“Real” light exists, but at what cost in deep and beautiful Nocterra #5. ADVANCE REVIEW

Written by: Scott Snyder, Art by: Tony S. Daniel and Tomeu Morey.

Val, Em, and Bailey reach the sanctuary, and are greeted by Tiberius, the brother of Bailey's grandad. They are shown to the Cradle, the big bed surrounded by prism light. Not a moment too soon, as Em quickly changes before a struggle unfolds, and Val passes out for almost a day. Upon waking up, she asks about Em, who is miraculously cured from the Shade. They visit Tiberius, who gives her the answers she desires, as well as the answer to the question on each character's mind: Would she like to stay?

We have arrived at Sanctuary, five issues in, and this issue has a lot less action. Despite that, there’s still so much to look at here. Each issue, I’m completely blown away by how good this story is. I’m still surprised by the fact that things can’t possibly get any better, or more intense, yet I’m proven wrong each issue. Scott Snyder is, in my opinion, one of the best writers around in comics today. This issue, I would say, is an excellent example of that. 24 pages of pure story, with the only action coming from Em lashing out as he changes while they are in the cradle room. To have a whole issue dedicated to just building up the plot and characters, yet still making it as enjoyable as the best issue so far, if not more, just proves my point.

There's a lot of religious connotations within this particular issue, and I want to look at the two biggest. The first being when they enter Sanctuary, which in itself is one connotation, meaning a holy site. We are greeted with the Cradle very quickly, which is bathed in light, looking like a paradise or Eden surrounded by its halos and colourful light.

Taking up the centre of the room and panel, it’s supposed to give off a holy demeanour, one that cleanses the Shade off the infected and restore them to their “pure” selves. Not only is this beautifully written about, but the colour and design of it, is stunning. Tony S. Daniel and Tomeu Morey are really delivering the highest quality of work to ensure each panel is the best it can be.

We also get another very well written moment between Val and Tiberius, where he explains that 15 years ago, before the big PM (the Everlasting Evening), Augustus told him to build this temple. In a way, you get the feeling that he knew or at least was responsible for the events that have caused the big PM. Yet still gives his brother the idea to do this, and it comes across in a similar way to that of Noah’s ark, where he was told to build the ark to save the animals. By doing this, Snyder is making a reference that these 2 characters look at themselves as saviours of the human race, or at least they used to before becoming so cynical.

On top of that, we get some great development for the characters. The biggest thing to come out is the way Em feels about the whole situation about staying. Where Val has been out on the roads dealing with all this day in, day out, she has grown tired of it and wants to find a place to just enjoy her time. Whereas Em has a more traditional heroic approach, that he can’t just sit by while people struggle and suffer, and he wants to do everything he can to fix the world. This creates a powerful divide between them as they have worked together for so long that I think they both need each other, so this could not just affect their relationship but also their ability to survive.

Overall, I’m still impressed and excited by each issue; this series is one of the best out there at the moment, and I cannot recommend it enough.

Nocterra issue 5 will be released by Image Comics on 7th July from your Local Comic Shop as well as comixology

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