Review: Die #1

It’s important to get this out of the way right off the bat, Die in this instance is the word for the singular form of dice.  However, judging by what was presented in Die #1, we may see instances of the more commonly held meaning for the word, namely death, as the series progresses.  In this case, die are central to this new effort from Image Comics.  This series promises a life and death struggles for a group of gamers in a role-playing world come to life.

Kieron Gillen spends much of this premier issue revisiting the past in a series of flashbacks designed to establish this new world; the events presented having preceded the current predicament of the series’ main characters.  Those characters, a group of friends residing in the Midlands region of England, are first seen gathering to celebrate the 16th birthday of one of their number.  To celebrate that birthday, one of the the friends has created a unique role-playing adventure that he promises will be unlike anything they have ever played.

Those players include the following: Dominic who is the central narrative figure and the member of the group celebrating his birthday.  He will ultimately choose to play the female dictator and is given control of the four sided die.  He is the mastermind of the group.  His sister Angela will choose to play the cyber-punk Neo and will be given control of the ten sided die.  Chuck, who desperately wants to pass himself off as an American and takes nothing seriously, plays the jack of all trades Fool and is given control of the six sided die.  Matthew, intelligent and withdrawn, will become The Grief Knight and is given control of the eight sided die.  Isabella, the aggressive French transplant, plays The Godbinder and is given the twelve sided die to call her own .  Finally there is Sol, the game’s creator, he is the Master and is in control of the twenty sided die.

As the friends sit down to play their game they disappear, transported away as the game begins.  It isn’t until Sol’s mother opens the door to check on them some hours later that they are discovered to be missing.  Two years pass and suddenly the friends reappear in our world, minus Angela’s arm and Sol.  For some unknown reason they are unable to talk of their experiences and as the years pass they go their separate ways.  Twenty five years later circumstances force the friends to reunite and confront what had happened to them so many years ago.  Meeting in Chuck’s home, they are once again transported into the game they thought they had left in the past.

Die #1 hits the ground running, grabbing your attention from the very first moment and refusing to let go.  The writing is evocative and sinister in it’s tone, promising mystery and discovery around every corner as you read with grim anticipation.  This first issue provides no answers concerning what transpired during those missing two years.  However, you are certain that much of it was evil and that the friends return to the game world is sure to hold adventure and danger.  The artwork is powerful and conveys the emotional story with expressively drawn panels and powerful full page statements.  The colors add to the theme of the book, evoking emotions and mood as they supplement the artwork expertly.  This is an incredible book and a promising start to a new series, one I recommend highly.

Writing – 5 of 5 Stars
Art – 5 of 5 Stars

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Writer – Kieron Gillen
Art – Stephanie Hans
Letters –  Clayton Cowles
Design – Rian Hughes