The previous issue of Die was one of the most depressing of the year. Emotional storytelling and beautiful art lead to a great story that was also very touching. Where will writer Kieron Gillen and artist Stephanie Hans take the five adventurers next? And will readers be able to handle it?
Since its first issue, Die has been a comic filled with emotions. Gillen has done an excellent job of giving his characters nuance — every statement is packed with meaning and almost seem like confessions. There is never any empty exposition. Almost every word in the book makes the reader feel something. At times, reading Die can be like reading a person’s diary.
Gillen also fills every scene with gravity. There are no moments in issue #4 that come off as filler. Each scene adds to the overall lore of the story and deepens the motivation of each character. Despite its setting, Die is not just another high fantasy adventure. Every moment seamlessly flows and nothing can be missed. It’s rare to read a book where each page is so meaningful.
As has been the case through the entire series, the fifth issue is filled with heartfelt little moments that are punctuated by an emotional gut punch. In this case, there are multiple such times. As the first scene happens, it is impossible to not put yourself in the character’s place. It is a nightmarish moment that is delivered perfectly.
The second scene is just as moving if in a different way. It can be argued that it is cheap and will manipulate emotions, but Gillen writes the scene in a way that maximizes the trauma the characters are going through. It also shows that despite the circumstances, the five are just normal people. (There is actually another moment that explores another character.) Die is a very tender comic book.
The art of Hans seems to get better with each issue. One constant throughout the young series has been the way the art works so well with the setting. For example, a touching moment near the end of Die #4 is perfectly done. There is nothing in the panels except the two characters, demonstrating the utter happiness of the moment. Hans even changes her style in the middle of the issue to coincide with what is happening. Everything has a fantastic quality to it that lets readers know they are in another world.
Hans also makes sure to fill each page with emotion. There is a scene involving Isabelle that is drawn in a way that evokes sadness. The first introduction to Glass Town is an impressive one. When we first see the city, it is from a distance, showcasing its magnificence. When the party first enters, there is a well done page that gives a sense of hope. The story of Die is emotional enough, but the work of Hans adds to the feeling.
Die is a great series that continues to impress. Gillen and Hans have hit their stride early. On the surface, issue #4 seems like a simple book that gives readers a chance to take a breather. Instead, it provides character development through heart rendering moments. The art fits the tone and setting of the book perfectly and the last page seems to promise there will be plenty of action.