Four years is a long time for anyone to wait for the next issue in a series and such a long wait can build an insane amount of hype. But four years is exactly how long fans of Nonplayer had to wait for the next chapter to arrive and now they have one question on their minds. Is it good?
Nonplayer #2 (Image Comics)
Nonplayer #2 is a tricky chapter to navigate if you have not read the debut issue (which is probably why Image released another printing today). The first chapter in the series introduced readers to the protagonist, Dana, while in Nonplayer #2, creator Nate Simpson chooses to expand on the world he has developed.
For his part, Simpson does use the opening pages to re-etablish the basics of the world. Readers meet Mr. Jeph Homer, who designed and runs the game Warriors of Jarvath, a virtual reality game that is almost ubiquitously played. This brief introduction does wonders in terms of establishing both the setting and tone of Nonplayer #2. One of the more interesting aspects brought forward in this scene is that beings possessing A.I. have rights and that the non-player characters in Warriors of Jarvath have full life cycles that have brought Mr. Homer and his team under scrutiny.
The main flaw that emerges during Nonplayer #2 is the way the scenes are juxtaposed against one another. In greatly expanding the scope of the comic, Nate Simpson also creates some confusion as one scene transitions to another. Often times, the jump feels unnatural, and it makes Nonplayer #2 feel like a collection of vignettes rather than a cohesive narrative. Part of this appears to be the absence of protagonist Dana Stevens. Dana served as the reader’s vessel into the world of Nonplayer in the debut and her omission is one that Nonplayer #2 never quite overcomes.
That being said, much of Nonplayer‘s appeal comes from creator Nate Simpson’s design work. The newest chapter is a visual feast for sure, with armed robots, rustic fantasy designs, high-tech trappings, and a good injection of real world grime. It all comes together to make something that is visually unique. But the design work would mean very little if it wasn’t rendered well. And Nate Simpson’s artwork is beautifully illustrated. There’s a great amount of care that has gone into creating each vividly detailed panel. Simpson also shows a talent for picking the right angles from which to display his characters. When the obese Alan visits his virtual girlfriend, he appears small and timid. But once he assumes his more powerful avatar, Simpson captures him from a low angle, looking up as a powerful man, no longer bound by his impotent physical form.
Is It Good?
Nonplayer #2 is a solid return for the long-delayed series. Nate Simpson’s artwork still dazzles, and while the plot is somewhat dense (especially for those who have not read the first issue), the book offers a lot of promise for things to come. This is a chapter that greatly expands the world beyond the limited scope of the first entry. Nonplayer #2 is a book that is well worth a look for all science fiction fans, especially those who like a blend of fantasy with their sci-fi.