Where do we go when we die? It’s a question we’ve been asking for as long as people have been dying. Religions and philosophies offer their own answers, but no one really knows. Death, it seems, really is the final frontier. But what if it was a frontier that could be explored? That is just the case in Euthanauts Volume 1, written by Tini Howard, with art by Nick Robles, colors by Eva De La Cruz, and letters by Neil Uyetake and Aditya Bidikar. The comic is published by Black Crown, an imprint of IDW Publishing.
Like any good story, Euthanauts Volume 1 starts off with a death. Thalia Rosewood’s death, that is. For as long as Thalia can remember she’s found herself drawn to the dead and dying. Death fascinates her, so much so that she spends her days working as a receptionist in a funeral home. But when a dying woman hits her over the head with an oxygen tank, Thalia plunges into the strange world of the Euthanauts, an eclectic group of scientists and sages. The Euthanauts explore the void between life and death. As their newest member Thalia dives headfirst into the void and finds that there’s more to death than we ever realized.
I’m going to loosen my proverbial tie and tell it to you straight. Euthanauts Volume 1 is a trippy comic. The book blends New Age mysticism with bizarre fringe science, then wraps it with a nonlinear bow. Reading it can be disorienting which I think might be the point. “Death Space,” the realm of existence the Euthanauts explore, persists in a liminal state. It’s between just about everything, life and death, past and future, reality and hallucination all intersect in “Death Space.”
If that sounds like a lot to process, that’s because it is. There’s a huge cast of characters who all have a lot to say. But they don’t have a lot that makes them jump off the page. Most of the time this isn’t a problem, as much of the book centers on Thalia’s growing understanding of Death and the hereafter. But when the plot kicks into high gear and the supporting cast take the center stage, I had a hard time connecting with them.
There are also so many big ideas in Euthanauts Volume 1 that it’s easy to lose track of the plot. It’s the sort of book that rewards a second read, as much of the gonzo imagery seen in early Death Space trips is easier to understand once you’ve seen the grand design. After all, Death Space doesn’t just work on dream logic, but dream science. There’s a method to this book’s madness, especially in its art.
Every time a Euthanaut breaches the boundary between life and death, the linear pacing of the comic falls away with a cascade of surreal imagery and drifting trains of thought. Robles captures these shifts in an evolving series of beautifully crafted splash pages. Nick Robles and Eva De La Cruz’s coloring really make these pages shine. Elements of life have an amber glow that weaves through the inky void, while the cool blues and reds of the dead bring Death Space closer to home.
While it suffers from light characterization and information overload, Euthanauts Volume 1 is nonetheless a heady trip into the unknowable. With gorgeous art, big ideas, and a smattering of skeletons this book is worth your time.
Euthanauts Volume 1
While it suffers from light characterization and information overload, Euthanauts Volume #1 is a nonetheless a heady trip into the unknowable.