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Review: Nocterra: Blacktop Bill Special

Nocterra: Blacktop Bill Special

Nocterra was a very interesting series when it debuted. In a world plunged in darkness it followed Val, a ferryman who hauls cargo through the dark world while dodging the horrors that awaits. When Val is hired to drive two individuals, she finds herself being pursued by Blacktop Bill, a mysterious villain we’re told little about. Nocterra: Blacktop Bill Special pulls back the curtain, promising the origin of this shroud of a character and it sort of delivers. But, is this something we really need?

With a story by Scott Snyder and Tony S. Daniel, we’re told the origin of Blacktop Bill and it’s honestly a bit yawn inducing. Basically, Bill likes to kill. He’s a hitman’s hitman. He’s a killer’s killer. Does that really add anything to the character? We know Bill is a killer. We know Bill can drive. He’s a force of nature and after reading this “origin” the character was better off remaining a mystery.

Like Boba Fett and so many more Blacktop Bill wasn’t just cool based on his actions but also his look and most importantly the mystery. The readers didn’t need to know his origin the appreciate the threat that Bill is in the first volume of the series. He presented himself as such. So, saying he’s a really good killer doesn’t add a whole lot to the situation. There’s no tragedy here. There’s no major event that turns him into what he is.

The biggest question, the “armor” he wears now isn’t really explained at all, that’s being saved for another story. So, in the end we’re told the killer is a killer and enjoys is and he should be feared. It’s everything we already know. It doesn’t add anything really to his story beyond he’s good at his job.

Denys Cowan‘s art is the highlight of the comic. He keeps Bill in the shadow never really showing us much of the man. The panels with Bill have the reader straining and attempting to get a peak of what he looks like but always coming up empty. Cowan is joined by Kent Williams on ink, Chris Sotomayor on color, and Andworld Design on lettering. There’s something interesting in seeing the world of Nocterra without the darkness and it all feels rather mundane and average, which is sort of the point. The visuals drag the reader in to show us how normal Bill is… beyond the killing. If that was played up a bit more there might have been something a bit disturbing and more intriguing about the issue. But, it looks nice, so there’s that.

Nocterra: Blacktop Bill Special takes some of the mystery of the character away and adds little in its place. It’s an issue we don’t really need and feels like material you’d find and as a backup story throughout a few issues. This is one for the hardcore Nocterra fans but be prepared to have the real questions not answered.

Story: Scott Snyder, Tony S. Daniel Art: Denys Cowan
Ink: Kent Williams Color: Chris Sotomayor Letterer: Andworld Design
Story: 7.0 Art: 8.1 Overall: 7.0 Recommendation: Read

Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Purchase: comiXologyKindleZeus ComicsTFAW

ComiXology Features 11 New Comics Today from Marvel, Harlequin, Yen Press, and Cinebook

ComiXology has a packed Thursday with 11 new digital comic releases. Get shopping now or check out the individual issues below.

The Battle Vol. 2

Written by Patrick Rambaud, Frédéric Richaud
Art by Ivan Gil

The battle has been joined. On this first day, Massena desperately holds onto Aspern, the French cavalry charges again and again, but the Emperor cannot seem to break the Austrians. Louis-Francois, stuck on the wrong side of the only available bridge, impatiently waits for repairs to conclude. Not only are his official messages delayed, but he’s also dying to send news to Miss Krauss in Vienna. However, his friend Stendhal, who’s remained with the beautiful Austrian lady, makes some upsetting discoveries …

The Battle Vol. 2

Blake & Mortimer Vol. 27: The Call of the Moloch

Written by Jean Dufaux
Art by Christian Cailleaux, Etienne Schréder

Tasked by the queen to close the ‘Septimus Wave’ case once and for all, Captain Blake is facing a daunting task, for many questions remain unanswered. Where did the spaceship buried beneath London come from? What became of Lady Rowana and Professor Evangely? Meanwhile, Mortimer is trying to pull Olrik out of the catatonic state the villain has been in since his encounter with the ship’s occupant. Has the threat to the nation truly been vanquished?

