Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Stephanie Hans
There is something to be said for reading a comic in a collected trade form. Issues are great, but some comics, like DIE are just more epic when you get to indulge in a solid block of reading all at once. This is especially true for DIE as its source material; fantasy and RPGs are usually presented in this way.
DIE Volume 1: Fantasy Heartbreaker collects issues 1-5. The story, by Kieron Gillen who just ended the fabulous The Wicked + The Divine series, is familiar. Kids get transported to a fantasy world, specifically a roleplaying game world as their player characters. As many times as this has been done, DIE takes it a bit further, having the kids return (mostly) and how their life has played out into their forties. This latter part takes up the start of the comic glossing over the adventures the characters would have had as kids. Those events will be expanded upon later, what’s important now is that these adults, who don’t have perfect lives are perfectly happy to stay in the “real world”. Unfortunately for them, they are transported back.
In many ways, some of the same themes are explored in Seanan McGuire’s Wayward Children series, except now everyone in DIE is an adult and they have practical, real reasons why being transported to a magical land isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. This world isn’t fun, they aren’t having fun. As many issues as they have with our world, the fantasy world is even worse, which makes them want to find the way back home and to those more mundane lives.
If this theme isn’t bleak enough, the world of DIE is not Narnia. It’s horror and dark fantasy, Gillen-style and that means it will keep you reading and drawing you on with more questions than answers.