Published: 11 June 2019
Publisher: Image Comics
Series: Die Fantasy Heartbreaker 1-5
Format Read: Owned Copy
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.
With a blurp like that this book sounds like it could be anyone’s cup of tea. What is essentially a Dungons and Dragons spin off, but wholly it’s own thing, die started out a little weird at the start, while it introduces you to the characters that will be taking you on the journey you also have thoughts blocks from what I believe are from the main character, these thought blocks never really connected for me to what was going on. I do not know if this comic series is trying to tell a story of what happened but does so from the ass end leading back to where it all began.
With an introduction to what I just wrote it sounds like this book was a total dud for me, but it wasn’t completely. I was confused most of the time as to what was going on. We only got small glimpses of back story to some characters and just have to go with it while they are going through what they are going through. The Jumanji part of the blurp feels true though. Some kids disappear and get stuck in a game only to randomly reappear two years later with one of the kids missing, presumed dead and the main character’s sister missing an arm. The comic then speeds up time and plumps us out 20-30 years later, all the characters having moved on with their lives, or not, in the case of our main that just seems to have gone through it sulkingly and regretting everything. When asked about what happened they all just reply with “I can’t say”, a line that I was reminded of from Horus Heresy regarding the Lodge meetings which was odd, but the people that wrote this are all board gamers so I can imagine there could’ve been a Warhammer fan sitting in their midst while putting this together. On Ash’s 40th birthday he gets a package with a bloody Die (for those not familiar with the term, die is fancy for word for dice), he then decides to seek out all the survivors to decide together what they are going to do about it. Needless to say they get sucked into the game once more, this time as adults, trapped in their younger character creations’ bodies. We then learn that the missing friend never died, but killed the original Dungeon Master and has taken his place as ruler of the realm. Also the bloody Die he puts back in his eye socket before he tells the gang that he has missed them and they now have to complete his missions/tasks. Guy obviously got a few marbles loose being stuck in the game for so long.
One thing I liked about the fantasy characters was that they all had some form of quirky abilities. Ash, the main character was a diplomat and could sweet talk a tree into thinking it was gras root, this ability was mostly used for a paladin type character that tapped into his emotions to dish out ass woopings, the only drawback was it put Ash in a bad light as the emotions played on were borderline abusive and the fact that Ash has 30 years of pent up regrets that he/she can let loose on poor paladin guy. Ash’s sister wanted to be a Cyberpunk all those years back and with her abilities she can teleport and there is something with pure gold that she needs to always have around to be able to do stuff as well as summon her dog familiar. Then there is another woman that has the ability or trait that she keeps gods around as pets to do her bidding, the favours do not come cheap tho as we all probably know now, when a god comes calling in favours, there is always going to be a heavy toll to pay. There is also a guy that is portrayed as the obvious Jock that just wants to kick ass and fuck bitches, seeing as this is a game they are stuck in, he is living the dream. I can’t say I conected with any of the characters, none of them seemed like good people to be hanging around with to start. One thing that was not explained is the fact that Ash, a boy ends up being a pretty elvish woman in the game world, I mean I get it, when playing D&D you can create a character to your liking, but I had to flip back through the pages to try understand at what point Ash said he was picking a woman, never happens. Also the fact that there seems to be undertones of Ash possibly being gay for the guy that pulled them back into the game world did not really make me feel at all compelled to his meandering thought bubbles. I have not quarrel with gay people, I am just not the type of person that likes reading about sexual orientations and gender politics when I break away from reality with reading a book. I might be completely wrong about gay Ash as I am also too stupid to follow everything gender bender wise going on world wide.
I gave Die a 3 out of 5 on Good Reads. I did get the Dungeons and Dragons nostalgia reference (talking about the Kids show from the 80’s). The creators ran with the idea of what would happen if those kids from that show ever made it out and put their own spin on it. I respect that. Art wise the pages were all colourful and quite a feast to look at, I think the main failing is the story in general, or the fact that I am just too lazy to pay attention or read more than what is written on the pages. There are a lot of interesting concepts in here that I would have liked to delve into, maybe I give Vol.2 a go sometime, but for now I have a lot of other stuff I need to get through.