Death: The High Cost of Living Issue #1 – March 1993 (Vertigo)

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TITLE: Death: The High Cost of Living Issue #1

YEAR: March 1993

COMPANY: Vertigo

Created by Neil Gaiman and Mike Dringenberg

Written by Neil Gaiman

Penciller: Chris Bachalo

Inker: Mark Buckingham

Letterer: Todd Klein

Colorist: Steve Oliff

Editor: Karen Berger, Lisa Aufenanger

With “Sandman” vol. 2, Issue #8, the character Death, created by Neil Gaiman and Mike Dringenberg made her debut.

Unlike the depiction of Death as a Grim Reaper style character, Vertigo Comics Death is a pale goth woman often wearing all black and wearing a silver ankh around her neck.  And under her right eye is the ancient Egyptian symbol of the Eye of Horus (which is a symbol of protection, royal power and good health).  She also happens to be the eldest sister of the Sandman (Dream).

In 1993, a three-issue mini-series titled “Death: The High Cost of Living” was published under the Vertigo imprint and in this series, Death goes by the name of Didi and she is taking her one day every hundred-year sabbatical as a living person.

The story first showcases an old woman known as Mad Hettie who requests for a bird from a few punks.  The punks try to rob the older woman but when they see the Hettie break a twig, one of the punks legs start breaking.

Meanwhile, a suicidal teenage boy named Sexton Furnival who is writing a journal and his distaste for life is thinking that he should rather be dead than living.

One day as Sexton Furnival is standing on a trash heap, he falls and is buried under trash and is trapped under a refrigerator.  He eventually is rescued by Didi (Death) and as Death hangs around Sexton, she shows an appreciation towards the small things of life such as apples.

As Didi invites Sexton to her home, as she needs to fixed up his clothes that were ripped up, she tells Sexton that she is Death but he doesn’t believe her and thinks she is on drugs.

But as the two talk, they are visited by Mad Hettie…but for what reason?

Overall, Death was a fascinating first issue, as the comic book definitely expands on the popular Vertigo character.  But like a lot of first issues, it is primarily an introductory episode, introducing us to the mysterious Mad Nettie and also Sexton wanting to end his life as he feels his life has no meaning.  What brings these three individuals together?  We’ll find out more in the second issue of “Death: The High Cost of Living”.


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