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Nocterra 1 Main

"Nocterra #1" Comic Review

Written by James Ferguson

Published by Image Comics


Written by Scott Snyder
Illustrated by Tony S. Daniel
Colored by Tomeu Morey
Lettered by AndWorld Design
2021, 40 Pages, $3.99
Comic released on March 3rd, 2021


In a world shrouded in darkness, ferrymen risk their lives to transport people and goods between towns. Horrors lurk in the shadows and people can turn into monsters called shades if unlit for too long. Val is one of the most skilled ferrymen out there, but she's about to get desperate, as her own brother is in danger. Hope comes from an unlikely source that could change everything.

Nocterra is a pretty cool concept rife with possibility. It's also a very similar formula to Frostbite, the 2016 Vertigo series from Joshua Williamson and Jason Shawn Alexander. You just swap the cold in one for the darkness in the other and it's the same basic idea. Even the twist in the Maguffin is essentially the same.

Once I got over that, Nocterra works to quickly envelop you in this world. Writer Scott Snyder and artist Tony S. Daniel clearly have a pretty deep mythos thought out for this book. There's a lot to get through in establishing the rules and history, however it moves at a nice pace, so it never feels like an exposition dump.

Click images to enlarge

Val is uniquely suited for this world of darkness, having grown up with severe cataracts. She's used to the dark, so she's a bit tougher than most. Snyder paints a tragic background for her, however that's not what defines her as a person.

One of the creepiest aspects of Nocterra is the idea that you can turn into a monstrous shade if left unlit for too long. Daniel's designs for these creatures are like nothing on this planet. Their skin is rough and often covered in sharp points. It's like they're made of concrete and hatred.

The worst part about them is where this transformation starts. It begins in your gums. Think about that for a second. A disease that takes root in your mouth and no amount of mouthwash or flossing is going to get rid of it. It then spreads through your whole body, turning you into this inhuman entity.

Click images to enlarge

Colorist Tomeu Morey creates a dreary tone for Nocterra, which is understandable, as we're dealing with a dark apocalyptic wasteland. The colors are mostly muted with shadows looming in every corner. When light does pierce through the darkness, either through a phosphorus weapon or the spotlights from a town, it stands out, like a ray of sunshine beckoning you towards safety.

Just when you think you have Nocterra figured out, a twist is thrown in to bring the first issue home. Letterer AndWorld Design is integral to this, creating a nice contrast to this part to differentiate it from the rest of the book.

Nocterra presents a fleshed-out, horrifying world where darkness can literally kill you. While it retreads some themes we've seen before, I'm still eager to see where this story goes next. It's another in an increasingly growing line of action horror titles that have been popping up lately and I'm here for it.


Story: fourstars Cover
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Art: fourandahalfstars
Overall: $ Star Rating

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About The Author
James Ferguson
Lord of the Funny Books
James has a 2nd grade reading level and, as a result, only reads books with pictures. Horror is his 5th favorite genre right after romantic comedy and just before silent films. No one knows why he's here, but he won't leave.
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