Hope is a common theme throughout the comic book medium. It allows us to accept when a deus ex machina happens and offers to let us believe that the good guys can always come out on top. Some stories try to stick to a realistic approach, showing a bleaker image of the world, but it’s the ones about hope that can stick with us.
Val and Bailey are against the clock as Emory’s condition worsens, slowly transforming. The deadly killer, Blacktop Bill, is on their tail with Bailey’s turned grandfather, and Val’s truck—her lifeline to survival—is bleeding energy, slowly dying. To top it all off, the place Val is going may not exist. All seems bleak and lost for them, so why Bailey is still so optimistic?
The young passenger is full of humor and wonder, which is a nice contrast to the seemingly cynical Val. We learn that Val has always been somewhat of a realist, adhering to play it safe, especially when it came to her brother. But Emory was always her guiding light, allowing herself to let her guard down whenever it was about him. After their parents had turned into Shades, Val was ready to run to safety, even though her brother believed help would be on the way. We know she’s a strong survivor, fully capable of taking care of them, but Emory convinces (or forces) her to stay. And they’re saved right at the last minute. It’s why she’s fighting tooth and nail to protect him. She even goes out of her way to find a way to stave off the transformation just a bit longer. And that’s the point: Val can be all of us, steeped into reality and dealing with the darkness the real world presents. But when everything seemed lost, there are those times that someone’s willingness to believe that everything will be okay turned out to be reality. Those people who may be foolish enough to hope are the Emory to our Val.
When Bailey and Val arrive at the coordinates Bailey’s grandfather sacrificed himself for, nothing but Shades are there. Or at least that’s what it seems, because the moment everything seems lost, everything turns out okay. Tiberius, Gus’ brother, is there, just like he said he would be. And once they’re safe, Val finds herself at the sight of a flower illuminated by sunlight, her hope rewarded.
Nocterra #4 is an action-packed character study into the idea that hope can thrive, even in the darkest of places. It’s one that adheres to the classic notion that everything will be okay in the end, and it’s a belief we can use more of.
Creative Team: Scott Snyder (writer); Tony S. Daniel (art); Tomeu Morey (colors); Andworld Design (letters); Will Dennis (editor); Tyler Jennes (assistant editor); Emma Price (graphic design)
Publisher: Image Comics
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