And that’s how we meet The Sandman’s personification of death. In Neil Gaiman’s world, Death appears as a lively teenaged girl, and she’s the older sister of the series’ protagonist, Dream. No Grim Reaper clichés here.
Death debuts in #8, which is when the series truly started becoming amazing. Dream has just completed a quest that defined the series’ opening arc, and now he’s feeling adrift and purposeless. So his sister comes along to check on him, and he tags along as she goes about her routine of guiding the newly deceased into the afterlife, reminding Dream of his own responsibilities. Gaimain makes the right call in not showing us Death’s realm; instead, we just see her kindness and tact as she greets diverse people who are all about to embark on the same journey.
It’s an excellent issue that stands on its own while also promising the greatness to come throughout the rest of the series…and the also-excellent Death spinoff miniseries.
Writer: Neil Gaiman
Artist: Mike Dringenberg
Inker: Malcolm Jones III
Publisher: DC Comics (Vertigo)
How to Read It: back issues; Comixology; included in The Sandman vol. 1: Preludes & Nocturnes (TPB)
Appropriate For: ADULTS ONLY