Writer: Scott Snyder
Illustrator: Tony S. Daniel
Publisher: Image Comics
WHAT IS IT?
This new Image Series blends post-apocalyptic science fiction with fantasy, all wrapped up in a character-driven, road-trip caper. It explores a totally transformed earth and civilization.
It’s sort of like Mad Max with fantastical creatures, and this combination is what makes Nocterra a fascinating series for fans of all of its genres and influences.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
An adopted brother and sister try to survive an earth that is covered in complete darkness. The old way of life is gone, and humanity is forced into survival mode due to the “Big PM,” an event in which the earth loses its sun and organisms begin to mutate into hideous, violent versions of what they used to be due to the lack of light, called “shades.”
The only parts of society that remain exist inside of “outposts,” which are small, enclosed towns that use manufactured light from blimps, spotlights, and more to brighten the dark apocalyptic world.
In this new world without light, Val Jennings works as a “ferryman.” Ferrymen are paid to transport supplies from one outpost to another; a dangerous gig that could only be handled by people like Val and her brother Emory who came of age during the “Big PM.”
After Val’s brother, Emory, finds himself in a desperate situation due to his own recklessness, Val is forced to take a job from a mysterious man and his granddaughter who wants Val to take him hundred of miles to a secret location that he claims is filled with light. Val doesn’t realize it when she takes the offer; but this man may have something to do with the greatest mystery of their world, and has made tons of enemies that want to find and kill him by any means necessary.
Snyder is a master at combining the personal journey of a character to the world in which they live; and he does so in an incredibly smart way with Val that immediately reminded me of Snyder’s strongest stories and characters.
Additionally, Snyder does a great job of simultaneously balancing world-building with setting up Nocterra’s personal journey in this story arc.
This extra sized issue helps establish the world through both expository sections and dialogue that helps the reader understand the type of world that exists in the comic.
Nocterra wears its influences on its sleeve, but also has an identity that makes it distinguishable from those same influences. A lot of this can be attributed to the fantastic artwork.
Tony S. Daniel’s artwork perfectly complements Snyder’s already strong script. His paneling during the opening action sequence starts off the comic with a bang.
While Daniel is known for his high level of detail in human characters, the look of the monsters is just as, if not more impressive. His penchant for detail translates perfectly into the grotesque, nightmarish figures of the monsters inhabiting the world of Nocterra.
The lettering (done by studio Andoworld Design) does a great job keeping up with the action by switching up the size and bolding certain bubbles that signify a major action moment.
While the world of Nocterra may be dark and devoid of light, the comic is anything but bland. Colorist Tomeu Morey works on Daniel’s inks with a variety of color palettes that contrast excellently with the dark world they inhabit. The colors truly pop out.
The environments are just as gorgeous. The outpost rings of Victorian London due to their industrial architecture and blimps/lampposts. This is a comic you’re going to open up casually just to gaze at the landscape panels.
It was great to see such a diverse cast of characters inhabit the world of Nocterra at a time when we are all realizing how important representation is.
WHAT DOESN’T WORK?
While I assume we’ll be getting more flashbacks of the world before the “Big PM” in issues to come, it would have been nice to have gotten a little more of a sense of what it was like when the sun first disappeared instead of flashing forward.
Nocterra would probably land around a PG-13 rating. It’s not grotesque in any way, but also doesn’t shy away from violence.
While it may not be a problem for most people, I felt like the outfits of the population at the outpost were sort of all over the place. Some people dress normally and other times they dress like fantasy characters.
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
The art is beautiful, the characters are interesting, and the setup will leave you wanting to know more about the world and what’s going to happen on Val’s journey. Snyder and Daniel give you just enough of the world they’ve created to captivate you while leaving you wanting to see much more of the dark hellscape that earth has turned into.
It’s accessible, without being simplistic. It’s adventurous and sporadic without being erratic. It’s the perfect comic to wind down with if you are looking for something familiar yet also new and engaging. Nocterra #1 lays the foundation for an exciting new series from some of comic’s best creators.
WHAT DO I READ NEXT?
If you like the writing?
All Star Batman by Scott Snyder and John Romita Jr.
Undiscovered Country by Scott Snyder and Charles Soule
Wytches by Scott Snyder
If you like the art:
Batman: Battle for the Cowl by Tony S. Daniel
Black Magick by Greg Rucka And Nicola Scott
Greiger by Geoff Johns and Gary Frank
ABOUT THE CREATORS
Scott Snyder (@Ssnyder1835) – Writer
One of the industry's top talents; Snyder’s had critically acclaimed runs on both Batman and Justice League. He also has several other acclaimed Image Comics series.
Snyder has won several Eisner’s for his work in the industry.
He’s been taking time off of superhero books to focus on his own, creator owned projects like Nocterra.
Tony S. Daniel (@TonyDanielx2) – Artist
Daniel has been prolific artist for over a decade; he’s had his talent showcased in everything from Grant Morrison’s Batman run to the Teen Titans and the brief Superman/Wonder Woman series.
Multi-Talented: Daniel is known both for his art and writing skills in the industry.
This prolific team-up will make you wonder how Snyder and Daniel haven’t collaborated with each other in the past; their talents are extremely compatible.
Tomeu Morey (@tomeu_morey) – Colourist
This colorist is an international talent, hailing from Spain.
Morey has collaborated with Daniel before.
Has colored countless DC covers from their flagships titles over the past several years.
AndWorld (@andworlddesign) – Letterer
A lettering design studio founded by Eisner, Harvey and Ringo nominated letterer, Deron Bennet.
Have previously worked with DC Comics, Marvel, BOOM Studios, and many more.
Emma Price (@TinyMaster) – Designer
Price is both a designer and illustrator with credits in comics, film, and even indie tech start-ups.
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