Nova Phase Book #1

5.5 Overall Score
Art: 6/10
Dialogue: 5/10
Story: 6/10

Cool Concept | Decent Story

No real reason for this art style


Nova Phase Book #1

Written by: Matthew Ritter

Art by: Adam Elbahtimy

Published by:  SIG Publishing

I normally hate concept books that seem overly superficial. Their gimmick is on the cover, and after flipping through the pages the evidence mounts up to the inevitable conclusion that someone just tried to sell me a book the way Michael Bay sells his movies through the trailers. Nova Phase is a book that tells its story through the 16-bit art form. This book is an interesting gesture, but frankly an unnecessary one.

First, the story that needed to be told through arcade story screens. Our protagonist is a young woman by the name Veronica Darkwater who is a bounty hunter. She dreams of getting enough bounties to pay passage to get off world and into space. She seems good hearted and very good at her job, but a victim of circumstance. Meanwhile a troop of strangers comes from space looking for a coin she got off a bounty, and a military cadre attacks her, forcing her and the strange group to retreat with the coin into space.

The artwork is….videogame cut scene artwork I’m used to seeing back when I had a Nintendo. After playing a side scrolling ninja mission, I’d see artwork like this telling me where they took the sacred artifact to next. Although Scott Pilgrim was told through similar artwork, it stayed in more traditional art mediums since it was a published paperback book revolving around video games.  Nova Phase isn’t a book that is based on or about video games. Just a story told through a early 1990’s video game lens. I’ve seen various videos of iconic movies retold in classic 16-bit fashion, and they’re neat, but not something I would seek out on purpose.

Reading Nova Phase in this modern age on my iPad is similar to reading ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs because they are a comic strip about a character named Sphinxy. Just because you can do something doesn’t necessarily mean you should. If this is Ritter and Elbahtimy’s preferred medium, so be it. I prefer that the artwork serve the story, and the style I’m telling it in. It shouldn’t be the only thing, and in comics, most times it is. I’ve suffered through many horrible stories with awesome artwork, and fantastic stories with terrible artwork.

Perhaps elements have yet to be revealed about Nova Phase and I am jumping to conclusions. Maybe there is an accompanying video game for mobile phones, or this whole story is being told through the eyes of a Legend of Zelda cartridge.  It’s not a bad story, but if they chose this art form deliberately, it needs to show through. Otherwise, I’m gonna play on my Gameboy.


Author: Peter Schmeiser View all posts by
Peter fancies himself a comic book critic since he is one of the last comic book readers in southwest Florida. When he isn't reading and writing reviews for movies, TV and comic books, he’s binge-watching shows, marathoning movies, podcasting, and performing classical music.

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