Die Vol. 1
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.

Die Vol. 1 Details

TitleDie Vol. 1
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseJun 11th, 2019
PublisherImage Comics
ISBN-139781534312708
Rating
GenreSequential Art, Comics, Graphic Novels, Fantasy, Graphic Novels Comics, Fiction

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Die Vol. 1 Review

  • Sam Quixote
    January 1, 1970
    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 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!
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  • Jakub Kvíz
    January 1, 1970
    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.
  • Artemy
    January 1, 1970
    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.
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  • Štěpán Tichý
    January 1, 1970
    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.
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  • Ariadne
    January 1, 1970
    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.)
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  • Alex Sarll
    January 1, 1970
    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 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.
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  • Jason
    January 1, 1970
    Read as individual issues.I'm a huge fan of Kieron Gillen. I love his work with Jamie McKelvie on Young Avengers and I love his Star Wars work on Darth Vader, Doctor Aphra and currently the main title. I tried Wicked + Divine and while it had a great hook, I stopped reading around arc 3 or 4.I think this is his best work. A great hook in chapter one followed by further world building in chapter 2. And then chapter 3 just takes the whole thing to another level. Chapter 5 ends on a kicker and I ca Read as individual issues.I'm a huge fan of Kieron Gillen. I love his work with Jamie McKelvie on Young Avengers and I love his Star Wars work on Darth Vader, Doctor Aphra and currently the main title. I tried Wicked + Divine and while it had a great hook, I stopped reading around arc 3 or 4.I think this is his best work. A great hook in chapter one followed by further world building in chapter 2. And then chapter 3 just takes the whole thing to another level. Chapter 5 ends on a kicker and I can't wait to read what happens next. Both a love letter and commentary on fantasy as well as an exploration on the trauma of adolescence. And that doesn't even mention the gorgeous art of Stephanie Hans, whose prints of Buffy, Ms. Marvel and Storm grace my hallways.Highly recommend.
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  • Geoffrey Payne
    January 1, 1970
    This series is based on such a cool concept and so far has had great character development. I can’t wait for more! 4 out of 5.
  • Devann
    January 1, 1970
    This was a decent start to what could become a really great series, but I found it to be confusing a lot of the time. Maybe that's partly because my only experience with DND is listening to The Adventure Zone podcast, but honestly it's not that complicated of a concept so I think non-DND players should still be able to read and generally understand it [if not then sorry but that's just bad writing]. I'm thinking it's more like 'it's going to be really weird and confusing and then make sense righ This was a decent start to what could become a really great series, but I found it to be confusing a lot of the time. Maybe that's partly because my only experience with DND is listening to The Adventure Zone podcast, but honestly it's not that complicated of a concept so I think non-DND players should still be able to read and generally understand it [if not then sorry but that's just bad writing]. I'm thinking it's more like 'it's going to be really weird and confusing and then make sense right at the end' because that seems to be the over-arching style of The Wicked + The Divine so maybe that's just how Gillen writes, but it certainly makes it hard to get through his stuff at certain points. The art here is absolutely amazing and honestly kind of outshines the plot in a lot of places. The characters are okay [except I really hate Chuck but I think you're pretty much supposed to] and their powers seem to be a bit different than what you would find in a standard fantasy world like this so that was interesting. In the second volume I'm hoping we get to see more of the world in general - and also get more into the things from the real world that inspired it and how they view them differently as adults than they did as children, like the issue where they were in Eternal Prussia with Tolkien - and also delve into what exactly is going on with Ash re: his gender and sexuality because to me that was probably the most interesting thing that's been brought up so far.
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  • João Calafate
    January 1, 1970
    Very solid 4 stars.This was so COOL. The art-style is gorgeous and the story is so original. D&D meets Jumanji but super Gothic and dark? Count me in. I need more time to get properly attached to the characters, but they're already pretty interesting, and I loved the twist in issue #5. I can't wait to read what Kieron Gillen does next in this super weird, super meta fantasy world.
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  • Emily
    January 1, 1970
    I consider this a near perfect beginning to a high stakes high fantasy comic series. The combinations of various powers and character classes is brilliant here, the use of color to express a barely-remembered reality versus an all- too- real game is phenomenal. 10/10 I can't wait to read more from this series.
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  • Rita Sousa
    January 1, 1970
    This was so COOL. A very solid 4 stars, could be a 5 but some parts were a bit rushed.My first complete read for the O.W.L.S. Magical Readathon - Transfiguration: A book with sprayed edges or a red cover ✓
  • Josh Storey
    January 1, 1970
    Take the D&D cartoon show from the '80s and mash it up with Stephen King's It and you've sort of got an idea of how awesome this book is. I can't wait to get my hands on the RPG.
  • Artur Nowrot
    January 1, 1970
    If you're into tabletop RPG's or fantasy in general: please, please get yourself acquainted with this comic. It's inventive and heartrending and simply amazing.
