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Review: Nocterra #1

Nocterra #1

When Nocterra came to Kickstarter, I happily backed it. I have the full over-sized black and white version on my shelf. I haven’t cracked it open yet because I wanted to experience the comic monthly, issue by issue and in color, like so many others. Reading it in one go is for down the road. After reading Nocterra #1, I had to crack open my Kickstarter version as I wanted to linger on and soak in the artwork even more. The comic delivers an intriguing premise that feels familiar in a world that feels foreign, strange, and fascinating.

The world has gone dark. Enveloped in a pitch black, the surviving bits of humanity must cling to the artificial light because if they don’t, they begin to turn into monsters. There’s constant danger and a rather bleak existance. Enter Valentina “Val” Riggs, a skilled ferryman who transports people and goods along deadly unlit roads with her heavily illuminated eighteen wheeler. Riggs is hired to ferry two mysterious individuals who promise hope.

Written by Scott Snyder, Nocterra #1 feels familiar. The darkness delivers thoughts of Pitch Black while being surrounded by monsters and the focus on a courier has a bit of I Am Legend and The Wilds, among other things. Despite that familiarity, the debut issue is engaging and sucks the reader in. The presentation of the world and build up to the final pages creates a world you become enveloped in.

Riggs being the center of the story, we’re provided a personal experience in this world and her view on it. Snyder gives Riggs some depth, taking us from her childhood to the current situation, ten years after the world has gone dark. We get Val’s perspective on it with a calm acceptance for reasons explained. And we get action, lots of action. Nocterra #1 delivers a hell of a sequence that’s full of entertainment.

That action is delivered by Tony S. Daniel. His visuals, along with Tomeu Morey on color and Andworld Design‘s lettering, get the blood pumping while the action gets going. But, the visuals help flesh out this world telling so much of the story. When Val gets to her town, we’re presented with a new world that packs in details that tell so much more than Snyder’s dialogue provides. You get a good sense of things through Daniel’s art, it’s the small details of the comic. Nocterra #1 also delivers one of the most interesting villains in a long time with a design that sucks you into the void.

Nocterra #1 is a solid start. Though it feels like an amalgam of other stories, it’s entertaining and packed with stunning visuals. We get an interesting world, solid protagonist, and the focus on details that flesh out its characters and world. It’s an amazing start and we’re all in for the ride.

Story: Scott Snyder Art: Tony S. Daniel
Color: Tomeu Morey Letterer: Andworld Design
Story: 9.5 Art: 9.5 Overall: 9.5 Recommendation: Buy

Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


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Graphic Policy’s Top Comic Picks this Week!

ENIAC #1

Wednesdays (and now Tuesdays) are new comic book day! Each week hundreds of comics are released, and that can be pretty daunting to go over and choose what to buy. That’s where we come in

Each week our contributors choose what they can’t wait to read this week or just sounds interesting. In other words, this is what we’re looking forward to and think you should be taking a look at!

Find out what folks think below, and what comics you should be looking out for this week.

Allergic (Graphix) – Maggie is getting a new puppy but finds out she’s allergic to anything with fur. This si the mission to find the perfect pet!

America Chavez: Made in the USA #1 (Marvel) – The character takes center stage soon in Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and this series seems to start setting the ground so she does the same in the comic universe as well.

The Antifa Super Soldier Cookbook (Silver Sprocket) – What if everything the Right thought about the Left was real? An ANTIFA operative is about to get an upgrade and become a full-fledged super-soldier!

BRZRKR #1 (BOOM! Studios) – The Keanu Reeves/Matt Kindt written comic series is here. It has a hell of a lot of buzz due to Reeves and brought in a massive amount on Kickstarter. We’re excited we get to finally read it.

Chariot #1 (AWA Studios) – A military weapon in the form of a muscle car. That alone has us in for this.

Crime Syndicate #1 (DC Comics) – We head to a newly returned Earth-3 where these evil versions of our superheroes rule.

Dead Dogs Bite #1 (Dark Horse) – Seeing Tyle Boss’ name on this comic is what first got us to notice it. The story revolves around a missing person in a small town.

Demon Days: X-Men #1 (Marvel) – Peach Momoko’s new twist on the X-Men is here. We were a bit mixed on the initial preview but we’re still excited to check out a full issue. The art alone will be worth it.

ENIAC #1 (Bad Idea) – Bad Idea is officially here! We’ve read this first issue and it’s a solid debut. What does this publisher have up its sleeve? We’re expecting even more news upon release.

