REVIEW: ‘Nocterra: Blacktop Bill Special,’ Issue #1

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Nocterra: Blacktop Bill Special #1

Nocterra: Blacktop Bill Special #1 is written by Scott Snyder and Tony S. Daniel, penciled by Denys Cowan, inked by Kent Williams, colored by Chris Sotomayor, and lettered by Andworld Design. It is published by Image Comics. Picking up on a conversation that took place in Nocterra #4, the one-shot jumps between past and present to reveal the origin of the sadistic Blacktop Bill. How did one man become even more frightening than the creatures who stalk the eternal night? And what was he like before darkness fell over the world?

Marking a departure from the main series, Daniel, who usually serves as the series artist, joins Snyder on scripting duties. Both of them slowly unveil more details about Bill over the course of the special. As it turns out, he happened to be a hitman in his past life as well as a serial killer with the highest body count in history. The special also reveals the origin of his trademark truck; while he drove other cars while performing his hitman duties, he only broke out the big rig when he was on the hunt for pleasure. This only spells trouble for Val Riggs and her friends in the present, especially once readers lay their eyes on the last page.

If fans of Nocterra were looking to discover how Bill became the shadowy hunter that he is in the present, they’ll have to keep waiting as that information is only hinted at. Perhaps the most frightening thing that Snyder and Daniel reveal about Bill is the origin of his nom de guerre and its ties to his beliefs. Blacktop, or asphalt, is a mix of dead organisms used to pave roads; as one character describes it, it’s “black death holding things together.” Bill believes that death binds people together, and he revels in it. This not only makes him utterly terrifying but also refreshing; many villains nowadays tend to have their behavior explained away as a result of family issues or a moral mission gone horribly wrong. Sometimes you need someone who’s just an utter bastard, and Bill fits that bill.

With Daniel taking over writing duties, artwork falls to Cowan, who is best known for co-creating the armored antihero Hardware. Cowan makes a habit of never showing Bill’s full face; in the past, his eyes are shrouded in darkness, only showing his sadistic grin and in the present said grin is the only thing that shows in the inky blackness that makes up his entire being.

Williams adds texture to Cowan’s pencils with his inks, and Sotomayor applies a muted color palette to the entire special, growing more and more darker with the present sequences. The only deviation from the ever-present darkness is the word captions that pepper the issue; one set of captions is a burnt orange while the other is a royal purple.

Nocterra: Blacktop Bill Special #1 peels back the layers of the series’ antagonist, revealing just how much of a terrifying figure he really is. With Nocterra’s success and its upcoming adaptation into a Netflix series, I look forward to more specials that flesh out this dark and horrifying world.

Nocterra: Blacktop Bill Special #1 is available wherever comics are sold.


Nocterra: Blacktop Bill Special #1
4.5

TL;DR

Nocterra: Blacktop Bill Special #1 peels back the layers of the series’ antagonist, revealing just how much of a terrifying figure he really is. With Nocterra’s success and its upcoming adaptation into a Netflix series, I look forward to more specials that flesh out this dark and horrifying world.