Stay lit and sit––Scott Snyder & Tony S. Daniel’s Nocterra #1 from Image Comics and Best Jackett Press takes off on a Mad-Maxian roadshow into the darkest future ever conceived.
The long-anticipated, Kickstarter-funded first issue of writer Scott Snyder and illustrator Tony S. Daniel’s Nocterra pits us in a strange new world after the “Big PM”, the fateful day when the sun has mysteriously gone black, leaving the earth below in 24/7 darkness. Populating this frightful new normal are creatures called shades that roam the bleak landscapes. The only thing that can stave them off is light, of course.
The story follows the night-to-night of a ferryman named Val, who makes her wages transporting everything from supplies to people from outpost to outpost across the blue-black miles of road that stretch between them. But when a peculiar old man and his granddaughter ask for passage to a place where there may be a hint of genuine sunshine, Val decides to aid them, for a price, of course, but also as a last ditch effort to save her brother Emory from a fate far worse than death in this dystopic future of no light, only land everywhere.
Nocterra #1 establishes a post-apocalyptic setting that steps outside the boundaries of ordinary zombie/pandemic/end-of-the-world scenarios, which is a breath of fresh air. The story is also set up quite well within the opening pages, at once enthralling us with exposition that unfolds mostly in visuals and during an intense chase scene while hinting at the larger narrative looming ahead for Val and Em. This premiere issue concludes with a too-brief but memorable glimpse of the story’s antagonist, and believe me, this villain is like nothing we’ve seen before.
As a long time fan of Snyder’s work ever since American Vampire #1 hit comic stores over ten years ago, I am once again impressed by his prowess with storytelling and his masterful use of extended metaphor. The storyline itself exhibits a similar feeling one might get reading other post-apocalyptic tales like The Walking Dead, but Nocterra presents it in a wholly unique light. (Pun totally intended.) Daniel’s artwork lends Nocterra a groundedness that enhances the sheer terror of trying to exist on an earth without any sunshine. And at its heart, Nocterra is a horror
story, and Tomeu Morrey’s darkly shaded colors only intensify the mood and narrative about to
reveal itself to us.
Overall, Nocterra is a series that’s bound to stand the test of time, so as Val says, stay lit and stay tuned for further installments of Snyder and Daniel’s journey into the true heart of darkness in the months to come.
Scott Snyder (W), Tony S. Daniel (A), Tomeu Morrey (C), Andworld Design (L), Emma Price (D) • Image Comics/Best Jackett Press, $3.99
Review by John T. Trigonis