Snyder wastes no time jumping straight into the action in Nocterra #3. Following Nocterra #2, Blacktop Bill is on the hunt for Val and her passengers, in particular Augustus McCray. The action has truly kicked into high gear as Val’s escape takes a turn for the worst in this addictive post-apocalyptic series.
The issue starts with another flashback to a younger Val and Em, much like how it did in Nocterra #2. The devastating results of the darkness metamorphosing into people’s bodies are broadcasted on the news, scratching the surface of what darker horrors lie ahead. One of the most interesting reveals that Snyder adds is how the darkness influences and corrupts the brain, especially how it affects language. The Shades develop a unique way of communicating with each other, allowing them to secretly be in contact with other Shades.
In a timely fashion, this knowledge is put to the test as Val and Em’s parents rattle behind the house’s front door, sweet-talking their children to let them come in. It’s a horrifying addition to the Shades’ already grotesque anatomy, but it also gives room for Snyder to explore the nature of the Shades more deeply and the psychological terror they can unleash.
Right as we ponder about the intricacies of the Shades, we’re smacked straight in the face with Daniel and Morey’s incredible work across a double-page spread, taking us right back into the thick of the action. Blacktop Bill is in hot pursuit, all while maintaining his charming, cocky dialogue and his unsettling presence. Snyder does a brilliant job writing Blacktop Bill’s voice, combining almost a narcissistic confidence with sociopathic glee. It’s exactly the eerie, sinister presence that you wouldn’t want chasing you down abandoned roads in the middle of the night.
Morey’s colors continue to illuminate the pages of Nocterra #3. Not only does he maintain the glowing hues of greens and blues, but he also adds some neon pinks and purples that contrast beautifully with the mentioned colors. His use of loud, exploding oranges and yellows also perfectly captures the destructive scale of the intense chase between Val and Blacktop Bill, creating seamless kinetic action.
Just when we think Blacktop Bill might get the upper hand, Val pulls a hail mary and gives her crew just enough time to take some quick breaths. But of course, it’ll take far more than just one trick up Val’s sleeve to fully escape the clutches of Blacktop Bill. After all, he is a living legend. And a cunning one at that, as he smartly saps Val’s batteries.
In a sudden turn of events, we encounter the biggest surprise of Nocterra #3. This time, Augustus pulls out the big guns by boldly deciding to face Blacktop Bill himself. He entrusts his granddaughter Bailey, a journal of his that contains notes charting the path to their sanctuary, a random bundle of symbols that only his brother can decipher. Snyder takes Blacktop Bill’s sadistic persona to the next level through gritty, menacing dialogue between Augustus and Blacktop Bill. It’s exactly the kind of punchline that leaves your jaw hanging, and in desperate wonder, if this is really Augustus’s fate.
It’s not long until Val, Em and Bailey find a moment of rest to themselves, but it certainly doesn’t mean the tension is over. Val and Em are left to unpack the contents of Augustus’s journal, and the two exchange in a dichotomy of cynicism and hope, showing very quickly that Val and Bailey are cut from different threads. It will only be a matter of time until the two will have to find ways to cooperate as they approach their destination.
And they’ll need to cooperate sooner rather than later, as the ending reveals that Blacktop Bill may be the least of their problems… there’s only more horror coming for Val and Bailey. Nocterra #3 is another thrilling issue in a captivating series. Snyder does a fantastic job building on the dynamics between various characters and the tension continually leaves us on the edge of our seats. Daniel and Morey’s art and colors continue to beautifully capture a gritty post-apocalyptic setting. This is simply another must-read issue.
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