  • Bill
    January 1, 1970
    There's an intriguing premise and interesting twists in this tale of British forty-somethings returning to a "Dungeons and Dragons" style world they were trapped in for two years as teenagers... but the plot rushes along just a little too fast. I only got to know two of the five main characters well, so the choices of the others -- particularly in the conclusion -- didn't necessarily carry the proper emotional weight. Five issues was not enough to tell this ambitious story, especially when one i There's an intriguing premise and interesting twists in this tale of British forty-somethings returning to a "Dungeons and Dragons" style world they were trapped in for two years as teenagers... but the plot rushes along just a little too fast. I only got to know two of the five main characters well, so the choices of the others -- particularly in the conclusion -- didn't necessarily carry the proper emotional weight. Five issues was not enough to tell this ambitious story, especially when one issue is an odd diversion/interlude on the horrors of war and the connection between Tolkien and modern fantasy. While the character development doesn't get quite enough time to shine, the world and its bizarre rules stand out as wildly original twists on RPG logic -- particularly in how the characters' unique fantasy powers are driven by odd sources representing addiction, bargaining, deception, grief, and overconfidence. I plan to keep reading, to learn more about the main characters and this unique world, especially in light of some of the final twists.
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  • John
    January 1, 1970
    OH MY JESUS FLIPPING CHRIST THIS WAS SO GOOD. I'm a great big TT RPG nerd myself, so this series was already primed to attack my weak spot for maximum damage. Seriously, this is a book where the backmatter at the end has a link to a bespoke RPG the author created *based on this comic*. Is this real life? Or is this just... oh, right.I liked the downbeat, melancholy emotional tone here; it's not what you'd expect from such a colorful, stylized fantasy world, and that's the point. The darkness und OH MY JESUS FLIPPING CHRIST THIS WAS SO GOOD. I'm a great big TT RPG nerd myself, so this series was already primed to attack my weak spot for maximum damage. Seriously, this is a book where the backmatter at the end has a link to a bespoke RPG the author created *based on this comic*. Is this real life? Or is this just... oh, right.I liked the downbeat, melancholy emotional tone here; it's not what you'd expect from such a colorful, stylized fantasy world, and that's the point. The darkness underlying fantasy and underlying the desire to escape into it. It's a journey across a *very* TT fantasyland (I'm not kidding, the character classes are represented by the different dice in a polyset) by a group of adventurers, and it has the affect of an elegy for their mangled youth.Oh, and the art? The art is SO GOOD HERE. Stephanie Hans knocks it out of the God Damn park for this book. Her painterly compositions work beautifully for this story, and for that matter are works of beauty themselves.I loved this so much. Extremely recommended.
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  • Alan
    January 1, 1970
    I've been in relationships with women who were RPG players, in one case we scheduled our dates around her gaming nights (ah, the nearly 1980s). I've read a couple of books where the RPG came to life, or revolved around the players and their lives both in and out of the game.The premise works for me here. Twenty-eight years ago a group of close friends RPG together. Then they disappeared, only to reappear two years later minus one player (and one player minus an arm). Now they are adults with fam I've been in relationships with women who were RPG players, in one case we scheduled our dates around her gaming nights (ah, the nearly 1980s). I've read a couple of books where the RPG came to life, or revolved around the players and their lives both in and out of the game.The premise works for me here. Twenty-eight years ago a group of close friends RPG together. Then they disappeared, only to reappear two years later minus one player (and one player minus an arm). Now they are adults with families, career, and all the problems that adulthood brings for formerFoolGrief KnightDictatorCyberpunkGodbinderUntil they are hauled back into the fantasy realm they escaped from 26 years ago. They've aged, the realm has changed and the friend they had to leave behind is now their greatest enemy except for....But, that would be telling and that spoiler is definitely for those who would to read this.
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  • James DeSantis
    January 1, 1970
    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.
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  • Silas
    January 1, 1970
    This was a relatively dark take on the "stuck in the world of a game" theme, with a twist that it is a return to the world for the characters, and we don't get to see their earlier travels. It makes for some interesting situations, with the characters bringing some emotional and physical damage back with them, only to have those wounds reopened. The pacing is a bit slow, however, and it is chock full of references, which might be good for some other readers, but wasn't quite as enjoyable for me, This was a relatively dark take on the "stuck in the world of a game" theme, with a twist that it is a return to the world for the characters, and we don't get to see their earlier travels. It makes for some interesting situations, with the characters bringing some emotional and physical damage back with them, only to have those wounds reopened. The pacing is a bit slow, however, and it is chock full of references, which might be good for some other readers, but wasn't quite as enjoyable for me, particularly when the characters themselves are significantly altered from their roleplaying game roots. Many of the changes weren't ones I, personally enjoyed, and the main character is kind of a bore. These issues take a book that could have been great, like I had been told it was, and made it just kind of good, from my perspective.
