very real—and deadly—consequences. Everyone* who has ever played a fantasy role-playing game (or, for that matter, first encountered fantasy literature as an impressionable young child) has wondered what it would be like, if not devoutly wished, to be transported to the setting of that game. Not everyone, however, has put the same degree of thought into it that Gillen has in crafting this very dark vision of what would happen if a game master brought his vision to life for his players with some very real—and deadly—consequences. As much fun as the book is—and it IS fun, and well worth a read for fantasy fans and gamers in particular (none of whom will be surprised by a certain real-life fantasy lit titan ghosting through the pages of the book)—even more fun is the after matter, in which Gillen painstakingly details not only the creation of his world, but the source material that informed it, and analyzes numerous archetypal characters in order to deconstruct them. That said, if you don’t nerd out about Derrida-esque examinations of bardic charisma or god-driven magic, you’ll probably want to skip that part and stick to the book itself. (For the seven people out there who DO, dive in.) *One time, and one time only, have I ever felt that desire diminish, and it was not, surprisingly, when my ranger was swiftly dismembered by the Tarrasque. No, it was when my doughty if uncouth dwarven warrior Dargon Axewielder, who had bravely killed a brontosaurus one time and harvested its meat to feed his fellow adventurers, indicated, as the brave band sat fireside at the end of the day, that he “was going to roast [his] balls.” Any sensible DM would have known Dargon was referring to the testicles of the dinosaur, Dargon having waxed eloquent at great length (and, perhaps, to the annoyance of the other members of his party) about the salty tang of bronto balls earlier that day. The DM of this session being completely insensible, however**, assumed Dargon was referring to his own dwarven giggleberries and proceeded to declare, with an overtly showy roll of the dice, that Dargon suffered 17 damage. **This same DM once indicated a skeletal warrior was going to drink a healing potion, an inexplicable move that I countered, as any right-thinking adventurer would, with a joke: “A skeleton walks into a bar and orders a beer and a mop…HOW IS A SKELETON GOING TO BENEFIT FROM A HEALING POTION?!” After some huffy hemming and hawing, said DM finally agreed with my point, showing himself at least grudgingly capable of acting logically.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Artemy

    I feel like Gillen has dropped the ball here. Die has a brilliantly simple premise that mixes Jumanji, IT and Lord of the Rings. With Gillen's usual writing style, it should have been a fun ride with jaw-dropping twists, sharp snappy dialogue and fantastic characters. Instead, this series has been nothing but a depressing, over-narrated slog. There are too many characters and none of them are likeable or interesting. The story is too complicated, and the world-building is so over-engineered and I feel like Gillen has dropped the ball here. Die has a brilliantly simple premise that mixes Jumanji, IT and Lord of the Rings. With Gillen's usual writing style, it should have been a fun ride with jaw-dropping twists, sharp snappy dialogue and fantastic characters. Instead, this series has been nothing but a depressing, over-narrated slog. There are too many characters and none of them are likeable or interesting. The story is too complicated, and the world-building is so over-engineered and overthought that it really gets in the way of the actual story. With each issue Die left me more and more confused, frustrated and sad, and that's not what I'm used to expect from Kieron Gillen comics — the guy is one of my favourite writers, after all. The only good thing to come out of Gillen's convoluted world-building here is seeing it realised on page by Stephanie Hans, who is absolutely amazing on this book. It's a shame the story is not on par with the art, and it's even more of a shame that I have to say this about a Kieron Gillen comic.

  4. 4 out of 5

    James DeSantis

    Man, I just couldn't get into this one. So let me say I never played DnD and never really wanted to. It's just not my thing. This series is basically if DnD became a reality and you had to survive it. So years ago a bunch of kids get sucked into this DnD world. Once there horrible things had happen and they come back to the real world a few years later. Then a time skip happens, they all become adults, and get sucked back into the game. The tale begins to flip flop from the past, the present, an Man, I just couldn't get into this one. So let me say I never played DnD and never really wanted to. It's just not my thing. This series is basically if DnD became a reality and you had to survive it. So years ago a bunch of kids get sucked into this DnD world. Once there horrible things had happen and they come back to the real world a few years later. Then a time skip happens, they all become adults, and get sucked back into the game. The tale begins to flip flop from the past, the present, and a little in between. Nothing is interesting though. Everything is explained to you but none of it is remotely fun. The dower storytelling makes this a bore, with dread all around but none of it at all interesting. The fights are kind of cool thanks to the art, but even the art is filled with depression. Yes...the art feels depressing. So yeah...I was bored and had no urge to read this past issue 5. This is a mega-pass for me.

