Anja reviews 'Die' by Kieron Gillen and Stephanie Hans

"Dungeons and Dragons" meets "Jumanji" in this adult fantasy comic that is both an ode to RPGs and a deconstruction of the fantasy genre.


"Die," written by Kieron Gillen and illustrated by Stephanie Hans, aims to answer the question, what if you actually got to go to the fantasy world you dreamed of visiting as a child — and what if it was a nightmare? When six teenagers get together to play a new RPG, they mysteriously disappear. Two years later, only five return, and none of them are able to explain what happened to them. Then, nearly 30 years later, one of the players, Dominic Ash, finds the die that used to belong to his childhood friend Solomon — the one who disappeared — and thus Ash and his friends are sucked back into the fantasy world of Die where they must complete the game or die trying.


The fantasy world of Die is a planet in the shape of a D20 with the 20 sides representing 20 different realms or kingdoms. Each of the realms on Die takes its inspiration from famous fantasy classics, including works by J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis and the Bronte siblings. But "Die" is more than just a comic inspired by D&D and classic fantasy; it is a dark deconstruction of the genre in the same vein as Lev Grossman's "The Magicians." Similar to the ways in which many popular comics such as "Watchmen" and "Invisible" deconstruct the superhero genre, "Die" doesn't hold back any punches. Instead of depicting the fantasy world of your childhood dreams, it examines what it would really be like to live in a world with deadly dragons, devious gods and magical warfare. We are definitely not in the Shire anymore.


Along with the sophisticated fantasy world created by Kieron Gillen, "Die" is filled to the brim with gorgeous illustrations by Stephanie Hans. Hans has been working in the comics industry for years as a cover artist, but "Die" is her first ongoing comic series, and she knocked it out of the park. "Die" is illustrated in Hans’ signature cinematic, painterly style, and every panel is rendered like a masterpiece. Hans' art truly brings this story to life.


Overall, "Die" is an amazing and sophisticated comic great for any classic fantasy fan. You can pick it up at your local comic shop, or find out more at diecomic.com.

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