“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.
With all the extra time on my hands due to the current lockdown and quarantine that the entire planet is experiencing right now, I have finally managed to almost completely exhaust my monumentally vast backlog of comics and graphic novels (my video-game backlog though, continues to grow exponentially!) So with my stupendous supply slashed, I decided to revisit some of my absolute favourite comic collections from the past, beginning with the mysterious, mystifying and marvellous, Madame Xanadu…
Madame Xanadu was created by David Michelinie, Val Mayerik and Michael Kaluta in February 1978, making her first appearance in Doorway to Nightmare #1. Xanadu was the mainstay of the series of mystery comics, with the ongoing monthly horror anthology eventually paving the way for the beginning of DC’s Vertigo line of comic books. Vertigo was an imprint of DC Comics, originally created to publish stories that didn’t meet the strict guidelines set down by the Comics Code Authority, Vertigo enabled DC to have more graphic and explicit content in the stories than was possible in their main superhero line of comic books.
Disenchanted is the trade paperback collection of issues 1-10 of Madame Xanadu’s comic series, originally released in 2009. Written by Grendel creator Matt Wagner, and drawn by Amy Reeder Hadley and Richard Friend.
Madame Xanadu is one of world’s most mysterious and enigmatic magicians, for centuries she has aided both the powerful and powerless alike when threatened by supernatural forces. The esoteric character originally learnt her craft through Merlin the legendary wizard from King Arthur’s court. Wagner and Hadley’s spellbinding tale takes us on a captivating journey through the annals of time alongside Xanadu as she meets and aids illustrious figures from the past, from reading the fortune of Marie Antoinette, through serving in court as a precognitive for Ghengis Kahn, and even cheating Death herself in a game of cards.
Wagner’s tale makes for compelling reading as we follow Nimue through key points in human history. For all her burgeoning power though, Nimue is an emotional and empathetic character, who is fundamentally just trying to find her place in the world. Wagner brings much pathos and poignancy to Nimue, so much so that you cannot help but form a real emotional attachment to the character, which in no small part is also down to the magnificent visuals provided by the very talented Amy Reeder Hadley. Hadley is an extremely versatile artist and this shines through in a story that takes place throughout history, meaning that Hadley had to draw everything from medieval castles, through grimy 1800’s London and beyond into the early 20th century, Hadley’s consummate artistic talent accomplishes this fantastical feat with ease.
Madame Xanadu: Disenchanted comes highly recommended to all comic-book fans but most especially anyone with a love of the supernatural and esoteric. Introducing us to a somewhat lesser known DC character, who is an enigmatic and powerful mystic, yet at times an exceptionally vulnerable and tragic character, masterfully realised by the titanic team up of marvellous Matt Wagner and the astonishing Amy Reeder Hadley.
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*
Welcome fellow Agents of Precinct1313 to another enticing episode of ‘The Week In Geek’ where we love to share our favourite – Comic Book, Video-Game, and Cult Movie news for your perusal and pleasure. And so once more unto the geek dear Agents, once more…
Wondy Returns… To The Eighties!
Ahh the eighties, also known as – the greatest decade in human history (I’m an 80’s kid, so a slight amount of bias may be inherent) the decade of extreme action heroes like Arnie and Sly, the start of grandly Gothic culture (yep, I was a Goth too!) the absolute best horror movies ever, and comic book sales and readership were massive thanks to marvellously mature storylines and celebrated creators, especially glorious George Perez and his ultimate take on everyone’s favourite Amazon Princess… plus Lynda Carter, returning once more as Diana… as I said greatest, decade, EVER!
And it seems I’m not alone in this thought, as delightful director Patty Jenkins and astonishing actress Gal Gadot will be revisiting this decidedly delicious decade with the sequel to the sterling 2017 Wonder Woman movie, appropriately titled Wonder Woman 84. With film production in full swing we have been regaled with much in the way of awesome stills and video footage, comprising not just Zeus’ favoured daughter, but also, the intriguing return of Steve Trevor. Feast your eyes on these implacably illustrious images, my astounding Amazonian associates:
Hmmmm, now the only problem I can foresee with Gal’s Wondy popping up during the exhilarating eighties is the possibility of an extreme time paradox occurring should she run into Lynda Carter’s vivacious version of the Themysciran Titan.
Sting Channels John Constantine…
Well bloody ‘ell, who would of thought it, Sting is a bleedin’ Constantine fan… how cool is that!?
In a recent video, music maestro Sting has revealed he will be writing the foreword to the Constantine: Hellblazer 30th Anniversary Celebration. Interestingly (and bloody well meta!) Sting’s foreword will take the unique perspective of the Golden Boy, Constantine’s alternate universe twin, and will focus on his relationship with the mystic occult detective over the years. Sting fantastically captures the look and essence of the classic British comic-book character, his inclusion in the celebratory collection is a definite nod to the fact that Sting was an early inspiration to Constantine’s signature appearance. Very, bloody, cool, Indeed!
“Starting from his first appearance, a debut penned by the extraordinary legend that is Alan Moore, Constantine has served as an enduring and controversial pop-culture character… an exorcist and demonologist, master of the dark arts, and the lead of DC/Vertigo’s longest running and most successful title.”
The John Constantine – Hellblazer: 30th Anniversary Collection will be available to buy on October 30th.
And Finally… Death!
Look at this.. look at it… I need this, it’s everything… it’s life (well actually it’s Death, but y’know) This awesome Death of the Endless pop figure is coming to a comic-book emporium near you, pre-order it soon or spend an eternity longing for Death…
Why not join us again next time friends, for more Week In Geek.
Well, after close to twenty years of failed attempts at bringing the Neil Gaiman created character – Sandman to the screen, it looks like he will finally grace our cinemas with his dream-like presence. Warner Bros have announced that actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt has been brought on as a producer on the planned movie of the endless. He will be joining writers Neil Gaiman and David Goyer on the proposed project.
Sandman was created by Neil Gaiman, with the debut issue releasing November 1988, the series initial run was 75 issues long, with Gaiman writing each and every comic. Various artists portrayed the Endless throughout its run, though Dave McKean stayed with the title to draw every one of its 75 covers. The Sandman – also known as Dream and Morpheus is one of the seven ‘Endless’, which also include his extended family of – Death (our personal favourite of the Endless), Destiny, Desire, Despair, Delirium and Destruction. No date has been set, but just the fact that one of the greatest comic series of all time is getting a film release is good enough for us.
Precinct1313 Anticipation Rating: Endless!