I first heard about Euthanauts at Portsmouth Comic Con and the idea of a comic that is one part Sandman and another part Saga sounded like a win to me. Well, this Wednesday the 18th of July, the debut issue drops, written by Tini Howard and illustrated by Nick Robles with lettering by Aditya Bidikar from Black Crown.
It’s a story about death, or rather the afterlife into which funeral home receptionist, Thalia Rosewood, is thrust into after a fateful meeting, while out to dinner with her friends. She observes Mercy Wolfe, a terminally ill patient enjoying her last days on Earth, from across a restaurant. It’s very much a comic that wants to blast the doors of our mortal perceptions and explore the unknown.
It’s a well paced issue offering up enough reading time with Thalia and her friends that we come to know her well enough. We learn that she can’t stop thinking about death, that she is an opinionated person, and some of her thoughts – like anyone’s if their honest with themselves – aren’t necessarily savoury thoughts. At one point, when taking a ‘comfort break’, she admits to herself that she had hoped that Mercy Wolfe would have died right in front of her eyes. But, of course, I dare say this fascination with death gives her the right stuff to see her transported and recruited as a would be Euthanaut. Although, her dilemma on both the mortal coil and the afterlife by the end of this first issue could see her new career stall before she’s even had time to consider it.
Tini Howard gives us a tight script that allows Nick Robles to fly. It’s not simply the doors of perception that are broken down but panel borders too, as she drifts in and out of different states of mind and being. Robles’s depiction of this other plane of existence is magnificent and I can see how these pages honour the kind of storytelling Neil Gaiman and chums utilised at times during his Sandman run. It’s not just the subject matter but also the execution of the story that will see many – including myself here and now – make that comparison with the aforementioned King of Dreams. The fluidity of these pages, along with some of the choices made over perspective all add to a surreal experience for both Thalia and the reader as we are introduced into new frontier. This creative decision in differentiating the real from the unreal bodes well for subsequent issues if this is the level of quality we can expect. I think it will be.
Narratively, it’s already hinting at utilising this medium to take a good look at our own concepts of death across cultures, religions and mythologies. It’s a great canvas upon which to have this discussion, and I look forward to this being a challenging, yet entertaining, read.
It may be a rather macabre subject matter, but it’s presented in a fascinating, dramatic and creative way that will have you wanting to pick up the next issue. You’ll be dying to read it, too!