Infinite Frontier #0 (DC Comics) – This is the new start to the DC Universe. It’s full of possibilities and the groundwork and tease of what’s to come begins here.

Jonna and the Unpossible Monsters #1 (Oni Press) – Rainbow is looking for her sister Jonna. They’re both trying to survive in a world full of monsters driving humanity to the brink of extinction. Check out our review.

Man-Bat #2 (DC Comics) – The first issue was an intriguing look at addiction and we really want to see if the series keeps up with that theme.

Nocterra #1 (Image Comics) – The Kickstarted graphic novel is out in single issues. The world has been plunged into everlasting night. Meet Val Riggs, a ferryman who transports goods and people along deadly unlit roads.

Suicide Squad #1 (DC Comics) – With a movie out this year, the Suicide Squad is getting a shake-up and a new lineup that matches the film more. The first issue is exactly what you’d want from the series and shows readers to not get too attached to the characters.

The Swamp Thing #1 (DC Comics) – It’s a new Swamp Thing and a new vision for the character. We want to see what this new take is all about.

Transformers: Beast Wars #2 (IDW Publishing) – The cartoon is now a comic with a bit of a remix to it. The first issue set things up and now we’re getting to the good stuff.

Undone By Blood: The Other Side of Eden #1 (AfterShock) – The first series was a solid tale of revenge. We’re just hoping for more of the same.

What Unites Us (:01 First Second) – A graphic novel adaptation of Dan Rather’s essays.

Jupiter’s Legacy Gets a First Look

Jupiter’s Legacy debuts on Netflix on May 7, 2021 and we’re getting the first glimpse as to what we can expect from the show. The show is based on the comic book series from Mark Millar and Frank Quitely.

Jupiter’s Legacy, the comic, was published by Image and debuted in 2013. The series is about the conflict between generations of superheroes. A group of aging superheroes known as the Union used the powers they gained in 1932 to better mankind. Their children must deal with living up to their parent’s legacy. The series ran for 10 issues.

Mini Reviews and Recommendations For The Week Ending 2/27/2021

Sometimes, the staff at Graphic Policy read more comics than we’re able to get reviewed. When that happens you’ll see a weekly feature compiling short reviews from the staff of the comics, or graphic novels, we just didn’t get a chance to write a full review for. Given the lack of new comics, expect this weekly update to begin featuring comics that we think you’ll enjoy while you can’t get anything new to read – only new to you.

These are Graphic Policy’s Mini Reviews and Recommendations.


Logan

The Next Batman: Second Son #1 (DC)– Writer John Ridley and artists Tony Akins, Ryan Benjamin, and Mark Morales tell the story of Tim Fox’s pre-Next Batman days as he and the unseen tech guy Vol try to take out a Vietnamese human trafficker. This first issue is all action, or attempts at action, highlighting Tim’s inexperience as he gets lured into a trap and does some stupid stuff like throwing his melee weapon right at his opponent. You can definitely see the passion in Tim’s face and in Ridley’s dialogue and passion, but he’s not even close to Batman or Batwing yet. On the visual side, Benjamin’s layouts are simple, yet effective using 2 or 3 panels a page to show how deep the shit Tim is getting in. The final page is a weird angle/choice from him and Akins though, but it connects him to the context of Future State and the larger DC Universe. Second Son #1 is a pretty, straightforward riff on Batman Year One with an international setting and focus on hacking as well as hand to combat. It’s not spectacular, but it’s solid. Opening with an extended action sequence is always a good move. Overall: 7.5 Verdict: Read

Future State-Superman: House of El #1 (DC)– House of El #1 is a glimpse at a far-flung future where the descendants of Superman from various planets band together to defend Earth from the Red King and his minions. Philip Kennedy Johnson and Scott Godlewski craft a world where Superman and his fellow heroes are practically a myth and where hope is all but lost. Theand’r, who is Kryptonian and Tamaranean, even thinks Superman never existed, and that he was a story to inspire Kryptonian immigrants who found a home on Earth. Johnson throws a lot of interesting ideas that could sustain a mini, but he and Godlewski condense it down to one double-sized comic with plenty of action and an enemy that is a metaphor for white supremacism. Godlewski’s compositions during the fight scenes fill up the page as the remnants of the House of El fight Parademons, Black Racer, and multiple Doomsdays. He draws blockbuster superhero action and interpersonal moments equally well adding a level of vulnerability to these warriors. Overall: 8.0 Verdict: Buy

