DIE #13 is published by Image Comics. It comes from the creative team of writer Kieron Gillen, artist Stephanie Hans, and letterer Clayton Cowles. The issue opens with Ash engaged in negotiations with Die’s incarnation of H.G. Wells. The author speaks at length about war games and his inclusion in their creation. Ash pushes him for an alliance, but he seems intent to speak his peace, describing his personal creation Little Wars. Meanwhile, the other half of the party has ventured into Region 20. As they look out over the desolate and dangerous landscape they find themselves under attack from the fallen. The group fights for their lives, but quickly finds themselves outmatched. When all hope seems to be lost, The Fair arrive and come to their rescue. But The Fair do not play by the same rules as the party, and the knowledge they bring changes everything.
Once again Gillen’s story has shocked and surprised me. The revelations brought on by Wells and The Fair will have a lasting impact on the party’s actions moving forward. How they will all move forward after learning that they aren’t the most important thing happening in the world of Die is yet to be seen. It is difficult to introduce such a powerful shake-up so late into a story. But, DIE #13, proves that if anyone can pull it off, it’s Gillen.
His ability to capture the essence of H.G. Wells, and make him an interesting character is remarkable when it should be absurd. Instead of an out of place writer in a fantasy world, Gillen shows Wells as a brilliant scheming self-proclaimed hero. Meanwhile, his is knack for including brief but profound character moments throughout the action helps keep the party at the forefront. In particular, the subplots of Matt’s kind nature, and Chuck’s terminal illness. I particularly love the exchange between Matt and Chuck about Matt’s favorite characters from fantasy being the peaceful, good-natured ones. Gillen’s worldbuilding is outstanding, and he fills this world with living breathing people.
The art from Hans is as beautiful as ever. Only an artist with her talent could make a scene of a desolate landscape seem equally drab and vibrant. Her color palettes are always on point, and her character art is emotive and authentic. You can practically feel the weariness and misery on Matt’s face every time he is featured. The action is dynamic, particularly the fight against the Fallen. You can feel the claustrophobia as they close in on the party and the odds shift against our heroes. The letters from Cowell expertly jump between the mundane musings of Wells and the otherworldly nature of The Fair. Through all of this the dialogue is easy to follow and never cluttered or invasive.
DIE #13 has me, once again, impatient to see what comes next. The story’s focus is renewed, and also solidified. The interactions between the characters feel genuine and meaningful. It isn’t often that a writer is able to completely change the focus of a series after twelve issues. But Gillen’s work here is so expertly done that it makes me want to reread previous issues to look for clues. DIE has always been worth your time, and it looks like it always will be.
DIE #13 has me, once again, impatient to see what comes next.