Sandman related Headcanon: I think Death of The Endless may have had a small crush on Donna AKA Foxglove.
1. Death had been to at least one of her concerts as Didi and indicates she might be a fan. (Note: I only read Death: The High Cost of Living once so I may need to check this one.)
2. Death deliberately orchestrated things so they would turn out well for Donna in Death: Time of your life.
3. Death had allowed one of Donna’s friends (Wanda) to appear to Barbie while she was taking her so that her and her friends would know she was okay in the afterlife.
From September of 2015: Dream and Death of the Endless in “Delirium-Vision” (i.e., as seen through the eyes of Delirium). India ink, watercolor, and gouache on watercolor board.
The Sandman: Death and Dream of the Endless commission (2013)
Art by: Shawn McManus
The Sandman: Death of the Endless sketch pin-up (2021)
Art by: Chris Bachalo
In my stories there’s a very big difference between what a mortal could do with that kind of power over an Endless and what someone like Darkseid or the Muspel-Jotunn in one of my cycles about the current iteration does. A mortal has a limited imagination (we cannot conceive just how massive space is and what space is, but someone like the New Gods or other entities CAN).
I intend to use this factor in my ‘What if Burgess *had* captured Death’ story as how he actually pulls it off in that alternate universe, and Burgess aspires to have power over life and death….and then in 1908 a boom tube opens in his basement and someone else waltzes in who takes extreme umbrage at some monkey from Earth intruding on his turf.
Because even if the Burgess family *had* won by summoning and binding Death to their service, they lose.
And in 1908 there are no superheroes on Earth and there are only a few occultists who’d even have the slightest idea what the not so jolly grey giant with the glowing red eyes and what kind of rip in the fabric of space and time he just merrily waltzed out of.
I admit that this would basically be my ‘Dark Multiverse’ take on the Sandman franchise noting that there’s such a thing as succeeding a little too well with hubris.
If anything short of the archangels of the Silver City or equivalent thereof (now factoring that the Spectre is one and the demon Trigon is established as his equal, that’s the ‘or equivalent thereof’ and it’s a very short list). tries to pick a fight with any Endless they’re a smear on the pavement.
If the Endless do so with the archangels or the Presence himself in any given universe it’s as much a fight as the Hulk vs. a grasshopper.
The Endless aren’t there *to* fight or to throw their weight around in the way that, in my view very mistakenly, Marvel has its cosmic entities doing. They are their concepts, and as those concepts each is a seventh of the entire multiverse (and in my own cosmology not quite so with the omniverse but in the DCU multiverses they’re this for ALL of it, including any given fanfic universe).
They are cosmic entities in a Lovecraftian sense who are so far beyond any given mortal or even the likes of Darkseid, King of Apokolips that it’d be a hilariously very short story if the aforementioned entities tried to do so otherwise.
So Lucifer might kick Death’s ass in a fight and do so by a lopsided margin, but in my fiction, at least, Death has taken 13,362 Lucifers and 13,362 Presences without any indication of when or if she’d ever stop. Which is why when Lucifer tries to threaten her she’s basically “Yeah, whatever, boo boo kitty, that’s nice.”
For his own part and the Presence’s they are more able to accommodate and include the other Endless in a cosmology, where Death never quite fits and this gives them the Lovecraft heebie jeebies that there’s something fundamentally *wrong* with Death and her presence in any given universe.
Outside of her very first one she’s a cosmic Uncanny Valley effect, due to never dying and her burden being to exist continually as the universes and iterations stack up in mountainous tiers.
Canonically Sandman expresses with the narrative subtlety of Pilgrim’s Progress or a sledgehammer to the face (but I repeat myself) that Death of the Endless is not bound by any rules unlike any of her other kin. The other six Endless do have specific rules that they must not follow. They must not shed the blood of kin, they must not love mortals.
I have a few others that apply as well in my own fiction, but those are the big two, canonically.
Death, again, is established as having none and being free to do whatever she wants whenever she wants.
In the broader sense in my own fiction this is because Death is not *from* any given universe since her first. The rules are the products of universes she is within but not of, and since she is not truly of them their metaphysical frameworks can neither hold her down nor truly halt what she does or how she does it. This *also* applies to the few OTHER entities in that situation, like the Ribbon Man…or Kara Zor-L, aka Power Girl, from the Pre-Crisis Universe who’s outlived her entire multiverse.
