Review by Win Wiacek
In 2001 in The Little Endless Storytbook, multi-talented Jill Thompson crafted a canny alternative look to the overwhelmingly successful Sandman as reimagined by Neil Gaiman. At Death’s Door supplies the esoteric eidolon with a radical manga treatment for an intriguing reinterpretation of pivotal events from the landmark fantasy series.
During Sandman: Season of Mists Dream Lord Morpheus sought to free an old lover from Hell, whence he banished her ten thousand years previously. His confrontation with Lucifer took an unexpected turn when the Lord of the Damned promptly abdicated. Shutting Hell down, he liberated all the demons and souls in punishing bondage, gifting the infernal realm place and the responsibility of it all to Morpheus.
Repercussions of those events resounded for years through the Vertigo corners of the DC Universe – and ultimately onto our TV screens – and here Thompson’s sharp, light tale details background events that might have happened “off-camera” during those tumultuous times.
As Morpheus entertains embassies from gods and devils all eager to obtain the supernatural lebensraum of the Underworld, his sister Death has a couple of problems of her own. Primarily, deprived of an abode, the damned dead souls from Hell are all turning up on her doorstep, but almost as troubling is the fact that her untrustworthy sisters Desire and Delirium have decided to turn the whole mess into an excuse for the wildest party in the Universe.
Cutesy comedy hi-jinks coupled with chilling suspense and fantasy make for an uncomfortable mix, but Thompson makes it work, although the end result might not be to every modern fan’s taste.
Available in monochrome paperback and digital formats, later editions also offer a text afterword/introduction ‘Death’, samples from Thompson’s sketchbook and a folksy recommended reading list of other books starring Dream, Death and the other Endless.