REVIEW: ‘Nocterra,’ Issue #1

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Nocterra #1

Nocterra #1 is written by Scott Snyder, illustrated by Tony S. Daniel, Colored by Tomeu Morey, and lettered by Andworld Design. It is published by Image Comics. The series occurs in a world where the Earth has been cloaked in eternal darkness, transforming any organic being exposed to it into horrific “Shades.” Val Riggs works as a “Sundog” -a driver running a heavily modified truck that ferries people to and from heavily lit sanctuaries. When an elderly man and his granddaughter ask Val to ferry them to another Sanctuary, Val accepts the job to help her adopted brother Emory.

Though he is best known for his work on the Batman franchise, Snyder has worked on several creator-owned comics, including Undiscovered Country and Wytches. With Nocterra, he crafts another compelling tale-particularly where the characters are concerned. Val’s relationship with Emory drives her every move, from picking up routes to finally accepting the offer to cross the Great Divide. Similar relationships between Batman and his allies fueled Snyder’s Batman stories and Charlotte and Daniel Graves in Undiscovered Country. When your family is teetering on the edge of the abyss, you will do anything to save them-even march into the abyss itself.

Snyder also establishes the rules of Nocterra’s world over the course of the issue. Readers will learn how the Shades come into being and how the Sundogs operate. An underlying mystery also surrounds the eternal night surrounding Earth, and Snyder ends his first issue with a jaw-dropping revelation that ties into the said mystery. A good first issue should always establish its world while leaving enough hooks to keep readers coming back for future issues, and Nocterra more than succeeds on that count.

Another success story comes from Daniel and Morey’s artwork. Both men are also DC Comics veterans, having worked together on Batman titles. Daniel delivers several eye-popping designs for this world, including the attire that Val and her fellow Sundogs wear. Their helmets have various designs-in Val’s case, a sheer black dome with a red circle emblazoned on the front-and; their armor looks like Power Rangers by way of Mad Max. Morey’s colors plunge the characters-and the readers-into darkness, adding to the sheer horror of the Shades and bringing relief when the warm golden glow of the Sanctuaries appears. Similar coloring is also used for the letters. Particularly the main antagonist-his word balloons are as dark as the night that surrounds the Earth.

It wouldn’t be a horror book without monsters, and this is where Daniel and Morey both shine. The Shades come in all different shapes and sizes: some have wings and are the size of birds, while others are twice the size of humans and bear long, jagged claws. As befitting their name, the Shades are also pitch-black in color and have glowing red eyes. These things are horrifying to look at, and since it was established that animals could change as well as humans, I’m pretty sure the artists have more demented designs in store.

Nocterra #1 delivers a unique concept and a story with deeply emotional stakes while giving its readers a new reason to be afraid of the dark. The first issue ends with the perfect cliffhanger, and given its creators’ zeal for the story-as well as the fact that it was the subject of a highly successful Kickstarter campaign-Image Comics may yet again have another hit series on its hands.

Nocterra #1 is available wherever comics are sold.

 


Nocterra #1
5

TL;DR

Nocterra #1 delivers a unique concept and a story with deeply emotional stakes while giving its readers a new reason to be afraid of the dark. The first issue ends with the perfect cliffhanger, and given its creators’ zeal for the story-as well as the fact that it was the subject of a highly successful Kickstarter campaign-Image Comics may yet again have another hit series on its hands.