Death is just the one who’s done it longest.
Canonically, however, I believe it’s got one very simple element that makes her not a deus ex machina. Death theoretically could do the Marvel Death thing and find a genocidal tyrant to wage war in her name and become a punching bag for the superheroes. She has neither desire nor need to do so, because her very nature *is* freedom in its most absolute sense. She is there when life is born and when it ends, and to represent both she is not bound, nor can she be, to any specific dentition of life.
Canonically she takes gods and ideas and stars and worlds. She is also there when the new ones come into being.
Her freedom is absolute because it mirrors her sphere, but she is not a rocks paper scissors entity ranked on some scale of who can punch whom in the face hardest. She has neither desire for that nor interest in it.
First let me say that Facade is probably in the lower two in my least favorite Sandman comic issues. For many reasons I could get into I don’t like it (thogh I adore The Sandman in general). But one line always stuck with me.
“I’ll put the chairs on the tables, turn out the lights and lock the unvierse behind me.”
I know she’s speaking metaphorically but the implication of putting chairs on the tables and locking the door behind you has a common indication… Re-opening the next day. There’s no other reason to protect the chairs or lock the door.
How many times has the universe ended and restarted? How old is she? Destiny is supposed to be the oldest and eventually she collects him too. We see it happen in The Books of Magic issue 4.
But the possibility in these words struck me that things are not as they seem. Is she secretly the oldest and we (and the other Endless) just think Destiny is the oldest. Has she been through this cycle of death and rebirth many, many, many times even with her own siblings again and again and again? How many times has she “closed up” and perhaps “reopened” The Universe?
But also perhaps Destiny still is the oldest in that he is aware of this cycle, that he starts with a “new book” every time the Universe “resets.” And he did still come first before all the universe rebootings. But will there ever truly be a real end? An end of the universe without a new one taking its place? It’s hard to tell with wording indicating the locking up for the evening.
Don’t mind me. I’m in a strange mood…
Saying “I prefer Dream to Death” seems incredibly profound until you remember you’re in The Sandman fandom and are just talking about the characters.
But then five minutes later you re-evaluate it as near metaphor and the emotional, intellectual, and philosophical implications in regard to the other people in the fandom generally preferring “Death” over “Dream” hits you without character portrayals as a consideration and suddenly you want to make sure everyone’s okay.
death of the endless + minimalist summer goth
In 2010, a series of animated short films called DC Showcase were released alongside several DC DTV features. They focused primarily on lesser-known/B-list heroes like The Spectre, Jonah Hex, and Green Arrow (though ironically, he’d become much more prominent given Arrow would premiere on the CW a year later), culminating in a longer featurette centered around Superman and Shazam. In 2019, Warner Bros. and DC decided to revive the brand, and now we have four new shorts to consider, as well as four more on the way this year (Kamandi, Blue Beetle, The Losers, and Constantine). I’ll be reviewing the most recent ones here and the older ones in my next review. All are quite well-done, though I definitely prefer some to others, as you’ll see.
i am BEGGING people to stop drawing dream and death in really seductive poses with each other. guys. they’re siblings. please stop i just wanna see sandman fanart and this isn’t good for my sanity.
Death of the Endless - Ryan Kelly
They might note that Lucifer Morningstar’s Hell *is* a successful autocracy and has been so since before the oldest stars in the Universe were main sequence The only time an autocracy reliant on fear and terror is shown to work is when it’s made up of non-human demons ruled by the literal Devil himself and even then Lucifer is able to make it work because it’s his idea of fun. And even then he eventually wearies of it and as in Sandman dumps Hell and its mess into Morpheus’s lap for his idea of a fun time.
It’s also a task that requires both frequent work and the Devil being willing to delegate elements of his power to various cronies and to keep them on their toes. Which is why, ultimately, one of the most powerful people in the DCU gets bored with a very hard job that unfolded over a very long period of time and merrily trolls existence by dumping that flaming bag of shit on someone else’s porch.
Even for the kind of beings that can psychologically make it work, being an effective autocrat is hard, wearying work that eventually wears out the patience of even one of the most literally powerful beings in existence.
Lucifer runs Hell as a tight, tightly controlled organization.
His twin successors, Remiel and Duma, do not have his experience or his power….which is exactly why in the DCU headcanons I have, Hell becomes so active on Earth.