Euthanauts #5
Cover to ‘Euthanauts’ #5. Art by Nick Robles/Black Crown/IDW Publishing

by Sara Mitchell. Black Crown’s pioneering first arc of Euthanauts comes to a close with issue #5, ashes to ashes. A quick recap for anyone late to this party, the story of Euthanauts can be broken down by its title. Euthanaut = Euthanasia + -naut. Euthanasia is the practice of deliberately ending a life with the aid of a practitioner. The root naut, from nautes, is the Greek word for “sailor.” In Euthanauts, death is not a process, but a place, and you have to go willingly in order to survive.

When the leading scientist on the matter, Dr. Mercy Wolfe, takes her own life with the intention of entering the DeathSpace, she needs someone in the living world she can keep in communication with in order to share her new discoveries. Enter dissatisfied, detached, death-obsessed Thalia. However, as you come to learn through the issues, the direction that Euthanauts takes is not that of Thalia becoming a Euthanaut. It’s about how a small collection of people who are trying to save their mentor, their captain, Dr. Mercy Wolfe.

We learned in the previous issue that while in the DeathSpace, Dr. Wolf had accessed Thalia’s childhood in order to plant the seeds of their relationship. Thalia’s been haunted by Dr. Wolfe’s intentions her entire life, and it is upon this realization that we begin to ask what I think is going to be the crux for Thalia moving forward in this story—does she even care that her entire life was manipulated in order to serve the needs of Dr. Wolfe’s experiment? Is Thalia’s role in this whole story a divine, predestined calling or is it the handiwork of an overzealous thought experiment? And in answering these questions for herself, she’ll learn if she’s enough of an independent person to ever navigate the DeathSpace on her own. As much as this is a story surrounded by death, Euthanauts has always relied on the strength and will of the human spirit. If you can’t clearly define who you are, what defines and drives your spirit, you’ll never make it out alive.

The art in this series continues to enchant. The layouts as well as the coloring express deeper levels of the story that words on their own would simply fall short of. Just as I begin to turn every page, a tiny, excited voice in the back of my mind is hoping for, and chanting, “two-page spread! Two-page spread!” As I’ve written before, looking into any one of Nick Robles and Eva De La Cruz’s two-page spreads is like watching liquid mercury twist and spiral in a wine glass that you have the pleasure of holding in your hands. It’s dense, cosmic, and hypnotic. Like mercury, though, it’s death, it’s poison. While in the DeathSpace, Thalia notes that the distant light is “the color of mothers, to babies. It’s going outside after being in prison. When you get home and finally let yourself cry.” It’s my favorite thing that she says in the entire series.

In what Dr. Wolfe believes may be her final transmission, she chooses to talk about crows—the messengers of death. She refers to a council of crows, which is where a group of crows surrounds a singular crow that has died just to yell at it. Crows that aren’t connected to each other in any way save this one crow at the center. She’s right in saying that this reminds her of a human funeral. I did some research on the matter and it turns out, when crows do this, they’re not necessarily mourning, they’re assessing if a threat exists and if there’s any likelihood of it repeating itself.

I think that this first arc of Euthanauts is our council. I don’t know you and you don’t know me, but we’ve gathered around this story of death and we have to decide for ourselves where the threat lies. Do we learn from the dangers that Euthanauts before us have endured and forsake the lab along with everything in it? Or do we continue to go forward with all of the information we’ve been given and return to this place again? Do we risk everything for the sake of adventure, knowledge and everything beautiful or treacherous about the human spirit? I can see it now: Lewis and Clark, Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong, you and me, Euthanauts.

Black Crown/IDW Publishing/$3.99

Written by Tini Howard.

Art by Nick Robles.

Colors by Eva De La Cruz.

Letters by Neil Uyetake.

Edited by Shelly Bond.

8 out of 10

Check out this five-page preview of Euthanauts #5, courtesy of Black Crown and IDW Publishing!

Variant cover by Marley Zarcone.