REVIEW: 'Nocterra' #4 by Scott Snyder, Tony Daniel, and Tomeu Morey

Comics set in dystopian future-worlds are a popular subgenre and 'Nocterra' from Scott Snyder and Tony Daniel does enough to differentiate itself from the pack. Nothing looks like it and and the slow-burn suspense with jump scares keeps readers on their toes. Issue four provides a sliver of hope propelling the story forward in a rewarding fashion. 


NOCTERRA #4

Writer: Scott Snyder
Artist: Tony Daniel, Tomeu Morey
Lettering: Andworld Design
Publisher: Image Comics
Release Date: June 2, 2021
Cover Price: $3.99

"FULL THROTTLE DARK," Part Four-The road runs out as Val reaches the fabled location of her promised sanctuary. Will she find the haven she so desperately seeks, or will something far more terrifying be waiting for her?

Score:
★★★★1/2 (4.5/5)

In its strongest issue yet, 'Nocterra' #4 brings the chills and the feels in this chapter that balances flashbacks, family ties, terror, and ultimately hope. It's an arc unto itself that Scott Snyder masterfully tells with a grounded emotional anchor while unleashing monsters that could themselves be manifestations of the characters' anxieties and fears. 

The narration by Val has been consistently insightful as she recalls the start of the "Big PM" as they call it. There's a weight to Val's recollections like some grizzled and hardened old timer talking about life before the war. She was just a kid herself when she had to protect her brother from their parents who had turned to shades in their locked basement. Her cold but realistic outlook conflicted with Emory's more optimistic "wait and we'll be saved" approach. The entire time noises are coming from the basement, the door knob jiggles, as they wait...and they wait. Snyder knows how to wring every ounce of tension in a scene. 

In the present day, Val's trying to prevent Emory from turning into a shade too. It's a race against time but nothing means more than finding a solar lamp to delay his transformation. Even this road trip to some supposed sanctuary is worth the effort despite her doubts. If it means there's a chance to help her brother then it was all worth the danger. With the maniacal psychopath Blocktop Bill still out on the road somewhere along with the shades, there's danger at every turn. That hovering sense of dread fills the pages of 'Nocterra' because you never know when and where a shade will attack. But when it does, Tony Daniel makes sure it scares the crap out of you. 

With Daniel and colorist Tomeu Morey there isn't a single panel that doesn't look great. The panel could be of no consequence and still looks detailed and vibrantly colored. Throughout the series, the art team has given this blacked out dystopian world a surprisingly colorful and vivid portrayal. They demonstrate just how vital light is and how it penetrates the darkness by its sharp contrast. It's hard to imagine a world in perpetual nighttime but the use of light is the literal lifeblood of survival in this series. The reason of course is the bloodthirsty monsters that lurk in the dark. When they appear as they do in issue four, they are frighteningly designed, almost gargoyle-like and their gory demise is brilliantly captured with vivid colors and framing that's cinematic and visceral. 

'Nocterra' #4 is the best issue so far and Snyder and company really flex their muscles on this one while tugging at readers' heartstrings. The story takes a major step forward while providing more backstory about Val and Emory's bond. Much like 'The Walking Dead,' 'Nocterra' is carving out its own unique and gripping dystopian tale with some top tier art and interesting characters. It's a rewarding read for any comic book fan.  




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