Precinct1313’s Comic-Book Classics: Death – The High Cost Of Living
“It is said that once every century, Death herself takes on mortal flesh to better understand the lives she must ultimately take, and taste the bitter tang that is mortality. This she is tasked to do as the divider of the living and the dead”
Death: The High Cost Of Living is a spellbinding three issue mini-series starring Death, sister of Morpheus (aka Dream) and one of the seven Endless. Written by super scribe Neil Gaiman in 1993, it follows a day in the life of DC Comics’ variant of the Grim Reaper, who once every century takes the form of a human girl to give her role as conductor of souls perspective and keep her in touch with humanity.
The Vertigo variance of Death was originally created by Neil Gaiman and Michael Dringenberg in 1989, making her first appearance in Sandman #8. Death’s appointment entails meeting with the recently deceased and guiding them on their way into an afterlife, but she is also known to visit all new born, though only she ever retains memory of that initial encounter with a new life. DC Comic’s Death character is a universe away from the infamous image of the Grim Reaper, appearing as a young goth girl dressed in black, wearing a silver ankh and bearing a Horus style marking beneath her right eye.
This sensational series revolves around the character of Didi, who claims she is the personification of Death itself, here on her one centennial cycle to mingle with humanity and gain insight into their lives and emotions. Whilst exploring the loves and losses of mortals, she happens upon a suicidal young man named Sexton, who is struggling to find his raison d’etre, that is until the fickle hand of fate guides him to Didi, who befriends the forlorn youth and, in due course, leads him on a odyssey of self realisation and discovery until he finally gains a sense of self worth and an insight into his own mortality, and through these realisations, a love for life itself.
Not your typical superhero style comic, which should come as no surprise considering its author, the high cost of living is an astounding work of comic book fiction with real heart and emotion, and transports you on a beguiling journey into the human psyche, and presents you with a perky, fresh and fun version of Death, no Pale Riders here… just a pale goth, who celebrates life.
This is one of my absolute favourite comic book series of all time and could not come more highly recommended, whether you read comic books or not this is an eloquent, absorbing and stunningly realised story of life, love and loss and is also a great way to introduce yourself to one of this generations greatest writers … the inimitable Neil Gaiman.