  5. 4 out of 5

    L. McCoy

    Alright guys I hate saying it but I don’t like that there are SO many comics that a bunch of people love that I just don’t get why... Seriously, why do I have to miss the fun? What’s it about? Basically there’s this group of teenagers who had a role-playing game party with all kinds of special crazy shit with their characters and special die. The thing is they went missing the same day because they were transported into the game’s fantasy world but returned 2 years later except for one. 25 years l Alright guys I hate saying it but I don’t like that there are SO many comics that a bunch of people love that I just don’t get why... Seriously, why do I have to miss the fun? What’s it about? Basically there’s this group of teenagers who had a role-playing game party with all kinds of special crazy shit with their characters and special die. The thing is they went missing the same day because they were transported into the game’s fantasy world but returned 2 years later except for one. 25 years later they end up getting the blood covered pair of dice that the one who never came home had so it’s time to go back to the fantasy world. Pros: The artwork is beautiful. Seriously the art is stunning and really puts readers into the story’s atmosphere. There are a few cool action scenes. This book is not too predictable. Some interesting twisty stuff. THERE’S A PUPPER! I love puppers so much they’re so good and cute, they’re much better than people and my favorite word is either “dog” or “puppy”. Dogs are my favorite animals so yeah I was happy to see such a cute and happy dog in this comic. There’s a particularly cool scene with a rotting corpse that won’t die. Really twisted but cool shit. Cons: The story. The idea is kinda cool but I don’t like the execution. It’s kinda confusing at times and then there’s some other shit that I’m about to get to that messed with my enjoyment a lot. The characters are not interesting. I was meh about most of them and disliked the others. There’s a lot of boring stuff. Maybe it’s because I was expecting it to mostly be an exciting fantasy, not a characters go on and on about their problems fantasy but yeah... The storytelling itself is kinda... cheesy maybe? It just seemed like it tried too hard to sound epic but doesn’t. A lot of this book is just sad. Like I understand wanting to add some depth and emotion to your art but this is just fucking sad. Very minor but it is disappointing how there was one character who was independent and decided that she didn’t need kids which was in a way a good breath of fresh air that a character expressed that point of view... (view spoiler)[ until they turned around and had her secretly want a kid and she starts crying about how sad it is that she doesn’t have one and shit... (hide spoiler)] Really? The ending. I didn’t like this volume’s kinda stupid ending. Overall: This book isn’t terrible, there’s some things that I like. Unfortunately, there’s more I dislike making my personal experience not so good. If other people like this (which seems to be the case with most fans of fantasy comic books) that’s wonderful, good for them but I don’t quite get the hype for this comic. Frankly, while the artwork is certainly pretty awesome, it’s unpredictable and has a cool dog those things don’t make up for uninteresting characters, a messy story, cheesy narrative, boring stuff and honestly depressing tone that doesn’t even really do anything but make this an unenjoyable book for me. I don’t like it. 2/5

