What’s up everyone! Welcome to Beyond The Panel. Coming at you today with talk about Die #14! With the previous issue being so monumental towards shaking up this story with a new sense of direction, that gave us a lot to look forward to this month. Action is great, but so is knowing what the longterm plan is for this party’s extended stay in the realm of Die.
Starting with Izzy and Ash, it was interesting to see how their plans began to unfold now knowing the endgame for Die. What started out as simply trying to make sure they left this world in better shape than they did before, evolved into making sure there was a world to return to at all when or if they left Die. That’s still a big jump in my head, but there always had to be something more to this tale than simply having a fantasy world exist like this without any true purpose. Though let me not get too ahead of myself. For this issue there was a stronger focus on what it looks like when these two are actually making moves. You could see where things could go right for them. Though they didn’t once let up on the idea that nothing is assured until the very end. This was easy to see from Ash’s point of view. One which plays a game with your head since this creative team seems set
Which brings us to Izzy. If setting the plan in motion is Ash’s task, everything else falls on Izzy’s shoulder to make sure that plan has a leg to stand on. Though that wasn’t what stood out to you the most this issue. That just so happened to be this creative team treating us to a genuine understanding of how her powers work. Up to this point I think we all wanted to know what happens when Izzy has built up enough of a debt to a god. We needed to know what kind of request that god will ask of her, and we needed to know what could happen to her if she could not pay that debt. The answers to that were quite shocking. Overall, worth the wait to considering what this god did that would further complicate an already delicate situation.
Then we have the other half of the group, this part here had my attention before I even flipped open to the first page. Normally when you see a character take center stage on the cover of an issue, that usually means that there is something to look forward to from them. For this issue, that character just so happened to be Matt. That in itself is enough to turn your head since anything dealing with Matt is going to involve dealing with grief on some level. You just couldn’t have predicted how that grief was going to strike him, or how it was going to change him too. As with Izzy, this was also worth the wait for the grasp we now have of the power he has, and the power that this has over him.
Now visually I don’t know if I saw anything too familiar to Return of the King’s big battles, because it has been some time since I have seen that movie, but I did appreciate the atmosphere Stephanie Haans was able to create for this battle. A battle is a battle, and all it takes is someone who understands what that looks like to catch your eyes. Haans did that for us. Especially through the unique fantasy elements which Die offers between mechanical enemies, dragons, and vampires. For this issue in particular there was a lot of use of hot and cold colors which really paid off when it came to not only creating an atmosphere, but setting the mood for the battle to. This was a battle which visually raged on through a range of warm colors. And though I didn’t see the familiar action, I did get the big emotional messy beats to the visual splendor through her use of cold colors. Of course even then, you have to give credit where it is due that Haans consistently nails emotional engagement that we get from these characters. The looks of grief, anger, sadness, even defeat from one character who seemed like they had the most control over what they can do.
In the end, Die #14 did not disappoint one bit. This creative team is just revving up for some big moments to unfold, and right now there’s no telling how this party is ever going to return to their lives unshaken by this experience.