Skulldigger and Skeleton Boy #6 (Dark Horse)– Jeff Lemire and Toni Zonjic’s commentary on child sidekicks, violent vigilantes who were formerly child sidekicks, and 1990s Frank Miller art concludes in Skulldigger and Skeleton Boy #6. Zoncic’s art is definitely the highlight of this final issue with a contrasting red and blue palette as Skeleton Boy struggles between choosing a life of violence with Skulldigger or something more stable with Officer Reyes and her partner. He also does some striking black and white work for the big emotional beats and also for Skulldigger’s kills. Storywise, Lemire creates a parallel between Skulldigger’s strained relationship with his mentor when he was the young sidekick Alley Cat, and his similar trauma bond with Skeleton Boy as he’ll probably end up getting Skeleton Boy hurt or killed. The actual ending of the issue seems like an anti-climax, but Lemire and Zonjic create a wonderfully redemptive moment for Matthew (Formerly known as Skeleton Boy) while lingering on a couple images of a lonely Skulldigger, whose vigilante crusade and vendetta against Grimjim (Think the Joker plus immortality.) will never end. Overall: 8.5 Verdict: Buy

Crossover #4 (Image)– Donny Cates and Geoff Shaw’s Ready Player One comic book edition continues in Crossover #4. Wisely, they’ve sidestepped their feeble attempts at real world relevance or commentary on the medium and gone for all out action in this issue with the standout being a Ben-Day dot filled double page spread featuring Madman, a yo-yo, and a nostalgic color palette from Dee Cuniffe. The lead characters Ellie, Ryan, and Ava are just ciphers taking the reader from Easter Egg to Easter Egg with Cates’ ominiscient narrator seeing more as a cover his ass situation than adding anything substantial to the series. As co-creators of the series, Cates and Shaws are well within their rights to make God Country a critical part of Crossover’s plot, but it really cheapens the resonance of a series that was their most emotionally honest work. Unless you’re a hunt the Easter Egg enthusiast, this one is worth skipping along with their prose and TV medium relatives, the aforementioned Ready Player One and Stranger Things Season One. Geoff Shaw and Dee Cuniffe’s visuals are very pretty though. Overall: 5.3 Verdict: Pass

Department of Truth #6 (Image)– James Tynion and guest artist Elsa Charretier peel the table behind the Department of Truth a little bit in a flashback story as a fresh off killing JFK, Lee Harvey Oswald learns about the conspiracies of 1000 AD. Compared to the series’ usual style, Charretier’s art has an earthiness that works for the medieval setting, and she even riffs on tapestry as the hag in the woods/Julia Augusta spins basically the origin story of the Illuminati featuring the Julian Calendar, monks, and fake Charlemagne. Tynion and Charretier explore the underlying theme and purpose of Department of Truth, which is to make sure a certain narrative is a dominant one and places it in the wider context of medieval European history. The Roman empire has fallen, Islam is on the rise, and the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox church are about to break apart so why not create the fiction of something that is neither an empire, holy, or Roman to hold things together. It will be interesting to see the ideas introduced in Department of Truth #6 echo down the road and see some of the recurring imagery and themes. It’s definitely my favorite issue of the series so far. Overall: 9.5 Verdict: Buy

Brett

Future State: Batman/Superman #2 (DC Comics) – The art shines a bit more than the story itself which just feels like a way to add more flavor to this new Gotham and the Magistrate. It has some great themes I’d love to see explored more but overall, it feels like the end of a filler arc that touches upon bigger things elsewhere. Overall Rating: 7.0 Recommendation: Read

Future State: Dark Detective #4 (DC Comics) – The issue makes me want more of this future Gotham and story direction. The first story features the showdown between Batman and the Magistrate’s leader and it’s a hell of a battle. The art is fantastic with some amazing spreads and awesome action. The second story featuring Jason Todd delivers some solid twists and turns leaving the reader with a lot of questions that’ll be answered in the future. This was the Future State I wanted and it left me begging for it to continue. Overall Rating: 8.25 Recommendation: Buy

Future State: Legion of Super-Heroes #2 (DC Comics) – I really don’t know the Legion of Super-Heroes and this disconnect had me shrugging my shoulders with this one. This comic feels a bit more for the die-hards with knowledge. The art is solid with a very unique style so that was at least entertaining for me. Overall Rating: 6.5 Recomendation: Pass

Future State: Suicide Squad #2 (DC Comics) – The Suicide Squad portion of the comic is fanastic. The ending is something I didn’t see coming and it just feels like a solid mission for the team on another world. The art is really good delivering entertaining action with some subtle things here and there that really stand out. The Black Adam story is interesting but since I’m not into the whole magic aspect of the DC universe, it just didn’t quite pack the punch for me. The ending was also solid but the art stands out with some pages packed in with action and characters. You’ll need a bit to take it all in. Overall Rating: 7.75 Recommendation: Buy

