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PopCultHQ Comic Book Review: “NVRLND” #3 from 451 Media (Out 10/12/16)

PopCultHQ received a preview copy of NVRLND’ #3 from 451 Media Group. In stores on October 12th, the creative team for this new series features writing from Stephanie Salyers and Dylan Mulick and illustrations by artist Leila Leiz.

Here is PopCultHQ’s spoiler-free review of NVRLND #3


nvrlnd-3-coverSynopsis for NVRLND #3:

Is this party over before it started? Never say never in NVRLND. With Wendy thrown off the roof, Peter unconscious on the back of Tink’s motorcycle, and a whole gang of blood-thirsty pirates barreling down Mulholland Drive, it’s hard to imagine this scene getting any worse. However, now that Hook has Peter’s shadow, all bets are off. Meanwhile, Wendy’s Police Chief father is hot on the trail of whoever has been producing the lethal batch of pixie dust. A meeting with The Savages will open a door to worlds unimagined, even by the likes of tinsel town!


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PopCultHQ’s Comic Book Review:
NVRLND #3

One of the difficulties faced by creators upon delivering a series, or title, which is well-received and have fans excited, is that they have now set a standard by which future issues will be gauged.

n1This isn’t limited to just comic books either. When a movie plans a sequel, a television series has a shocking cliffhanger, a new artist in the music industry releases a smash hit album, or a popular book has future plans for the series, as great as the accolades are, the pressure to maintain or surpass that level of excitement in the next offering is always a heavy weight placed on whatever comes next. Fans want to see that momentum continue (no pressure creators, no pressure). As I have reviewed both prior issues of NVRLND for PopCultHQ and enjoyed them both immensely (possibly an understatement), plus the fact that the title is scheduled to end after issue four, this penultimate issue would be held to greater scrutiny in my reading and assessment. Could the writers continue their success in a gripping tale which has captivated me since the first issue? Would the illustrations maintain the level of quality and overall feel of the story? And ultimately, will my excitement for this modern day reimagining continue to build with anticipation or has it peaked?

147610858014246Forget turning the volume up to 11. ‘NVRLND’ #3 cranks it on blast and tears off the knob. On every level. This world created, this environment, just got immensely bigger and twice as real.

As always, I try to avoid spoilers outside of the given synopsis. So I’m going to do something a little different and just entice you with key words to give you a sense of what you can expect when you pick it up tomorrow (10/12) at your local comic shop…

Drugs, gangs, narcissism, corruption, aftermath of an orgy, tattoos,  a power struggle, motorcycle chase, black magic, and did we just see Hook’s ass?

Yep, it's that kinda party
Yep, it’s that kinda party

But even moreso than that, we see a girl’s desire to be loved, who fails to receive it from family and desperately seeks it in Peter, in which the loss of his shadow is aging and essentially killing him. It’s a crazy love story of inner city youth caught up in a wild lifestyle and it’s told beautifully.

Writers Mulick and Salyers have magnificently delved deeper into each character’s development, further revealing their characters’ traits, which remarkably define each individual.

They explore how the loss of his shadow is affecting Peter, primarily the physical strain he suffers. The faithful commitment Tink has for him also rises to the surface; even without her speaking a word you can sense her love and loyalty to the rock star. Tiger Lilly gets more attention and is becoming a player to watch. We are also beginning to see what is transpiring away from the club scene with Wendy Darling’s father, the city’s DA, and his work alongside the mayor in their attempt to rid the streets of the drugs and gangs run rampant in southern California.

And Smee? Don’t get me started on how hilarious Hook’s crony is depicted (too much of a spoiler, you have to see for yourself).

n4What really stood out to me in this issue was James Hook. You already know he’s the main antagonist in NVRLND, but here we see his power and control magnified through his narcissistic behavior and bravado, as well as the almost symbiotic relationship Peter’s shadow creates with him. Hook’s swagger seen in issue three makes him the “bad guy you love to hate.” Straight up pimpin’ here, folks.

