There’s a lot of ground to cover in an alternate timeline story like DC vs. Vampires, which is why the first issue of All-Out War was so necessary. Alex Paknadel and Matthew Rosenberg get more room to explore B- and C-list characters otherwise regulated to off-panel action and death. In a series where anyone can be a good guy now that vampires are the main threat, anything can happen, which is evident when you finish reading DC vs. Vampires: All-Out War #2!
This miniseries continues to impress with the number of heroes taken off the board. The last issue ended with a massive bomb going off and killing a bunch of heroes. This issue opens with a roll call detailing who died and who lived. One of the last enclaves of heroes has been attacked, and now they’re on the move in a world that’s nearly impossible to navigate without being eaten or turned by vampires.
John Constantine ends up taking up the mantle of the main character in this issue as he leads the remaining survivors, who include Bane, Azrael, Mary Marvel, and Booster Gold, to safety. Talia Al Ghul appears to have Alfred as her right-hand man. Paknadel continues to write each character well, capturing their voice and personality with the slant of knowing the heroes are all but defeated. As I said in the previous review, this event gives writers and artists the chance to explore different angles on characters due to extreme circumstances. This issue continues that trend.
As it turns out, Mary Marvel and Deadman are heavily used, which is a delight since they are rarely used these days in comics, save for Mary getting her series just last week. It’s nice to see them get the focus. This issue also focuses on how the heroes can gain an advantage in setting the direction for the following issue. That’s a helpful through-line to focus on since the characters focused on keep changing.
The shift in focus does throw things off a tad. Constantine was the central focus last issue, but Azrael ended up being underused. He’s in the story, of course, but his role is severely reduced, making it hard to know who or what the book is about. Throw in some chaotic fight scenes, and it’s even less clear. That said, it’s accomplishing goals and setting up plots to further explore in the next issue.
The art style continues to use tones and a bit of red with pencils by Pasquale Qualano and tones by Nicola Right. The visual style gives the book a darker and more depressing feel, as if all hope is lost. That’s a suitable element given the story. There are definitely some digital tricks here and there that make the book look different from anything you’ve seen before. Due to the lack of color, though, it’s sometimes hard to immediately know what you’re looking at, although it’s a rare thing in this issue.
This issue also has a backup featuring Nightwing. It’s part one of a likely two-part story by writer Emma Vieceli and artist Haining. There’s an intriguing story unfolding slowly here involving vampires. One can assume this story will help inform readers how Nightwing went from common human to vampire master by the end of the story. That said, it’s too decompressed and at seven pages, reads like it could have accomplished everything it does in two.
If you enjoyed the last issue, you should love what the creative team is doing with DC vs. Vampires: All-Out War #2. It progresses the story, sets up a major goal to help the heroes turn the tide, and has a backup that promises to give readers new insight into the main villain of the event. It may be a little rough around the edges, but it’s must-read material if you’ve loved DC vs. Vampires.
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