Every once in a while there’s a book that comes out and I pass on it at first, but come back the next time I’m in the (comic) shop, and Die was definitely one of those. It’s also a book that I’m beyond stoked I picked up in “round 2,” because it does something only The Realm has done before for me — perfectly gave a Dungeon & Dragons type of story in comic book form.
I, personally, don’t play D&D but I’ve always loved the idea behind it. That mostly being because I’m a (wannabe) writer and the game is a writer’s dream. Now where The Realm didn’t really give us a D&D story, it felt like Dungeons & Dragons meets the post-apocalyptic while Die is actually a D&D story— hell, I’d say D&D meets Jumanji!
I tend to be very difficult on #1s, and that’s because the creative team usually tries to cram so much into 1 single issue (that’s 22 pages long). Whenever there’s cramming in a comic, it tends to end horribly for the issue.
Kieron Gillen does an amazing job by introing us to the main cast—Dominic, Angela, Solomon, Isabelle, Chuck and Matthew—while moving the story along by laying out the basics with each character. Most books would spend a page or so a piece for a character, and that drags the story. Whenever a writer can keep the pace and give fundamental info, I feel like I’m listening to a favorite song and you get what they’re singing about while just plain jiving.
The story quickly moves along, and we come to find out that after our main crew receives their “special” dice (technically die since they only get one apiece) and place the game— they go missing. It was almost like someone rolled a 5, and then BAM, 2-years later and our crew (minus 1) is back in reality.
I’m reminded of stories like The Lord of the Rings, Star Wars and Harry Potter that sucks the reader in and gets you in this mindset of: Oh, I would love to be in this world. I think part of the thing that Gillen succeeds at in order to get this reaction is the relatability there is with the characters, and the “real world” of Die. Whether it’s the characters pre-rolling-a-5, or post-rolling-a-5-or-8 and we see them 25-years later (as adults).
I want to give a huge shout out to Stephanie Hans, because she does an absolutely phenomenal job on art. The killer page for me was the double-page splash where we see the characters (back) in their D&D “character’s skins”. There’s a real grasp of what everyone who’s ever played the game, or simply writes/plays video games where they make their own character envisions they’d be like.
One thing that every great #1 needs is a special ending; whether that’s something you weren’t expecting, or a solid twist. That’s also what I find most firsts stumble on. And while I did see the “unexpected” part of this issue coming, it gave a double hitter with a great twist, I think it was perfect way to cap an overall fantastic issue off.
That being Sol (who made the game for Dominic’s birthday) is the reason the group is sucked back into this fantastical world. Now the twist that Gillen got past me, is what sealed the deal in my mind that this book has a great future ahead of it— Sol has appeared to turn evil, and wants revenge for being trapped in the game for 27-years.
I’m going to make a prediction right now: I think that this title has all the potential to become a “household name,” and be the next comic property adapted to a movie/TV show within 2-years. Mark my words.