  6. 4 out of 5

    Robert

    Oooh, I see this is a divisive one! I'll come down on the side of this being a very impressive artistic achievement reflecting the reality of being a sometimes depressive middle-aged dude who last played RPGs in the early 90s...since I literally AM a sometimes depressive middle-aged dude who last played RPGs in the early 90s. Not that I'm nostalgic for those deeply awkward days, like some kind of nerdier Gary from The World's End... I get why some wouldn't care for the moroseness of the narrator o Oooh, I see this is a divisive one! I'll come down on the side of this being a very impressive artistic achievement reflecting the reality of being a sometimes depressive middle-aged dude who last played RPGs in the early 90s...since I literally AM a sometimes depressive middle-aged dude who last played RPGs in the early 90s. Not that I'm nostalgic for those deeply awkward days, like some kind of nerdier Gary from The World's End... I get why some wouldn't care for the moroseness of the narrator or the uncomfortable honesty related to some of the more hurtful and regrettable aspects of experiencing adolescence during that particular era but it really spoke to me (despite the fact I'm Canadian and not English). I really want to see if the series can continue at such an imaginative and artistically excellent clip for vol. 2, which I will most definitely be reading. Plus, for fans of The Professor, seeing this sort of thing can be incredibly moving: (view spoiler)[ (hide spoiler)]

  7. 4 out of 5

    Silvana

    The worldbuilding's already so rich but still has too many immersion of classic fantasy stories like LOTR and Oz. It is tiring. I don't feel like I am getting any benefit from their usage. I just rolled my eyes and prayed this got over soon. Too bad, actually, since the 'Gothic Jumanji' stuff was interesting at first, and those art work was pretty dope. PS: Now I really miss (learning) D&D. Covid, can you just finish already. The worldbuilding's already so rich but still has too many immersion of classic fantasy stories like LOTR and Oz. It is tiring. I don't feel like I am getting any benefit from their usage. I just rolled my eyes and prayed this got over soon. Too bad, actually, since the 'Gothic Jumanji' stuff was interesting at first, and those art work was pretty dope. PS: Now I really miss (learning) D&D. Covid, can you just finish already.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Ashley Marie

    I learned about this comic (graphic novel?) thingy from my BFF, who roped me into my first-ever (online, bc 'rona) tabletop RPG and used this for the basis - still so cool that Kieron wrote it that way too. So we played out our campaign and it was probably the most wholesome R- (or X-) rated thing I'd ever seen. Instalove. That ending though... oh boy. The end of that game fucked me up. Cut to yesterday, and reading this because I'd found it on Hoopla. The artwork is STUNNING and the plotline is I learned about this comic (graphic novel?) thingy from my BFF, who roped me into my first-ever (online, bc 'rona) tabletop RPG and used this for the basis - still so cool that Kieron wrote it that way too. So we played out our campaign and it was probably the most wholesome R- (or X-) rated thing I'd ever seen. Instalove. That ending though... oh boy. The end of that game fucked me up. Cut to yesterday, and reading this because I'd found it on Hoopla. The artwork is STUNNING and the plotline is easily the most grimdark thing I've read thus far in 2020.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Allison Hurd

    Pretty, relatable, well-worn paths with a bit more angst. CONTENT WARNINGS (just a list of topics): (view spoiler)[ loss of a parent, sick child, body horror (including eyes), coercion of will, divorce, PTSD, homophobia. (hide spoiler)] Things to love: -The art. Really, just beautiful. -The archetypes. A really cool mash up of genres and a nice homage to the idiosyncracies of homebrew games. -The mix of realism and fantasy. LitRPG often lingers on one aspect or the other. This was a nice blend. -The Pretty, relatable, well-worn paths with a bit more angst. CONTENT WARNINGS (just a list of topics): (view spoiler)[ loss of a parent, sick child, body horror (including eyes), coercion of will, divorce, PTSD, homophobia. (hide spoiler)] Things to love: -The art. Really, just beautiful. -The archetypes. A really cool mash up of genres and a nice homage to the idiosyncracies of homebrew games. -The mix of realism and fantasy. LitRPG often lingers on one aspect or the other. This was a nice blend. -The gothiness. 90s grunge goth is my jam! Children dressing in 90s couture, this is the part you should emulate, not the unfortunately high cuts and over saturated colors. -The layout. Okay, love might be a strong word, but I sometimes find that it's hard to follow graphic novels, but the layout makes complete intuitive sense for left-right, top-bottom readers. Things that I didn't love: -Rushed. The pacing is pretty well off track here for me. There was no room for realities to breathe and become all-encompassing. The world didn't come alive, the trauma didn't resound, and the character depth felt suface-level even though I could tell that below the water their little legs were churning. -Been there, done that. The notes at the back say that the creators tried to come at this "sideways" but uh...it feels more like they just gave the old vehicle a new flashy paint job. I liked it, but it didn't grab me like others of its ilk have. It really needed to pump the brakes on the arc to build some depth.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Dan