Artist Leila Leiz continues to build on her fabulous illustrations of la-la land’s club scene and urban environment. What I always enjoy from Leila’s work is her attention to detail. It’s the images she creates in the foreground, the background, and the little intricacies which are often overlooked. And she does so in a way that’s not excessive; just the right amount to give the character life and make everything else feel quite real.

n3Where Mulick and Salyers have created the feel for the characters, Leiz has wonderfully developed the look. Together, this creative team has captured the very essence of not only storytelling but the L.A. nightlife, the dark and shady drug scene, and the corruption which occurs on a regular basis, whether we see it or not. It’s this sense of realism which helps give NVRLND credibility, plausibility, and makes for compelling and engaging reading material.

451 Media Group has strengthened its brand by bringing this unique story and incredibly talented team to their label. Does it fit their typical model for titles under their label? Perhaps not, but that’s what impresses me about 451: their willingness to not limit themselves to a certain model or genre just to establish the look and feel of their company. It’s about seeing an exciting story and finding true gems of talent associated with the project. In that regards, 451 has delivered and then some. Here’s to hoping this miniseries gets adapted into an ongoing series, as NVRLND screams with potential and possibilities to grow and expand in its storytelling.

NVRLND has cemented itself among great titles such as Zenescope’s Grimm Fairy Tales and Vertigo’s Fables as quintessential adult-oriented fairy tales which rekindle a sense of youth in the reader from the characters, yet employ all the facets of current societal issues and real-world scenarios. With only one issue left, everything that has transpired will finally come to a head. From where this issue leaves us, next month’s series finale is primed for an explosive ending. The stage is set (literally and figuratively) for a showdown of the ages. Simply put, this series is a must for any collection! My issue number one is framed and mounted on my wall. 🙂

PopCultHQ’s Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

PCHQ 5


Be sure to read our earlier reviews:
NVRLND #1 and NVRLND #2!

The following issues are available now in both Digital and Print…

nvrlnd1
Click to purchase a print copy of issue one

NVRLND #1

Written by Dylan Mulick and Stephanie Salyers
Art by Leila Leiz
Cover by Christopher Mitten

NVRLND is a dark and magical retelling of Peter Pan set in the present-day landscape of Hollywood. Wallflower turned wild-child Wendy Darling befriends the fierce Tiger Lily and falls into the music rave scene of the underground club NVRLND. Intoxicated by the music, Wendy falls for the enigmatic Peter, lead singer of the band The Lost Boys. Peter is everything a girl could desire: handsome, daring, and reckless. Wendy discoveres Peter is mixed up with the mysterious tattoo artist James Hook, who preys upon the young who flock to Peter, ‘hooking’ them on the new designer drug, Pixie Dust. You think you may know the truth about NVRLND, but the truth is, you know nothing. NVRLND is a story for anyone who never wants to give up, but may not live long enough to have a chance.

Purchase NVRLND #1: Digital

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nvrlnd2
Click to purchase a print copy of issue two

NVRLND #2

Written by Dylan Mulick & Stephanie Salyers
Art and Cover by Leila Leiz

Second star to the right and straight on till morning.’ That’s the cryptic clue cooler than cool rocker Peter Pan gave to Wendy Darling and Tiger Lilly. You know what that means – the underground NVRLND party is back on! The Lost Boys are going to play a set at the party, and everyone who is anyone will be there. There are only two problems. One, Wendy is grounded, and two, that means Hook and his band of pixie pushing pirates will be there too. The kids of Hollywood High are getting so high they never land, James Hook wants to grasp control of that scene no matter the cost. Tonight Peter Pan and James Hook will fight for the right to control NVRLND. Tonight we see if Peter Pan knows how to fly!

Purchase NVRLND #2: Digital


Be sure to follow the creative team from #nvrlnd

451 MediaPublisher 451 Media Group:

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StephanieWriter Stephanie Salyers:

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Dylan 1Writer Dylan Mulick:

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LeilaArtist Leila Leiz:

 

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Jason Bennett
Jason Bennett is PopCultHQ's senior editor, a contributing writer, and comic book reviewer/reporter. He is a big lover of coffee, cats, cooking and comics (plus all things Green Lantern). He is a strong supporter of indie comics, creators, and publishers and Chris Hardwick is his spirit animal (we don't know how to respond to that). Follow Jason on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram: @TahoeJBennett

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