At the risk of sounding like a broken record, All-Out War isn’t much of a war, but finally starts the fight properly. The third installment follows the remaining survivors continuing their mission to extract a high valued target or die trying.
Alex Paknadel and Matthew Rosenberg have managed to craft a nihilistic rescue mission set in the swamps of Florida. Solely judging by the “Vengeance of Bane” cover, I expected more of a focus on Bane. Bane gets some attention, but none of the focus. Instead, Deathstroke has chosen to take on the burden of leadership in light of Constantine’s defeat. Despite insisting he doesn’t care, Slade embodies a “den mother” personality around his emotionally unstable unit. He even casually quotes Ru Paul in his inner monologue. Can you even imagine Slade finding the time to watch Drag Race, much less sympathize with anyone at all? At their most demoralized, a vampire Batwoman approaches the team with her own agenda.
Batwoman is no stranger to becoming a vampire or fighting them. Luckily, Batwoman claims to be a sane vampire like Damian. This is a hard pill to swallow, when more noble characters like Superman, Wonder Woman, or Hal Jordan could not retain their sanity after transformation. Even Paknadel and Rosenberg call attention to Azrael vetting her sanity without acknowledging the inconsistency in the writing. Regardless, the team agrees to join forces to attack their blood farm and rescue their respective prisoners of interest.
The blood of Starfire is one of the most important features of Nightwing’s rise to power. As such, the Princess is guarded by a top general in the vampire army named “Baron Cinder.” Despite similarities to various other characters and wearing the dead Luthor’s “Lex-O-Suit,” readers don’t know the Baron’s identity yet. Possibly inspired by Baron Harkonnen (Dune 1965) and visually reminiscent of The Atomic Skull; It is safe to assume that Baron Cinder and his top generals will be the overall series antagonist to overcome.
The character relationships and dialogue need work. Each character seems to embody the same speech patterns. There aren’t many distinguishing differences in aptitude, personality, or tastes either. For example, the most defining characteristic Deathstroke has is referring to every person he talks to as “kid.” Bane, Deathstroke, and Batwoman have the exact same intimate history and casual conversation with Starfire. There is no reason the way Azrael thinks or speaks shouldn’t feel distinct from everyone else. Even villains like Dagon and Mirage feel interchangeable.
When it comes to artwork, Pasquale Qualano’s ink and sketch is still satisfying! The bold figures are often nicely highlighted by Nicole Righi’s red color work. The action is probably the coolest out of the current three issues and features some cool time-lapse decapitations, use of shadow, and violent momentum. I still believe the bold outline of the figures can be stiff at times, such as Baron Cinder’s body in his flashback or Bane’s ugly design. The rigid poses mostly remind me of character designs from Archer or Frisky Dingo.
Dark Birth, Part 2
In part one, Grayson agrees to meet with vampire leadership to discuss what to do about The Queen of the Vampires. In part two, Grayson is given a choice to either help the vampire horde or die. Firstly, Haining’s character designs remind me of Korean manwha a lot. Something about the writing and the artwork give it the light romantic tone of True Blood or Twillight. There is sadness and violence but without any suspense or danger. When surrounded by a horde of blood suckers, Dick only thinks about his cute puppy at home. It has more blood and more traditional vampires, but it just ends up feeling wholesome and tame. So far, episode two of “sexy vampire origin” isn’t a compelling way to inform readers on how the major antagonist was born.
- You wanted to see Batwoman as a vampire… again.
- Deathstroke quoting Drag Race or Batwoman making KFC references inspires you to buy this issue.
- You remain invested in DC Vs. Vampires and its spin-offs no matter what.
All-Out War has finally gotten into tactics and warfare and delivered some good looking offensive. The plan is simple and sweet and the artwork remains decent. The biggest flaws come in the form of dialogue, and bland interchangeable characters. This far into the series, these characters should be able to develop their own distinct voices. Fortunately, I think this issue sets the stage well for its further stories. If you’re already interested in DC Vs. Vampires, you may find this to be one of their better tie-in stories.
DISCLAIMER: DC Comics provided Batman News a free copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.