Die #1 Is The RPG Fantasy Horror You Never Knew You Needed

by Tony Thornley

Almost thirty years ago six kids vanished in the midst of a birthday party for one member of their group. Two years later five of them returned. Die #1 is the story of what happened, and the aftermath in each of their lives.

Die #1

In this new series by Kieron Gillen, Stephanie Hans, and Clayton Cowles, with design work by Rian Hughes, the team spins a familiar trope into a direction we haven’t seen before. We’ve seen people get sucked into living games, but the movies and storybooks end with the kids getting out. Die shows us how it deeply and horribly effects them.

Dominic and his friends are still dealing with the scars, physical, mental and emotional, left by the two years they spent inside the game. On Dominic’s fortieth birthday, he receives a package–the enchanted die that drew the six of them into the game. The party reunites to determine what to do with it, but the choice may be made for them already.

Kieron jumps in immediately with an issue full of mythology, but not in the way you might expect. In fact, the story doesn’t cover lore or mythology of the fantasy at all, instead building the characters and their damaged psyches. By diving deep into their scars and troubles, we quickly come to care for them deeply in just thirty-some pages. Meanwhile, he gives just enough hints at the actual fantasy mythology that we are drawn in and want to know more about that aspect too.

Hans’ lush painted work is simply gorgeous. She turns the mundane into the fantastic easily, making Solomon’s bedroom a shadow-draped portal into the unknown, or the rain soaked street into a dizzying nightmare-scape. In the midst of that, she infuses each character with life and personality. Thanks to her depiction of them, each character has personality and baggage, even though most of them don’t get more than a couple lines of dialogue.

This was a debut to look forward to just based on the creative team, but with the issue in my hands, I can say it met every expectation. It’s going to be near the top of my stack every month, based on this issue alone.

Die #1 is available now from Image Comics.

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