In this edition of the Storied Arcs deep dive into indie comics, we’re exploring the world of DIE by Kieron Gillen and Stephanie Hans. This book was released by Image Comics in 2018 and ran for 20 issues ending in September 2021. If you’re familiar with this book and its creators, then we suggest diving straight into volume 1. If not, then it may be helpful to start with our zero episode which explores the backgrounds of Kieron Gillen and Stephanie Hans as well as the premise of the book. The zero episode does not contain spoilers for the series! The rest of the podcast episodes will assume you have read the content being covered. It is not a recap podcast, but rather a book club-style discussion of the plot, characters, themes, and message of the story. We hope you enjoy this book as much as we do!
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Creator Spotlight: Kieron Gillen and Stephanie Hans & Intro to DIE
Mike and Alex are back with another zero episode to get ready for the next season of Storied Arcs, DIE from Image Comics. As always, the guys first focus on the creators of the comic, Kieron Gillen and Stephanie Hans, before giving you a preview of why you should read the book. They review Gillen’s vast resume of Marvel and creator-owned comics, as well as Hans’ relatively few entries (as an interior artist, that is; her work as a cover artist is extensive and flawless), but discuss how what interior work Hans had done, specifically with Gillen, suited the style we see represented in DIE. Gillen once described DIE as “goth Jumanji” which is simultaneously too flippant and dismissive of what the comic is and also describes it perfectly. It’s an immersive fantasy adventure that never forgets the real cost stories like these can have.
Don’t worry if you’re not a tabletop RPG gamer, it’s not a requirement for reading this book. Trust me; neither Mike or Alex play or played D&D or other such games and they still find the comic very enjoyable. So go out and read DIE Volume 1: Fantasy Heartbreaker (issues #1-5) wherever you can find it and join us back here next week for the start of another season of Storied Arcs!
DIE Volume 01 Fantasy Heartbreaker
“While our peers back on Earth were doing their A-levels, we were trapped here. The world of Die taught us different lessons. I was the Dictator. I learned how to tell stories.”
In this episode, Mike and Alex roll for damage as they enter the world of DIE from Keiron Gillen and Stephanie Hans, published by Image Comics. They dive right into Volume 1 Fantasy Heartbreaker (issues #1-5) to discuss the players of the game and how the line between fantasy role-playing and real life gets blurred when the characters are forced to return to the game. They also touch on the various historical and literary references featured in this first volume, from JRR Tolkien to the Bronte siblings to Prussian Army war games. All very normal things to encounter in a fantasy game.
As usual, we don’t spoil anything about the comic beyond what’s shown in this volume, so if you’re reading along with the show, you should be safe. But keep on reading because we’ll be right back here next week to continue our deep-dive discussion into DIE with Volume 2 Split the Party. Go read it wherever you find comics.
DIE Volume 02 – Split the Party
“‘What is Twitter?’ ‘It’s a place devoid of any sentient life, entirely hostile to humanity. A lot like here, really.'”
Welcome back to DIE! In this episode, Mike and Alex breakdown Volume 2 Split The Party (issues #6-10) from Kieron Gillen and Stephanie Hans. They dive deep into the mechanics of the game, what the rules are and how they govern the players, and why that’s so important to establish for Gillen and Hans. They also continue the discussion on self-identification and how that manifests through role-playing games. There’s also the One Big Issue to cover, so I hope you’re up to speed with the Brontë sibling’s juvenilia.
No spoilers in this episode for anything to come down the line in the comic so if you’re reading along, listen freely. And when you’re done, go read DIE Volume 3 The Great Game wherever you get your comics and join us back here next week for another great discussion!
Die Volume 03 – The Great Game
“I’m presuming that’s a reference I don’t remember because I grew up and actually got a life.”
In this episode, Mike and Alex delve deep into DIE Volume 3 The Great Game (issues #11-15) as all the answers of DIE are finally revealed. Or are they? We see how all the pieces fit together, from the Brontë sibling’s wooden soldiers to the dice that brought our Paragons to DIE in the first place, but there’s still some timey-wimey stuff going on. A LOT of timey-wimey stuff. Things that happen in the future that cause events in the past to have already occurred; time loops are apparently a recurring topic for is. It’s like we’re trapped in a repeating cycle of events or something.
We’re almost at the end so there’s no way we’d spoil the finale now. So go read the epic conclusion in DIE Volume 4 Bleed wherever you get your comics and join us back here next week to wrap up another season of Storied Arcs!
DIE Volume 04 – Bleed
“It’s all for you.”
The finale is here!