Nova Phase – A Sci-Fi Pixel Art Comic Book Review

Hey everybody! Zola here! Since Ed and I have finally agreed on that harassment settlement, I have been invited back to write random words for you to read about stuff that you can look at after you’ve read them.

This time – comic books. Finally something I can form an actual opinion on! Oh wait, it’s 8bit art? Ugh, well, whatever. Thanks to my super sweet contacts from outisde-my-house I got to read the first two issues for free, HELL YEAH, 99 CENTS WORTH OF FREE MERCHANDISE! My life is finally turning around.

So, let’s see…where to start? Oh, I should probably go and read the damn thing first. Be right back…

Nova Phase
…okay.

So Nova Phase is a space-western comic written by Matthew Ritter and illustrated by Adam Elbahtimy, currently set at two issues with, I think, another six issues coming out in following months during ’14.

What an incredibly generic opener…

Ah, that’s because somehow, I managed to form no strong opinions toward this comic in either direction. It’s a genuinely top-notch piece of work. No real complaints eh. I mean it’s not exactly the most thrilling storyline or anything. I’d argue that I’ve only seen the beginning but I think two issues is usually sufficient to cause some sort of interest.

For its genre, it certainly has all the playing pieces necessary. Cowboy hats; sweet jackets; guns which have, for some reason, actual bullets. There’s spaceships; hoverbikes; backstory-less aliens shoved in with all the finesse of a nail under a hammer. Actually, everything is set down with no real introduction or outline, it’s simply there.

Perhaps a lack of history to this setting is what failed to pique my interest in this thing. I can fall in love with space on any given day but without a point of reference it’s a purely aesthetic interest, which pretty much mirrors how I feel about Nova Phase. I’d love to know if this series picks off on any of my concerns or elaborates more than what’s relevant to the storyline later on, but chance are I’ll forget it exists as soon as I close this document.

Unless I make an effort to form a severe interest in this 8-bit world filled with 8-bit characters, I’m apt to forget who’s who, and that’s certainly a setback.

That said, you would expect a comic done entirely in 8bit pixel style to be lacking in some way, just probably not the actual story. When researching this thing I noticed a lot of people making an utterly giant deal about the choice of illustration style, like it was some magnificent form of lost culture. It’s only after sitting down to think about it I now realise why everyone’s losing their shit. Because the artwork is the only thing that actually stands out here.

I’m not going to say Adam Elbatimy outdid himself, this ain’t exactly renaissance, but he carried through with his style like a trooper. Having dabbled at pixel art a while back, I know there’s a temptation to skip out on little details that don’t really affect the whole piece, but you only need look over the fabrics and textures in Nova Phase’s artwork to know he’s really pulled through on his end. All that extra distance he put in really picked up a bland piece of writing and made this comic something rich to look at.

Nova Phase cover#2
Aw man, look at that sweet jacket. Dude gets like eight claps.

Since I’ve stretched this out hardcore I’m going to go ahead and put the highlights into a bullet list for you guys.

  • Female Protagonist! Yay!
  • It’s IN SPACE.
  • Pretty fab backgrounds.
  • It’s 99 cents what do youwantbloodugh.

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Zola Paulse

Zola Paulse

Zola Paulse is a jack-of-all-trades from Lancashire, England. She enjoys art, physics and astronomy, chain smoking and speaking about herself in third person.

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