Almost all of us can recall a time during our childhood being afraid of the dark. The fear of leaving the closet door open, nervously looking under your bed, or sleeping with the blanket over your head as if it’s a shield that’ll save you. In Nocterra #1, writer Scott Snyder and artist Tony S. Daniel invite us into a world where the sun sets forever and the planet has been plunged into darkness. No one knows how or why this has happened and the only person who may be able to save you from the pitch-black dark is a woman named Val Riggs.
Now, you may wonder what you need saving from? In the future where daytime and light are nonexistent called “The Big PM”, any living organism left in the dark for more than 10 hours starts a transformation. Their biological makeup is changed, turning them into a monster version of themselves called Shade. Val’s only weapon against them is light.
Nocterra #1 puts us smack-dab at the beginning of the story as it’s being narrated by the main protagonist Val Riggs. It kind of makes you think of other great heroines like Kate Beckinsale of the Underworld films. We learn a great deal about her life right away — she’s adopted, she has a younger brother, Emory, and we’re shown how the darkness started.
But Snyder does stop there. He takes the character development deeper by telling us that this isn’t Val’s first rodeo into conflict like the dark. When Val was younger, she had a severe case of cataracts that made her legally blind. This was a nice touch that gives the character a bit of depth.
The story then jumps several years into the future where Val aka SunDog has become known as a Ferryman, a person who takes people to the sanctuary at Outpost. It’s made abundantly clear when we meet her all these years later that she’s also equipped at handling herself and we get to see her in action against a variety of weird-looking creatures. This part of the book serves as an introduction to some of the horrid creatures that await us the reader as the story unfolds.
There’s a ton of great world-building here and a lot of potentials to unpack from different characters, weapons, and situations like Val’s brother Emory hiding sickness to explore. In regards to the book itself, the captions don’t take away from the art and the plot seems to know early where it’s headed.
Tony Daniel’s illustrations were a blast to look at page for page of this book. He’s good with pulling emotions out of each of the characters and making us believe that these people fit the story perfectly. He has a way with his pencil work that makes everything seems three-dimensional. The designs for the monsters we meet are pretty horrific but probably just the tip of the iceberg going forward.
Nocterra #1 gets Val and the rest of the characters off to a good start. It’s a quick read, but a lot of information to take in. Overall, it’s worth checking out and is thoroughly enjoyable. Make sure to snag yourself a copy on your next comic shop trip.
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