This week finally saw the release of the much-hyped Nonplayer #1 by Nate Simpson. Featuring some incredibly gorgeous art and a story that promises loads of intrigue, Nonplayer just might be Image’s next big hit.
Written and Drawn by Nate Simpson
Nonplayer has been heralded over the last few months as a sure-fire hit. In the weeks leading up to the book’s release, Image PR hit the convention floor to show off the impressive new book to all manner of celebrated creators as part of a very tongue-in-cheek endorsement push. While the tactic was humorous, and showed a side of the industry that could use a little poking fun at, it was also very genuine. Image has been debuting new series quite often as of late, but none of them got the same buzz that Nonplayer had. I’m always skeptical of advance hype, but that doesn’t mean I don’t get caught up in it from time to time. Fortunately for me, getting caught in the wave of anticipation for Nate Simpson’s debut series paid off. Nonplayer is a stunning visual assault that manages to make ideas most recently presented in the Matrix and Avatar fresh and compelling.
What I like most about Nonplayer is the way Simpson introduces the reader to the ‘Scape, as our characters affectionately call it. He takes great care to illustrate the indigenous plant and animal life before the first human face is shown, and all of it is in splendid detail. As a marching army descends through the forest, your eye is more on how out of place man looks in this wonderful woodland area. The undoubtedly painstaking amount of detail presented in a single panel draws you in easily enough, but it’s the same consistency in the next panel and the next that keeps you immersed. Before you know it, you’re not just reading about a marching army and the invaders trying to ambush them, you’re alongside them as it happens. Simpson makes you a silent partner just out of harm’s reach, able to feel every clash of swords on the battlefield, and smell the differences between this world and your own.
Though you could probably stay in this place forever, the narrative pulls you from this dreamworld, just like our lead character’s job beckons her back from her virtual reality. The future is a different place, to be sure, but the routines and lifestyles remain ever so similar. Though Dana’s able to pull off “some crazy ninja shit” in the ‘Scape, back in reality, she still has to clean her room and placate her mother and sister before going to work. It’s clear that there is definitely something more going on both in the fantasy and the reality, but Simpson’s not blurring any lines yet. Even as Dana virtually skins the world to look more like her fantasy, the book’s final two-page spread takes care not to blur the lines between the two worlds. There’s a clear delineation between what Dana actually perceives and what she wants to, and I hope to see that theme explored more over the course of the next three issues.
This four-issue mini-series has thus far barely alluded to the mystery therein, but the subtle hints are more than enough to keep me sated. For now. There’s not another issue of Nonplayer due out for a few months, which is understandable, but that can’t help any momentum this first issue may have created. Nonplayer is going to be an important book for Nate Simpson and Image, but readers are fickle, and with the deluge of summer events occupying the social media landscape for the next eight months, it’s going to be hard to stay at the forefront of a reader’s pull list. Especially when there will be at least two to three months between issues. Of course, when the biggest problem you have with a book is that it’s so good you want more of it more frequently, that’s a pretty good problem to have. Nonplayer #1 is a tremendous first issue, and if you happened to miss out on it, don’t miss out on the second and third printings it’s no doubt going to receive. Just make sure you have your retailer add the series to your pull list so the same thing doesn’t happen when issue two finally ships.
Nonplayer #1 is published by Image Comics, and is available at your local comic shop now.