As promise, we continue into the world of Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman. This particular series has inspired numerous spin-offs. There are a few anthologies, numerous one shot, miniseries and other specials – few were written by Neil Gaiman.
The character of Death is not one of those who were lucky enough to get an ongoing series, unlike Lucifer and Dead Boy Detectives, even if she is extremely popular. That said, we still can find Death in a few publications outside the main Sandman story.
Who is Death of the Endless?
Let’s start with a presentation, for those who didn’t read The Sandman. In this Vertigo series, the Endless are the personification of concepts. They all play a specific part in the human world. Dream (or Morpheus) is the king of the Dreaming Wold, where you go when you sleep. His older sister is Death and she mostly meets with the recently deceased and guides them into their next existence.
Death is the second eldest of Endless and possibly the more powerful being in the Universe. In The Sandman, Death takes the appearance of a young goth woman. She is omnipotence and omnipresence, being with all those who die when they die.
How to read Death’s stories?
The best way to start with Death is obviously in The Sandman. More precisely, with her introduction in The Sandman issue #8 (August 1989). You can find it in Preludes and Nocturnes, the first TPBs.
Death was featured in almost all of The Sandman‘s storylines, often playing a really small part, except in The Kindly Ones. That said, you can find Death in other publications.
- The Absolute Death — Before we discuss in detail where you can find Death, I need to point you into the best way to read what matters with this character. The Absolute Death is a beautiful 320-page Hardcover collecting The Sandman No. 8 and No. 20, Death: The High Cost of Living, “Death Talks About Life” AIDS pamphlet, Death: The Time of Your Life, Vertigo: Winter’s Edge 2, “Death and Venice” from Endless Nights, “The Wheel” from 9-11 and extras from A Death Gallery. It’s a MUST HAVE if you are a fan of Death.
Death : The Miniseries
- Death: The High Cost of Living – A bit of history here, this is not only the first Death limited series, but it’s also the first miniseries derived from The Sandman and stand-alone. Written by Gaiman himself, this story is inspired by one fact we’ve learned in The Sandman issue #21: Once every one hundred years Death spends a day in mortal form. This time, as a young girl named Didi, Death befriends a teenager and helps a 250-year-old homeless woman find her missing heart.
- Death: The Time of Your Life – Second limited series with Death as the main protagonist, also written by Gaiman. Must be read after The Sandman storyline A Game of You in which we were introduced to two characters who are making here a comeback, Donna Cavanagh (aka Foxglove) and her lesbian partner, Hazel McNamara.
- Death: At Death’s Door – Published in 2003, this manga-style graphic novel portrayed Death’s activities during the fourth Sandman story arc Season of Mists. It was written and illustrated by Jill Thompson who wrote in the same format a GN Dead Boy Detectives which also features a cameo by Death.
- The Girl who Would Be Death – Written by Caitlín R. Kiernan, this third miniseries is about a girl who purchased an ankh stolen from Death and tried to become her. Death is never actually seen in the series, but she speaks and acts in the second half of the series.
Death with her family and other notable cameos
- The Sandman: Endless Nights (graphic novel) – It’s an anthology, a collection of stories sets throughout history about Dream and his siblings. The first one is about Death and takes place several billion years ago.
- Vertigo: Winter’s Edge #2 – A Vertigo anthology in which we can find a six-page Death story by Neil Gaiman.
- The Little Endless Storybook – a graphic novel about The Endless as toddlers…
- Delirium’s Party: A Little Endless Storybook – a follow-up to The Little Endless Storybook.
- Death Talks About Life – An AIDS awareness eight-page comic/pamphlet by Gaiman in which Death gave some safe sex advices with the help of John Constantine.
- The Books of Magic – In the first volume, published 1991 and written by Gaiman, Death made a small but important (for the story) appearance at the very end of time. She was also included in The Books of Magic (vol. 2 #3-4, 25). After the end of this series, the main character Timothy Hunter continued his adventures in Hunter: The Age of Magic in which Death had an arc.
There’s also a lot more less notable cameos of Death of the Endless in the DC/Vertigo universe, even really small ones in the Marvel universe.