Writer: Keiron Gillen, Illustrator: Stepanie Hans, Letterer: Clayton Cowles. Special Guest Colourist: Elvire De Cock (Pg 8-18).
First, a word of warning. This is a VERY Lore heavy issue, and does little to further the current arc. However, if you're a total Lore Nerd like myself, there's a very good chance that you're going to love this issue.
In much the same way that DIE #3 explained the makeup of Eternal Prussia, through the introduction of High Fantasy God and middle name enthusiast J.R.R Tolkien, whose magnum opus The Lord of the Rings, and his time spent serving his country in The Great War formed a large part of the aesthetic of that world, Issue #9 introduces us to the inspiration for the party's current location: Angria.
At this point, the Classics fans amongst us are probably grinning knowingly, and yes... You're correct in your guess.
Because, you see, DIE #9 begins with the party locked in glass cages, quietly fighting and plotting amongst themselves, until a visit from their gaoler throws their current situation, and location, into a stark new light.
From there, we get an amazing look back into the history of English Literature, specifically the tragically short lives, of one of England's most prolific literary families.
I'm not going to lie, despite the fact it has very little to do with the current arc, I absolutely loved this issue. It's probably one of my favourites so far, in the whole of DIE. The tale it weaves, of the poor doomed siblings and their obsession with a shared fantasy world is as entrancing as it is tragic.
The fact that, as Gillen so kindly points out in the always worth reading author notes at the end of the issue, the tale presented to us in this issue is more or less factually accurate, only makes the story that much the richer.
Now. As I've said a few times, this book doesn't further the story of the current arc. Those words were picked with extreme care. Because while that is undoubtedly true, that's not to say that this issue does not have any bearing on DIE as a whole. In fact, the reverse is most certainly true.
Because, you see, underneath the history lessons, woven inside the tragic tale of obsession and death, there lies a greater story, a greater QUESTION. One which, I truly believe, is going to be central to the story of DIE, not just for this arc, but for the entirety of the series.
Just who the hell actually created the world of DIE?
We've known for a while now that while Sol may be the Grandmaster, and while he's certainly the Ruler of DIE (or one of them, anyway), he's also most definitely not its creator. And while we now know the inspiration for two of its twenty zones, that still raises the question: If they were the Inspiration, who was the Inspired?
That is a question, that I both need, and fear the answer to.
Overall, this issue broke my brain. I loved it almost as much as it shocked and confused me. It left me feeling undoubtedly satisfied, but simultaneously craving more. Quite a feat really, in 32 pages.
Gillen continues to be one of the best writers currently working in comics, his story has sunk its varied claws into my heart and I'm not sure I ever want them to let go. Meanwhile, Hans' artwork continues to amazing, and makes sure that I enjoy every moment of the beautiful agony that is DIE.
Quite frankly, my only problem with this issue, is that I now need to wait a month to read more...