Die #1

Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Stephanie Hans
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Publisher: Image Comics

Review by Anelise Farris

Die #1 opens at a home in 1991, where Solomon is having a birthday party. He, along with five of his friends, play an RPG that ends up changing their lives forever. Skip forward 25 years, and we encounter these friends again. Only now they are a group of forty-somethings who thought that the game and all of its dark secrets were long behind them. When they reunite for Dominic’s birthday, a bloody object from their past shows up, summoning them all back into the game to finish it.

The premise of Die is nothing short of perfection. I gravitate toward urban fantasy because it’s dark and gritty and gorgeous, and it always gives me relatable, flawed characters. And with just this first issue Gillen has given us one of the best urban fantasy stories I’ve read. From establishing a character-driven story from the first page, to exploring the aftermath of what we do in our youth, to giving me the “Goth Jumanji” (Gillen’s quick pitch for Die) I’ve always wanted, this comic is a dream.

Gillen’s writing contains so much depth and emotion, all the while keeping it simple and smooth. The art has a painted, surreal, retro vibe with a lot of energy in the dark coloring and soft linework. The occasional bright pops of color contribute to the dreamy, fantasy vibe, while also somehow managing to uphold the horror movie aesthetic. The lettering is also impressive, as it beautifully balances Dominic’s inner monologue (rendered in black boxes) with the normal speech balloons. Each of the 40 pages is thoughtfully executed in every aspect, and I have no doubt that Die #1 will be one of the most talked about debuts of the year.

Verdict: Buy it.

Gaming and growing up come together in the most spectacular of ways in Die #1. Highly, highly, recommended.

Anelise Farris
Anelise is an english professor with a love for old buildings, dusty tomes, black turtlenecks, and all things macabre and odd.

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