Its kind of funny how last issue I made the statement that going home is without a doubt going to be easier said than done. Then this next issue comes around and the hype set around this one is three words which match exactly what I have been saying about the impression that the current direction of the story has give us. “Forget escaping DIE”. Sounds ominous right? I couldn’t help but feel the eagerness to see what this truly meant, because that can mean a lot of things in the case of this party.
When the truth came for that? I was blown away because there was no bracing yourself for what Izzy and Ashe had planned for their takeover of Angria. Personally, I walked into this with my own expectation. They gave us this impression that they were trying to play this by the game of the diplomatic. You know, whispering in this ear, in that ear, doing as much damage to create leverage against these people who only know how to use their words as weapons. What this ended up turning into was exciting since what we actually got from them took things to the next level. They did play the game, but it wasn’t Angria’s game. They were finally playing the game that is Die, and I had no arguments with this when you know that this means the gloves are finally coming off. The only thing that was holding any of these party members back was the idea that they had to treat any one person as someone real. In this issue we got our first taste of what it looks like when that is not the case.
It was all quite terrifying, yet at the same time refreshing. It is a breath of fresh air when you have a fantasy series like this that indulges you in the darkness. I mean, this isn’t to say that other series from Image have not. Though most of them also play quickly into the trap of giving you glimpses of hope. This one does not. At least not yet for everything that has already unfolded so far. You are pretty much setting yourself up when expecting that you will get anything that isn’t a situation growing more difficult by the day that they remain in this world.
The depth given to Ashe was perfect for the fact that this was the best time to show us exactly what happened when she first met Zamorna. Some might say that this has already been addressed, but it mattered to know what went kind of experience Ashe had during this time since this isn’t something she enjoys being open about. So it was heartbreaking to see how one relationship really could do so much damage for not only her, but her relationship with those like Izzy. This worked when also adding emphasis to the mindset that Ashe has now thrown herself into. I was captivated by this version of herself who now sees what is possible when you embrace your power. They say with enough grief that Matt could level a city. Though when will we ever get the opportunity to see that? Right now Ashe is satisfying our need for someone who knows what they are capable of, and has no problem letting everyone see it.
Taking these events from the perspective of Izzy was not something to ignore either. You see her as this pillar of righteousness, but it would all be too easy for even someone like her if she was able to get away with the strings she has pulled to get to this point. I was waiting to see what would come of the doors she has now opened, and this creative team pulled no punches in the execution.
What can I say about this issue? Marvelous work from Stephanie Hans! The way she immerses you in this world is brilliant, and she does not get enough praise for the story she is able to tell through her visuals. Though let’s just start with her style which captivates you consistently. If you’re someone who loved WicDiv, then you would love Hans’ work for the same reasons. She jumps in with the same creativity with this cast of characters, uniqueness to the world she is rendering, engagement from the expressions and body language from the characters, not to mention the flair from her colors which are so distinctive from others. Let me tell you, the colors in this issue particularly? Blew me away because that fire she brought out in Ash makes you fall in love with the character all over again. The intensity, the mastery of warm colors. I was getting Maleficent vibes. If I was the kind of guy filled with that much outward enthusiasm, this issue would have left me screaming “Yas, Queen!”.
As the end of the story arc for ‘Split The Party’ Die #10 changed the game in a dramatic way moving forward. There was no preparing yourself for what the driving force would be that keeps this party existing in this realm longer than they wanted. Either they will be their undoing, this world, or something else that they did not take into account while finding new reasons to extend their stay.