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Nocterra Val Special ADVANCE REVIEW: Emotional one-off sets up exciting next arc.

Written by: Scott Snyder and Tony S Daniel, Art by: Francis Manapul, Letters by: Andworld Design.


When the PM (an everlasting night that turns all living creatures into monstrous shades) was in its infancy, Val and Em were part of a group of Ferrymen. The leader was Raleigh Royce. He knew how bad things could get so he wanted to link all the checkpoints together, creating a network of outposts where people can be safe from the shades. It was there however that Val stumbled onto a secret that they didn’t want exposed. The deal between the Ferrymen and this outpost was in flames and Raleigh barely got away. He was mortally wounded and Val wanted revenge for that. He told her that in these trying times you need to connect with people and make them see the light. Val was devastated but did she heed the lessons of her mentor? Would it be a lesson she takes with her into the shade?

It’s been over 5 months since we last had an issue of Nocterra, what I still believe to be one of the best series out there at the moment. As it was with the last Special, we have both Scott Snyder and Tony S Daniel writing the script with a different artist altogether. With this in mind, the writing is stunning as it always is. The issue delivers both the past and present storylines with ease, making sure that they interlock with morals. This cements how talented the writers are, although I think most of this would be coming from Scott Snyder, and I think the overarching plot would be from both of them. It’s definitely an improvement on the last Special, which didn’t do much for the character of Bill. There was no back story, no answers given, so although it was good, it didn’t do much for the series. This Special on the other hand, gives more details about Val and her struggles. I enjoy that she’s not just a standard “good guy”, there’s depth to her character which makes her more human and relatable. We do get an origin for her iconic helmet in the issue, and it shows off how intelligent Em is (although we knew this already).


As with the Black Top Bill Special, we have a new artist. Although unlike the previous special the art in this issue isn’t as different from regular series artist Daniel. Although I prefer Manapul's art style here, I don’t think anything can match up to Daniel’s realistic approach to the characters. This similar style does propose a challenge however. Where the last Special was so different it was easy to distinguish between the art styles, whereas with this issue Francis Manapul might be trying to get as close to Daniel’s style as possible so it’s not as intense a change for the readers. This I appreciate, but could backfire due to it being compared to the main artist. I personally appreciate the similar styles but I could understand how having drastic styles between the main story and the specials can be beneficial.

Overall, it’s great to be back with this series. I don’t hide my praise for this series. It has been consistently at a high level. Despite having a 5 month break, this Special hit the ground running and didn’t miss a beat. It’s exhilarating and well paced. Fleshes out the character like a Special should, and even furthers the main story a little. The only downside I can see from this series would be its conclusion coming too quickly. When you have creators who are enjoying the story they are telling, it's clear by how much detail they put in and it’s part of what makes this series and book so good. A solid start to the 3rd arc and I’m excited for the next issue. It rates an easy 4 POPs out of 5 for me.

Nocterra Val Special will be released by Image Comics on 7th December from your Local Comic Shop as well as comixology


Andrew Carr was blessed to grow up watching the animated series of Batman, X-Men, and his favorite, Spider-Man.This started his dive into the comics world, which resulted in meeting his amazing cosplaying wife Imogen. They live in England with their Sinister Six dogs.

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