Comic Book Review: Die #2
Just from the events of the first issue, I already felt like Die was shaping up to be one of my favorite series of 2019. I say that because of the raw potential unlocked in this storytelling in the first introductions. During the nineties, it was very easy to cast of Dungeons and Dragons as an evil game. But who wouldn’t look at you as if you were another crazy adult? This story comes off as a wild imagining of if that was ever the case. The wonders versus the dangers. Quite shocking to see how this creative team chose the dangers over everything else, though that is how you break from the mold.
When I turned to the first page, I liked that there was that one page given towards the roll call for the cast. For a book like this, you never want to assume that everyone off the bat is able to remember the names of these characters or what they do. It saves some time so that you aren’t backtracking to the issue before. Very important to establish these details after the first issue.
With the geas dropped, the curtains fell completely from this story and that shroud of mystery. Some like certain things to be revealed over time, but I don’t think this was one of those times where you wanted to play around with being too vague. The first issue played very well into the idea that no one wanted or could speak about their time in Die. If the spell wasn’t dispelled, you easily could have assumed it was that bad that no one wanted to speak of their experiences. Who could argue with the freeing sensation that overwhelms you when able to express everything that was quite literally held back? I would feel the same way too. It made such a big difference when coming face-to-face with Sol as well. After all those years stuck in the game, how do you talk to someone who you haven’t spoken of all this time? In no time at all it started to become easier to understand the kind of experience these characters had in their Die roles. To see how their titles were taken literally, their abilities twisted to give their quests a challenge, not to mention how they all worked together once slipping into these roles.
The word goth made such a big difference when it came to understanding the world of Die and how these characters fit into the world. If it wasn’t for the drastic change in landscape from their past adventures, then it was coming to terms with how the game world worked. This was a game clearly created to put you through the ringer for better or for worse. Very different from a game where there isn’t someone pulling the strings. I don’t think we truly could have understood that bleak, austere fantasy-horror until being introduced to who Sol is now, as the Grandmaster. Everyone else was twisted from the experience that they were able to leave in the past, but for Sol, that was every day to this point.
What was so creative about this new situation that they have been put into is how these friends now share the same reality in both worlds. A real world abandoned from when they were kids, and a fantasy world abandoned when they chose to go home. No matter where they go, there is a past to deal with where nothing is the same as before. Horror takes a unique twist in Die, and this one in particular is one to take notice of.
Stunning work from Stephanie Hans yet again. I was blown away by the fantasy elements she was able to breathe life into this issue, on top of laying down the foundation for the atmosphere of this story. For her style of painting, I was overly impressive with her ability to bring out so much emotion from these characters. This was an important moment for all of them. Every reaction shot or close-up mattered when capturing the state of mind that they have been thrown into whether accepting that they are really stuck in the game again, or the reluctance to go back to what was pretty much a nightmare for some. When you see how some of their abilities work, it was hard not to grasp either. With that said, I enjoyed being able to see their Die characters in their entirety already. Creative designs, as well as unique workings to their abilities. The gods who were summoned, the personality given to objects, all of these things mattered and much more. For the fantasy elements, that is where the importance of er color choice came in. The overall use of warm colors worked great for giving us that look of bleak, the intense red hues created changes in tone, and the level of saturation fit the desert setting. What I liked most was the way that she mixed greens with reds, blues with red, pink with red. red is at the base for a lot of this, but it is the things you wouldn’t normally mix with this base that gave the interiors such a beautiful glow.
Die #2 gave us a lot more to invest in this tale. This is not the kind of story where you so easily get lost in the wonders of escapism. Like Jumanji, and like any game that ever involved removing you from your old life, Die is a sharp reminder that the rules are always important to keep in mind. Especially the kind of rules that keep you on your toes about consequences in Die being just as real in the outside world.