by Neil Gaiman
Neil Gaiman is far from the first author in history to personify the character of Death. Even in the comics medium, various manifestations of Death in a human-recognizable form are far from rare. Traditionally, death is depicted in some sort of intimidating form, invoking aspects such as size, skull/skeleton, scythe, robes (usually with hood covering head and shadowing face), and other such stereotypes. Neil has taken a nontraditional approach Death, as an attractive and friendly young woman. After all, we are all destined to meet up with Death at some point; who is to say it will be unpleasant and who is to say that it will not take a sincere pleasure at our time together.
In "Death", published under DC Comic's "adult concept" Vertigo label, various stories featuring Death are collected under one cover. All provide unique looks at the concept of Death and often, as counterpoint, at life. Some characters embrace Death or in one case, cannot figure out HOW to do so. Others attempt to circumvent, trick, or capture Death. ALL make the reader reflect upon the concept, in ways that only Neil Gaiman can. (In my experience, Mr. Gaiman can take an incredibly clichéd or simply bizarre concept and give it a simple freshness that lesser writers would convert into an unbelievably trite or overbearingly complex air.)
The gallery provides various artists an opportunity to portray Gaiman's Death using their own unique style even the likes of a Gahan Wilson who is not known for taking on traditional comic book characters.
The conclusion, in which Death provides a warning about the looming (at the time of original publication) AIDS health crisis, also provides a fresh look who better than Death to warn of a (then) incurable / unlivable disease and to tell of the simplest ways to prevent its being caught or spread.
My usual endorsement applies, whether in comic or text form if the author is Neil Gaiman, READ IT. You will find at least one thing stimulating in it.
RATING: 5 stars