    JUMANJI meets Tolkien. I was all ready to love this, but between the atrocious visual storytelling of Stephanie Hans and the waaaaay too Inside Baseball RPG references, I could not wait for it to end. I've never played D & D, so I'm clearly not the target audience. There were some interesting aspects of the story, and I kinda-sorta closed the book wondering where things will go in the next volume, but I doubt I'll be back. This one was just too much of a struggle for me. JUMANJI meets Tolkien. I was all ready to love this, but between the atrocious visual storytelling of Stephanie Hans and the waaaaay too Inside Baseball RPG references, I could not wait for it to end. I've never played D & D, so I'm clearly not the target audience. There were some interesting aspects of the story, and I kinda-sorta closed the book wondering where things will go in the next volume, but I doubt I'll be back. This one was just too much of a struggle for me.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jakub Kvíz

    This will be one of the best books of 2019, mark my words! Gorgeous art, gripping story, awesome and relatable characters, perfect world building and a lot of fantasy/pop culture references and jokes. This book has everything.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Rod Brown

    Jumanji: Welcome to the Dungeon. "We've got gloom and games..." As with The Wicked + The Divine, Gillen delivers a perfectly fine high concept story and teams with a great artist, he just cannot come up with characters about whom I care one iota.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Štěpán

    I enjoy Kieron Gillen'S writing style. Some things were a miss for me but more things that I've read were really good and I consider myself his fan. Stephanie Hans was a new face for me and art-wise this is a really stylised artist who knows how to make an impact. First two issues were wonderful. The third was interesting. The fourth was interesting more and the fifth was home run. Gillen crafted here a really compelling story with overlapping elements that are not visible at first glance. Elemen I enjoy Kieron Gillen'S writing style. Some things were a miss for me but more things that I've read were really good and I consider myself his fan. Stephanie Hans was a new face for me and art-wise this is a really stylised artist who knows how to make an impact. First two issues were wonderful. The third was interesting. The fourth was interesting more and the fifth was home run. Gillen crafted here a really compelling story with overlapping elements that are not visible at first glance. Elements from D&D have a brutally beautiful spin on them (Grieff Knight), characters act reasonably (parents act as parents) and maniacs seem to flourish where there is more madness. Art helps this book to stand out. Every page is like a painting and there would not be so good comic without Han's art. Her faces are sometimes a little bit off but that is nitpicking. Colouring her art with red, black and grey makes a stunning visual pallet, one that hits in the eyes and sticks. One of the strengths of Gillen is that he is a writer that doesn't fear writing LGBT+ characters like people and he doesn't write then just for politics. It's this duh example, but he knows how to represent and not to be preachy and pretentious. His characters are alive and here Ash is the perfect example. If you like fantasy, go read this. You won't be disappointed.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Shannon Appelcline

    Die is a fantasy with a standard theme: RPG players get sucked into their fantasy world. It's good, in large part because it twists the genre just a bit, with our players returning to their fantasy realm in their adult lives, twenty years after they escaped. And it's got fantasic art. But we've seen the core idea before, often to good effect in stories like The Guardians of The Flame, The Realm, and the D&D cartoon. For that matter, the idea itself is a twist on an older fantasy trope going back Die is a fantasy with a standard theme: RPG players get sucked into their fantasy world. It's good, in large part because it twists the genre just a bit, with our players returning to their fantasy realm in their adult lives, twenty years after they escaped. And it's got fantasic art. But we've seen the core idea before, often to good effect in stories like The Guardians of The Flame, The Realm, and the D&D cartoon. For that matter, the idea itself is a twist on an older fantasy trope going back to Narnia and Oz. But what makes Die truly great may only be perceptible to actual RPG players themselves, because it's obvious that Kieron Gillen is one of their number. Die references, twists, and ultimately deconstructs any number of roleplaying tropes, from the whole idea of a Fantasy Heartbreaker (as referenced in this title) to railroading GMs. And it does so with a light touch, so that (I think) non-RPGers will still enjoy the book, even if they don't understand the deeper level of the book. I've always loved this genre, especially when it's given a realistic twist, with The Guardians of the Flame and The Realm being favorites as a result. This deftly rediscovers their strengths, with a deeper understanding of RPGs, and better, modern writing.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    This was a little bit tricky to get into as it goes so fast, but damn is the artwork beautiful and story entirely unique. As someone who loves D&D and role-playing games, this was really fun... plus seeing the Matt Mercer blurb made me a little giddy. This was a little bit tricky to get into as it goes so fast, but damn is the artwork beautiful and story entirely unique. As someone who loves D&D and role-playing games, this was really fun... plus seeing the Matt Mercer blurb made me a little giddy.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Lukasz

    Quality stuff. Great art, strong writing, engaging plot.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Mili

    I love the art style! It is about a group of kids that play DnD. Get sucked into the world..come back scarred and minus one and then have to go back as adults...It plays with their insecurities and angst. And this time they wonder if they will be able to come out...

  18. 4 out of 5

    Logan

    D&D meet's Jumanji! So I've always been a big fan of Kieron Gillen and his Wicked & The Divine series, which just wrapped up its run. So I was interested to see what he would do with this series, so I bought this volume on a whim and I did not regret it! Die tells the story of 6 teenagers who one day while playing a D&D like the game got sucked into a fantasy world, only to finally come back to the real world 2 years later. Now as adults there back in the fantasy world, looking for a way out! Wh D&D meet's Jumanji! So I've always been a big fan of Kieron Gillen and his Wicked & The Divine series, which just wrapped up its run. So I was interested to see what he would do with this series, so I bought this volume on a whim and I did not regret it! Die tells the story of 6 teenagers who one day while playing a D&D like the game got sucked into a fantasy world, only to finally come back to the real world 2 years later. Now as adults there back in the fantasy world, looking for a way out! While I never played D&D myself, I played plenty of choose your own adventure games and RPG games are my favourite video game genre. This book is a love letter to all of that with its world and characters. The book even makes references to both Lord of the Rings and the hobbit which is always appreciated. The artwork is amazing as Stephanie Hans really shines here with her tarot card like visuals. It reminded me of the Tarot card portraits for your companions in Dragon Age: Inquisition, with this very colourful but otherworldly feel. Kieron Gillen is lucky to be always paired up with good artists as he had Jamie Mckelvie with the Wicked & The Divine and now Stephanie Hans on this. I was seriously gushing at every page turn at how beautiful it all looked! But enough with me fanboying about the art. The story is typical if you've seen any of the Jumanji movies, especially the recent ones. I love the lore though as each of the main characters plays a class like in a role-playing game, with one being able to control peoples emotions and another controlling the power of the gods in exchange for favours which is so cool! Aside from that, I would like to see more character development, as some get more attention than others, which I'm sure will happen more as this series goes on. But overall, I was a big fan of this one and I can recommend it to gamers or D&D role players.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Rose

    I started reading this because I adore Kieron Gillen's writing - he's utterly fantastic at creating deeply fascinating but fucked up urban fantasy worlds, and I very very quickly fell in love with the concept of Die. The sheer idea of 'a group of kids literally fall into an edgy fantasy RPG,' is amazing, and if you've ever played an RPG, deeply horrified at the thought of children having to survive in that environment. Die plays with that idea, breaks down the idea of RPG mechanics, deals with t I started reading this because I adore Kieron Gillen's writing - he's utterly fantastic at creating deeply fascinating but fucked up urban fantasy worlds, and I very very quickly fell in love with the concept of Die. The sheer idea of 'a group of kids literally fall into an edgy fantasy RPG,' is amazing, and if you've ever played an RPG, deeply horrified at the thought of children having to survive in that environment. Die plays with that idea, breaks down the idea of RPG mechanics, deals with the consequences of their return to the real world, and then, shoves them straight back into the hellscape they escaped from, 25 years later. It's rad. I am, in fact, losing my *mind* about Stephanie Hans' art. God, it's all so fluid and emotive, with such sweepng and dramatic bursts of colour. Her sense of colour and form is utterly breathtaking. I hope one day I can paint and draw like she does.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Elliot

