Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Stephanie Hans
The Wicked + The Divine was never my favorite comic series by any means. I found it hard to follow, but I do own quite a few issues of it. So when I heard about Die being written by Kieron Gillen, then I was apprehensive. Could this series also be complicated for people who have trouble juggling a lot of timelines and characters? I did have a little bit of trouble keeping track of each character and how they were related, but most of that is due to nicknames and birth names being used interchangeably. Did this hurt Die #1?
Absolutely not! Die #1 is one of the best issues of 2018 and might have hooked me more than any other issue this year. The pacing and the story are ripe for binge reading once a volume comes out. Although, I am only basing this on one issue. The story of Die isn’t too complex. A group of friends who meet up for a very special fantasy RPG tabletop game end up disappearing for two years only to return with one less member and one member with one less arm. Got that? Now we jump 25 years and see the lives of the returning players and how the two years in some unknown place has shaped them. The group has gone their separate ways for the most part, until one of the players receives a package with a bloody die that belonged to the missing friend. To go past this point would be venturing into spoiler territory and this book deserves all the readers it can get. I can say that I thought the book would go somewhere else than where it ended up, but I’m happy with the track it is on. There are six main characters to follow, so I think with a few issues, my problem of nicknames versus real names will work itself out.
Kieron Gillen has hit a goldmine with this comic book. The story is so incredibly fun and mysterious that you will be dying for the next issue. Dying? Die(ing)? See what I did there? Well, they can’t all be winners. I do feel like her writing is moving the story at a fast pace and this extended issue goes by too quick, but that is a compliment. It is a comic you don’t want to end, so every page I turned that wasn’t the end was a relief. I want to see her build of characters more and explore the world and the game. I want more snippets of what happened while they were missing for two years. I am confident in Gillen to make this happen, though.
Artist, Stephanie Hans, is a massive part of this success. While I am more pulled in by the story than anything else, the artwork is gorgeous. The opening page with the houses and trees show everything you need to see of her work. The use of light and shading is setting a tone that I hope stays with future issues. She even has a unique take on her facial sketching. She has mentioned that the art in Die is “a work of love,” and it shows in every panel.
I can’t hype-up Die any more than I have here. It is clearly one of the best issues to come out of 2018, and I will be following it closely from here on. Out of every issue I have reviewed on this site, this comic is the best in both story and artwork. Neither is overshadowing the other, which is such an accomplishment. I know it was a much anticipated comic release, but we couldn’t have predicted a masterpiece. I give it my highest recommendation.
Die #1 is a surprise masterpiece that demands your attention. This is one of 2018's best comic issues.