Review: ‘All Against All’ #1 Is A Brutal Beginning To An Exciting Scifi World
by Tony Thornley
Earth is dead. Most of its life is extinct. All that’s left is captive on an alien research station. And that’s just the beginning of the story in All Against All #1.
Alex Paknadel, Caspar Wijngaard, Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou, and Ian Chalgren begin the brutal story of Earth’s last remnants.
The Operators rule the galaxy with their might, including the genetically designed bodies that their parasitic forms pilot. But now they are challenged by another race mightier than they are. That means Director B’Tay, the Operators’ chief geneticist, will need to provide his race something new and mighty to win the war. Unfortunately for B’Tay, he’s underestimated the deadly Earth beasts in his menagerie, including the deadliest of all- a human.
The elevator pitch for this series was essentially “what if the Predator was a human, and the aliens were the hunted.” This issue is so much more than that. This is first of all, a top notch example of how to do world building right. The Operators’ culture is fascinating, and the focus on them through this issue grounds them. That doesn’t make them likable by any means, because Paknadel goes to great lengths to show how despicable they are.
Paknadel doesn’t just do great world building, he crafts interesting characters too. Though the human lead isn’t much of a presence in this issue, he makes an impact with his few appearances. B’Tay is sympathetic, even with the amoral methods, as he’s our defacto protagonist- I want him to get his comeuppance but not to receive any serious harm. Other characters remind me of a horror movie- you get to know them enough to like or dislike them, hoping for karmic fates for all. It’s done so well that you’re invested quickly.
Wijngaard does absolutely beautiful work in this issue. He depicts the Earth creatures all as grotesque and monstrous because the Operators are our point of view. They don’t understand that the deer are diseased or that they’re mixing predators that would never be found in nature together. They just see them acting on their instincts as bizarre and horrifying, which Wijngaard sells. That’s on top of his already great storytelling- especially as he integrates color into what he’s doing.
Otsmane-Elhaou reinforces the alien setting with his letters. The font, captions and balloons are all non-standard, but not so much so that they take away from the reading. He also gives each of the operators their own unique speech color, which goes with each one’s unique body.
This series is going to be one everyone’s going to be talking about next year. You do not want to miss it. Get in on the ground floor.
All Against All #1 is available now from Image Comics.
A bold new sci-fi world is the last must-read of 2022. The world-building is exciting, the story is tense and the art is incredible. Get in on this before getting left behind!