A book like Die is one you only ever get once in a full blue moon. It will of course carry many similarities to stories where kids get trapped in a game-like world, but this one does so many things different which keeps you coming back for more. The stakes are way more genuine, the rules are well-thought out, and the fantasy actually runs deep. Not to mention, when are you going to run into a situation like this where the party could get this far in the way of each other when escaping is as simple as everyone being on the same page about leaving?
For this issue, we knew there was one of two things we had to look forward to before flipping open to that first page. One was what would come of Isabelle making the bold return she did in the previous issue, and the other is what would come of the introduction of this supposed first woman who ever gazed upon this plane with human eyes. Let’s start with Isabelle real quick, because this truly caught me off guard. We knew from the last we saw of her that she was plotting something big knowing the location of the other three, but who would have guessed she would barge right in to confess that they all had a hand in the destruction of Glass Town? I had to know what came next for them since that is one heck of a situation to put yourself in. Being locked up in a dungeon together was definitely one of the worst things that could happen to them. Not because they would tear each other apart, but because these guys really know how to say the right things to cut through one another.
I actually appreciated the fact that they did argue, but there was meaning to almost everything spoken between them. This could have easily just been a screaming match over who screwed over the other, though it worked better that we could see some sort of compromise about the needs versus the want. I mean, I have to give credit where it is due for Isabelle’s writing. They pulled no punches to show why someone like her was to be feared when she decided to go off on her own with Chuck. The worst case scenario was always going to be dealing with her like this. In the way and getting what she wanted before allowing the rest of the party to run away from the problems they caused again.
Now the big thing for this issue turned out to be the reveal of this woman who somehow came before this party. So far this has been the biggest bomb dropped on our laps. I mean, on top of everything they are already dealing with, now they are trying to process the fact that there is even more behind the scenes that they don’t understand about Die? The execution to this was brilliant because so much was made sense of between the creation of the cities, the way these cities worked, and the magic behind this world. Maybe not everything was laid on the table, but we did come to understand what truly led Sol down the path he took to bring his friends into this hell. What I appreciated was the way that they took familiar concepts to how these worlds are created, and took that extra step to actually allow room to get to know the first visitors, even if the moment was brief.
There’s one thing you have to love about an artist like Stephanie Hans, and that is the fact that an artist like this can have such a distinct style, and then be able to switch things up in such a way to tell the story from a different perspective. Everything in current time was more of the same consistency, but it was the moment we jumped into the tale of this first woman to step foot in this plane that everything changed. It was a style taken on where she pretty much dialed back on the intensity of her colors, the thickness of her pencils, and even applied more of a faded wash to better represent a story told in the past. It had an overall classic feel to it that was fitting for the period of time. I loved the scenes in particular where she would focus in on this woman in her youth, and even her siblings, to capture their moments of passion. You saw this in their eyes, their smiles, not to mention looks of obsession. Some of the expressions of horror hit you harder than they did before, and this helped with the impact of seeing where things began to go wrong for these first visitors.
‘Split the Party’ has definitely taken many meanings in this arc, and continued to do so through the events of Die #9. It was clever how the creative team found some ways in this chapter to show us that even if it comes time to go home, there might be some other things to worry about given the new information on this world. Overall going home is still going to be easier said than done, but this wouldn’t be much of a story if it were ever going to be that straightforward, would it?