Tuesday, August 24, 2010

An Evening With the Nocturnals

Nocturnals is a series of comic book limiteds and one-shots written and drawn by Dan Brereton. Its main characters are a vigilante team of--well, monsters--who tangle with gangsters, supernatural menaces, and an evil corporation that serves as a front for Lovecraftian invaders. If it sounds like role-playing game fodder, Green Ronin beat you to it with a 2004 sourcebook for Mutants & Masterminds. I also count the Nocturnals among the inspirations for my Strange New World of the City setting.

It all started with an eponymous limited series published by Malibu Comics’ Bravura imprint in 1995. It’s since been collected under the subtitle, Black Planet. It introduces the mythical Northern California town of Pacific City, and its resident extra-legal heroes, Doc Horror (a two-fisted scientist from an alternate dimension with a dark secret), and his gang. The group includes: Polychrome, a ghost; Firelion, an artificial, pyrokinetic samurai; babe from the Black Lagoon, Starfish; reptilian genetic chimera, Komodo; and undead gunslinger, Gunwitch. Also tagging along is Doc’s daughter, Evening, who likes to be called Halloween Girl, and carries creepy toys inhabited by spirits.

Their foes are the forces of the corporation Narn K and their mob allies. Narn K manufactures artificial humans and human-animal hybrids in its Monster Shop, but, more sinisterly, is a front for an invasion force. The alien Crim overran Doc Horror’s homeworld, the Black Planet, and only the Nocturnals stand in the way of them doing the same to Earth.

The adventures continue in another limited, The Dark Forever, in 2002. Halloween Girl gets her own stories in Witching Hour (1998), and the Troll Bridge one-shot in 2000. Gunwitch takes center stage in Outskirts of Doom, also in 2002. After a hiatus, the gang was back in Carnival of Beasts in 2008. Green Ronin’s Nocturnals: A Midnight Companion, isn’t just a gaming supplement, but a “bible” to the series’ characters and their world with material written by Brereton, himself.

Anyone who’s a fan of psychotronica, or just good comics, should probably spend an evening or two with getting to know the Nocturnals and the mean (and weird) streets of Pacific City.


Unknown said...

I remember considering the M&M supplement a few years ago, but it didn't occur to me that it was based on a real comic. I'll have to check it out.

Anonymous said...

Excellent comics and an excellent sourcebook. Wish there were more of the comics though.

I can see how the Nocturnals would be excellent inspiration for the City. The stopping a secret alien invasion plot has possibilities too . . .

Anonymous said...

Excellent suggestion with the Nocturnals. I have just read Outskirts of Doom, but I liked that one. I have been tempted a few times to buy the M&M supplement, but I just never got around to it.