Review: Nova Phase #1-2

I know that you’re looking at the cover of Nova Phase right now and thinking, “That looks like a video game.” Well that’s intentional. In fact the entire comic looks like that. I’m sure the creators and specifically the artist, Adam Elbahtimy, had a particular era of video games in mind but I couldn’t help think of the Playstation. Not so much because of the visuals, but because of how they were paired with the story. The Playstation era is kind of when video games became more serious and not just for children. It reached that point in which kids that had already been playing video games where now teens and adults that were still playing. Much like comic books and cartoons, video games grew up with their audience; unlike both of the aforementioned mediums, they managed to hold on to their youthful roots. Actually Nova Phase resembles the 8-bit or 16-bit era in which cut scenes would have the most detail. That’s Nova Phase essentially, it’s a comic told with the cut scenes of video games and it’s fucking fantastic. This is one of those ideas that have been sitting there in the ether waiting for someone to grab it and now it’s that idea that you didn’t think of, but wish you had. Think about it. Most of you that are reading this review grew up or know of the cut scenes I’m referring to and yet never once did any of us think of making a comic in that style. It’s fucking brilliant and Matthew Ritter and Adam Elbahtimy should be commended for it.

Nova Phase #1 CoverThe story opens; you’re going to get tired of me saying this… like a video game. We have off-screen narration between two characters as we watch a space ship take off into the sky and the story pans down to two characters watching it leave. One of the characters says that she’s going to be on the next one and finally go into space. Her friend says that she’s going to take pity on someone and end up stuck exactly where she is right now.

Five years later we see the female character again and learn that her name is Veronica Darkwater and she’s a bounty hunter. She’s also still stuck on the same planet five years later. Her current bounty is a man whose friends call him Fred and his enemies call “Quick Draw”. Its very video game inspired and the scene is great in general. Fred has a coin that he considers lucky, but it looks like the coin has chosen a new owner because Veronica ends up with it as she hauls “Quick Draw” into jail for the bounty.

While the main character is Veronica, the story is actually centered on the coin. A group of space… pirates? Bandits? They have their own ship and they travel together. Anyways, they’ve come to town to collect the coin and soon Veronica’s path will cross with theirs.

This story is fun as shit! I had the opportunity to read the first and second issue back to back and I was thankful for it. Aside from the nostalgic video game feel the dialogue is witty and humorous. I chuckled out loud when the bandits were introduced. It was a great scene and the story only got better from there.

Somehow Ritter was able to capture my life from middle school to high school with the influences in this series. Now that doesn’t mean we need to be the same age to enjoy the story, but everything was an Easter egg bonus for me. It was like being a kid again and that’s no easy task to do. It really is incredible how Ritter was able to tell a story with great pacing, plot and character development and still stay true to the video game cut scene format.

Nova Phase #2 Cover

With that said a lot of credit goes to Elbahtimy’s artwork since it captures the look of video games with its pixelated style. Just like with 8-bit and 16-bit video games there’s a limited color palate and details are scarce. There’s just enough details so that you know what and who you’re looking at, but never more than what’s believable to the style. Elbahtimy is also very impressive since his visuals are so spot on that you can imagine the page moving in a choppy animation like your Genesis once did. Just like with Ritter’s story, Elbahtimy manages to stay true to video games, but still tell a story with the visuals. It’s very impressive and you’ll never be disappointed by the artwork.

Any video game fan should read this comic. It will not disappoint you with the entertaining and humorous story. The art will delight you and again make you wish that you had thought of the idea first. The first issue is actually free on Comixology and the second issue is only .99 cents. There’s plenty of content so check this one out because I need more of Nova Phase and you’ll feel the same once you read it too.

Score: 5/5

Writer: Matthew Ritter Artist: Adam Elbahtimy Publisher: SLG Publishing Price: $.99 Release Date: 1/15/14