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NOCTERRA #1 Review

Neil reviews the first issue of Scott Snyder and Tony S. Daniels NOCTERRA calling it an “exquisitely paced” debut.

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Nocterra #1 (Image Comics)

Published by Image Comics, Nocterra #1 is available to purchase in print and on digital now. Nocterra is written by award winning, bestselling writer Scott Snyder with artwork by bestselling writer and artist Tony S. Daniel.

Cover art is by Tony S. Daniel and Tomeu Morey.

Synopsis

“FULL THROTTLE DARK,” Part One – Ten years after the world is plunged into an everlasting night that turns all living creatures into monstrous shades, the only way to survive is to stay close to artificial light. Enter Valentina “Val” Riggs, a skilled ferryman who transports people and goods along deadly unlit roads with her heavily illuminated eighteen wheeler.

This March, legendary creators SCOTT SNYDER (Dark Knights: Death Metal, WYTCHES) and TONY S. DANIEL (Batman, Deathstroke) unveil horrors beyond any shade in this extra-sized first issue.

Review

In the past decade Scott Snyder has become a household name thanks to his work at DC. From introducing Batman reader to the Court of Owls to injecting a heavy dose of Death Metal in to the wider DCU, Snyder’s work has been golden. He has proven time and time again that he can take a popular property and put an amazing spin on it which guarantees success. Now we’re seeing Snyder, post-Death Metal, striking out on his own with an original property through Image Comics.

Conceptually, Nocterra is a post apocalyptic, sci-fi epic. I came away from the opening issue with shades of Blade Runner and Mad Max from Snyder’s fully realised vision. Issue #1 succeeds in world-building around our lead character, Val. Snyder utilises a number of poignant flashbacks to fill in the gaps in both Val’s backstory and the wider Nocterra world. Key plot points are well communicated without need for exhaustive exposition. I’ve always found Snyder a brilliant communicator, there’s an ease to his writing which is both technically succinct and exciting to experience.

Val feels like a worthy lead character. Just from this one issue I have a sense of who she is and what she stands for. Through her interactions with her brother, Emory, we get a sense of her familial bonds. There’s a warmth and an empathy to her character which makes her identifiable outside of any heroic antics. Through her work as a ferryman we get to see her strength of character and her, to put it simply, badassery. Snyder’s grasp on character ensures there’s no doubt that Nocterra won’t simply be filled with action spectacle.

Tony S. Daniels is perfectly matched to bring a visual punch to Snyder’s words. Character designs feel unique to the world without becoming too alien. There’s a sense that flashbacks are rendered very much to live in the world outside our windows whilst the future world is where Daniels is able to let his imagination run wild. Creature designs are only glimpsed here but offer the possibility of some fearsome work to come in the future.

As with the cover art (above), Nocterra features a bright palette of colours courtesy of Tomeu Morey. Reds are the most striking, highlighting the darkness of the reality and the artificial lighting used to keep everyone safe. Outside of this Daniel’s visual language is well in-tune with the subject matter. Flashback scenes are straightforward and reflect the world around us perfectly whilst the safety of Outpost 41 has much earthier, industrial tones.

Verdict

As the title suggests, the first issue of Nocterra is a full throttle debut. Exquisitely paced and beautifully rendered on every page.


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