Old School Pixel Meets Spacefaring Bounty Hunters in NOVA PHASE
“I wanted to do a space western because I love space and I love westerns. I also love old video games. So there you go.” – Matthew Ritter
Nova Phase is a six issue long, creator-owned comic series by Matthew Ritter (Writer) and Adam Elbatimy (Art), and is published by Slave Labor Graphics. What makes this series stand out is the decision to use pixel art in every panel. Don’t worry, it’s not as pixelated as what we’ve seen back in the day with the Nintendo Entertain System (NES). It’s a little more defined like with Super NES. Yet, with every turn of the page, my brain plays all the classic NES themes.
The story centers about Veronica Darkwater, a down on her luck bounty hunter who dreams to leave this planet she’s on and travel around in space. All of that changes after she takes a seemingly ordinary coin from her latest catch. She quickly finds there’s more to this trinket than meets the eye. Ruthless soldiers of a crazed military commander start knocking on her door, guns a-blazing, and treasure hunters abscond with Veronica on their space ship. Little does she know, Veronica’s about to go on an “intergalactic treasure hunt for a legendary world of untold wealth.”
Our first impression of Veronica Darkwater is a cross between Spike Spiegel (Cowboy Bebop) and Gene Starwind (Outlaw Star). She has complete disregard for collateral damage while on the job, and just like after completing every big score in Cowboy Bebop, she loses all of that dough to debt and paying for damages. No wonder she hasn’t been able to get a ticket to space over the past five years. Maybe she should change tactics. There’s one scene in issue #2 where one of the treasure hunters and Veronica are fleeing from her apartment, and the hunter notices Veronica’s digital pet. There’s this whole exchange between them that will have anyone who owned either the Giga Pet or the Tamagotchi, or both, snerk a little to themselves. And yes, Giga Pet was the superior product.
Nova Phase is a fun space western. Don’t know what it is about space westerns that make everything so intriguing, but it’s one of my favorite mash-ups in science fiction. It may have something to do with the lawlessness of space and the having to live practically still even though it’s the future we’ve all dreamed it’d be. Nova Phase also not only pays homage to the aesthetics gamers are nostalgic for, but it also pulls elements from great anime, science fiction shows, and other miscellaneous classics like Outlaw Star, Cowboy Bebop, Trigun, Firefly (hey look, space westerns!), Road to El Dorado, and much much more. No really, there’s a huge list of inspirations on the title/credits page. After reading two issues, I think the creators started listing inspirations, and then just started adding other movies and TV shows they love. Below is a quick preview of what to expect:
The first issue will be available for free digitally through Comixology, and the second issue is on sale for 99 cents. For you non-digital readers, a print version of the first two issues will be available in February through the SLG website and Amazon. Issue #3 and #4 will be out in March and April respectively, with another two issue collection out in June, and issue #5 and #6 will come out in July and August, with the final two issue collection coming out for print in September.