THIS REVIEW OF ‘EUTHANAUTS’ #1 IS SPOILER-FREE.
By Jarrod Jones. I think I can say with certainty that Euthanauts #1 might be one of the finest comic books I’ll read this year. It has heart. Audacity. Tackles that prickly menace known as death and gives it a big hug.
It’s delicate, but not in that fragile way that makes you apologize after squeezing too hard. Delicate in that plinking-piano sort of way, the kind of way that makes you want to weep in public after listening to a certain song, or getting blind-sided by a memory you regret and would change first before anything. Euthanauts wants you to feel things. It wants you to vibrate in your seat with expectation. This is Tini Howard’s party and it’s freaking me out.
What’s particularly exceptional about Euthanauts is that it feels like Black Crown has leveled up. Howard is walking us through the big question, the one most of us think about—some more than most. Death, the concept of the ego, who we are, what we are, how we are, it’s all in there. It’s wild how much Howard takes on in a fleeting twenty-three pages and still takes time to make sure this book functions within the megastructure of Shelly Bond’s ever-expanding imprint.
I find the two primary characters introduced in this issue absolutely fascinating. Mercy Wolfe, a terminal cancer patient who says they don’t fear death and believes it. Thalia Rosewood, someone running in circles at their Canon Street funeral parlor, fascinated by death in a macabre way more than a noble one. Two people in a wildly fictional story that feel as real as you or me. They have character, have unique body types—in fact, I remember Tini once remarking, upon showing off some of Nick’s work to a panel some time ago, “Look at all these actual people.” It’s not an exaggeration to say that what Nick’s accomplished here with Tini’s innovations isn’t just mere collaboration, it’s harmony. Its tone, pitch-perfect. In sync.
It’s awesome how Nick Robles explores dimension in this book. He damns the tripods and moves his camera with the grace of a synchronized swimmer. We get a head-long look into a hole dug for… well, we don’t rightly know just yet. It’s a grave, and Robles has us staring right down into it. It’s frightening, it’s exhilarating. This is how I imagine much of Euthanauts will function as a series: Howard will put an idea in Robles’ head and then he’ll go ahead and realize our deepest fears, our sharpest regrets, our hopes, reveries, nightmares, and fantasies. Damn him for being this good.
This cannot be overstated: Aditya Bidikar’s work in Euthanauts is astounding. It’s structured so well with Robles’ panel work instead of just around it. The captions hug the panel lines, the letters loose, but authoritative. He cradles Howard’s timing and tone with… I think I want to say gentleness.
What comes next I cannot say. But it’s with great enthusiasm that I await more Euthanauts, to see the pretty pictures, to consider the daunting questions. To engage. To see what shakes loose inside my own mind during this journey. Will it be gratifying? Absolutely. Will it be frightening? Maybe. Maybe François Rabelais said it best when he said, “I go to seek a Great Perhaps.”
Black Crown/IDW Publishing/$3.99
Written by Tini Howard.
Art by Nick Robles.
Letters by Aditya Bidikar.
Edited by Shelly Bond.
9 out of 10
‘Euthanauts’ #1 is in stores now.