Die #2 // Review
Most people have some awkward memory of their past, something they don’t want to face again. From an embarrassing moment in class to a failed date, almost everyone has something that resurfaces in the deep dark recesses of their mind. Kieron Gillen and his co-conspiratists have somehow found a way to weaponize the self-cringe that hits you from time to time in the latest issue of Die.
With writer Kieron Gillen are artist Stephanie Hans and letterer Clayton Cowles, returning for this chapter.
Leaving from last issue’s cliffhanger, a crew of friends who were once sucked into a fantasy world and left heavily damaged and traumatized by the experience have been lured back in. Sol, a friend who had been lost and presumed dead, is alive… and left insane by what he experienced. Now the Grandmaster in charge of the world of Die, Sol decides he wants his friends to play with him. Forever.
Kieron Gillen once again hits it out of the park. The second issue of Die works in a massive amount of world-building, including both incredibly unique character classes and their affects (and effects) on their returning players. Perhaps the best blend of this belongs to Matt, the Grief Knight. His class runs on emotions, particularly depression and sadness. His reluctance and eventual forcing into the role again may only play across a few pages, but is ultimately one of the best character moments in the book. What could become a bunch of infodumps as the world and characters are fleshed out instead becomes character development while also playing off D&D stereotypes. Die was a breath of fresh air last issue with deconstructing how horrible being sucked into a fantasy world could be, and that feeling remains while exploring the world they were in.
As with the previous issue, Stephanie Hans has a great handle on the art. Each character looks wonderfully unique in their game form, but each also looks like they belong to their own ‘thing’ that their player was into at the time. The Cyberpunk Knight class known as Neo could have looked entirely like she came from a Mega Man game. Instead, she first perfectly alongside the Grief Knight and Fool. Perhaps the best page, though, belongs to the unveiling of Isabelle’s Godbinder class. It’s something that could well belong on the cover of a fantasy novel, and worth picking up the book to see.
With a compelling story, beautiful art, and some seriously interesting twists on cliche, Die is a great book. If you’re into fantasy, or Japanese isekai stories, you need to check it out.