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Comic Review: Nova Phase
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Ryan Midnight   |  
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Nova Phase #1 CoverNova Phase
Written by Matthew Ritter
Art by Adam Elbahtimy
Slave Labor Graphics
Release Date: January 15, 2014
Cover Price: #1 Free; #2 $.99

On a dusty backworld planet, Veronica Darkwater dreams of escaping her desolate city via a starcruiser into space. However, her ambitions don’t quite see eye to eye with her bank account, and in order to get the ticket onboard the shuttle, Veronica takes up bounty hunting to earn a living and save up the required funds. Her fate is set, when after taking in her most recent bounty, Veronica keeps the criminal’s “lucky coin” for herself.

Meanwhile a team member of a ragtag space ship crew, Dillard, has been sent to the same planet to retrieve said “lucky coin”, with a deployment of Confederate soldiers hot on his heels in pursuit of the same coin. As Dillard and Veronica’s paths cross, the stage is set for an unlikely pairing and Veronica dreams of space may just become a reality, though not in the exact manner she expected!

Retro gaming fanaticism has been evolving steadily as the youth of the eighties have entered their mid-thirties (including your humble reviewer) and this comic is targeted directly at this demographic. The first thing that must be mentioned about this new series from Matthew Ritter and Adam Elbahtimy is the visual art depiction. Nova Phase is presented in art style somewhere between the classic cut-scenes of videos games from the 8-bit and 16-bit era, and would look right in place in Ninja Gaiden or the Phantasy Star series.

While this may be a turn-off for those that didn’t grow up in this era of gaming, or those who haven’t dabbled in their older siblings’ or parents’ dusty console games, for those that have fond memories of mashing the “A” button to get all the dialogue on screen, you will be absolutely at home in the pages of this comic. You can almost hear the electronic typewriter pinging as your eyes scroll across the dialogue. Elbahtimy, who provides “all things artistic, visual and quality” for Nova Phase, has done an impeccable job in transitioning pixels from screen to print.

Now, this isn’t just about the art, but the story as well. Ritter, who provides the script, has put together the foundation of a really fun western-space adventure in these first two issues. There is some quite overt inspiration pulled from Star Wars (the original trilogy of course) and cult-favorite Firefly here, among multiple resources, in the world building of this universe and characters that inhabit it. Our main two heroes, Darkwater and Dillard, would make excellent video game characters and underdogs to route for! You can almost see their special moves and stats listed on what would be the pause menu.

For those that have spent endless hours playing Japanese RPGs, delight in all things Joss Whedon, or squealed in joy reading Ready Player One, this is a series that you absolutely not afford to pass up. Cross your fingers someone creates an actual video game to fill in the “space” between these cut scenes.

Nova Phase #1 will be available as a free digital download from Comixology on January 15th, with issue #2 available for 99 cents the same day. Both issues will be collected in print form for a February release and will be available via the Slave Labor Graphics website and Amazon.

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