If you've been reading this meta-fantasy themed series for some time, DIE #11 will be very rewarding as it gives quality attention to characters and themes that have been percolating for months. If you have no idea what's going on and have never read this work, you're gonna be completely lost and have no idea what in the name of Gary Gygax is going on here.
From the front page: "In 1991, six teenagers disappeared into a fantasy role-playing game. Only five returned. In 2018, they were all dragged back in. They can't go home until six agree. They don't. The Party wars." This includes a brand new tabletop role-playing game (invented in part by Gillen) and world-building that's deeply developed and entrancing, running vague but not derivative similarities to Curse of Strahd and other possibly familiar settings to the 5e crowd.
There are vague parallels to classes you might recognize — the Grief Knight is a kind of paladin, godbinders are like Lazy Susan warlocks. Neos are like artificer sorcerers of code, the Fool's is a brash rogue with the Luck feat pumped up into overdrive. The odd classes are Dictators; imagine a class built around the spells charm, dominate person, command, and their ilk. And Masters who serve as architects of the relative rules for localized reality who, by practice, have a bad experience if they try to play directly (a la DMs).
Two members of the group hold court in the vampire kingdom of Angria, where they seek to enforce their idea of positive change in this world they fear they've abandoned. Three more are fugitives and desperate to return to the "real" world. One is … well, that's a long story, but he's mostly out of the game.
As stated, if you've been reading this book, you know the struggle the Grief Knight, the sacrifices the Godbinder has made, and the shocking work of the Dictator and the numbness she's experiencing. Kieron Gillen's script here gives her and the Grandmaster a surprising moment of intimacy and friendship while dual-wielding the visuals of Stephanie Hans and Clayton Cowles in a crafty and effective action scene. The work is literary and engaging in its developments here, and its visuals are sweeping and gothic.
True, it's not much made to bring in new players, but this game is afoot, and its play is definitely a high level. RATING: BUY.
By Kieron Gillen, Stephanie Hans
NEW STORY ARC 'THE GREAT GAME,' Part One Half the party is ruling a whole empire. The other half is on the run. Neither has it easy. There is nothing easy in this game, especially when the stakes get shockingly real. The most epic arc of DIE begins as it means to go on: messily.
Hannibal Tabu is a writer, journalist, DJ, poet and designer living in south Los Angeles with his wife and children. He's a winner of the 2012 Top Cow Talent Hunt, winner of the 2018-2019 Cultural Trailblazer award from the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, his weekly comic book review column THE BUY PILE can be found on iHeartRadio's Nerd-O-Rama podcast, his reviews can be found on BleedingCool.com, and more information can be found at his website, www.hannibaltabu.com.
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