Alice And Wonderland In Space Meets Death: A Review Of Euthanauts #1

by Rachel Bellwoar

You know you’re afraid of dying when you’re nervous to read a comic that deals with dying, just as you know you’re going to read that comic when you can’t stop thinking about it, and what Tini Howard has cooking up next at Black Crown. Her first series for IDW‘s imprint, Assassinistas, saw her work with artist, Gilbert Hernandez, on a story that pulled a team of female assassins out of retirement. Filled with flashbacks and 70’s flair, Euthanauts scratches a different itch, and won’t necessarily appeal to the same audience, but if it’s fear of dying that has you uncertain whether to start this series, please don’t let it stop you.

Yes, Euthanauts deals with death, but in a way that’s not as intimidating as stating it that way sounds. Thalia Rosewood works at a funeral parlor and can’t stop thinking about death. “No work talk after 5:00!” says one of her friends, but if you notice while Thalia’s locking up, there’s a phone number etched on the door: “After hours? Please call Thalia Rosewood.” That’s who Thalia is, and while she’s not sure about her friends (a reassuring change from characters in fiction always having a crew or best friend), she doesn’t change her interests to fit into their circle.

Nick Robles‘ use of contrasting color schemes lets Thalia’s individualism shine through in other ways, too. Robles (Alien Bounty Hunter) is the artist on Euthanauts and there are unicorn funeral pyres, and extras that look ready for speaking parts, they’re so infused with personality. To get back to the color schemes, each one is attached to a different setting, so at the start of the issue, when Thalia’s outside, she’s surrounded by yellows and greens, but inside the restaurant there are a ton of blues. An inset panel shows her entering the restaurant, and it’s like a breath of fresh color has entered this blue domain. Sure enough, her glasses retain their orange hue and she never fully converts to the blues of the venue and her “friends.”

Later she crosses the room to go to the bathroom and you get this dramatic division between locations. It’s strong and eye-catching and gives gravitas to a narrative that knows it’s about to take things to the next level but isn’t ready to explain. Thalia’s narration hints at what will be. Her point of view is direct and specific, and narration becomes her means of expressing it. Aditya Bidikar does the lettering and I love how, at one point, the narrator just changes. Readers are left to adjust and figure out who’s speaking.

An orange balloon and a green oxygen tank introduce us to the other main character in this series. A diner with cancer, Thalia takes an interest in her and Robles’ selective coloring draws our attention her way. In the restroom we learn her name is Mercy and things get down-the-rabbit-hole (by way of space) wonky from there. “Euthanauts” gets an early definition and there’s even a cool page where the words keep reading downwards, but the art seems to go backwards, sequentially.

Euthanauts is a head trip but one Howard, Robles, and Bidikar show themselves to have complete control over. Who is Mercy, and how does she change Thalia’s life forever?

Euthanauts #1 is on sale now from Black Crown. For Oliver MacNamee’s advance review, click here.

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