Sep 22, 2009

[Comics] Death: The Time of Your Life

Death: The Time of Your LifeWhen you manage to create a fictional universe as rich and unique as that of Neil Gaiman's Sandman and The Endless, then naturally the draw to revisit this realm over and over again is inevitable. Whether for creative reasons or commercial ones, the lure is too hard to ignore for long.

The Sandman comic books have resulted in numerous spin-offs of varying quality and complexity but it'll never be quite the same, I think. That's a natural reaction since these are independent additions to the original universe that weren't necessarily as deliberately planned as the other issues were but remains an addition with some value to the series.

Beyond the popularity of Dream himself, it seems that one of the more frequently revisited characters of the Sandman universe remains to be Death. Let's face it - goth girls are cool, hahaha.

But I jest.

Death: The Time of Your Life is centered around some of the characters we originally met in The Sandman: A Game of You, namely Foxglove / Donna Cavanagh and Hazel McNamara. The limited 3-issue series is a bit tricky to understand initially, but it comes along in time.

By now, Foxglove has become a bit of a rising star in the music world and is constantly on tour in order to promote her album. In the name of her career, she's kept her being a lesbian a secret for now but constantly discusses when she can come out with her manager. Back at home, Hazel is focused on trying to raise her son Alvie, who is the product of a prior heterosexual affair (her first and last). The story comes to a head when Alvie accidentally dies and Hazel is faced with Death herself. She manages to work out a deal as a sort of temporary reprieve for Alvie, and this decision inevitably draws Foxglove home to help resolve things.

The story isn't as mind-boggling or expansive as most other stories of The Endless. It has a bit of a slow start, which isn't bad in itself were it not for the loss of time to resolve things well enough in the end. You can't help shake that feeling that this was meant to be a slightly longer series, perhaps just 4 issues long but because it was cut down to 3 issues, the story suffered. The slow burn start doesn't become as satisfying since the ending tends to just rush up and grab you.

The art was nice, that much I'll have to say. Kudos to Chris Bachalo and Mark Buckingham for their work on this title. I feel they did a whole lot better than the final arc of The Sandman stories where the art came out too cartoon-ish. It certainly helped carry the story along and kept the tone not so heavy despite the seriousness of some of the discussions.

There's a good story at the core of this title but it didn't come out very well, and I can't quite place my finger on it why. There's just so much going for the book and then it starts dropping things and just ends abruptly. It didn't feel all that satisfying and even felt like it attempted to have a sort of a moral at the end or something. Maybe it's just me.

It's a decent read but not necessarily an all-important one that requires a die hard fan to go out of his way to catch. If you love The Endless and never read this title, I'm pretty sure you'll still survive.

Death: The Time of Your Life gets 3 unusual male underwear ads out of 5.

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