Blake & Mortimer Vol. 27: The Call of the Moloch

À celle qui occupe mes souvenirs

Written by Annie West
Art by Kyoko Sagara

Pourquoi réapparaît-il maintenant dans ma vie !? Alessandro, l’ancien amour de Charis, est revenu.
Il ne s’agit rien de moins que du célèbre Comte de l’éminent clan italien des Mattani. Leur première rencontre date d’il y a deux ans, dans une station de ski. Cet homme passionné au physique avantageux a ravi le cœur de Charis dès que ses yeux ont croisé ces iris émeraudes pétillantes de vie. Ce bonheur, croyait-elle, durerait éternellement… s’il ne l’avait pas un jour cruellement plaquée en doutant de sa fidélité.
Aujourd’hui, le passé est revenu la hanter de douloureux souvenirs et ses baisers volés, aussi sucrés et délicieux qu’autrefois, n’arrangent pas les choses.

À celle qui occupe mes souvenirs

Lucky Luke Vol. 77: A Cowboy in High Cotton

Written by Jul
Art by Achdé

Big surprise for the Lonesome Cowboy: a rich widow and admirer of his exploits has bequeathed him a 250 acre cotton plantation in Louisiana! Thrust into the role of a rich landowner, welcomed as one by his white neighbours, he will have to fight to gain the trust of his terrified black employees and split his heritage among them. A goal towards which he’ll receive help from the local Cajun community, and from … the Daltons!

Lucky Luke Vol. 77: A Cowboy in High Cotton

One Night With The Forbidden Princess

Written by Amanda Cinelli
Art by Kaoru Ohashi

Though Princess Olivia had always dreamed of falling in love, her father forces her into a political marriage for the sake of their country. Not ready to marry a foreign sheikh, she attempts to escape from the palace. But she’s soon caught by Roman, the sheikh’s best friend and security personnel. In order to calm the tearful Olivia and ease her into accepting the marriage, Roman takes the princess to his private island. But there’s still plenty of adventure awaiting her…

One Night With The Forbidden Princess

So I’m a Spider, So What? #49

Written by Okina Baba
Art by Asahiro Kakashi

A spider in shining armor’s work is never finished! After saving that dandy stud and li’l vampy and co., guess I’ll hang around as their protection detail for a bit. But is robber really that popular a job or is somethin’ funny going on in town…?

So I'm a Spider, So What? #49

Wolverine Legends Vol. 2: Meltdown

Written by Louise Simonson, Walt Simonson
Art by Jon J. Muth, Kent Williams
Cover by Jon J. Muth, Kent Williams

Collects Havok & Wolverine: Meltdown #1-4.

Wolverine comes to blows with his teammate Havok when a femme fatale strikes. This modern-classic psychological thriller was written by the husband and wife team of Walter and Louise Simonson, and features gorgeous fully-painted artwork by Jon J. Muth and Kent Williams.

Wolverine Legends Vol. 2: Meltdown

Wolverine Legends Vol. 3: Law Of The Jungle

Written by Frank Tieri
Art by Sean Chen, Rachel Dodson, Terry Dodson, Tom Palmer
Cover by Esad Ribic

Collects Wolverine (1988) #181-186.

Wolverine probes the dark and seamy underbelly of the city, and guts it. Placing himself in the center of a bloody mob war, Logan plays a most dangerous game.

Wolverine Legends Vol. 3: Law Of The Jungle

Wolverine Legends Vol. 4: Xisle

Written by Bruce Jones
Art by Jorge Lucas
Cover by Jorge Lucas

Collects Wolverine: XISLE #1-5.

Intending to spend a rare carefree moment at a carnival with his beloved stepdaughter Amiko, Wolverine shows a violent side of himself that sends the young girl running in fear. Unable to face what he’s done, Logan is propelled into a soul-searching adventure he may not be able to escape. What did he do? And what did young Amiko see?

