DC vs. Vampires has been a huge success leveraging the entire lineup of DC superheroes into a narrative about vampires taking over the world. What has made it work is the expert writing of characters who look, act, and talk like themselves in regular canon. Oh, and the gory murdering of heroes and villains left and right. This week, Alex Paknadel joins Matthew Rosenberg on writing duties for part one of “All-Out War” revealing not every hero is a vampire…yet.
At a glance, it’s unclear what kind of story we’re getting from this tie-in since some tie-ins can feel pointless or like filler, but it’s safe to say this is a must-read for the event. It’s also a must-read for anyone who adores DC Comics characters, especially this story’s wide range of B- and C-listers. By issue’s end, there’s a conflict worth keeping tabs on, some important personalities aren’t turned into vampires yet, and there’s a well-written story to be had here.
The first thing you’ll notice when you crack open this comic is the mostly black and white art by Pasqual Qualano. Aided by tones from Nicola Righi, the book looks great with an indie or even zine feel thanks to the lack of color. The detailing on the characters and costumes are top-notch, however, and it’s A-list in that regard. Using only red, blood spray has a more graphic effect, and the grays give the book a somber feel. I loved a lot about the art in this issue, like how it breaks up the background with foreground expertly at times.
It certainly gets somber since this issue largely devotes itself to one of the last strongholds of humans. Paknadel opens the book with a select few characters who, as the preview shows, set out to bring Batman back to life. That alone is a good reason to sprout a tie-in miniseries. Soon though, they are attacked by vampires, and it’s danger and death every step of the way.
Paknadel has a good handle on these characters, with the dialogue moving along nicely and the plotting keeping things fresh and interesting. Action scenes don’t run on too long, and there’s a real purpose to deaths (and maybe even resurrections). As with the main series, it’s fun to see familiar heroes and villains in new roles living in this dystopian future. There’s a layer of cleverness to see what a character might be doing or acting given the circumstances.
This book’s existence also gives readers hope the good guys might prevail. For a long stretch, the main series seemed to crushingly show the heroes had no chance, but there are a lot of characters still alive that might be able to turn the tide. Then again, many die in this issue too, so who’s to say how this plays out. That’s partly why this issue is exciting as well since it shows us key characters are alive but may not be for long, further complicating how the main story may play out.
This issue also has a fantastic backup by Guillaume Singelin, focusing on Commissioner Gordon and Batgirl. Also told in black and white, Singelin’s manga-style art is kinetic and hard to look away from. The Batgirl costume design is worth the price of admission alone, but the story also has a fun twist and great action. It’s a no-fuss story that caps off the issue well.
DC vs. Vampires: All-Out War #1 is fun and works as a must-read side chapter to the main event. It also captures the many eclectic voices while establishing new threats, dangers, and stakes for a motley crew of heroes and villains. It not only utilizes the main conceit of DC vs. Vampires well but runs with it in exciting ways.
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