Written by: Scott Snyder, Art by: Tony S. Daniel and Tomeu Morey.
Val, Em, and Bailey are only 100 miles away from Sanctuary, the place that Gus swore had the cure for the big PM (the everlasting darkness): natural light. However, hot on their heels is the madman known as Blacktop Bill, and he’s damaged the battery of the rig so much that Val isn’t sure that they can make it the whole way. Added to her woes is the fact that Em is close to fully turning. Can they get there or will Val have to make another sacrifice?
How does a writer improve on near perfection.? As I have stated before, I’m not sure there is a perfect comic book, but All-Star Superman (Morrison and Quitely, 2005) would be as close to it as you can get. This series definitely gives it a run for its money. I feel so grateful to get to read this book. I had the pleasure of meeting Scott Snyder once, and his kindness and generosity blew me away. So I want to preface everything I say with the knowledge that I’ve followed his work for a while. In doing my reviews I always try to be impartial, and I hope that I accomplish that difficult feat. With my impartial hat on, I still say that this series is almost perfect. The characters are neither good nor bad, they just are, as all relatable characters are. You really resonate with Val and the hardships that she’s had to endure. All of which has made her the strong person she is, now able to deal with the most extreme of situations without getting overwhelmed.
One very minor criticism I would have about this would be the amount of exposition, to set up the past and give historical context to Bill. Although I do understand that you would need to have it, or you’d be spending half the book playing catch-up with the character's past. So this is a tightrope walk, and I do believe that overall Snyder balances things well. As I said, this is close to perfect so that is a very minor and very personal opinion about the book.
Other than that, I love the throwback references about the CB radio and classic technology such as a VCR, which I can’t help but think most of the younger people to read this book would have no idea what that is.
Now how about that art! I’ve said it before and I’ll keep repeating myself. Tony S. Daniel is one of the best artists in comics currently. I look at so many panels in this series and think that it could easily be a wallpaper for my phone. The above image is a full page panel that I loved from this issue, but there was one panel that really stood out, and it was less than a sixth (1/6) of a page. Just a split second after shooting a Shade (a deformed creature due to staying in the dark for too long), the blood was in the air, and the light coming off her helmet as she stared at the creature. Sounds like a very strange panel to pick out, but I use the term perfection about this book for a reason. Despite this being such a tiny part of the page, it’s flawless. It’s a masterpiece and it’s only a fleeting moment. This just shows how much time, care and attention the creative team are paying towards this book.
One last thing I will say, without spoiling the book, is that the final half page is one of the best looking and emotionally manipulating things (in the best way) I’ve seen in comics recently. Bravo to the team for making me gasp, and feel so many things on this wonderful rollercoaster of a ride. Four issues in and I both cannot recommend this book enough and I can’t think of a way to make better what has been created so far. So I wish them the best of luck.
Nocterra issue 4 will be released from Image Comics at your local comic shop and comixology from 2nd June.