Death: The High Cost of Living

Death is everyone’s favorite older sister. She’s sassy, pragmatic and brings real sartorial flair to the concept of the grim reaper. Every so often Death likes to take a day and spend it as a human, to keep in touch with what it means to be alive and what you risk when you die. This time she spends the day in the company of Sexton, a teen contemplating suicide. Along the way Death helps a witch find where she hid her heart, and gets waylaid by someone who wants to steal her necklace. The inherent message of a possibly suicidal teen spending a day with Death is indeed not subtle. For a fairly obvious plot device, however, it’s not obnoxious, and I never felt like Gaiman was beating me over the head with a message. That might be because Death herself is so endearingly not concerned with making a point or teaching a lesson, or it might be a tribute to Gaiman’s skill as an author. Either way, this is a nice addition to the Sandman universe.

Death: The High Cost of Living
ISBN: 9781563891335
By Neil Gaiman
Art by Dave McKean, Chris Bachalo, Mark Buckingham
DC Comics/Vertigo 1994

  • Aliya

    I have only recently discovered Neil Gaiman’s comics, although I have been a fan of his fantasy novels for some years now. I would like to read “Death: The High Cost of Living,” but wondered about “The Absolute Death.” Is it the same, albeit updated, story of Death?

    • Robin

      Hello Aliya!

      Absolute Death, the gorgeous hardcover editions, contains Death: The High Cost of Living and the subsequent mini-series Death: The Time of Your Life, plus other appearances (like Death’s short story from Sandman: Endless Nights), and a ton of extras. So if you want more Death (leaving all puns possible aside), the Absolute Death collection is the comprehensive edition.

      It is, however, pretty giant, so if you’re going to carry it around, you may want to go with the individual trade paperbacks. :)