“Can I ask a stupid question?”
“Sure. Ask away.”
“It’s sort of more than one question. But… Look, um… Why do we hurt? Why do we die? Why isn’t life good all the time? Why isn’t it fair?”
“Those aren’t stupid questions, Hazel. For some people they’re the only questions that matter.”
“Does that mean you won’t answer them?”
“Sure, I’ll answer. But it’s kind of a big subject, and it’s got lots of answers, and the answers don’t really mean anything– They aren’t stupid questions but they could just as well be ‘When is purple?’ or ‘Why does Thursday?’, if you see what I mean…”
“Well, I think some of it is probably contrasts. Light and Shadow. If you never had the bad times, how would you know you had the good times? But some of it is just: If you’re going to be Human, then there are a whole load of things that come with it. Eyes, a Heart, Days and Life.
It’s the moments that illuminate it, though. The times you don’t see when you’re having them… They make the rest of it matter.”
Like Death: The High Cost of Living Collected, this volume mostly stands apart from the main Sandman series, so it can probably be read alone. But the main characters are from that series, so reading this separately would mean missing some of the context.
I love the art for this volume, which is pencilled by Chris Bachalo & Mark Buckingham, and inked by Mark Buckingham & Mark Pennington. The way Death is drawn here is one of my favorite renditions of her, along with Mike Dringenberg (The Sandman, Vol. 4: Season of Mists), and Marc Hempel (The Kindly Ones) in the main series.
This volume brings Hazel & Foxglove, the lesbian couple that first appeared in The Sandman, Vol. 5: A Game of You back for a story focused on their relationship. I think this is the stronger of the two Death volumes, but this is one of those times when I’ve already read a great review and would rather link to it than write one myself. I loved Tim Callahan’s take from Tor.com’s 2013 Sandman reread: