Thursday, April 18, 2013

Review - Noctua #1

The likelihood of humans co-existing with vampires sure isn't looking very promising. True Blood is probably the most famous work in production now tackling that thorny issue and next season looks like relations will get even more strained. Noctua #1 from Alterna Comics is another book looking at that relationship, only this one has a slight twist.

The issue is written by Andrew M. Henderson, with pencils and inks by Orlando Baez, colors by Eagle Gosselin and letters by David Paul.

The year is 2051. A new strain of virus has mutated 5% of the Earth’s population into creatures of the night. Vampires as they’re called by their detractors, tentatively co-exist alongside humans thanks to Aeternus Eternus, a synthetic form of sustenance created by Biotech giant Imago Labs. But for some, nothing can truly replace the taste of fresh blood…fresh human blood. As the illegal blood trade rises, a new predator takes to the streets. One which even the Vampires themselves fear. Those who have seen him and lived to tell about it can only utter one word to describe the winged avenger, hell-bent on ridding the world of their people.

While the book thrusts humans and non-humans side-by-side, they still encounter the same typical problems. Noctua #1 starts off as a book about human trafficking, then it becomes a superhero book, then it becomes a police procedural and then it finishes as a mobster style coup story. It's a lot crammed into the first issue and readers may have been eased in a bit better if certain aspects of the story were held until the second issue. It's not confusing, but it feels disconnected as it flows from one concept to another.

Noctua himself is something of a vampire crusader feared by the vampires. Why exactly he's against the vampires when he appears to share something with them is a little unclear; it's presumed he just has a complex about humans being something more than just food. He's introduced to someone who will likely serve as a foil for him as a character, her innocence juxtaposed with his uncanny ability to kill vampires. The infighting amongst the vampires is pretty standard, with some of them of the mindset that humans should really just be blood banks and nothing else. It's a forced conflict that will set the stage for events down the road.

Baez's pencils are a little tough to make out in some panels. There's a lot of work that is just very dark and buried beneath a sea of word balloons, which is a shame because some of the work is actually pretty good. Noctua shows off a variety of fighting styles and the vampires are illustrated rather spindly. The action features some interesting fight scenes but, again, some of them are really hard to make out because of the darkness of the panels.

Noctua #1 has the potential to be something interesting if it settles down a bit and realizes what it is that it really wants to be. Vampire society, police book, superhero story or mobster war; the issue tries to do all four things and gets bogged down by it all. Hopefully, the second issue levels out a bit and things get more consistent, as the first issue is a little all over the place.

Noctua #1 is slated to hit comiXology in May.


  1. Hey Jonathan,

    Thanks for the review! Like I mentioned in the e-mail I sent you, unfortunately the preview copy is low-res. I think this is why some of the pages might have appeared too dark to you. (I've compared them and it really is a stark contrast.) I hope you'll give us a shot come May 8th on Comixology and perhaps you'll be swayed!

    - Andrew M. Henderson