Future State: Superman vs. Imperious Lex #2 (DC Comics) – Writer Mark Russell delivers the humor and satire I’d expect in a story where Lex Luthor rules over an entire planet. There’s some solid digs and concepts in here and it gave me a good laugh. Overall Rating: 7.75 Recommendation: Read

Generations Forged #1 (DC Comics) – There’s a lot of talent with this comic which really should have been released as individual chapters digitally. Seeing different heroes from different times together is fun and there’s a nice retro feel to it all, story and look wise. The comic also opens up the concept of the Linearverse which feels a bit odd and clunky with the current reset of the DC Universe and expansion of the Omniverse. Overall, great concept with an ok execution. Overall Rating: 7.0 Recommendation: Read

Batman: Black & White #3 (DC Comics) – I’m loving this anthology series and just want more of it. The stories and art is varied with John Ridley’s opening standing out. This is a fantastic buy and exactly what DC should be putting out more often. Overall Rating: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

Black Widow #5 (Marvel) – The best series on Marvel’s shelf right now. This wraps up the initial arc delivering some unbelievable action and amazing art. There’s so much to take in and just nails everything I’d want in a Black Widow comic. This is the series I have to read with each release. Overall Rating: 10 Recommendation: Buy

Chasing the Dragon #1 (Heavy Metal) – An interesting fantasy series that mixes in a concept of addiction to dragon’s blood to it. The opening is a little choppy with some good ideas that I want to see where it goes. Overall Rating: 7.0 Recommendation: Read

Crossover #4 (Image Comics) – I’ve really been enjoying this series which dips between great concepts and nostalgia. This issue feels a bit heavy on the nostalgia end of things as the creators reference one of their own creations. It feels a bit like autofellatio. There’s some solid art though which really stands out. Overall Rating: 7.0 Recommendation: Read

M.O.D.O.K.: Head Games #3 (Marvel) – It’s M.O.D.O.K. versus Gwenpool a character I normally dislike. She works here in this over-the-top issue and series that features other organisms designed for killing. A silly, action-filled comic, that’ll leave you laughing. It’s delivered every issue with great jokes and solid art. It’s Looney Tunes type fun. Overall Rating: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Nailbiter Returns #10 (Image Comics) – The latest volume wraps up and it’s a hell of an ending. Though it’s a little choppy it feels very appropriate for a horror sequel. There’s also a bit I don’t want to spoil. For those that have followed this series, you’ll be happy with the finale. Overall Rating: 8.0 Recommendation: Buy

Stray Dogs #1 (Image Comics) – A hell of a debut featuring a dog with memory problem that winds up in a new home. The art is amazing and the build-up to the comic is gasp-inducing and also heartbreaking at moments. This is a must-get and must-read. Just fantastic in every way. Overall Rating: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

Warhammer 40,000: Marneus Calgar #5 (Marvel) – The issue wraps up the miniseries with a showdown between Marneus and the Chaos forces. It brings things together in the two storylines and art is decent as usual. It ups the blood and guts a bit and overall is a satisfying though not exciting finale. Overall Rating: 7.0 Recommendation: Read


Well, there you have it, folks. The reviews we didn’t quite get a chance to write. See you next week!

Please note that with some of the above comics, Graphic Policy was provided FREE copies for review. Where we purchased the comics, you’ll see an asterisk (*). If you don’t see that, you can infer the comic was a review copy. In cases where we were provided a review copy and we also purchased the comic you’ll see two asterisks (**).

Haha is a Popular Joke as the Second Issue Goes Back to Print

Breakout success Haha by W. Maxwell Prince has sold out at the distributor level and is being rushed back to print this week in order to keep up with growing demand. Haha #2, second printing will feature new cover art by Zoe Thorogood and Good Old Neon.

Featuring his signature Ice Cream Man style of one-shot storytelling, Haha welcomes readers into the world of clowns—and he’s invited some of the comic industry’s top talent to join him for the ride.

Haha is a genre-jumping, throat-lumping look at the sad, scary, hilarious life of those who get paid to play the fool—but these ain’t your typical jokers.

With issues drawn by Vanesa Del Rey, Gabriel Walta, Roger Langridge, and more, Haha peeks under the big top, over the rainbow, and even inside a balloon to tell a wide-ranging slew of stories about “funny” men and women, proving that some things are so sad you just have to laugh.