Wolverine Legends Vol. 4: Xisle

Wolverine Legends Vol. 6: Marc Silvestri

Written by Larry Hama
Art by Hilary Barta, Dan Green, Tom Palmer
Cover by Marc Silvestri

Collects Wolverine (1988) #31-34, 41-42, 48-50.

Witness how artist Marc Silvestri rose to comics’ superstardom during his legendary and sales record-breaking run on WOLVERINE and UNCANNY X-MEN. Now having made his triumphant return to NEW X-MEN, energizing his fans and finding legions of new ones, Marvel offers a new collected edition of some of his best Wolverine stories, highlighting a benchmark in the career of one of comics’ top artists and a run of one of the industry’s best-selling titles! Watch Wolverine take on the drug-crazed Japanese Yakuza, face down a legendary Canadian monster and uncover secrets of the mysterious Weapon X program, culminating in a battle with a cyborg version of himself!

Wolverine Legends Vol. 6: Marc Silvestri

Yakari Vol. 18: The Wall of Fire

Written by Job
Art by Derib

In the middle of the night, a daring thief from another tribe makes off with the horses of Yakari’s people. Only Little Thunder managed to escape him by fleeing into the forest. While the warriors hurry after their precious mounts, Yakari goes in search of his friend … who is himself trailing the thief! Once the two groups converge near a huge camp, Yakari will have to display extraordinary cleverness to help his folk…

Yakari Vol. 18: The Wall of Fire

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Kent Williams, Jim Woodring, The Balbusso Twins, and Beehive Books Present Illustrated Editions of Classic Books on Kickstarter

Award-winning painter Kent Williams, legendary Frank cartoonist Jim Woodring, and the renowned Italian illustrators known as the Balbusso Twins are collaborating with Beehive Books to create lush, new illustrated editions of literary classics and forgotten gems. Having previously released six award-winning volumes with acclaimed artists Rebekka Dunlap, Brecht Evens, Dave McKean, Paul Pope, Yuko Shimizu, and Bill Sienkiewicz, Beehive Books is returning to Kickstarter with a new campaign to crowdfund three new volumes of Illuminated Editions, the company’s distinctive line of book art editions of literary classics.   

Beehive Books’s Illuminated Editions features some of the finest talents in contemporary art, singular design sensibilities, the highest production values, and a special emphasis on comics and graphic art. Each Illuminated Edition  also features original essays from luminaries of literature, art and film, including Academy Award-winning filmmaker Guillermo Del Toro and Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Michael Cunningham 

The three new titles run the gamut: one beloved classic Roaring Twenties tale of extravagance and excess, one chilling compendium of spectral Japanese folktales, and one unjustly obscure work of mind bending visionary science fiction.

The new books in the Illuminated Editions line are:

THE GREAT GATSBY by F. Scott Fitzgerald, illustrated by the Balbusso Twins
Featuring an introduction by Nathan Robinson.

The Italian illustrators known as the Balbusso Twins are taking on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s THE GREAT GATSBY, bringing out the richness and satire and sorrow that suffuses this saga of wealth and corruption and decadence and love. Their modern illustration style highlights the incredible relevance of Fitzgerald’s story, which has only seemed to increase over time. Their illustrations bring us into Gatsby’s world ― but they also bring Gatsby into ours. 

KWAIDAN & SHADOWINGS by Lafcadio Hearn, illustrated by Kent Williams
Featuring an introduction by filmmaker Darren Aronofsky, a foreword by writer Kyoko Yoshida, and an essay by Bon Koizumi.

The great painter and multimedia artist Kent Williams is depicting the supernatural Japanese stories of Lafcadio Hearn, originally published in his books KWAIDAN and SHADOWINGS. These books are full of ghost stories, nightmares and strange tales ― of possessed forests, of monks tormented by demons and ghosts, of corpse brides, man-eating goblins, and undead samurai. 


