At Death's Door
by Jill Thompson
(DC/Vertigo, 2003)

It's a quirky idea, written and drawn by a quirky person.

Jill Thompson, who popularized the Li'l Endless version of Neil Gaiman's eternal archetypes, fills in the backstory of Season of Mists, one of Gaiman's beloved Sandman collections. Lucifer has abandoned Hell, giving Morpheus the key to its gates and unleashing a host of troubles for the beleaguered Dream King. Thompson's story, while including enough references to Season of Mists to bring everyone up to speed, focuses primarily on Dream's big sister, Death, whose apartment is overrun by the dead with no place to go now that Hell has closed up shop.

So, with another idea for coping with the legions of former damned, younger sisters Despair and Delerium host a party at Death's house.

The story cleverly intertwines with events from Season of Mists while introducing plenty of new action. Death, of course, is always the height of fashion sense, even when working overtime under difficult conditions.

Thompson's writing is cunning and witty, and her art draws heavily on the Japanese manga style so popular today. The book itself, illustrated in black and white, is published in a format slightly larger than a standard paperback -- an unusual format for graphic novels in the U.S. I expect to see more follow this manga example.

At Death's Door is a treat for Sandman fans, and a welcome return of some favorite characters in a new setting. Check it out!

- Rambles
written by Tom Knapp
published 2 August 2003

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