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Essential Vertigo: Sandman Vol 1 8

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"The Sound of Her Wings": This story is reprinted from Sandman (Volume 2) #8.

Quote1 I walk by her side, and the darkness lifts from my soul. I walk with her, and I hear the gentle beating of mighty wings... Quote2
-- Dream

Appearing in "The Sound of Her Wings"

Featured Characters:

Supporting Characters:

  • Death Next (First appearance)


  • None

Other Characters:

  • Esmé (Only appearance; dies)
  • Franklin (Only appearance; dies)
  • Harry (Only appearance; dies)




  • None

Synopsis for "The Sound of Her Wings"

This story is reprinted from Sandman (Volume 2) #8.

Having finally collected his tools of office, Dream takes a moment of reflection in a public park, feeding pigeons. He watches a young teen named Franklin playing soccer with a friend. Dream's older sister Death appears and sits next to him. The two begin talking and Dream tells her about his decades of imprisonment, and how unsatisfying his revenge against his captors proved to be. Death grows angry with Dream and tells him that she was extremely worried about him, and he should have called her. After a time, she gets up, stating that she has business to attend to, and that Dream is welcome to accompany her. She has a short exchange with Franklin the soccer player and tells him that she will see him soon.

Dream accompanies her and watches silently as Death visits various people across the world. As the personification of Death, it is her duty to ferry their souls to the "sunless lands". She visits an old Jewish fiddle player named Harry, then an amateur comedienne named Esmé. Dream wonders why humans fear death more than dreams, knowing that death is as truly a fact of life as birth. Later, Death receives the spirit of an infant who dies from crib death before returning to the park to visit Franklin. Franklin runs out into the street chasing his ball and is struck by a car. His spirit rises from his body and Death greets him. Dream looks on and reflects upon the differences between his sister and he.


  • This issue is the first modern appearance of the personification of Death. Unlike previous incarnations, this version of Death is not represented as a ghastly, robed skeleton holding a scythe. Instead, Gaiman's Death appears in the form of a teenage girl who fashions herself after the modern day Goth subculture. Ironically, Death wears the sign of the Ankh about her chest. The Ankh is the Egyptian symbol for immortality. Death is introduced as one of a family of immortal cosmic beings known as the Endless. Although her physical representation is that of a teenager, she is actually Dream's older sister. As the reality of death existed on Earth before sentient beings harnessed the ability to dream, it stands to reason that she is actually significantly older than her sibling.
  • The primary setting for this issue is never actually revealed, but the depiction of the arch on page one indicates that this is Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village, New York.


  • In one scene, the words "No one here gets out alive!" can be seen scrawled on a wall behind Death and Dream. The quote is a line of dialogue from the 1968 song "Five To One" by the Doors. It appeared on the album Waiting for the Sun. The line was also used for the title to late lead singer Jim Morrison's biography, written by Jerry Hopkins.
  • Death makes several allusions to Mary Poppins in this issue. Mary Poppins was the titular protagonist in Pamela Lynden Travers' children's story Mary Poppins. The version that Death discusses however, is the musical movie adaptation, produced by Walt Disney Productions in 1964 starring Julie Andrews in the title role of Mary Poppins. Death talks favorably about the role of Mary Poppins' friend Bert, as played by Dick van Dyke - specifically, his exaggerated cockney accent.

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