Welcome to the Allnighter, the only diner in town where you can get coffee and a meal from sunset to sunrise! The staff are friendly (kind of) and happy to serve you (sometimes), and it would never cross their minds to drink their customers' blood . . .
Alex is bored--flipping burgers for strangers all night is no way for a vampire to live. But he and his fellow vampires Joy, Cynthia, and Ian have agreed to blend into human society. Inspired by superhero movies, one of few passions in his un-life, Alex decides to don a cape and start fighting bad guys. But his decision will have bigger consequences than he realizes--for himself and for everyone he wants to protect.
There’s a lot to be said for stories that can transcend a single genre and expertly weaves in and out of various categories while delivering a compelling story and gorgeous art. Often, a story will get pigeonholed by the genre it’s operating in, carrying a set of tropes and conventions that will either help or hinder the work. When a work can transcend its genre and work in others, it creates a lasting and enduring work. It’s the reason why Buffy the Vampire Slayer (teen drama and supernatural), Star Wars (science fiction and fantasy), and Community (sitcom and meta-text) all have left a mark on the zeitgeist of pop culture. With its first trade recently released, The All-Nighter establishes its place in the canon of genre-bending tales and feels like a work that will be discussed for its cross pollination of superheroics with the supernatural.
The All-Nighter, scripted by Chip Zdarsky, with art by Jason Loo, colors from Paris Alleyne, and lettering from Aditya Bidikar, follows Alex, a vampire who decides to channel his love for superheroes and fight crime as a Batman-esque vigilante. Alex takes on the moniker of Nightshock, to bust drug rings and purse snatchings before realizing that he’s way in over his head. This starts a chain reaction that causes the monster underworld to begin taking up masks on both sides of the law and gives them unofficial permission to reveal themselves to the world.
From there, the book is a typical modern superhero story arc, with dastardly foes stepping from the shadows, a big battle for the heart of a city (or the neighborhood around the all-night diner the vampires work at), and a confrontation between good and evil. Zdarsky’s script is full of twists and turns, and subverts each one of those beats, using the complementary genre of urban fantasy to add depth to the story. It’s a tale that feels at its core, humanizing for the vampires, especially for Alex and the family, that dig into the boredom and mundanity that comes with being trapped in what seems like forever. It’s a theme that hits hard after years of life being on hold and offers a fun escape into the world of heroic. Zdarsky complicates it fast, and the pacing perfectly matches, never lingering too long in any world.
Loo’s art harkens to masters of pulpy crime comics like David Mazzucchelli and Michael Lark, but with a twist that feels more Darwyn Cooke or John Romita Jr. Just as the book’s subject matter blends between the comical and criminal, supernatural and superhero, so too does the art blend style, working those influences into something wholly original. The biggest difference in Loo’s art, and by extension Alleyne’s colors, compared to the influences listed above, is a softer edge. Loo’s pencils are tighter and more consistent, embracing cleaner lines instead of a looser, sketchier style. That choice in style gives the book a more polished, and almost cinematic quality, working in tandem with the supernatural elements to move out of the crime genre and into the more mainstream superheroic story.
The influences are fitting based on Zdarsky’s body of work, with the writer’s ongoing runs on both Daredevil and the upcoming Batman title. Everything from Nightshock’s proto-costume that feels like it was made as a Man Without Fear cosplay to the finished suit that evokes Mazzucchelli’s design for Batman, all add to the book’s overall aesthetic aligning and putting it into conversation with those works. Paired with Alleyne’s blooming of colors that balance against the blacks and dark purple, helps to establish a visual language that evokes Daredevil and Batman, but still distinguishes it as something separate.
There are warm tones of oranges and yellows that break up the darker palette and add a nice contrast to the darkness of vigilantes and vampires. Alleyne’s colors even help to refine the characters, elevating Nightshock and his vampire family’s costumes from Batfamily cosplay to something original. The choice to build around a theme of gray and royal purple for Nightshock, and a complimentary lilac and black for his ‘Robin’ is one that builds an additional flair into the book’s designs that speaks to the idea of new but familiar.
The All-Nighter feels like a book made for anyone wanting a fun and exciting twist on the superhero genre and will be a rewarding read for fans of seminal Batman and Daredevil stories. Zdarsky brings his unique voice to both an original superhero property, and a supernatural premise, and once again shows the writer is a genre chameleon, able to blend to whatever he sets out to write. Paired with Loo’s style for the dramatic, and channeling some of the best crime artists, the story compels multiple read-throughs.
Ultimately, the book feels like the encapsulation of the four quadrants, as it caters to readers of superhero comics, urban fantasy fanatics, comedy fans, and crime junkies. Readers of any of these four genres will find something to love in Zdarsky’s script and Loo’s art and makes recommending the book one of the easiest of the year.
The All-Nighter: The Dark Universe We Deserve
- Writing - 9/109/10
- Storyline - 9/109/10
- Art - 10/1010/10
- Color - 10/1010/10
- Cover Art - 10/1010/10