DIE #14 is published by Image Comics. It comes from the creative team of writer Kieron Gillen, artist Stephanie Hans, and letterer Clayton Cowles. Following the dire prediction of the previous issue, in this issue the party is at war. Ash and the joint armies of Angria and Little England prepare to lead an assault on Eternal Prussia. Meanwhile, the other half of the group sneaks toward Glass Town to shut down the machine creating the world-ending dice. A moment is shared between Angela and Matt as they discuss their parents before Chuck interjects that they have arrived.
They witness countless iron dragons leaving the city, unaware that Ash is buying them time with her offensive. Meanwhile, on the frontlines, Ash’s son Augustus is injured and sent back to Angria. As the war rages on the party in Glass Town comes under attack and only barely survives. With the fate of two worlds on the line, it will take everyone in the party at their best to win. Bu, the harm done by Ash may be too great to allow such a necessary alliance.
With DIE #14 Gillen has his most high-stakes issue to date. As such, the pacing and perspective shifting is frenetic. Though it can be a little disorienting, it helps keep the action at the forefront and the story is better for it. Despite this, my favorite moments in this issue were the more intimate ones. Ash and Izzy having a moment to admire Augustus’ nobility immediately comes to mind. Specifically because of the way it is presented.
Ash’s inner monologue showing her inability to treat any situation as anything but a game is brilliant. The way she is constantly calculating, and hating herself for it is such an interesting character choice and makes for immensely compelling reading. On the other side of the spectrum are Angela and Matt. Both characters frequently carry the emotional weight of the party. Hearing them discuss their parents and what they learned from them was a calm moment that essentially served as the eye of the storm. I really appreciate Gillen’s ability to work this kind of development into the narrative, even this late into the series.
The art from Hans continues to be gorgeous. From the opening page of the gathered armies to the serene misty woods outside Glass Town. Every panel continues to show how important she is to this series. The scenes of battle featuring Augustus are among my favorite in the entire series to date. Seeing him and his father battling dragons through red smoke and mist is breathtaking. The stark contrast of their magic against the grittiness of burned out buildings and towering robots dazzles. The letters from Cowles draw the eye across the wonderful artwork and are never hard to read or cluttered.
Never before have I been so taken with the artwork in a comic like I am with DIE #14. Hans’ work has been phenomenal through this entire series, but this issue stands out. It feels like a beautiful, chaotic mashup of every cool fantasy thing you can imagine brought to life. The fact that the story matches this and is compelling in it’s own right is unbelievable. Even 14 issues in this series continues to surprise me for the better.
It feels like a beautiful, chaotic mashup of every cool fantasy thing you can imagine brought to life.