By: John C. Mayberry
Image Comics, if I know them from their early issues of Spawn, all the way to modern day successes like The Walking Dead, has been a regular go-to imprint for those who enjoy the darker, more mature themed, and sometimes explicitly violent comic book stories. After reading Nocterra #1 it’s awesome to see Image Comics still produces stories with top-notch talent to give us, the comic book nerds of the world, some of the best reads we could ever lay our four eyes on.
In an interesting take on horror stories set in post-apocalyptic landscapes, nothing is given about the origin of what is referred to as the “big PM”. All that is known is that was the moment the skies all over the world went dark, prolonged exposure to the dark begins mutating every living thing; from insects to plant life, from wildlife to human beings. With crossbreeding and cross pollination making the mutated creatures and plant life, called “shades”, more numerous and deadly, the terrain becomes increasingly dangerous for a network of truckers who transport supplies and survivors between outposts.
One such trucker, Val, also known by Sundog, is trying to get as many routes as possible to help her adoptive brother Emory, who’s been infected by exposure to the dark, but is still able to be treated through blood transfusions and UV treatment. In taking a high-risk job transporting an old man and his granddaughter to another outpost in a deadly location, the setup for future issues sees Val’s situation worsening, as other truckers are hired to find her by a mysterious figure who claims the old man that Val is transporting is the cause of the “big PM”.
Nocterra is a perfect combination of sci-fi and horror, with the creative team of Scott Snyder, Tony S. Daniel, Tomeu Morey, and the lettering of Andworld Design perfectly illustrating the desperation of survival in a world that is becoming increasingly too dangerous for humanity to survive. Reading this I definitely saw moments that, to me, were reminiscent of thigs I’d see in things like Mad Max, Alien, and The Walking Dead. With only a little bit of the bigger story just revealed in this first issue, I promise Nocterra is a series you want to start keeping up with. It only gets more desperate, and more terrifying from here.
Artwork – Another great example of Tony S. Daniel’s artwork. Everything you see perfectly shows you how desperate for survival the world has become. To illustrate how much worse things have become the creatures shown are drawn to horrific detail, some of the more dangerous ones not really shown in full detail, leaving readers with an increased sense of dread of what hides in the dark.
Writing – Scott Snyder crafts a tale that’s very much a fresh take on the post-apocalyptic horror concept. Like something akin to a zombie apocalypse, just much more widespread and infinitely deadlier, readers are presented with a story that really shows off the desperate lives people are now forced to live for the sake just surviving another day. Dialogue between characters feels natural and stays consistent with story’s darker tone as well.
Pacing – The story gets off to a steady start, but by no means stays that way. There are equal amounts of storytelling and action that give issue one of Nocterra everything it needs to be successful without revealing too much of the greater story at first which will leave readers wanting to see more.
Symbolism – Artwork and story come together to form moments of symbolic significance, that advance the story as well as add depth to the characters. Although not within a real-world setting, the symbolic meaning helps to build a personal connection to readers that makes the story something to remember.
OVERALL RATING – 10 out of 10
Everything great about the sci-fi/horror sub-genre can certainly be seen within the pages of Nocterra #1. Taking the already terrifying concept of surviving in a post-apocalyptic world, where humanity’s hope for survival is dwindling, at best, and adding elements to make the scenario hopelessly worse, this is something that cannot go without being read. It’s a good one, you guys. Whatever you do, do not miss out on it.