DC Vs. Vampires: All-Out War #2 review

The fear left in the wake of nuclear destruction puts the “F” in All-Out War. However, the rag tag group of survivors have no time to grieve their losses. The remaining Nightlight members are instead exposed and forced onto the front lines. 

In the continued monochromatic adventures of All-Out War #2, we take on the perspective of Constantine seeking shelter. You know things are bad if Constantine is your last hope, and worse if his last hope is Jimmy Olsen. What I admire about the refugees is their unlikely connection. Under normal circumstances, Bane, Deathstroke, Ms. Marvel, Booster Gold, and Jimmy Olsen would have no reason to share kind words of encouragement, but their shared trauma allows them to put their lives in each other’s hands. True to life, it is not dissimilar to the uniting of New Yorkers after September 11th.

Taking place during DC Vs. Vampires: Hunters #1, Constantine attempts to make a deal with Talia. Although the refugees have put their differences aside, Talia still attempts to remain on the sidelines. Even so, Constantine finally reveals his master plan. Ignoring Deathstroke’s attempt to resurrect Batman, Constantine aims to cure the right vampire to turn the tide. Unfortunately, no one seems to think Azrael was the right vampire.

John Paul Valley hosts a pity party throughout the entire book. His regret takes the form of a dark doppelganger taunting his shortcomings. As a religious character, Azrael’s mind seeks penance from his perceived damnation. However, I can see the pathway to a redeeming character arc. I doubt Matthew Rosenberg would spend so much time making him an underdog if he wasn’t important to the bigger picture.  Comparatively, Constantine prepares to martyr himself if necessary. His deep guilt may be similar to Valley’s, but remains driven to make things right.

The main threat of this issue is the sadistic Wonder Woman. While characters like Damian retained their right mind, Wonder Woman has become a deranged combatant. Victims of her hunt bleed off the panel like something out of Frank Miller’s Elektra. In addition, the art includes several depictions of strangulation and gory decapitations. The bloodshed is hard to ignore if it’s the most saturated thing on the page. The choice effectively keeps the violence apart of the conversation and stains the survivors long after the blood itself has gone.

I don’t have many negatives for this issue. The gestures are still stiff as if they were slides of a kamishibai. The effect gives the panels the appearance of a motion comic, but represented on the page through smears and motion lines. I don’t like how Bane is drawn or characterized either. He looks like a walking steroid with a far too busy mask. Despite being a Suicide Squad-style book, I would like more time to drink in the characters. The most interesting versions of characters end up killed or often overlooked.

Dark Birth, Part 1

The long awaited origin story for how Dick Grayson ended up leading the vampires is finally here. As a reminder, Andrew Bennett and Mary once ran the vampires themselves until their deaths in DC Vs. Vampires #1. This story looks to finally reveal how the hierarchy of power shifted to Batman’s ward. Part of the mystery features Grayson and his blood relative searching for Mary Seward. Melinda’s inclusion is odd for a reason. It confirms that while I AM BANE  never happened in this universe, Tom Taylor’s current run of Nightwing did.

Speaking of strange, Emma Viceli is weirdly credited under “words by.” Dark Birth has the priorities of a light novel. The tone is sexually indulgent, featuring shots of Grayson shirtless, trendy, and being a single father to a fur-baby. In this world, Nightwing would rather face the Queen of the Vampires in jeans than tactical gear. The vampires are also sexy and flirtatious. The first one on the page runs around in booty shorts and a crop top. I don’t think it meshes well with All-Out War’s art or direction, but it will have to answer the most important question of the series.

Recommended If…

  • You’re still onboard with the DC Vs. Vampires series.
  • Seeing several major DC characters get their heads ripped off works for you.
  • You don’t mind reading self-deprecating heroes.
  • Erotic Nightwing haunts your dreams.

Overall

All-Out War #2 manages to shake things up in the DC Vs. Vampire universe again. It feels more focused and goal oriented than many of the other tie-ins and the main series while retaining some unpredictability. The characters feel sufficiently desperate and damaged. The current pattern of writing makes the book feel like a post-apocalyptic version of The Warriors (1979). In further issues, they could whittle down the team as they try to escape with their lives. None of my small criticisms will bother readers already invested. Nor will the strangely toned backup story really affect enjoyment of the main story.

Score: 8/10


DISCLAIMER: DC Comics provided Batman News with a copy of this issue for the purposes of this review.