Written by Tini Howard
Art by Nick Robles and Aditya Bidikar
Edited by Shelly Bond and Chase Marotz
Published by IDW Publishing
Release Date: July 18, 2018
Thalia Rosewood, a death-obsessed youth, finds herself roped into becoming an explorer beyond the veil by Mercy Wolfe, a dying cancer patient, and Inigo Hanover, her reluctant tether to the world of the living.
Euthanauts #1 follows Thalia Rosewood, a young mortician who has what is an apparently near-death experience after an encounter with a cancer patient who konks her on the head with an oxygen tank. Thalia then finds herself in a liminal space between life and death where Mercy, the cancer patient, guides her on the rules of life after death. Meanwhile, there seems to be some confusion about exactly how dead Thalia is, leading her to wake up in a coffin that’s about to be ignited in a bonfire wake.
Thalia is a refreshingly interesting character, a young woman who, along with her friends, speaks and acts in a way that feels realistically true to life for a person her age. It’s also nice to see a heroine who is, to avoid euphemisms, fat, without it being a subject of ridicule or a psychological weight on the character; it’s great that Thalia is fat, but the story isn’t about her being fat in any way. Her design and characterization is charming and recognizable and, for me at least, relatable.
I’ll confess, though, that I found this first issue a bit confusing. The action is somewhat unclear and it took me three read-throughs to feel I had a solid handle on what was going on. It uses narration boxes to give characters’ thoughts, along with different colors and symbols to indicate who’s thinking.
Yet, as of the end of this first issue, I’m only really sure to which character one of the three colors/symbols refers. There are characters and sequences I’m still not sure I “get,” but I’m also fairly confident that’s part of the mystery that will be resolved within the next few issues, and the mysteries it teases are enticing.
More difficult to overlook is this issue’s somewhat frustrating exposition. It’s not that there’s too much, or that it’s boring, it’s that there’s not enough and what’s there is unclear. I have a sense that there’s something called a Tether, that it involves a living person remembering the dead person to keep their ego together in the afterlife, and there are one or more characters shown, some of whom aren’t named, who might be the Tethers for Thalia and Mercy.
It’s part of the general sense of confusion in this first issue, and, while the rest can be chalked up to mysteries yet to be unveiled, basic aspects of the high concept probably shouldn’t be left as matters of speculation beyond the first issue. Again, this is likely to be resolved by the end of the second or third issue, but as of this first issue it’s a point of frustration.
That said, re-reading this issue multiple times is more of a joy than a chore. There are lots of nuances here to be uncovered on subsequent readings, and the art is glorious throughout. Nick Robles renders characters lovingly, and stages the between-worlds and after-death sequences with an ethereal, dreamlike quality. His color work is particularly striking, with muted hues for the world of the dead, and for Mercy even in the world of the living, contrasting with luminescent orange moths and glowing tethers. There are multiple double-page splashes in this issue alone that made me gasp and pause to linger over their details.
Euthanauts #1 is a promising start to a news series, with interesting mysteries that can, at times, veer into confusion. But it’s gorgeous throughout and well worth a read.
The Verdict: 8.5/10