With Netflix’s The Sandman on the horizon, now is an excellent time to look at when characters from Neil Gaiman’s epic have made their way into the DC Universe.
Chief among the Sandman/DCU “pairings” is Death of the Endless (or “Death” for short) and her appearance in Action Comics #894, part 5 of The Black Ring, a masterful fan-favorite epic by writer Paul Cornell and artist Pete Woods (with David Finch on covers) that ran in Action Comics #s 890-900 and saw Lex Luthor as the starring character of Superman’s flagship ongoing title.
I won’t spoil the grandeur of The Black Ring as a whole, or Action #894, but suffice to say, Death and Lex take an illuminating stroll together and its quite the tale.
Have you read this issue of Action Comics? If so, what’d you think of Death and Lex’s Excellent Adventure (apologies to Bill and Ted)?
If you’re a Sandman fan but haven’t read this issue of Action, you certainly should, as its a quirky and fun tale that only Death could be behind.
If you’ve never read anything pertaining to Sandman, but would like to in advance of the TV series, then this issue is most definitely for you.
Give Death a try, because you just might like her…
Finally, check out the variant cover of Action Comics #894, by P. Craig Russell:
I really liked the issue - Cornell has talked about Gaiman taking a look and doing a few edits on the script, and I think Pete Woods knocks it out of the park (even if the coloring is a bit overly rendered for my taste). I was in grad school when it came out, rereading Sandman for class, and got a chance to show my brand new issue off to the class.
Action #894 is very likely my favorite issue from The Black Ring.
Lex and Death is an out-there idea, but it works so well within the confines of Lex’s adventures in the story and showcases just how versatile and wildly creative Superman stories (especially those that star characters other than The Man of Steel) are.
I was 27 and long out of school when Action #894 came out. The employees at my then-comic store couldn’t stop raving about the mag on New Comics Day, and it was at the top of my stack of new books when I sat down to dive into that week’s fresh ink.
What was the reception?
Were people cool and said “Hey comics, those are cool.”, or did you get the close-minded “Neeeeerd!” reaction?
Let me research the exact issue, but I know that Death appearance in the Atom wasn’t ok’d by Neil and is the reason it’s preferred that you run it by him before you use those characters without his blessing.
I didn’t yet have a pull list - I just walked in a grabbed it. I wouldn’t start pulling comics until 2016 with DC Rebirth, though I did collect almost all of the 2014 Black Widow series by Noto and Edmondson (big fan of that). The n52 kicked me out of comics hard, sadly, for nearly 3 years.
It was a graphic novel course, so most of them thought it was cool, though not as cool as all the indie stuff our prof had us reading. I, of course, though it was great.
With all of the Gothic trappings in the Batman books, you’d think at least one of the Endless would have stopped by: Delirium and Despair going on an inspection tour of Arkham Asylum, Destruction trying to open a gallery, Desire tugging at Harley Quinn’s heartstrings, yet again…
For a second there, I thought this was about the classic story arc, The Death Of Superman. Boy that was huge back in the 90s.
I remember thinking I’ll never see him again in the comic or anywhere else, thankfully there was Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman til he returned in comics.
In my opinion, the 90s was the best decade for DC Comics.
I love Sandman more than possibly any other comic. And The Black Ring Saga is one of my favorite stories ever told in Action Comics. And yet… I think Death’s appearance here is the weakest part of the story. It never felt like she actually needed to be there. She doesn’t really deliver anything important, or build on her mythology from Sandman. And it feels to me, at best, like another writer doing their best Death impression, as opposed to Death herself.
As a whole, it just seemed to me like an attempt to cash in on Sandman fans in a story arc that was already good enough on its own not to need it.
I feel that she did a pretty decent job moving Lex along in his journey, though.
As for doing a Death impressions, Cornell mentioned that Gaiman did a dialogue pass, so I assume some pieces are actually Gaiman. I don’t think it’s an essential Sandman collector’s piece, but I found it pretty fun.