A group of friends gathers to play a very special game to celebrate the birthday of one of their number. The game is new, created by one of them. The rules are different, and the stakes are high. Before they know it, they are thrown into a conflict that will change them forever. DIE #1 from Image Comics is on store shelves now. Roll for initiative!

Die #1 ReviewDIE #1

Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Stephanie Hans
Letters: Clayton Cowles
Cover: Stephanie Hans
Publisher:  Image Comics
Release Date: December 5th, 2018
Cover Price: $3.99

Previously in DIE: According to the Kieron Gillen’s notes, the idea for DIE came about after a conversation with other comic creators regarding the 1980’s Dungeons and Dragons cartoon and how that the kids in the cartoon never made it back home. Although a homecoming script exists, it was never produced for broadcast. The question of what would have happened to those kids is asked and a sometime later, DIE was conceived.

I WOULD LIKE TO CHECK FOR TRAPS…

It is Dominic’s birthday, and he and his sister are going to participate in a very special role-playing game. You see, his friend Solomon made a game just for the occasion, and it isn’t something which can be bought in a store, but a custom game that was made specifically for the occasion. As the six friends gather at Solomon’s home, they take their places and conceive their characters. These are experienced role players, and their choices of characters range from politicians to dark knights to cybers and more. Solomon, as the Master, distributes each of them a die and tells them to roll. They do, and the world changes.

Two years later, car narrowly adverts hitting five young people standing in the middle of the road. The Stafford Six, a name given to the six children who disappeared from a friend’s home during a birthday celebration, have returned. But only five of them. They will not, or cannot, say where they have been or where their missing number is.

Twenty-Five years later, it is again Dominic’s birthday day and his wife understands it is not an occasion he likes to celebrate. Old memories emerge; wounds not yet fully healed are torn open. The delivery of a package containing a blood-caked die gives cause for the five friends to be reunited, and returning to a world they tried to forget and discover the fate of a friend long lost.

WAIT, WHICH DIE DO I ROLL AGAIN?

In the last pages of the issue, writer/creator Kieron Gillen (Phonograph, The Wicked +The Divine) talks about the conversations which went into the creation on DIE and the process of recruiting the talent who eventually made this book come to life. Gillen has an established history of getting to the core of his characters while weaving a unique world around them. His characters in this latest work could be the kids you grew up with or the kids you know now. He uses the stereotypical archetypes of the young outcast and spins a different feel for each of them. In their group, they are not the outcast, they are superior. At one point he writes one of the characters saying that they were RPG elitist, and as odd as that sounds to my experience, in retrospect, it could be an apt descriptor for most young RPG players. You cut your teeth on the DnD style of play, then you yearn for more. You look upon the standard in-the-box campaign as blasé and experiment with new rulesets and eventually create your own system. These kids, and later adults, in this volume are familiar; they could have been my gaming group from so long ago. I think many readers will be able to make that same connection, and that connection draws you into Gillen’s story. Few gamers, pen and paper or electronic, don’t at some time, imagine being pulled into the game and becoming their character. That is the promise of gaming, one that Gillen adds in his own dark twist.

The artwork by Stephanie Hans (Journey Into Mystery, Suicide Risk) works well with Gillen’s world. To start with, the cover is so eye-catching; you want to know the story behind it. Between the covers of the comics, her painter’s style flows across the page effortlessly. Her use of color adds to the emotional state of each sequence. Additionally, there are several instances where a particular color pops on the page, and later it comes back, possibly giving little hints as to what will happen. Through it all, her art is consistent and wonderful. It builds on the world and makes it feel lived in and original from the standard fantasy worlds out there.

BOTTOM LINE: +1 WITH ADVANTAGE TO BE A HIT

I have a long history with role-playing games and have been involved in them since the TSR Moldvay Red Box. I started playing DnD the week before the Dungeons and Dragons cartoon first aired. The idea of what happened to the party, if they ever made it home, was one we bandied around the gaming table for years. Gillen takes kernel of an idea and completely transforms it with his own amazing imagination, creating a completely new mythology to it. This is not the story of those kids, this is a story of real kids and he takes it beyond what most people would have thought. The choice of Stephanie Hans as an artist is inspired and her art adds to the feel of originality, and therefore adds to the depth of the story.

DIE #1 may look as if it is nothing more than lip service role-playing games, but read it, it is much more. There is a story that goes beyond the standard idea of being whisked away to a magical fantasy world.

Die #1

83%
83%
+1 With Advantage to be a Hit

I have a long history with role-playing games and have been involved in them since the TSR Moldvay Red Box. I started playing DnD the week before the Dungeons and Dragons cartoon first aired. The idea of what happened to the party, if they ever made it home, was one we bandied around the gaming table for years. Gillen takes kernel of an idea and completely transforms it with his own amazing imagination, creating a completely new mythology to it. This is not the story of those kids, this is a story of real kids and he takes it beyond what most people would have thought. The choice of Stephanie Hans as an artist is inspired and her art adds to the feel of originality, and therefore adds to the depth of the story.
DIE #1 may look as if it is nothing more than lip service role-playing games, but read it, it is much more. There is a story that goes beyond the standard idea of being whisked away to a magical fantasy world.

  • Writing
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  • Art
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  • Coloring
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About Author

Back in February of 2008, Stacy Baugher wrote his first article for Major Spoilers and started a solid run of work that would last for over two years. He wrote the first series of Comic Casting Couch articles as well as multiple Golden Age Hero Histories, reviews and commentaries. After taking a hiatus from all things fandom he has returned to the Major Spoilers fold. He can currently be found on his blog, www.stacybaugher.com , were he post progress on his fiction work as well as his photography and life in general, and on Twitter under the handle @stacybaugher . If you're of a mind, he also takes on all comers with the under the Xbox Live Gamertag, Lost Hours. He currently lives in Clinton, Mississippi with his understanding wife, and two kids.

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