DIE #17 is published by Image Comics. It comes from the creative team of writer Kieron Gillen, artist Stephanie Hans, and letterer Clayton Cowles. After the surprise reveal at the end of the previous issue, we now join the party as they travel with their newest guide, an echo of H.P. Lovecraft. Lovecraft, who has scratched his own eyes out at the horrors of this lair, is sober and frank. He serves as a harbinger of doom and explains to the party that they’ve already failed.
Unwilling to give up hope, the group presses Lovecraft about who he was before he arrived in Die. His explanation of horrific dreams leads the group to realize that he had been influenced in his work by Die much the same as Bronte and Wells. As they express disbelief that the situation they are in is unwinnable, Lovecraft leads them deeper. He shows them a vast cavern of eggs, each with a vision inside. People playing a game. But as the egg hatches, a new truth is discovered. One that will shock the party to their cores.
I honestly don’t know how Gillen keeps doing it, but DIE #17 is phenomenal. Once again, the story starts off heavy with exposition, then transitions to an absolute bombshell. You would think that, at this point, there wouldn’t be anything left about this series to surprise or shock me. But you would be wrong. The big reveals in this issue feel just as important and weighty as those that were happening ten issues ago. But, again, it is a major testament to the strength of this story that shocks and seismic shifts in the narrative can continue to land.
Additionally, Gillen continues to show off his skill with references and name drops. The echo of Lovecraft is a grim doomsayer, but he is by no means whitewashed. He makes a thinly veiled racist comment, and Ash acknowledges it. His flaws are laid bare, and his fate later in the book is fitting and poetic. On the other end of the spectrum, the reference to the brilliant satirical series Garth Marenghi was wonderful to see.
At this point, there isn’t much more I can do to continue to heap praise on Hans’ art. Her ability to draw detailed and gorgeous backgrounds is second to none. Similarly, the way she will use chaotic splashes of color at times rather than a detailed environment helps to keep the action feeling kinetic and alive. Whether she’s drawing a portrait of someone scowling mid-conversation or a tunnel of bizarre eggs, it always looks phenomenal. The same can be said for Cowles, whose letters are always legible and perfectly placed. Furthermore, the methods he uses to differentiate between narration and individual characters in the dialogue are brilliant. Ash’s internal monologue is red on black, Sol’s lettering scrawled and off-putting. The rest are more traditional. But together, these create an interesting visual contrast that is easy on the eyes.
DIE #17 is a brilliant issue in a series that is on a fast track to masterpiece status. The stakes continue to grow as Gillen manages to evoke hope and hopelessness in each issue. The art is gorgeous, and every panel practically overflows with talent and style. At this point, if you haven’t hopped on, then you’re actively missing out on one of the greatest stories to have been told in comics.
DIE #17 is available now wherever comics are sold.
The stakes continue to grow as Gillen manages to evoke hope and hopelessness in each issue. The art is gorgeous, and every panel practically overflows with talent and style. At this point, if you haven’t hopped on, then you’re actively missing out on one of the greatest stories to have been told in comics.