Death: The High Cost of Living

  Death: The High Cost of Living
Jun 1994
Review:  Not Required [No Spider-Man]
Publisher: DC/Vertigo
Writer: Neil Gaiman
Artist: Chris Bachalo, Dave McKean, Mark Buckingham

"It's funny but on good days I don't think of her so much." This is how Tori Amos begins her introduction on the first of two mini-series starring Dream's older sister, Death. Every hundred years or so Death, a petite, Gothic, compassionate woman, takes the form of a human for one day to better understand the lives she must take for as long as there are things living and dying. When the very first entity in the universe breathed it's last breath, she was there and she'll be there when the very last being passes on. What happens to her after that no one knows, not even her. This time around she comes to earth and meets a boy named Sexton underneath an old, refrigerator in a city dump. From there her day begins.

During her day with Sexton, she is sent on a journey to find the heart of Mad Hettie, a bag lady who admits to being hundreds of years old, she get kidnapped by another bag person who knows who she really is and is trying to steal her powers, she goes to a party, and eats an apple, half a hot dog and a bagel with cream cheese and lox. All in all, she has herself a pretty eventful day. She does manage to find Mad Hettie's heart, a small heart-shaped locket, without even realizing it and she does happen to get away from the power-hungry vagrant without much trouble. She also manages to save Sexton from trying to commit suicide, but can you expect anything less from the personification of Death herself?

Reading Neil Gaiman reminds me exactly why I read anything at all in the first place. Everything he writes pulls you forcibly into his fantasy worlds where everything is not only possible but plausible. Death became the reader favorite sibling of Dream and was put into every single story arch after her first appearance at the end of the very first one. There is something about the humanization of Death as this caring, compassionate individual who doesn't come and end your life with a large scythe but who shows up when your time come, takes you gently by the hand and leads you to whatever comes after we leave this plane. Maybe seeing Death in this form makes everyone a little bit less scared of our own death, knowing that she'll be there for us to help our transition makes death a whole lot less scary.