 A VOYAGE TO ARCTURUS by David Lindsay, illustrated by Jim Woodring
Featuring an introduction by Alan Moore.

Visionary cartoonist Jim Woodring has chosen to illustrate an unclassifiable 1920 novel by the legendary British writer David Lindsay. A VOYAGE TO ARCTURUS is a baffling amalgam of mysticism, science fiction, sexual politics, and outrageous fantasy, and stands as one of the greatest works of sustained, untrammeled imagination ever achieved. Woodring’s drawings capture the writhing currents of interacting forces that lie beneath the wonderfully arcane prose. 

The Illuminated Editions books come in three print editions: a slipcase hardcover, a signed and numbered edition, and a sketched and lettered edition. All nine titles in this series are available through the latest campaign and each title also comes as a DRM-free digital PDF, which is included along with every print edition.

The standard Illuminated Editions is an oversize 9×12″ hardcover, bound in sewn signatures, and housed in an elaborately embossed and debossed die-cut slipcase, silk-screened or foil-stamped with artwork. The interior is printed on creamy, acid-free heavy-weight 140gsm uncoated paper with a fine tooth, and each edition includes a minimum of ten full page illustrations, along with numerous spot drawings, illuminated letters, and special design pieces. The entire package is designed by Maëlle Doliveux with a restrained graphic boldness, and an unparalleled eye for beauty, clarity and readability. These editions have been honored with a number of awards and prizes, winning multiple Communication Arts Design Competitions, several Bronze and Silver Cubes from the Art Director’s Club, and three nominations for the Locus Awards. 

Moonshadow Gets a Deluxe Hardcover in Summer 2019

Known as America’s first fully painted graphic novel, the poetic, philosophical, and groundbreaking Moonshadow gets a deluxe hardcover treatment available Summer 2019. This definitive edition with over 500 pages includes a new introduction by creator J.M. DeMatteis, as well as a bonus section featuring early concept work. 

Moonshadow tells the story of a romantic, unreliable narrator who leads us through his interplanetary coming-of-age story, as an older Moonshadow recounts his strange birth in outer space, his escape from a deep-space zoo, and his struggles to survive in a war-torn universe. 

Featuring gorgeous watercolor artwork by Eisner Award Winner and Caldecott Honoree Jon J Muth, this influential “fairy tale for adults” includes the Farewell Moonshadow illustrated novella that gives fans a look at Moon’s life after his tumultuous, space-faring teens and misadventures with the miscreant Ira. Digitally restored and including all original cover work, this volume also includes illustrations by Kent Williams and Eisner Award Winner George Pratt and lettering by Kevin Nowlan.

This beautiful classic returns to comic shops June 12, 2019, arrives in bookstores on June 25, 2019.


All-Star Creators Unite for the Landmark All-New X-Men #25!

This April, writer Brian Michael Bendis is joined by the best and brightest artists in the comic book industry for All-New X-Men #25 – the oversized, landmark anniversary issue! Featuring the all-star talents of Bruce Timm, Art Adams, Rafael Grampa, Lee Bermejo, J. Scott Campbell, JG Jones, Paul Smith, Jill Thompson, Kent Williams, David Mack, David Marquez, Skottie Young, Ronnie Del Carmen, Jake Parker, Dan Hipp, Robbie Rodriguez, Jason Shiga, Max Wittert and Maris Wicks!

They have ventured  from the past to an uncertain future, but the All-New X-Men were never meant to stay. When a mysterious stranger visits the Jean Grey School, Hank McCoy will learn the disastrous effects he has wrought by disrupting the timestream. Consequences that could destroy the entire universe! Is it too late to stop its cataclysmic side effects?

ALL-NEW X-MEN 25 (FEB140817)
Variant Covers by FRANK CHO (FEB140819)
FOC – 3/17/2014, On-Sale – 04/09/2014