    Really stunning all across the board. The art is stylistically interesting and really lovely to look at - despite the detail work it feels very smooth and dreamy. The story itself hits me right where I live, so to speak. A bunch of teens in the 90s play an RPG that transports them into the fantasy world, and when they emerge they aren't the same. When they return as adults it's even more fraught. I loved the world-building and game work that went into this, as well as this being a story about ga Really stunning all across the board. The art is stylistically interesting and really lovely to look at - despite the detail work it feels very smooth and dreamy. The story itself hits me right where I live, so to speak. A bunch of teens in the 90s play an RPG that transports them into the fantasy world, and when they emerge they aren't the same. When they return as adults it's even more fraught. I loved the world-building and game work that went into this, as well as this being a story about gamers that was so clearly written by someone who has been a part of that culture. Brooding and dripping with regret, rooted in fantasy tropes that have been twisted enough to be fresh, and meditative on the nature of fantasy and collective reality. I really loved this collection and look forward to more. (Read as single issues.)

  21. 4 out of 5

    Benji Glaab

    I had trouble buying into the story, and had trouble immersing myself into the world. Tbh the concept is kind of lame, but I think there will be a good story rooted here I might need another volume to warm up to things. I thought I was going to like this but the tone was also kind of off-putting. I think the party has some unique powers etc, and I enjoy the table top gaming tie in for their character skills. I always wanted to play D&D, but no one ever invited me, and it seems like a lot to take I had trouble buying into the story, and had trouble immersing myself into the world. Tbh the concept is kind of lame, but I think there will be a good story rooted here I might need another volume to warm up to things. I thought I was going to like this but the tone was also kind of off-putting. I think the party has some unique powers etc, and I enjoy the table top gaming tie in for their character skills. I always wanted to play D&D, but no one ever invited me, and it seems like a lot to take in for beginners. The painted art style was beautiful, aesthetically this is a great book. Gillen always finds great artist to co-create with. I really hope I can get into volume 2 more if the characters continue to shine through, and the art stays top notch that would be more than enough to keep me hanging around

  22. 5 out of 5

    Alex Sarll

    Kieron Gillen's latest, with its apparently simple premise of 'Whatever happened to the kids from the old Dungeons & Dragons cartoon afterwards?', is not a comic about which I can pretend any sort of objectivity. There's the usual reason of having known him on and off for longer than I care to quantify, sure. But on top of that there's the fact that a couple of years back, I was the first playtester for one of the classes in the RPG within the comic, which soon enough will be available as an RPG Kieron Gillen's latest, with its apparently simple premise of 'Whatever happened to the kids from the old Dungeons & Dragons cartoon afterwards?', is not a comic about which I can pretend any sort of objectivity. There's the usual reason of having known him on and off for longer than I care to quantify, sure. But on top of that there's the fact that a couple of years back, I was the first playtester for one of the classes in the RPG within the comic, which soon enough will be available as an RPG outside the comic too. And Gillen being Gillen, it's both a viable D&D stand-in, and tweaked to stand as a commentary on RPG tropes. So I got to be the guinea pig for the Fool, described in the comic's backmatter as the casual player's class, and played within the comic by probably the least likable character of the lot. All of which I'm somehow managing not to take personally, because I'm lovely like that. What this absolutely isn't, thank heavens, is that far too familiar sight, the fictionalisation of the writer's own RPG campaign. Yes, Wild Cards began that way, but the slope down from there runs past Dragonlance and on into an abyss about which the less said, the better. Die, on the other hand, is more a terrier-like worrying at what RPGs are, at what they do to us, at the monstrous things we do in games, the different standards we apply in there. It's also a comic about fortysomethings with regrets, which makes sense, because Gillen got a name for doing comics with young protagonists when it was autobiographical, and then hit big with WicDiv once it wasn't really anymore, and now he's talking about his and my demographic once more and oh boy, it hits hard. This feels closer to home than anything he's done since Phonogram – because for all WicDiv's many charms, I was never going to 100% connect with a comic which was on some level predicated on the notion of Florence and the Machine mattering. And on top of that, he's grown as a writer since Phonogram, so is bringing all that extra craft to bear, and when I say 'craft' there yes, I'm picturing it as a craft knife. This is not a nice comic, in other words. Though it is a gorgeous one. Stephanie Hans' first ongoing, apparently, but if you've seen her covers and occasional guest issues (Journey Into Mystery with Gillen included) then you'll have some idea what to expect. She paints a world that's lush and solid, yet able to fall away from under you in a vertiginous instant. Which is what you need with the layers of reality at play here, especially once the third issue twists in another direction, showing us the series isn't just prodding at games, but at fantasy in general. It's a fabulous riposte/interrogation/homage/subversion/pastiche/I don't even know of one of the titans of the genre (not to mention a sly nod or two at another) and yes, it's easy to invert a beloved scene for emotional impact but oh my, it's not easy to do it this well and still have it fit neatly into an ongoing story about something else, and have all of that cohere. Mind you, as another descendant of lowly stock from an industrial Midlands town, I still say that in a classic fantasy set-up Gillen would be a dwarf, not the orc he claims.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Zedsdead