Haha #2, second printing (Diamond Code JAN218667) will be available at comic book shops on Wednesday, March 24.

Haha #2, second printing

Crossover Gets Two Issues Going Back to Print

The bestselling series Crossover by creative masterminds Donny Cates and Geoff Shaw with Dee Cunniffe and John. J. Hill sizzles with fan frenzy and both Crossover #1 and Crossover #3 will be rushed back to print in order to keep up with the unrelenting customer demand.

In Crossover #3, there are monsters and robots falling from the sky! Mysterious (and familiar??) superheroes joining our intrepid gang on their journey to event ground zero! The story continues with the series’ most explosive and shocking issue to date! Don’t miss this one, folks. If you do, it just might drive you… mad.

Crossover #1, second printing (Diamond Code JAN218668) and Crossover #3, second printing (Diamond Code JAN218669) will both be available at comic book shops on Wednesday, March 24.

Stray Dogs Scratches an Itch with Readers and Gets a New Printing

Customers were on new series Stray Dogs by Tony Fleecs and Trish Forstner yesterday like fleas on a wet hound and the debut issue of the new thriller mystery has sold out instantly upon release at the distributor. Image Comics is rushing the series back to print in order to keep up with the packs of fans barking for more.

Stray Dogs is a five issue, Don Bluth-style mystery/horror miniseries best described as Lady and the Tramp meets Silence of the Lambs.

It’s scary being the new dog. In this suspenseful new series, readers meet Sophie, a dog who can’t remember what happened. She doesn’t know how she ended up in this house. She doesn’t recognize any of these other dogs. She knows something terrible happened, but she just…can’t…recall…WAIT! Where’s her lady?

Stray Dogs #1, second printing (Diamond Code JAN218693) will be available at comic book shops on Wednesday, March 24.

Stray Dogs #1, second printing

The Department of Truth Gets a Triple Sell-Out

The bestselling conspiracy theory thriller The Department of Truth by James Tynion IV and Martin Simmonds moves closer to total sales chart takeover with its second triple sell-out at the distributor and an accelerated order for reprints on issues #1, #4, and #5.

The series’ heat reached boiling point last week when it was announced that The Department of Truth has been picked up by picked up by Sister, best known for producing HBO’s Chernobyl. Tynion will co-write the script for what at this stage is intended to be developed as a series and both he and Simmonds will executive produce.

The unabated enthusiasm for the popular horror series is a phenomenon that continues after sales of over 100K copies at launch, and multiple previous reprints.

In The Department of Truth readers meet Cole Turner, a man who has studied conspiracy theories all his life—but never prepared to discover that all of them are true. From the JFK Assassination to Flat Earth Theory and Reptilian Shapeshifters, one organization has been covering them up for generations. What is the deep, dark secret behind the Department of Truth?

  • The Department of Truth #1, fourth printing (Diamond Code JAN218664) will be available at comic book shops on Wednesday, March 24.
  • The Department of Truth #2, second printing (Diamond Code OCT209300) will be available at comic book shops on Wednesday, January 13.
  • The Department of Truth #3, second printing (Diamond Code OCT209301) will be available at comic book shops on Wednesday, January 13.
  • The Department of Truth #4, second printing (Diamond Code JAN218666) will be available at comic book shops on Wednesday, March 24.
  • The Department of Truth #5, second printing (Diamond Code JAN218665) will be available at comic book shops on Wednesday, March 24.

The Walking Dead Deluxe #13-18 Get New Printings with Dave Rapoza Connecting Covers

The landmark The Walking Dead Deluxe, which presents the Image Comics and Skybound series in full-color format for the first time, has brand new ​connecting variant covers for issues #13-18 by ​acclaimed illustrator Dave Rapoza.

Written by creator Robert Kirkman, with art by Charlie Adlard and colors by Dave McCaigThe Walking Dead Deluxe present the worldwide pop culture phenomenon like never before with new “Cutting Room Floor” commentary, revelations, pinups, and more from Kirkman celebrating the secret history of the series.

The new Rapoza ​connecting variant covers will be released in comic shops beginning in April:

  • The Walking Dead Deluxe #13 Cover D Rapoza(JAN218760) will be available at comic shops on Wednesday, April 21.
  • The Walking Dead Deluxe #14 Cover C Rapoza (Diamond Code MAR210240) will be available at comic shops on Wednesday, May 5.
  • The Walking Dead Deluxe #15 Cover C Rapoza (Diamond Code MAR210243) will be available at comic shops on Wednesday, May 19.
The Walking Dead #13 to #18
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