Apart from Cyclone! Comics, I haven’t had the chance to sink my teeth into older Australian comics. A good chunk of the reason for this is they’re hard to find digitally. Having not lived in Australia’s 80’s comics boom, many of these stories seem lost to time… until today.
Niteside and the Rock #1 is one of the more obscure stories I’ve read in a while. Even then, it stayed relevant and compelling. The story feels mature and complete, even for its time. With that said, this comic reminds me why the Australian pantheon of heroes can compete with the ones out West.
The Story and Writing of Niteside and the Rock: Two Sides of a Coin
Niteside and the Rock #1 is an Australian indie comics published by Fly by Night Graphics in 1987. It was written and illustrated by Bodine Amerikah, an unbelievably obscure author with one of the longest names I’ve seen.
The story of Niteside and the Rock follows Ricky and Astria, lovers who were hitchhiking around Perth. During this time, they met a specter named Lilith who gave both small cubes of power.
Astria received the ability to generate beams of darkness and the ability to flight at the speed of sound, becoming Niteside. Ricky, on the other hand, was absorbed by the earth and received super strength and near-invulnerability, becoming the Rock.
Niteside and the Rock is one of pure awesome. The story itself is beyond that of generic superhero stories. Both Ricky and Astria as not called into adventure, as nobody asked for them to be heroes. Even then, they answered the call and even presented themselves in public.
The story is beautifully linear and straightforward. It shows both protagonists being the two sides of the same coin.
On one side, Astria, as Niteside, received a power unlike any other. Not only is she a Green Lantern incarnate that can create dark constructs, she can fly too. Flight in superhero stories can be overrated, but Bo was able to show the pure joy of it through Niteside.
It doesn’t help that she’s more beautiful than ever, with her visage like shiny obsidian. She feels like an amalgam of DC’s Captain Universe and Marvel’s Eternity, but as a whole new character.
Ricky, as the Rock, also received unbelievable powers, but there’s a beautiful juxtaposition here. Whilst Niteside is beautiful, the Rock is craggy earth. He is powerful but he has the Ben Grimm dilemma.
To the uninitiated, Ben Grimm or The Thing’s main dilemma in his entire publication history is the need to look normal again. The Rock doesn’t only look inhuman, he also has powers similar to Ben Grimm.
The story is tragic, if anything. It’s a solid story with a tragic twist at the end. From what I know, Niteside and the Rock has a second issue, which makes the events of this chapter valuable.
The level of continuity is remarkable, and everything makes sense. There are zero plotholes to it too which, at the time this comic book came out, was more than acceptable.
The Art of Niteside and the Rock #1: Going Black
Bodine Amerikah is not a household name when it comes to my league of comic book artists. Even then, I can see why I was curious about his art style from the moment I saw the cover.
I was always fascinated with the style artists used in the 80’s, with handdrawn pencils and inking techniques almost exclusive to the look of this era. His technique is impeccable, especially for someone who is, reportedly, self-taught.
His shading technique is the product of its time. It’s beautiful, with strong background shading. Even the motion lines are drawn with precision too.
As an indie comic, I appreciate how beautiful the art is. The art varies from foreground to background, giving texture to every panel. His detail work is exquisite, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Why Niteside and the Rock #1 is a Must Read
Should you read Niteside and the Rock #1? Yes, if you can get your hands on a copy, you should give it a read. I fully understand why it’s a legendary story across comic book circles, and I wish more people can read this amazing story. If you want to give it a read, it's publicly available on Bodine Amerikah's personal website, who now goes by Beaumont Jardine.
I’m looking forward to the 2nd issue if I can find it in the future. It’s as good a story as it can be, and I’m happy I found it.
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