A night meant for birthday celebration leads to horror and anguish as six friends are swallowed into the hellscape that is their fantasy role-playing game. Two years after their disappearance, all but 1 of the party members are found wandering a dark road. Unable to discuss where they’ve been or what happened to their missing friend, they attempt to move on with their lives. Flash forward 25 years and the horrific game they thought was over returns to claim them once again.
I can’t express how much I love DIE. The combination of thought provoking dialogue from writer Kieron Gillen and hauntingly beautiful art by Stephanie Hans results in one of the best comics I’ve read in the past 10 years. The mesmerizing art draws you in only to be presented with a deep and expertly constructed narrative. While the premise of being sucked into another world isn’t new, the detailed world building and character development makes it one of the most well executed iterations I’ve seen to date.
If you’re a fan of RPGs like Dungeons & Dragons than you’ll love this series. The new character classes are mindblowingly awesome! Godbinders are described as being clerics as demonologists… Tell me that isn’t one of the most badass things you’ve ever heard. The Grief Knight is able to harness emotional pain and distress as fuel to conjure weapons of incredibly devastating power. And don’t even get me started on The Fallen! I immediately wanted to play as these characters and thanks to Kieron Gillen, I can! You can find the link to the DIE RPG Beta right here!
Stephanie Hans artwork is too good not to gush over. Her incredibly unique style is beautifully captivating. Every character is fully realized and individualistic. The color palette is absolutely stunning. Her ability to convey emotion and movement are a masterclass. Every panel is so painstakingly detailed that I’m tired just thinking about how much time it took her to complete. The variety of page layouts are extensive, creative and serve a narrative purpose. Stephanie Hans’ work elevates the already incredible narrative to even greater heights.
What sets DIE apart from the massive sea of comics published today is the feeling of becoming engrossed in a fantastical world while somehow remaining painfully real at the same time. The characters may be surrounded by undead and monstrous beasts, but their real world problems seem just as daunting. Kieron Gillen weaves an intelligent tale with depth, twists and a meaningful play on words. Love for the fantasy genre as a whole is rampant throughout the series with homages to the literary greats.
DIE: Fantasy Heartbreaker collects issues 1-5 of the hit new series from Image Comics. You can order the recently released trade paperback from Image Comics or buy digital copies right here! Fantasy Heartbreaker also includes concept art, variant covers and a number of essays from Gillen and Hans that give greater insight into their inspiration and thought process. After you read DIE and realize it’s your new addiction, make sure you go to your local comic shop and preorder DIE #6 which releases August 7, 2019.
A special thanks to Kieron Gillen and Stephanie Hans for creating my new favorite ongoing comic series. In honor of revealing their past D&D characters, I’ll share mine. Half-orc/Half-Dwarf Eldritch Knight Fighter. Read/play on nerds.