Indie Comics Review: Nocterra Special: Blacktop Bill
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Publisher: Image Comics
Writers: Scott Snyder, Tony S. Daniel
Artist: Denys Cowan
Colors: Chris Sotomayor
Reviewed by: Carl Bryan
Behold the book of Blacktop Bill. In the wake of the first arc’s explosive finale, the origin of NOCTERRA’s most terrifying creature will, at last, be revealed in this special one-shot issue!
The first arc of Scott Snyder and Tony S. Daniel’s Nocterra introduced readers to a thrilling version of an apocalyptic “Big P.M.” as well as characters we instantly fell for.
The Image Comics series is already being adapted into a Netflix show, directed by James Wan, and the comic is due to return in February with the release of Nocterra #7. But before the new story arc begins, Snyder and Daniel have teamed up with artists Denys Cowan and Kent Williams to explore the series’ most frightening villain in Nocterra: Blacktop Bill Special — an exciting new issue.
Nocterra: Blacktop Bill Special is an extension of a conversation between Mother Hubbard and Bellweather that began in Nocterra #4. Mother Hubbard tells Bellweather the story of who Blacktop Bill was before “the Big P.M.” She depicts a highly-skilled hitman who specialized in killing hitmen. But as frightening as his career is, Hubbard argues that the murders he committed for his entertainment are even more horrifying.
The form of narration that Snyder and Daniel use to tell the story of Blacktop Bill is top notch and marries well with the prior narrative. You settle right into the story, but you have to infer that Bill’s a hitman killer who kills hitmen, but he also kills just to kill.
One noticeable omission in the script is that it is an origin story, but you never really come to a definitive conclusion of how he can move in the shades. Is it because he engaged in battle with one of those night creatures and actually consumed some of its blood? Is it from an experiment that he agrees to when he meets Tiberius McCray.
While billed as an origin story, there are still some questions…however, as acknowledged within the pages…”That’s a story for another day.”
Denys Cowan’s frenetic pencils and Kent Williams’ bold inks are not like the art of Tony S. Daniel. In fact, I am not sure if this is a compliment to the story of Blacktop Bill or a detractor as I found myself loving the script but hating the art. Things are so disjointed and scratchy that I yearned for the clarity of a Daniel penciled book.
I get the whole 1966 “tilt the screen” Batman homage that sometimes comes across when a villain is the focus of a regular series. But Daniel has raised the bar so high in his work that anything that bears his name has a different expectation.
BUY THIS BOOK! It is the perfect compliment to fleshing out (pun intended) the Nocterra storyline. In fact, buy the Trade Paperback Why would you even do that? Get in on this story now as we are almost to a crescendo in it! If you are not hooked yet, here is a link to the first issue.
What are you waiting for…Load up your rig and plunge into the Big PM.