There’s always a way out of any situation… if you’re willing to pay the price. Your Major Spoilers review of Die #6 awaits!
Writer: Keiron Gillen
Artist: Stephanie Hans
Colorist: Stephanie Hans
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Editor: Chrissy Williams
Publisher: Image Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: August 7, 2019
Previously in Die: Forget escaping Die… Half of our heroes can’t even escape the remains of shattered Glass Town. Is there any way out? Of course there is.
It’s just whether or not you can pay the price.
GLASS TOWN UNDER SIEGE
At the end of last issue, the truth about the undead-ish Fallen came to light, the party managed to kill (or at least “kill”) Sol the Grandmaster, leading Izzy and Chuck to abandon Matt, Angela and Ash after an argument about the damange they’ve done to the world of Die. This time around, after an unknown amount of time has passed, the three remaining players are trapped in Glass Town, which is being occupied by the mechanized creatures of Eternal Prussia. They’re stuck in a cycle of trying to gather enough Fair Gold to get the four of them and Angela’s magi-techy familiar out, only to have the gold disappear at nightfall. Ash tries to suggest to Angela an option, but she isn’t willing to even entertain it, instead setting out to find The Fair (who seem to be part elf and part A.I. and aware of time in ways that the players aren’t). Angela begs them for a boon, but they Fair refuse to take back her “gift”, after first taunting her that they could just remove her cybernetic arm instead. Angela asks the most important question of all: “What’s the point of “interesting choices” if they make no difference at all?” She then chooses to deactivate Case, leaving the group with enough power to escape to Angria, the one place they’ve been desperate not to go, where Ash is greeted by a stranger with a cur5t “Welcome back, mother.”
WE HAVE A CLOCKWORK DRAGON!
Never, never NEVER ever split the party! It’s game-master 101! It’s also a springboard to some killer storytelling, with Ash torn by her decisions and forced to consider how best to fight off her friends, while Matt has to deal with his strange powers and the emotion cost therof and Angela has to put her friend down to save the party. Gillen explains in the back-matter of this issue that this story grew out of having to put his pet cat to sleep, and the issue really conveys the difficulty and emotional strain of having to do so. Even though Angela made her familiar (and, honestly, could make him again, if she wanted to), it’s a difficult decision that makes for some really great drama. And man, the art? Hans shows us Angela and Case’s journey across the strange landscape with beautiful color and expression, while explaining her real-world back story and the things that led to her ongoing, ugly divorce in dreamy pastels. It totally reverses my expectations, and make things even more engaging for me as a reader. There are also a few insights into the world of Die, some Greek chorus-y mocking bits from Sol the probably-dead Game Master and an ending that makes me want to see these chracters have to make more terrible decisions to try and get home from their imaginary world.
BOTTOM LINE: AN UNEXPECTED ENDING
Die #6 continues the book’s streak of defying expectations in creative and entertaining ways, and Stephanie Hans gives every panel life with her inspired painting, leaving us with another stellar chapter and 5 out of 5 stars overall. With elements of familiar games tied into a framework that includes fresh takes on many of the Tolkien-inspired bits that create Dungeons and Dragons, this is a book for RPG fans, for fantasy buffs and for comic nerds alike.
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It's a truly heart-rending story, featuring some hard decisions, beautiful art and creative world-building.