Nut Ink. Mini reviews of texts old and new. No fuss. No plot spoilers. No adverts. Occasional competency.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Death: The Time of Your Life (1996)

Author: Neil Gaiman | Illustrators: Chris Bachalo / Mark Buckingham |
Page Count: 95

"My face feels prickly and pale and chill, and my hands are cold, and my heart is beating oddly in my chest—banging against my ribcage, unpleasantly hard, as if it needs to be free."

The second miniseries for Death of the Endless is a full colour exploration of life, love, identity and loss.  Unlike the previous collection, The High Cost of Living (1993), it more closely mirrors the Sandman style of storytelling.  Death exists in the background until the story is ready for her to enter; when she appears it’s as a catalyst for change (like her Tarot attribution) and not as a principal player.  Quite often those kinds of stories are what Gaiman does best.

The main characters are Donna “Foxglove” Cavanagh and Hazel McNamara, first seen in Sandman Vol. 2: The Doll’s House (1990).  Foxglove is dealing with life as a pop star, and Hazel is dealing with life as a mother.  Both are struggling with not seeing the other for extended periods of time.  The two women were once close but due to work pressures are now walking different paths.  Foxglove is slowly rolling toward a precipice and her life is teetering on the edge of indecision; she's unsure if she should pull it back or let it fall.  Hazel is at home with her thoughts and her failings.  They're both drifting.

Death has her usual sentimental but focussed on duty attitude.  Gaiman has lived with her in his head for years so he knows how to write for the character.  The story is less adventurous than The High Cost of Living but is more sympathetic and emotional, and certainly more rewarding for the reader.  It’s initially slow to unravel but by the end has blossomed into a celebration of life and love, and the beauty and tragedy that can arise from both.

The book collects together Death: The Time of Your Life issues 1 – 3

4 butterflies and bowls of blood out of 5

No comments: