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Neil Gaiman’s Death (from Sandman) in non-Vertigo Comics

You’ve probably already heard, but Neil Gaiman’s Death (from Sandman) is scheduled to appear in the October issue of Action Comics.  This isn’t the first time Death has appeared in a superhero comic.  Here are two examples where Death appeared outside of the Vertigo line.  It hasn’t happened very often and it was long ago.

Probably the most effective use of Death outside of Vertigo was her cameo in Legion of Super-Heroes #38 in 1992.  The story featured the destruction of the planet Earth in the 30th century.  After centuries of pollution and damage from alien invasions, the Earth could no longer sustain itself.  Many evacuated the planet, but over two billion were left behind when the Earth exploded.  While Death wasn’t mentioned by name, she appeared in the art very effectively.  The explosion in her left eye is a carry-over from the previous two pages (an enormous two-page splash of the Earth exploding).  This story was incredibly powerful, written as prose with a single art panel per page.  Seriously, this one will move you to tears.  Below you’ll find the one panel she appeared in.

LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES #38 (Late December 1992): “Requiem”

  • Plot & Breakdowns: Keith Giffen
  • Dialogue & Story Assist: Tom & Mary Bierbaum
  • Pencils & Story Assist: Jason Pearson
  • Inks: Karl Story
  • Colors: Tom McCraw

Neil Gaiman's Death from Sandman in Legion of Super-Heroes

Death also appeared in Captain Atom #42 in 1990.  The story featured Captain Atom in the afterlife.  Interestingly enough, this comic was Death’s third appearance anywhere (previously appearing only in Sandman #8 & #13), making this her first appearance outside of the Sandman title.  Also worth mentioning was seeing Death side-by-side with the Black Racer.  Pretty neat!  A final point of interest is that Nekron (of Blackest Night fame) is also featured prominently in this issue and the next.

Clearly artistic guidelines hadn’t been set for the Death character at this point. You’ll see she’s drawn very chesty, and her skin is normal color (albeit with a white outline).  I suppose you could “No Prize” this by stating that Death appears differently to different folks.  Perhaps Captain Atom has a thing for tan, busty Goth chics.

Below you’ll find one page featuring Death.  She appeared on several pages in the issue.

CAPTAIN ATOM #42 (June 1990): “The Long Journey Home”

  • Writers: Cary Bates & Greg Weisman
  • Penciller: Rafael Kayanan
  • Inker: Romeo Tanghal
  • Colors: Gene D’Angelo

Neil Gaiman's Death from Sandman in Captain Atom

Death had two other non-Vertigo appearances in 1992.  Both brief appearances were written by Keith Giffen and intended for laughs.  Sorry folks, my longboxes containing those issues are at the bottom of the stack.  It’s not worth digging them out and scanning a cameo gag appearance.  Interestingly, three of the four appearances outside of Vertigo were written by Keith Giffen.  That guy must have some clout.

  • Lobo’s Back #3 (Oct. 1992)
  • Ambush Bug Nothing Special #1 (Sept. 1992)

For a complete listing of Death’s appearances, please click here to visit the Comic Book Database.

While all these appearances we’ve discussed were outside of Vertigo, it’s fair to point out that the Vertigo imprint didn’t exist until 1993.  So if you wanted to get technical, you could say all her appearances prior to 1993 were also outside of Vertigo (including her early Sandman appearances).

Below you’ll find the cover to Action Comics #894 by David Finch shipping this October.  This issue will be written by Paul Cornell and drawn by Pete Woods.  What an amazing drawing by Finch!  It absolutely captures her cute, yet haunting, look.

Neil Gaiman's Death from Sandman in Action Comics

For more information on Death’s upcoming appearance in Action Comics, please visit the links below.

8 thoughts on “Neil Gaiman’s Death (from Sandman) in non-Vertigo Comics

  1. Ironically (or maybe not so ironically) the different versions of Dream have had more interaction with the DCU than Death has over the years. Besides the early issues of Sandman, which feature members of the Justice League and Dr. Destiny, the Daniel version of Dream pops up a bit as well, especially in JSA stories. I remember one scene right before Infinite Crisis where Daniel saved Hector and Lyta Hall (his parents) from Mordru. I also remember my friend Joe IMing me and saying “What the heck was that?!” (He’s never read Sandman.)

    Back in the day I remember the huge rumor that Superman was going to meet Death in Adventures of Superman #500, but that it was quashed. Looks like Lex is ging to beat Superman in this particular contest!

  2. Thank you so much for visiting Rook No. 17. My husband is a huge comic fan, and I recently discovered Neil Gaiman through “The Graveyard Book”. I’m looking forward to checking out “The Sandman: Book of Dreams”.

  3. In one of the issues of New Avengers drawn by Leinil Yu a few years ago Death as well as Sandman are shown walking passed Dr. Strange’s now abandoned home.(via ‘civil war’) It is clearly them and Sandman makes the comment to Death that the building once belonged to Dr. Strange and what a fine building it once was. In a panel they are shown partially in the foreground and you can see Death’s necklace with the ankh. It’s only a couple panels but I’m surprised they got away with it.

  4. I also remember the rumor concerning a possible Death appearance in Adventures 500. I believe the character he met instead was called Kismet?

    I think I might post this question over on the “Ask Mike a Question” part of the Views from the Longbox forums.

  5. Death also made a tongue-in-cheek cameo appearance in issue #418 of the Incredible Hulk. She was only seen from behind as one fo the guests at Rick Jones’ wedding, but it’s clear who Peter David intended her to be. If memory serves, I think she was even hit on by Thanos, but I could be remembering that wrong.

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