I love a weird comic, and this time we have hit gold.
Not going to lie, I always feel like comics are pulling their punches when it comes to the apocalypse. Most stories do, really. It makes sense why: No one wants to read an end of the world story about humanity being completely wiped out. We like a survivor, and, in a supreme act of dishonesty with ourselves, we like to image that we would also be a survivor. Never mind the pain and hardship that this would entail, we all think that if things go bad, we’ll be the ones to make it.
But let’s be honest. In an end of the world situation the vast majority of us would be wiped out instantly, and most of the survivors would slowly die off as humanity ran out of medical supplies, food, water, electricity, and other basic needs.
The modern human is, for the most part, not well equipped to live without wifi.
So then what? Humanity is destroyed, life is killed off, and then, nothing? Kind of depressing, but what if that wasn’t the end? What if there was more to the story? What if after humanity was destroyed, some one else found the Earth? What would they think? What would they do?
And that takes us to this week’s book, All Against All from Image Comics. It’s an exciting new title that explores what happens to humanity after we destroy ourselves. How are we remembered? What is our legacy? What happens to us next?
This is a book about the apocalypse that pulls zero punches.
So let’s dive in together and see just what this book is about!
Here’s the blurb (Big warning! Part of the fun for me of this first issue was going in cold and figuring things out as I read. You might want to skip the blurb if you want to be surprised while you read):
Writer ALEX PAKNADEL (DC vs. Vampires: All Out War, Giga), artist CASPAR WIJNGAARD (HOME SICK PILOTS), and letterer HASSAN OTSMANE-ELHAOU present a primal vision of humanity gone terribly wrong. In All Against All, it is the distant future. Earth is long gone, but a race of alien conquerors known as “the Operators” have preserved its most savage animals in an artificial jungle environment they barely understand. With no bodies of their own, the Operators move from world to world, harvesting bodies for the organic exosuits they use to wage their endless wars. Ignored and underestimated by his captors is the habitat’s sole human specimen, Helpless. However, when their efforts to find and harvest an apex predator intensify, he gives them far more than they bargained for. Featuring variant covers by artistic powerhouses as SEAN PHILLIPS (RECKLESS), MARTIN SIMMONDS (THE DEPARTMENT OF TRUTH), and CHRISTIAN WARD (BLOOD STAINED TEETH)!
What a wonderful, violent, challenging book.
It’s rare that you find an author who trusts his readers as much as Paknadel does in All Against All. You’re thrown in with very little explanation, and have to figure things out as you go, and honestly, that added a lot more enjoyment to this first issue. When you don’t have every single detail spelled out in excruciating detail, it makes you have to work harder as a reader, and making you a collaborator in the creative experience. I always go back to Alan Moore, who said that the reason why comics are great is because they allow the reader to be part of the creative process, and that spelling everything out for them detracts from the experience.
Now, that being said, I do have to spoil a few things here, so read on at your own discretion.
Humanity is dead. Completely dead. Deader than a can of Spam. In fact, all life on Earth has been destroyed. Climate catastrophe, war, disease, regardless of the cause, humanity is no more.
It’s at this point an alien race shows up, desperately looking for help in their ongoing galactic war. Bodiless, this race of beings uses bodies grown by their scientists to try to continue their fight, but they are losing and need something new before it’s too late.
Earth seems like a treasure trove of genetic materials, especially since they found what appears to be the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, albeit one that also has biological remains as well as plant seeds. Using this, the aliens begin growing life from Earth in biomes, but they quickly show that they have little understanding of how that life works, or even what species are valuable. Hence why they have placed a single human in the Carnivore biome with the others, and quickly learn that human is more than they thought he was.
Adding to the beautiful, unsettling nature of All Against All is the fantastic art work of Caspar Wijngaard, whose line work and colors give this book a deeply unsettling, otherworldly feel. It’s rare these days that a comic can make me feel anxious just by looking at the art, but Wijngaard does that with ease in this book. The visuals alone are worth the price of admission here.
An interesting new take on the end of the world, aliens, and the fate of humanity, All Against All #1 is a fantastic first issue, and the jumping off point to what will hopefully be a very fun and successful run from this stellar creative team.
Tell your LCS to order you a copy of All Against All today!
Alright folks, that’s it for me this week. I’ve got something fun for next week, as we start our holiday gift guide season. Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving, and here’s hoping we end this year with kindness, joy, and peace!
Until next time, Stay Safe.