Nocterra Vol. 1: Full Throttle Dark
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Nocterra Vol. 1: Full Throttle Dark

Writer: Scott Snyder Artist: Tony S. Daniel, Tomeu Morey Publisher: Image Comics Trade Paperback: October 13, 2021, $9.99 Issues: 6, Issue Reviews: 287
8.7Critic Rating
8.5User Rating

It's been 10 years since Val Riggs saw the sun swallowed up by darkness. Ten years since nearly everyone she knew was infected and changed into hideous shades. Now a ferryman providing transport for people and goods, she traverses the deadly unlit roads in her eighteen-wheeler, taking on whatever evils the night provides. When the promise of an illuminated sanctuary crosses her path, Val must undergo a journey far beyond the limits of any ferryman before her. But with a loved one in the throes of infection, time is running short...
Legendary creators SCOTT SNYDER (Dark Knights: Death Metal, WYTCHES) and TONY S. DANIEL (Batman, Deathstroke more

Rating Collected Issues Reviews
8.6
Nocterra #1 28
8.7
Nocterra #2 15
8.6
Nocterra #3 18
9.0
Nocterra #4 18
8.8
Nocterra #5 12
8.6
Nocterra #6 11
  • 9.0
    Ryan Spade Dec 27, 2021

    The first volume of Nocterra is an excellent mix of fast paced action, incredible world building and a great story complemented by equally great art.

    For ten years, darkness has enveloped the Earth and anyone caught within it for a prolonged period gradually turns into monsters known as shades. Protagonist Valentina Riggs works as a ferryman who escorts people to brightly lit safe zones for a price. Val is concerned about her brother Emory showing signs of shade transformation and after outside circumstances cut her off from a remedy for her ailing brother's condition, she is forced to accept an offer from Bailey, a young girl, and Augustus, her grandfather, who promise to take the Riggs siblings to a sanctuary with a light source that can potentially reverse Emory's transformation. Things get dicey when a mercenary named Blacktop Bill begins to pursue them, with his targets being the passengers that Val is escorting.

    This story is well paced and fluctuates between action sequences and character interactions very well, with revelations and plot developments regarding some of the characters bringing up various questions that make me excited to read the answers for them. Each chapter begins with Val recounting what she was doing when the darkness came and that memory tying into whatever situation the present day version of her is currently in. It helps develop backstory for her and Emory while simultaneously showing how everything when wrong in their lives and building the world's history and lore through her dialogue.

    Val is depicted as a hardened veteran of her trade, capable in the areas of driving, combat, hunting and setting traps. She's intelligent and uses whatever tools she has to get out of sticky situations and being the older sibling, looks out for her little brother and has a soft spot for him and eventually, for Bailey as well. She's usually a serious character due to having been only a child when the darkness came, forcing her to step up and protect Emory from various threats, leaving her with horrific memories as an adult that haunt her. She also has no use for concepts like faith, but over the course of the story, she becomes more accepting of said concept through her journey with Bailey and Emory at her side. Emory is the inventor who supplies Val with gadgets used to ward off shades. He's the more hopeful one of the two and wants to do more to solve the darkness crisis besides fixing up equipment used to protect his sister. He doesn't get much time to shine during the middle part of the story due to his sickness putting him out of commission, but he does make himself useful before and after he's forced to rest. Bailey is also hopeful, having initially been promised by her grandfather that they would bring back light back to the world. Even after that promise becomes impossible to fulfill, she still has hope that whatever plan her grandfather has will work and believes in light somehow returning. Having lost both her parents, she hates being alone and her positive attitude allows her to form a bond with Val, who lets her join their convoy.

    Blacktop Bill comes off as a cruel and sadistic murderer who enjoys the thrill of hunting his targets and killing them in the ways he deems the most brutal. Seeing him burn someone alive by simply touching them, attempting to kill Hailey via impalement with a harpoon gun and tying a victim to his car to force them to become a shade cemented him as a man you would not want to come face-to-face with in a dark alley. The way he casually talked to Val as he recalled how he shot his prey in order to see them struggle to live as a form of perverse amusement, asking a severely wounded person where an object before killing them and making a joke about his victim's screaming as they transformed into a shade help to highlight the insanity that this character is afflicted with and that he doesn't care about anyone's life, only on achieving whatever objective he currently has in mind. It was enjoyable to see how twisted and malevolent Bill could be and with the final page teasing that he's getting a major upgrade for the next story arc, his next appearance will be beyond entertaining to see.

    The artwork paints a very bleak and hellish world. Nearly everyone wears some equipment that emits light to both ward of shades and to prevent them from transforming. Multiple colors are used to varying degrees, with darker shades being more prominently featured over lighter ones to match the setting of the story. Bright colors are mostly used to depict areas or objects that are lit on order to ward off shades. Val's outfit looks practical and appropriate for surviving encounters with hostile shades out on the road, with gun holsters, equipment pouches and an LED mask all signaling that she's not going down easy when she's attacked. Her truck is also appropriately outfitted with powerful headlights at the front and smaller lights along its container that passengers sit in. Everything that characters use in this world is very utilitarian and crucial to surviving out in the dark. Various species of shade animals seen in this first arc all look like grotesque abominations ready to tear the flesh off of their prey at any given moment. Humanoid bats, mutated dogs and shadefish and headless human bodies with their faces pressing against their skin from the inside à la Freddy Kreuger comprise of the local wildlife out to kill people in this world and their designs all reflect that.

    Blacktop Bill is a special case as he doesn't have much to speak of design wise. His body is completely covered in black, save for his mouth, which is usually seen in the form of a demonic grin similar to The Joker. It helps to add mystique to his character and not being able to see anything human about him except for that demented smile adds to Bill's inhumanity and it works well for him. He also drives what looks like a Batmobile with LED lights on the wheels and it has a harpoon gun used to impale and kill targets. Given that he looks a bit like The Batman Who Laughs, it's very fitting for him.

    Nocterra Volume One is great start to this series as the first arc hits the ground running and doesn't let up on the gas. With a sadistic animal for a villain, compelling characters, superb art, amazing action sequences and many interesting questions that have yet to be answered, this book definitely deserves to be on your pull list.

  • 10
    spider73 Jul 1, 2022

  • 8.0
    calebiguess Apr 13, 2022

  • 8.0
    ed1138 Sep 5, 2022

  • 7.5
    davidbrght Nov 3, 2021

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