Writer: Scott Snyder
Artist: Tony S. Daniel
Colorist: Tomeu Morey
Cover Artist: Cover A by Tony S. Daniel & Tomeu Morey
In the previous issue, Sundog aka Val, her brother Emory, and their passengers Bailey and Augustus were on the road and supposedly out of danger. But trouble still arrived in the form of the mysterious Blacktop Bill, who trashed their rig, but they got away at a great cost. The crew’s troubles don’t stop and Nocterra #4 shows what they’re planning to do to about them.
Previously, Emory or “Em” had begun to succumb to the darkness infection while Val and Bailey were on the road. As the trio are making their way to the supposed Sanctuary, the comic provides another solid flashback to the days immediately following the Big PM. The comic provides some succinct world-building on the state of the world at the time prior to its breakdown without feeling too bloated.
One thing this comic tries to do is play with readers’ expectations during this issue and it does so on several occasions. First, is regarding the flashback, the second is with the new location the characters visit, the third is the final conclusion of the comic which ties back to the opening flashback. The fourth is during the comic’s instances of action as it shows off more of the shade monsters and creatures in Nocterra’s world. It definitely does a good job building up the mystery and menace behind human “Shades”.
Scott Snyder really pulls off an excellent balance with world-building and storytelling in this comic while simultaneously advancing comic series’ bigger plot. A great example of this is when Val and Bailey are visiting the new location called the Tipton. He provides succinct descriptions on the area, what makes it notable, and some info on what the people there did, and he does so without it overstaying its welcome. And the art crew provided some memorable landmarks with solid colors to go with it.
This is also helped by Tony S. Daniels’ artwork and the colors by Tomeu Morey. Together their work is able to make the locations, facial expressions, backgrounds, and action really come together in the story. There’s also a good series of events that occur in the comic, and it all happens at a decent pace so it doesn’t feel like you’re getting too much at once or too little either. It all feels just right.
As the story progresses, Val and Bailey make some significant developments to help themselves in their travel and help stave off Em’s infection for a while up until the end. The best thing about the comic is how almost everything set up and established earlier in the issue has genuine payoff by the comic’s conclusion.
One small criticism is Blacktop Bill’s involvement in the comic. Without spoiling it, his influence is more or less pretty minimal, but when he shows up the grinning, pitch black silhouette still manages to leave a dark impression.
Nocterra #4 balances out world-building and storytelling very well. The creative team of Scott Snyder with Tony S. Daniels on art and Tomeu Morey on colors really comes through in this issue. The story advances at an even pace, most of the world-building and story developments have genuine payoff by the end, and it feels like the story is definitely moving forward.