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Die Volume 1: Fantasy Heartbreaker Paperback – Illustrated, June 11, 2019
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"Devoted" by Dean Koontz
For the first time in paperback, from Dean Koontz, the master of suspense, comes an epic thriller about a terrifying killer and the singular compassion it will take to defeat him. | Learn more
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- Item Weight : 12.8 ounces
- Paperback : 184 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1534312706
- ISBN-13 : 978-1534312708
- Product Dimensions : 6.6 x 0.4 x 9.9 inches
- Publisher : Image Comics; Illustrated Edition (June 11, 2019)
- Reading level : 16 and up
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #39,292 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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It's Kieron Gillen, so the world-building is incredible (and even by his standards, there is a lot of work put into this world). Stephanie Hans is a newer artist to me, but her art is just incredible, especially how she plays with light and how characters changed over the passage of time (and between our world and the fantasy world).
This is going to be an auto-buy for me, I can't wait to see how this story develops.
It's weird because I feel like I know most of the source materials intimately. I can see the influence of Apocalypse World on the design of the companion RPG which Gillen wrote. I know what the true definition of a Fantasy Heartbreaker is. I'm mid-way through reading "Playing At The World" and recognize where some of the Gygax/Arneson quotes come from and I've read enough Tolkien biography to relate to the chapter where he shows up.
So why doesn't it work for me? I'm not sure I can say for certain, but I can take two guesses: Firstly, Stephanie Hans' painted artwork does a good job of capturing the "dungeonpunk" idiom and looking like D&D 3rd edition come to life but it suffers from an issue that a lot of painted artwork does and looks incredibly static. There's very little flow of motion between the panels and I can't help but feel that the concept of cartooning ... of being a comic ... has been lost. (To be fair, I feel the same way about the much-feted Alex Ross. If you want to see painted artwork that really does flow I recommend the work of Bill Sienkiewicz or the Jon J Muth/Kent Williams jam Meltdown)
Secondly, and I admit that this is quite personal, I feel like Gillen's concept of a "deep" roleplaying game is quite shallow, unfortunately. I feel like I already *did* the "we all are ourselves, trapped in the game" thing back in high school and since then I've managed to participate in quite a large number of roleplaying games that were actually quite good, using Amber DRPG, Everway, Sorcerer, Nobilis, Mouse Guard, Bliss Stage, The Shadow of Yesterday, World of Dungeons, Mutant: Year Zero et al as systems. I feel like Gillen is still trapped in the notion of, "gee, could roleplaying actually be good?" and that means that his ambition for this series is set uncharacteristically low.
Five forty somethings are dragged back into a fantasy world where they spent two years as teenagers. One of them was left behind but they could never talk about it. A couple of the characters are nicely rounded, with the problems and baggage and regrets that come with early middle age. The conflict at the center of the story is decent.
You don't have to understand role playing games to appreciate this, but if you do, you'll probably like it more.
In spite of this overwrought emotional heft, I truly enjoyed this first volume and look forward to seeing how this all develops.
The book ends in a way that addresses the contradiction that was nagging at my mind while reading it: for how much complaining the heroes do about being trapped in this fantasy world. . . it seems pretty sweet! Really grabbed the bull by the horns.
Top reviews from other countries
It begins by introducing a confusing cast of characters (there's at least six and some of them have multiple names for no good reason). Visually they're not that distinct because of the dark and blurry art style.
The rules of the game world they're in aren't explained very well. There's no explanation of why they end up there, or what the stakes are. Can you actually die in Die-world? Or get hurt? Or is it just a VR sort of simulation? The characters seem to alternate between taking it very seriously, and not taking it seriously at all. They seem to speak
only in wisecracks and one-liners. So the writing tries to be both a Saturday-morning kids cartoon and a serious piece of drama. Very confusing.
It made it hard to care about the outcomes of their struggles or what the point of it all was. The art is of course beautiful and it's a shame it was wasted, in my opinion, on a poor story.
Maybe it'll get better for those that stick with it, but it's not for me.