Nova Phase #1 & #2 (SLG/Comixology)

NovaPhase1 NovaPhase2

Rating: 5/5 – Exciting and Endearing Pixel-Art Space Adventure.
by ComicSpectrum reviewer Stephen Bretall.

An “8-bit Space Western”, Nova Phase follows the story of Veronica Darkwater, a bounty hunter with dreams of something more, as she’s caught up in a quest for a lost treasure and opposed by a determined military commander. The first issue is available for free and the second issue is only 99 cents.  If you prefer your comics in hardcopy you should still check out the free 1st issue, but a print version of the first two issues will be collected and for sale in February through the SLG web-site and Amazon.

The first thing that will jump out about Nova Phase is obviously the art, which I thought was exceptionally well-done. Although called “8-bit” (and it may well actually be 8-bit, I’m not too up on the technical requirements), to my eye it has much more in common with the far more detailed and intricate art of the 16-bit era of games.   Aside from the method used to create it, the art itself is smooth and evocative, with excellent use of color, astounding character and set designs, and a unique and fun aesthetic. Where another creator might have simply used the pixel art as a gimmick, artist Adam Elbahtimy seems to use it as one element of an all-around excellent style that includes his panel layouts, design sense and use of color.

The next notable thing about the comic is the story, which is astounding. Matthew Ritter’s pacing is amazing, and even after just two issues I already know a lot about the characters, the world, and most importantly, I really want to know more. The characters themselves are flawed, real, and intriguing, with style and punchy dialog even in their (currently short) time on screen. The feel of the space western is definitely there, while at the same time being firmly rooted in the modern sensibilities of sci-fi without simply telling a standard western story, dumping a bucket of chrome on it and calling it a day.

Nova Phase was an impressive book, one I’m definitely excited to look into further and one I wholeheartedly recommend even if – perhaps especially if – you’re not normally a fan of anything to do with pixels or video games.   Nova Phase can be followed in blog form and on Facebook.  Fans of Firefly, Cowboy Bebop, or space opera should love this book, and should definitely check it out!!

Reviewed by: Stephen Bretall
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