Scott Snyder and Tony Daniel’s Nocterra highlights the silent horror of Marvel’s King in Black and a world plunged in darkness.
WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Nocterra # 1 by Scott Snyder, Tony S. Daniel, Tomeu Morey and Andworld Design, out now.
The first issue of Nocterra is a clever horror story from the minds of Scott Snyder, Tony S Daniel, and Tomeu Morey that evokes the ghastly mood of Wytches and chopped up. It details a global blackout that has grave repercussions as humanity is attacked by creatures of the eternal night.
The problem is that, by hiding in the dark, humanity turns into these monsters, which are called Shadows. And while the protagonist Val and her brother Emory follow the movements of this world’s society, Nocterra highlights the horror of an idea that is also present in King in Black, albeit in a much more subdued way.
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The Marvel event follows the symbiote god, Knull, and his reign of darkness over the planet, with his symbiote dragons covering the Earth’s surface in darkness and other parasites clinging to people. They are turning into warped versions of creatures like Venom. Taken together, this creates a suffocating mood, and with Knull holding the upper hand in terms of numbers, the world grows even smaller as residents must face the beasts of risk of bonding and being used as a host.
While Marvel doesn’t get as immersed in the human condition of this bond or of being shrouded in darkness as much, Nocterra it depends on him. After all, hiding is not necessarily salvation, this world shrouded in darkness is much more dangerous and plays on the fears of the mind as well as the body. That’s because if any living creature that spends too much time in the dark is subject to morphing into a hideous creature that later crosses into other shadows, raising the stakes more than King in black.
It ranges from the cosmic-superhero-sci-fi vibe of Marvel to something straight out of the HP Lovecraft or Stephen King books, with Val’s community of Luxville struggling to stay alive. Fortunately, they are a well-lit city, they have made light bulbs, even if humanity can still be monsters itself in the light. This is why she does not associate with people while transporting humans between communities, opting for cash for her and her brother Emory to survive a cruel world, which mysteriously took their parents. In Nocterra, this event, known as the “Great Prime Minister”, becomes the anchor of this world and of the existence of all, unlike Marvel, where the sinking of the Earth in total darkness is not even the most important on the subject in which it occurs. Nocterra, on the other hand, follow A Quiet Place, the Happening Y Bird Box in the sense that this is the enduring status quo, not just a random paradigm shift.
This brings to the fore the human experience of Nocterra further than King in black, who is more interested in superhero action fighting symbiotes. Nocterra’s the blackout really expands what King in black headdress: the idea of turning men into monsters.
And it’s easier for Nocterra as it recasts Eternal Night as a seismic event reflecting how Thanos’ snap went from being an afterthought in the comics to a major part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The Mad Titan went from being a small detail in the Infinity gauntlet comics to the main event in the MCU because it wasn’t just an invasion; had permanence. Nocterra It follows this idea, but instead of someone spreading the black, it makes the Earth itself a container for daring, making it seem like the odds just can’t be beat.
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