Writer: Scott Snyder
Artist: Tony S. Daniel
Color Artist: Tomeu Morey
Cover Artist: Tony S. Daniel & Tomeu Morey
Publisher: Image Comics
The Earth has gone dark due to a mysterious global event and humanity is struggling to survive in this new dark age. However, trucker Val or “Sundog” and her brother Em’s latest cargo job may have led them further to uncovering the mysteries of their world. Now, Nocterra #5 continues this deep dive into the world’s secrets.
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After having evaded Blacktop Bill and the mutant creatures of the night, Sundog could use a break for a little. This comic is essentially that as Val, Em, and Bailey finally get a real breather after all the excitement from the previous issues, especially with Em’s impending transformation just right around the corner.
This comic issue manages to resolve that issue for the characters, give them a sense of hope and wonder as they finally reach the “Sanctum” facility. There Val meets Augustus’ brother Tiberius and he ends up being quite similar and different from his deceased brother.
The comic also takes the time to expand on Val and Em’s origins during the initial fallout of the PM while also providing some nice worldbuuilding for Nocterra that deepens the mysteries of the setting. When it comes to human “Shades”, the menace of the true Darkness at play here, and the potential of the “Lux” and “Eos” that was mentioned. It all gets a moment to shine here as the characters wonder about what’s going on.
The characters themselves have this tone of being tired and trying to get some rest before the worse happens again. Val herself ends up struggling with her own inner conflict throughout the comic dealing with if the Sanctum is really what it says it is. While most characters in stories tend to be automatically skeptical of such a plane, the comic does a good job framing the location so that it doesn’t come off as too good to be true, showing that it’s not perfect, but it’s better than what’s out there.
The turmoil in Val feels genuine because she’s been a definitely pessimistic character from her first appearance to this issue, believing that every good thing that comes their way is nothing short of being too good to be true. However, now it presents a somewhat believable reason as to why she would genuinely start questioning those instincts now, and most of that is due to the presentation of Sanctum by Tiberius who doesn’t sell the place short but gives a more grounded look at it all.
Now, don’t let the main cover fool you, there is virtually no Blacktop Bill in this comic book until the very end and it’s only one, admittedly, cool page. And that’s that. While I’m a fan of the character and would love to see Sundog and the others continue scrapping with Blacktop Bill, this issue was still good. I just have the feeling the cover will fit the next issue better knowing how this issue ends.
Nocterra #5 continues to develop the plot and characters while deepening more of the comic world itself. Now that Val and the others have reached Sanctum they get to see what it has to offer and it’s presented pretty balanced form so that it doesn’t feel too good to be true. It also helps fuel the character drama between Val and her brother pretty well while sharing the space with more world-building. However, the comic feels like a solid read from start to finish as the next part of the journey begins.