When we last left off, Val was given her first glimpse of hope in a long time. Her friends had come to save her and her convoy (which consisted of just herself, Bailey, and Em). Issue 7 continues a little further ahead in time, with the Sundog convoy having grown a little with a wildly colorful cast of characters.
An interesting change between the issues is our POV character has changed from Val to Piper. It’s a change that improves the narrative approach to the story. With stories involving new worlds, there is often a character who is just learning the rules of this world, serving as the reader’s POV. (Think Harry Potter or John Carter.) It’s a change for the better as it allows us to connect to the world of the big PM, as well as give us a larger-than-life view of our protagonists. These are people who have not just survived a hellish landscape, but are actively doing what they can to help others in it. Through Piper, we can see just how grand Val and the rest of the Sundog convoy are.
With the new POV character comes a new motif: fractions. Mathematical metaphors are sprinkled throughout the story, but not in a way that makes it feel like you’re reading your Advanced Algebra textbook. Rather, Piper’s viewpoint of the world relates to fractions — like missing variables and how many days you've lived over how long the big PM has lasted. It’s reminiscent of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (the original book). A large portion of that book’s meaning relates to mathematics. (Seriously.) Dealing with the unknown and how it affects the protagonist’s relation to the world is a theme that can be seen in both this issue of Nocterra and Carroll’s Wonderland, and if there’s anything that can be said about unknown variables, it’s that they can affect the equation in the most unlikely of ways.
As refreshing as it was to see our heroes again, it’s always good to see Blacktop Bill again. Although there was a recent Blacktop Bill special released earlier, there is still a lot that we’re learning about this ruthless mercenary. His bloody meeting with a few of his coworkers was both surprising and very on brand. We know what he wants, but we don’t fully understand why or why he cares. As fun as he is, there’s a little worry that his motivations aren’t more than just the typical “I’m crazy” cliche’that’s often depicted with these types of characters. Hopefully, Snyder knows what he’s doing, and judging by all of his works these past few years, it’s beneficial to be optimistic for the payoff of this fascinating character (albeit cautiously so).
As always, Daniel’s artwork fully complements the story. Every page has an impressive visual, although the standout has to be Outpost 31: The Drive-In, a safe-haven where the walls protecting the inhabitants are built of screens of all sizes that play films and movies on a continuous loop. It’s appearance is grand and breathtaking with some very popular films being referenced on the page. It makes you wonder what other creative efforts are used to develop light in a world where darkness means death.
Suffice it to say, Nocterra #7 manages to pull off an enticing opening chapter of this suspenseful and surprising new arc. It’s an opening chapter that lets you know that nothing is held back, anything is on the table, and everything won’t go as it seems in the best way possible.
Creative Team: Scott Snyder (writer); Tony S. Daniel (writer, pencils, inks); Marcelo Maiolo (colors); Andworld Design (letters); Will Dennis (editor); Tyler Jennes (assistant editor); Emma Price (graphic design)
Publisher: Image Comics
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