    A+ for concept. Six teenagers get sucked Jumanji-style into a homemade role-playing game. Two years later, five of them reappear on a remote road, unable to say anything about their disappearance. Thirty years after that, they get sucked back into Die-world and must find their lost friend and make their way home. D+ for art. I like the black-white-red aesthetic, but in one panel out of three I can't tell which characters I'm looking at. And I spent two-thirds of the book confused about the compo A+ for concept. Six teenagers get sucked Jumanji-style into a homemade role-playing game. Two years later, five of them reappear on a remote road, unable to say anything about their disappearance. Thirty years after that, they get sucked back into Die-world and must find their lost friend and make their way home. D+ for art. I like the black-white-red aesthetic, but in one panel out of three I can't tell which characters I'm looking at. And I spent two-thirds of the book confused about the composition of the adventuring party. It shouldn't be that hard to tell. These are not your father's character classes: Dictator--possesses voice-powers a la Preacher Grief Knight--unstoppable swordsman, but only when he's heartbroken Neo--cyberpunk tech elf Godbinder--she forces gods to intervene on their behalf, but at a price Fool--big guy with a sword who is inordinately lucky Die is unexpectedly, marvelously bleak. The Grief Knight can't even function unless he's debilitatingly depressed. Horrible things happen, to the party and to the people they meet along the way. They were all broken in some way by their first foray into Die-world. I found the stories shared by the characters in the tavern scene to be very appealing, and the first volume ends well, if somewhat abruptly. If I hadn't found the illustration to be so frustrating, Die would be edging towards five stars for me.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Judah Radd

    For my full interview with Kieron Gillen, follow this link: https://youtu.be/np9kcC1ruWU *Update* I’ve also interviewed the artist, Stephanie Hans!! Watch it here: https://youtu.be/h7hj1n6Er8Y Great. This is wild. Imagine Jumanji mixed with elements of It. Stephanie Hans is a remarkable artist. Her work is truly unique, and the color palette really pierces, with neons and reds accented by darkness. The story is fascinating, but it’s really a vehicle for the character exploration. The central theme For my full interview with Kieron Gillen, follow this link: https://youtu.be/np9kcC1ruWU *Update* I’ve also interviewed the artist, Stephanie Hans!! Watch it here: https://youtu.be/h7hj1n6Er8Y Great. This is wild. Imagine Jumanji mixed with elements of It. Stephanie Hans is a remarkable artist. Her work is truly unique, and the color palette really pierces, with neons and reds accented by darkness. The story is fascinating, but it’s really a vehicle for the character exploration. The central theme seems to be about creating your own reality, and where fantasy collides with... well... again, reality. I’m a bad writer. Sue me. The climaxes were explosive, but the best parts are the pieces of character driven world building. Like the characters themselves, I truly felt transported to a strange land of make believe. There was a frightening and unpredictable element to this, and it really worked here. It was subtle. Definitely a series to pay attention to!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Craig

