The battle behind them, our heroes make their way to civilization and the one place every party ends up: The local tavern. Your Major Spoilers review of Die #4 awaits!
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Stephanie Hans
Designer: Rian Hughes
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Editor: Chrissy Williams
Publisher: Image Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: March 6, 2019
Previously in Die: Our heroes reach the civilization of Glass Town and do what heroes have always done upon reaching civilization.
As in, go to the pub…
HAIL THE CONQUERING HEROES
Having returned to the gaming world that they inhabited thirty years ago, our heroes have been through a lot of trauma in just a few short issues. Naturally, once they arrive in Glass Town (established as the first settlement in this world and the central place for all your adventure hook needs) and are hailed as returning heroes, still remembered for their long-ago defeat of the original Grandmaster. Now that their old friend Sol has become a new Grandmaster, the locals are hoping for another heroic crusade, though they’re not sure how to get past Sol’s shield. While a native NPC heads out to find the answers, our heroes go to the pub and start drinking with dwarves, which is always a bad idea for your liver. As the stories are told, we find out a little bit more about each of our “players”, Ash refuses to reveal her secrets, Matt probably reveals too much, Angela has a touching reunion through her powers and even Chuck gets a little character development. When their scout returns with the news that they must find three keys in three dungeons, each dungeon guarded by twelve perils, Ash is crestfallen. But, rather than be railroaded into a long grind, she has a better (actually terrible) idea.
DRINKING WAS PROBABLY A BAD IDEA
As someone who has read a lot of comics and played a lot of RPGs, this book continues to be a revelation, successfully combining elements of both into something more than the sum of its parts. Unlike so many comics set in high-fantasy worlds, this one maintains the in-character/out-of-character dichotomy that is so central to any role-playing experience, while examining how the characters we choose to play reflect on the players. It’s fascinating to read, especially when the genre-savvy Ash (a middle-aged man who played a female character and was always quite comfortable with it) can’t really explain why her character does what she does, speaking directly to the readers (sort of) and letting us make the decision about her actions ourselves. Stephanie Hans’ art is gorgeous throughout the issue, delivering moments like the D-20-shaped force field and the vast treasures of Glass Town alongside subtle moments of pure emotion, delivered with only facial expressions. When Isabelle is forced to read her high school journals to an audience, it’s perhaps the most visceral, mortifying experience I can imagine, more terrifying than any army of clockwork monsters. And Gillen knows that.
BOTTOM LINE: “IF YOU’RE LOOKING FOR A SIMPLE ANSWER, YOU’RE READING THE WRONG STORY…”
I’ve been singing the praises of this book since the beginning and Die #4 is no exception, combining a complex story filled with complex, realistic characters and gorgeous painted art that reminds me of the covers of old gaming materials into a book that’s more than the sum of its parts, earning a dead-solid 5 out of 5 stars overall. If you like Critical Hit, I recommend that you read Die, even if it makes me wish that our show could be this perfect.
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Four issues in, this comic continues to impress with every new development and raises the stakes on the drama, while giving us the patented Gillen last-page-shocker moment.