Tales from Nocturnia #2 — “No Frills, No Nuance”

The second act of a trilogy of issues, this fantasy tale of conflicts between rival sovereigns has all the basic elements of a good TTRPG campaign — a missing king with a number of secrets, a repentant and charismatic executioner, even adventurous maidens with agency and motivations. Unfortunately, aside from said executioner and a single “Hail Mary” plot twist for one of the antagonists, the characters are right out of a 5e manual with no frills, no nuance, no “oomph.” For example, a group of knights, maybe? Adventurers? Anyway, these three guys venture deep into enemy territory to retrieve their king, who they erroneously believe has been kidnapped by said foreign power. Why these three? What specific qualifications did they have that led them to this mission? How do they know each other, and how does that interplay affect their work? This issue does not tell you, and that’s a deficit.

Tales from Nocturnia #2: Insymmetry Creations, creative team: Steph Cannon, Matt Knowles, Javi Laparra, Jesse Hansen
Tales from Nocturnia #2: Insymmetry Creations, creative team: Steph Cannon, Matt Knowles, Javi Laparra, Jesse Hansen

Likewise, the “evil” foreign power is drawn out with cliches instead of details, and the big surprise ending is the sort of nuance needed to make them more fully realized. There’s a weird lettering choice — white letters with black outlines on colored balloons — that’s super distracting and inhibits readability. The art’s okay, with acceptable combat scenes and solid enough command of the fundamentals of anatomy. Here’s the thing: with the plethora of fantasy comics coming out these days, from all the licensed D&D stuff to the Stranger Comics to the Critical Role stuff, this doesn’t meet the same standard, visually or in terms of characterization. If this book came out twenty years ago, it’d be groundbreaking. This far into the millennium, it’s having a hard time keeping pace as others level up around it. RATING: MEH.

Tales from Nocturnia #2
Steph Cannon (W), Matt Knowles (W/L), Javi Laparra(A), Jesse Hansen (C)
DOUBLE ISSUE: “Something Sinister This Way Comes” is 40 pages of medieval madness that picks up right where Issue #1 “A Kingdom in Shambles” Leaves off.

The battle that the leaderless Nocturnians fear is now a reality closing in on all sides. Their elite are away from the stronghold, and a spy has been relaying their every move to the darkened forces of Sinisteria.

Will those remaining be able to uncover the sinister plot bearing down on them and prepare before it’s too late? And even if they do, will they have the numbers to repel such an invasion?

About Hannibal Tabu

Hannibal Tabu is a writer, journalist, DJ, poet and designer living in south Los Angeles with his wife and children. He’s a winner of the 2012 Top Cow Talent Hunt, winner of the 2018-2019 Cultural Trailblazer award from the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, his weekly comic book review column THE BUY PILE can be found on iHeartRadio’s Nerd-O-Rama podcast, his reviews can be found on BleedingCool.com, and more information can be found at his website, www.hannibaltabu.com.
Plus, get free weekly web comics on the Operative Network at http://bit.ly/combatshaman.

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