World War II

Kicking at the Darkness

Review by Matthew Nielsen

This time we’ll take a quick look at the 24-page comic book Kicking at the Darkness by frequent Cloudscape contributor Colin Upton. It is a piece of nonfiction set on the European western front of World War II during 1944-1945, at the very end of the war. It primarily focuses on one of the earliest of the Canadian Army’s encounters with victims and survivors of the Holocaust.

Upton does an excellent job providing accurate details of weapons, scenery, and other historical elements, while also portraying very relatable characters and maintaining a uniformed and flexible art style throughout. He is able to capture a wide range of human emotions and body languages, which is a nice change from the stiff, mechanical techniques used in such war comics such as Commando or The War Picture Library.

Sadly this book is a special, limited-edition release. In order to get a copy, you’ll either need to visit the Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre (the organization that published this book) or order a copy from Colin Upton’s own website.  This book may only be 24 pages, but the story within is well worth the read.


Name Game: Nox

by Bevan Thomas

A return to a world inhabited by unfamiliar superbeings with very familiar names. Last time we met the Human Torch, greatest hero of Universe-M. Now we encounter Nox, the Dweller in Darkness, the Torch’s arch-nemesis.


Marvel Comics' Nox

Every great hero needs a great nemesis, and as I made the Human Torch an optimistic light-based heroine, it seemed reasonable to make her enemy tied with despair and darkness. The more I developed the Human Torch, the more she became a tragic figure, a person able to save everyone except her own family, who were taken into Auschwitz. It would increase that level of tragedy if the Torch’s enemy claimed to be one of her family, someone who the Torch had failed to save. So now I had the central premises of the villain, and needed some names to go with it. Nox is the Greek goddess of the night, and she showed-up a couple of times in Marvel, and there was also an individual called the Dweller in Darkness, a shadowy being with an octopus head who fought Dr. Strange. Calling my villain “Nox, the Dweller in Darkness,” seemed to tell the story well enough. I’d given Human Torch the real name “Katherine Pryde,” as I wanted to use a Jewish character’s name, and so I checked my trusty friend the Internet to see what relatives of Marvel’s Kitty Pryde had been named. Her mother’s name was Theresa, so “Theresa Pryde” became the alleged real name of Nox, though in this case the twin sister, not the mother.

Nox, the Dweller in Darkness

Real Name: At different times, she has claimed to be Katherine Pryde, twin sister Theresa Pryde, or the demon Lilith.

Of all the “master men”recruited by the Nazis during World War II, perhaps none became as feared as Nox, the Dweller in Darkness, mistress of shadows. At first she appeared as a mysterious assassin, striking from the darkness to murder various individuals singled-out by her Nazi commanders. An attempt on the life of Franklin Delano Roosevelt brought Nox in conflict with the Human Torch, and began a long feud between the two.

Eventually Nox captured the Human Torch and revealed her awareness of the Torch’s secret identity as Jewish immigrant Katherine Pryde. Then Nox claimed that she herself was Theresa, Katherine’s twin sister who had been taken to Auschwitz along with the rest of Katherine’s family who were still in Germany. Nox claimed that the Pryde family had been turned over to Nazi scientists who had experimented on them as part of the infamous Master Man project. All the rest of the Prydes had died horribly, but Theresa had bonded with a magic black crystal known as the Darkstar, that had granted her power over all forms of darkness, turning her into Nox. The Darkstar had also filled Theresa with rage over the Human Torch failing to rescue her or her family and thus causing her to seek vengeance against her twin sister.

Image by Reetta Linjama