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  • Steve Chaput
    January 1, 1970
    Imagine the old animated series Dungeons and Dragons as an adult series on Netflix. Six friends who as teens played RPGs but somehow were actually transported into a world where their characters were real. Their quest successfully completed five of the group return to their own time and place where they try to move on, while decided to remain behind. Years later each received an invitation to assemble again. Realizing that the invitation came from their former comrade they are again transported Imagine the old animated series Dungeons and Dragons as an adult series on Netflix. Six friends who as teens played RPGs but somehow were actually transported into a world where their characters were real. Their quest successfully completed five of the group return to their own time and place where they try to move on, while decided to remain behind. Years later each received an invitation to assemble again. Realizing that the invitation came from their former comrade they are again transported to their fantasy realm, only to discover that their friend is now the tyrant they must face.Even a non-player, like myself, can be drawn into the story which not only acknowledges the RPG adventures but also the work of Tolkien and other fantasy writers.
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  • Samantha Puc
    January 1, 1970
    I've been reading Die in single issues since it debuted in December and it just keeps getting better. The first trade collects issues #1-5, of which I've reviewed the first two for The Beat. Check them out here:• REVIEW: How DIE #1 Crafts the Culmination of the D&D Revival• REVIEW: DIE #2 Raises the Stakes & Defines Its Characters’ TTRPG Roles
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  • Dayo Pascual
    January 1, 1970
    "All your heart is... leans toward me."I like reading Kieron Gillen's work because he comes up with cool, trippy ideas that, on occasion, take gut-wrenching, heartbreaking turns. Die Vol 1: "Fantasy Heartbreaker" definitely has its share of both, with the added bonus of being a meditation of sorts on friendship, group dynamics, and the roles we play, in-game or in our everyday lives. There's a lot to unpack, and I'm still wrapping my head around all of it. What I do know for sure is that Netflix "All your heart is... leans toward me."I like reading Kieron Gillen's work because he comes up with cool, trippy ideas that, on occasion, take gut-wrenching, heartbreaking turns. Die Vol 1: "Fantasy Heartbreaker" definitely has its share of both, with the added bonus of being a meditation of sorts on friendship, group dynamics, and the roles we play, in-game or in our everyday lives. There's a lot to unpack, and I'm still wrapping my head around all of it. What I do know for sure is that Netflix or some other streaming service should adapt it for TV ASAP.
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  • Mark
    January 1, 1970
    A beautiful, melancholic exploration of the purpose of fantasy and what it does to those who indulge in it. Issue 3 is a brilliant reframing of the Lord of the Rings, and this series will likely be worth following for more of that. The essays in the back are worth reading as they shed light on many of the details of the world that these characters inhabit. I fear this one is going to dig its claws in.
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  • Zsuzsiráf
    January 1, 1970
    D&D meets Jumanji, but it's all dark and horror-ish. The plot got me hooked instantly, the story is based on a super cool concept and the art is beautiful and exceptional. Oh, and there was a Tolkien reference! <3My minor frustration is that I am sometimes afraid that my not-so-deep knowledge about D&D won't be enough, but that won't change the fact that this is one of the bests I've read this year.
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  • Angela
    January 1, 1970
    Loving the first volume of Gillen's D&D inspired tale, though I was surprised to see certain elements wrapped up in this arc. (I'm sure they will come back to haunt us in future volumes, but still....) The twists at the end of issue five regarding the world itself and the fate of the party ensure I'll be eagerly awaiting the 2nd arc this fall.
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  • Kate
    January 1, 1970
    Really didn't feel this one at all, and must say I'm a tad gutted about that.Hans' art is beautiful, even if the pallette can be tiring after a while. Gillen's characters though are terribly boring and irritating. One-note personalities with no positive characteristics make it very hard to care for their plight, and as such this is a very hard title to care about.
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  • Andrew
    January 1, 1970
    A great deconstruction of the Fantasy RPG, with a bunch of other references thrown in too, drawing on a range as diverse as Sandman, The Wizard of Oz, Neuromancer, and there's bound to be a ton I missed.There's an occasional mis-step in the art and dialogue, but the visual style in general is excellent. If you grew up playing D&D, or reading fantasy novels, you should read Die.
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  • Justin
    January 1, 1970
    If I had liked this book more this review would be full of D&D spell puns. I am not displeased. The characters are interesting and the concept is neat. But it feels like book one in an ongoing series. I empathize with a group of middle-aged people who get to reexperience a youthful adventure and really just want to get home. And the compilation title is hilarious.
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  • Shannon
    January 1, 1970
    Individual issue reviews: #1 | #2 | #3 | #4 | #5Total review score: 3.9
  • Becca Evans
    January 1, 1970
    Absolutely stunning! The art is gorgeous, the story is unique, and I can't wait to try out the RPG system. Gillen is one of my favorite comic writers for a reason, and Die is one of the best comics of the year! Great for fans of DnD-esque media, especially if you like genre-smashing and really neat magic systems.
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