“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.
Welcome fellow Agents of Precinct1313 to another exhilarating episode of “World’s Finest” a series of exclusive interviews that aim to introduce you to some of our very favourite convocation of comic-book characters of… all… time!
Each episode we cordially invite one of our most treasured – Superheroes, SuperVillains, Costumed Crimefighters, Dimension Dwelling Demons, and, of course, Super-Pets to answer a quotient of quintessentially quirky questions about life, the Universe, and cake (’cause everyone loves cake)
And so, let us welcome to Precinct1313’s sacred sanguine sofa of significantly satirical secrets: the Dame of Demise and Duchess of the Deceased – Death, of the Endless…
Precinct1313: Hi there Death, and thanks so much for joining us on this week’s Worlds Finest.
Death: Hi, thanks so much for having me, you can call me Didi, if you prefer.
Precinct1313: Didi? as in die die?
Death: Uh, that’s a little morbid don’t you think? no, as in Deedee.
Precinct1313: Got it, though I do find your morbidity comment rather amusing, I mean, you are the Grim Reaper after all…
Death: Ha ha, nope, that’s my predecessor, although we had to let him go… he was literally scaring people to death!
Precinct1313: Isn’t that kind of the point though, y’know, harvester of souls and all…
Death: Mmmmm, I tend to keep things a little lighter, I mean that whole skull and scythe thing is a little too on the nose, don’t you think?
Precinct1313: Umm, I guess… though technically you perform the same service, right?
Death: In a way, but I tend to gently lead people into the afterlife as opposed to, how did you put it… harvest their souls?
Precinct1313: So, I’m intrigued, how does this whole cycle of life thing work, I mean, how do you specifically know when someone’s about die?
Death: Mmmmm, it’s a little complicated, but I guess the best way to describe it is that I can see the tapestry of their lives unfolding before me as a cartographical certainty. Would you like me to reveal your fate? your ultimate denouement as an example of this?
Precinct1313: I’d really rather you didn’t, thanks…
Death: Ah okay, I understand, you’ll know soon enough anyway…
Precinct1313: Uhhh, what does that mean?
Death: Oh nothing, shall we move on, I do tend to lead a rather busy life y’know…
Precinct1313: Erm, okay… So, my first ever encounter with your character was through the Neil Gaiman masterpiece – Death: The High Cost Of Living, any thoughts on Mr Gaiman and his prodigious writing talent?
Death: Neil is fantastic, a true gent and an outstanding talent, it’s through him that I’ve been able to share my many wonderful adventures and memories.
Precinct1313: I see, and he has been relaying said adventures about yourself and extended family, The Endless, since 1989 I believe.
Death: That he has.
Precinct1313: Well Death, uh Didi, may I just say, once again, thanks so much for joining us on this weeks World’s Finest.
Death: It’s been a pleasure, it’s time for us to go anyway…
Death: Why yes, why else do you think I’m here?
Precinct1313: For the interview, of course…
Death: I’m afraid not… it’s time, just take my hand…
Precinct1313: But, but, I have an appointment at 3pm.
Death: Unfortunately, you’re not going to make it…
*Death, and all images are copyright: Vertigo/DC Comics*