    This really is kind of a dull book, which is surprising given the beautiful art and the usually strong writing one would expect from Gillen. The story follows a bunch of grown up losers who suddenly find themselves returned (without explanation, really) to the fantasy land they were once lost in as children, while playing a Dungeons and Dragons-type game. Originally, there were 6, but only 5 found their way back and the sixth has now become the "Grandmaster" of this fantasy land and must be defe This really is kind of a dull book, which is surprising given the beautiful art and the usually strong writing one would expect from Gillen. The story follows a bunch of grown up losers who suddenly find themselves returned (without explanation, really) to the fantasy land they were once lost in as children, while playing a Dungeons and Dragons-type game. Originally, there were 6, but only 5 found their way back and the sixth has now become the "Grandmaster" of this fantasy land and must be defeated, blah, blah, blah. It's all pretty dour, and boring, and not very much fun, which is just about the exact opposite of what a book like this should be to grab readers. The real draw here is the artwork by Stephanie Hans.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Ma'Belle

    As with the second volume of this series (which I reviewed on goodreads first), I got more out of the essays at the end than I did the main comic itself. Gillen is an admirably talented and intelligent person, and I love seeing his intentions and process.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Dan

    review - https://youtu.be/TkcBUQ_GKxc review - https://youtu.be/TkcBUQ_GKxc

  28. 5 out of 5

    Ben Long

    Don’t get me wrong, there’s definitely the bones of a good story there; one full of intrigue, epic battles of good vs evil, and engaging, diverse characters. I just had a difficult time cheering on our heroes when they were people I didn’t feel connected to, moving through places and events I didn’t care much about. Full review at Beyond the Veil (https://gobeyondtheveil.co.uk/comics/...) Don’t get me wrong, there’s definitely the bones of a good story there; one full of intrigue, epic battles of good vs evil, and engaging, diverse characters. I just had a difficult time cheering on our heroes when they were people I didn’t feel connected to, moving through places and events I didn’t care much about. Full review at Beyond the Veil (https://gobeyondtheveil.co.uk/comics/...)

  29. 5 out of 5

    Wakizashi

    Solid enough to make me want to read the next arc. Add another star for the painted artwork by Stephanie Hans. But I must point out that Die is no bright and bubbly adventure. This book deals with loss and trauma which gives it a dark, mature atmosphere.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Trike

    Aside from one brief sojourn in the superhero game Skraypers, I don’t play PnP RPGs so I’m sure 90% of this went over my head. Speaking as an outsider to this world, I couldn’t connect to this story or these characters at all. The premise is pretty basic: it’s a Portal Fantasy (Oz, Wonderland and Narnia are the most famous PFs) where people from our world travel to a Fantasy world. This one happens to be a game world. That’s been done before, too. The old Dungeons & Dragons cartoon was exactly th Aside from one brief sojourn in the superhero game Skraypers, I don’t play PnP RPGs so I’m sure 90% of this went over my head. Speaking as an outsider to this world, I couldn’t connect to this story or these characters at all. The premise is pretty basic: it’s a Portal Fantasy (Oz, Wonderland and Narnia are the most famous PFs) where people from our world travel to a Fantasy world. This one happens to be a game world. That’s been done before, too. The old Dungeons & Dragons cartoon was exactly this story. This intro sums up the cartoon and this book: https://youtu.be/hHnsMKQJBDA I definitely got the impression that Gillen was just doing the “adult” version of that cartoon, but since I don’t get the references and he doesn’t explain anything, I could only appreciate the apparent story. Judging by that, this is no deeper than a puddle. Maybe the different dice mean something, but I don’t get the joke. There are some things which are weird. For instance, one girl wants to be a cyberpunk, which are called Neos. That’s clearly a reference to The Matrix, but that movie came out in 1999 and this starts in 1991. Seems like a pretty basic mistake to make. If it’s not a mistake, there’s no explanation given. Hence my problems with this book. The art is nice, I guess, although in some instances I couldn’t tell what was supposed to be happening.

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