When Scott Snyder and Tony S. Daniel announced they’d be working on a Kickstarter together, all eyes were on the duo. Taking a step back from DC to work on a creative project, the two quickly gained enough money for Kickstarter to meet its goal. And if you blinked and missed it, the first issue is now sold out at most local comic book stores.
Everything was normal until the world went dark. When an everlasting night, referred to as the PM, engulfed the world everything fell apart. Those who couldn’t stay near any light turned into a monster like shades. Not just humans, every living organism. Ten years later and Valentina Riggs makes her living as a ferryman transporting people and goods to safety. When an offer that seems too good to be true comes up, and it might be, Val decides to take a leap of faith and get in her eighteen-wheeler on a quest that’s sure to be “full-throttle dark.”
Nocterra is a story with a few inspirations. Originally from Snyder’s childhood fear of the dark, the author was motivated “to do a book where the dark is as scary as you fear it was a kid. Where it transforms.” The story of Nocterra couldn’t have come at a more (metaphorically) opportune time, with the current COVID-19 pandemic quite similarly altering the state of the world. Perhaps what makes this story so intriguing is how much readers can relate to the same question Val seems to be asking: “Where were you the day the world changed?”. It’s the compelling storytelling of Scott Snyder that makes this horrific world come to life with all the grit and intensity one could hope for.
Although much of this first issue is world-building, it does an exceptional job at it. Throughout the issue, new elements and characters are incorporated into the world that further bring it to life. Whether it be new information, high stakes, and conflict, or the beginning of a mystery, Nocterra’s first issue doesn’t a little bit of everything. Scott Snyder is no newcomer to opening a series with an engaging thriller-mystery blend (Black Mirror, Gates of Gotham, and the Court of Owls all come to mind), so it’s no surprise how comfortable his writing appears to be. Being in his element with the creative freedom to make a post-apocalyptic series just as compelling and engaging as The Walking Dead.
Along with Snyder’s superb writing, artist Tony S. Daniel brings his A-game in this series. Maybe it’s just nice to see him draw something besides Batman, or maybe it’s his extreme skill being shown, but this might be some of the artist’s best work. Not only is Nocterra visually appealing, but every aspect of this dark world comes to life. Part of what makes Daniel’s art so appealing is the attention to the little details. What gets lost in his style of facial expressions is made up in his attention to detail that brings the story to life. This is further accomplished by Tomeu Morey’s colors. For a world engulfed in darkness, Morey makes sure that this issue is perfectly stark with life and intensity. Morey’s vibrant colors are part of what makes him one is the way colorists in modern comics, and this is seen once again in Nocterra’s first issue.
Overall, Nocterra is off to a great start with its first issue. Whether it be the world-building, early signs of character development and bridging relationships, or the looming threat, Nocterra has it all. With an all-star creative team, its final page leaves readers yearning for more.
Writing rating: 5/5
Art rating: 4/5
Overall rating: 9/10