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”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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About ArcaneHalloween

Fanatical about comics, gaming and horror movies....but then isn't everyone?

Posted on May 8, 2020, in Comics and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 14 Comments.

  1. It certainly ticks all my boxes and I will try to read it as soon as circumstances allow me to enjoy it.
    I may sound like a broken record, but mate it is always a sincere pleasure to read your enchanting posts!
    Best wishes for you and your loved ones.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey there my friend, it’s always fantastic to see you here in the Precinct! This is my personal favourite of Neil Gaiman’s Endless stories, and you will absolutely love it, guaranteed. And may I say it’s always a pleasure to read your own posts and comments. My best also to yourself and family. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Love this story. I have the collection of it.

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  3. I love the idea of this and the artwork. I wonder how expensive getting a copy of this series would be these days. If I was going to get into reading comics it would definitely be the 90’s Vertigo stuff for sure.

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    • Hi Chrissie, it is an absolutely wonderful series, and good news is Amazon UK have copies of the collected edition in stock for a bargain £13.99!

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      • Oh that’s brilliant! I love The Crow (talking about 90’s goth comics/graphic novels) but I prefer how upbeat the message is here. I’ve noticed a lot of TV shows lately are based on stories and characters from Vertigo comics. I wonder if they do this?

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      • I too adore The Crow, met the creator James O’Barr a few years back at a comic-con in the UK, got a fab sketch of Eric Draven from him too! Yeah the end game of this tale is surprisingly upbeat considering the character is the personification of the Grim Reaper. There was an amazing Death animated short included as an extra in the recent Wonder Woman animated movie – Bloodlines. 🙂

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      • Oh wow, that’s amazing, that would be a dream come true! Ooh, that’s random but fun!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Not quite a fan of the artwork, but I admit the story sounds intriguing. I’m surprised I’ve never heard of this one.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi there, it is a fantastic story, no surprise considering it’s by the great Neil Gaiman. I am personally a big fan of artist Chris Bachalo but as everything art is subjective and his style is intentionally sketchy, which suits the storyline perfectly. It’s easy to come across collected works of Death on Amazon at a reasonable price, so I do highly recommend it! Thanks so much for reading and commenting my friend. 🙂

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      • Art is definitely subjective, and I admit I’m a snob there, LOL. I prefer realistic looking art with high detail. If we put it in painting terms, it would be renaissance style. Vertigo comics do tend to be a little more artsy or impressionistic. That aside, they do tend to put out some very good books.

        Liked by 1 person

      • There’s nothing snobbish about what you prefer my friend, there are artists in the medium of whom I don’t appreciate, yet have legions of fans, diversity is great, not just in art but all forms of life. I love all kinds of comic art from the simple stylings of 40’s Bill Finger right up to my fave modern day pencillers – Amanda Conner and Norm Breyfogle. Yes indeed, DC’s Vertigo imprint have put out some fantastic tales over the years with the Sandman series and Hellblazer being personal faves.

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