REVIEW: ‘Nocterra,’ Issue #3

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Nocterra #3 - But Why Tho?

Nocterra #3 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. Picking up where the second issue left off, the issue features a deadly race between Val Riggs and Blacktop Bill, with the latter hunting Val’s passengers. Vall struggles to stay one step ahead of her shadowy pursuer while dealing with her brother Emory’s worsening condition.

This issue deftly balances horror and action elements, particularly in the first half of the book. The first big action sequence of the book happens to feature a massive car chase between Val’s 18-wheeler and Blacktop Bill’s legion of riders. Daniel and Morey pack these pages full of action, even giving the cars distinct looks. Val’s ride is a dark red, matching her armor, while Bill’s is a sleek black hot rod that moves like a shark on wheels—rather fitting given the speeches Bill gives about being a predator. There’s also some inventive scenery, including a neon sign in the shape of a cowgirl that’s rigged with explosives and a cave peppered with glowing handprints.

Keeping the contrast between shadow and light in this world, Morey uses muted colors for scenes set in the dark and brighter ones for sources of light. The cowgirl sign-named “CB Rider” for a rather clever reason is colored a bright neon pink, while Blacktop Bill appears to suck all the light out the room with his jet-black presence. Lighting can make as much of a difference in comics as it does in film/TV, and in a series where light is a scarce source, Morey knows how to make characters and images stand out.

However, the biggest draw of the issue is Snyder’s script. Snyder draws a parallel between the struggles of Val and Emory with Val’s passengers Bailey and Gus. Eternal night striking the world took Val’s parents from her, and her heart has hardened-her inner monologue decries religion and hope as outdated, yet rather ironically she still has hope she can save Emory from the dark disease coursing through his veins. On the other hand, Bailey believes in Gus’ research which could help bring the world back into the light. Val and Bailey’s interactions offer a new wrinkle in their journey, as they have different views yet similar experiences.

Snyder also creates a terrifying, sadistic foe in Blacktop Bill. Although he bears a somewhat visual similarity to the Batman Who Laughs from Dark Nights: Death Metal, Bill feels more terrifying due to the fact that he has no face or human features. He’s a walking shadow. He also takes pride in slowly killing his prey, as it’s clear that whatever happened to him drove him mad. Bill’s hybrid nature and relentless pursuit of Val brings Albert Wesker from the Resident Evil franchise to mind, and much like Wesker, I feel that Bill has a few more abilities up his sleeve.

Nocterra #3 hits a number of emotional notes while continuing to up the stakes for its protagonist’s journey. Given the cliffhanger ending, it appears that Val will be forced to make a tough decision down the road, and I’m dreading the day the series comes to that point. But it also speaks to how emotionally engaging this book is, in addition to the action-horror elements.

Nocterra #3 is available wherever comics are sold.

Nocterra #3
4.5

TL;DR

Nocterra #3 hits a number of emotional notes while continuing to up the stakes for its protagonist’s journey. Given the cliffhanger ending, it appears that Val will be forced to make a tough decision down the road, and I’m dreading the day the series comes to that point. But it also speaks to how emotionally engaging this book is, in addition to the action-horror elements.