Thalia Rosewood meets with her friends for dinner after work. She sees a woman with cancer whom looks very near death at the restaurant. Thalia has been obsessed with death lately, so she can't stop staring at the woman. She later goes to the bathroom, and the woman follows. They talk for a moment and seem to bond, but the woman suddenly hits Thalia in the head with her oxygen tank.
IDW's Black Crown imprint continues its proud tradition of Grant Morrison-esque surrealism with the takeoff of Euthanauts #1.
The comic starts fairly tame, but things take a bizarre turn once the oxygen tank hits Thalia's head a little after the midpoint of the book. Up until this, the book is easy enough to follow.
Admittedly, after the book goes existential and noncorporeal, it tries to establish rules that are clearly supposed to be metaphors for existentialist ideas of the self and existence boiled down to a few ideas. It's not impossible to follow, but it is a little jarring after the comic had set a trend of being grounded and focused upon self-pontification and some of the trivialities of life. Plus, I was kind of enjoying how Thalia and the sick woman were hitting it off.
Cards on the table, I would have been far more into the idea of a comic about Thalia experiencing the end of a life with the cancer-stricken woman as opposed to a nebulous thinkpiece on the same subject within a pseudo-afterlife that read a lot of Vertigo comics.
I was reminded of Kid Lobotomy somewhat, and there is a real chance that, had I first tried Euthanauts a few issues in, I would have been just as frustrated with it as I was with Kid Lobotomy.
I'm not trying to be a restriction-waving nonconventional-storytelling luddite here. I'm all for experimenting with structure and messing with the diegetic perception of reality. That said, my eyes glazed over a bit when things started getting cosmic and floaty after Thalia got brained. There's a reason I don't seek out Terrence Malick flicks.
However, if that is your thing, I can see Euthanauts tickling your fancy. Both Thalia and Dr. Wolfe—that's the sick woman by the way—are interesting characters. It has the potential to go interesting places, and ponderances of life and death are the most human thing imaginable. It's literally what all our art and fiction is about when you boil it down and get a bit smug about it (like I am here right now).
And there is the real possibility that Euthanauts will pull back and not turn into the Grant Morrison homage that Kid Lobotomy was. Maybe it's just establishing the rules and much of this review was just so much hot air and wasted word count. Maybe it will get more grounded and easier to follow from here. I've not read #2 yet, so I can't say.
Nick Robles does some spectacular artwork here, by the way. The detailing and texturing is phenomenal, and the world is gorgeous even before things go off the deep end in the second half. Once it does that, the cosmic visuals are quite excellent. The color work is appealingly subtle too and oddly fits this out-there tale.
Euthanauts #1 has potential, both to be something I'd love and something I'd probably zone out while reading. That said, I'll cop to my subjectivity there and say, either way, it is a good book. The characters are interesting, and the art is great. I recommend at least checking this first issue out. Give it a try.