Death: The Time of Your Life

There may be more Death-based graphic novels; the existence of an Absolute mega-edition like was created for Sandman and some other DC titles suggests so, but I’ve only ever seen two. And as of today, I’ve read the second one, so I guess I’ll just have to see what else pops up or else not worry about it. Which is not unlike how the pale gothy girl wearing the ankh expects me to live my life, I think; after all, it’s what I’ve got.

I kind of wish, though, that I either read Sandman more often than I have or else that I had eidetic memory, or that I had been obsessed with the series the way I was with the Wheel of Time during the ’90s, or really anything that would lead me to have good recall about the characters of Foxglove and… Jesus, I’ve forgotten her girlfriend’s name in the time it took me to start this review after finishing the book earlier today. That’s just sad, though unfortunately illustrative of my point. Because, you see, The Time of Your Life is mostly about the two of them and their son Alvie who has a suspicious anagram in his name, and also of course about the pale gothy girl with the ankh, who you may better know as Death.

It was a sad and sweet but probably more sad story about relationships and fame and sacrifice and of course death, and I liked it on its own merits, but I didn’t really like it on the merits of being a story about Death. She felt shoehorned in to provide a… well, deus ex machina can hardly apply if the being providing it is pretty well at a higher level of existence than gods are. But all the same, her only real point in the story was that she worked as a lever to break the logjam between waify singer/songwriter Foxglove and that girlfriend whose name I can’t remember, so that they can proceed with their lives (or not) one way or another, instead of continuing to circle around and around the same static relationship they were stuck in on page one. And even worse, Death provided this lever by way of an action so implausible that she even commented in the dialog that it’s the kind of thing she never does, right before doing it anyway, for no apparent reason. That could be a hint that she has taken more interest in the two characters than I apparently managed (her name is Hazel, if you are itching to know), but I couldn’t bring myself to take that hint. Instead, it was just an inexplicable oddity in, like I said, what could have been a pretty interesting story about a few side characters without ever including her.

Although, I admit it does seem like some member of the Endless should have probably been involved for it to really fit in the universe, familiar characters or not. It’s just, it’s plausible that if a character is going to behave inexplicably, Gaiman already wrote one who has that exact modus operandi. Y’know?

[1] It’s weird, or serendipitous, or merely coincidental, but I’m positive not ironic in any sense, that I’m listening to Who Killed Amanda Palmer? on vinyl as I write this. See, I bought it a few weeks ago while browsing a local record store for a few pickups, and finally unwrapped it right before I started on this. I had been going to write it anyway, just over Jon Stewart from last night instead, but the whim struck me, and there you go. And after I’d gotten about a sentence deep into the review, a line from the third track played out: “Nobody deserves to die, but you were awful adamant that if I didn’t love you, then you had just one alternative.” And the thing is, I feel like there might be a way to tease out a very close parallel between that line and the book, but only with spoilers, and anyway, it really would be coincidental, almost certainly nothing more. Even though I’m pretty sure Amanda Palmer wrote the introduction to that giant updated Death collection I mentioned, and Neil Gaiman wrote the copy on the back of Amanda Palmer’s album, and they’re engaged, and all of that. Sometimes, despite everything, it really is just a coincidence.
[2] How weird is it that there are two unreferenced footnotes in this entry?

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