Comics, Reviews

All Against All Comic Review: Humanity in the Stars

Dive into this vibrant and brutal story about an alien race searching for the answers that will save them from destruction.

All Against All Review Cover
Image: Image Comics
By: Javier ReyesFeb 23, 2024, 2:05 AM

All Against All TP

Review
Rating
9
Good
All Against All Full Cover

Writer: Alex Paknadel

Artist: Caspar Wijngaard

Publisher: Image Comics

Release Date: July 4, 2023

Page Count: 144

Format: Comic

In a story that blends sci-fi and horror, creators Alex Paknadel and Caspar Wijngaard masterfully crafted a visually stunning and violently brutal world.

“All Against All” took me by surprise. Having never read a comic by writer Alex Paknadel or seen much work by artist Caspar Wijngaard, I was blown away by what these two put together. As common as sci-fi stories are in comics these days, this comic brought plenty of fresh twists with its themes of humanity explored from the perspective of a unique alien race. It’s also a comic that’s undeniably gorgeous to look at. Every page is just bursting with incredible art and vibrant colors. I’ll gush more about Wijngaard’s art later.

All Against All The Operators

Story Overview

In the distant future, human life as we know it is eradicated. One of the dominant species in the universe is a disembodied race of alien parasites known as the “Operators.” With their ability to control the bodies of other creatures, the Operators developed their civilization by harvesting planet after planet for species with the most physically impressive traits. Over time, they refined their development of specialized bodies to replace the need for living hosts.

Despite their massive spread throughout the universe, the Operators are attacked by an unknown and powerful civilization. All eyes fall on an Operator research station to harvest a strong and intelligent specimen that is built for battle. Under the leadership of Director B’Tay, a team of Operators dive back into the artificial habitat they created to harvest the most powerful apex predator they can find. Except unknown to the facility and the general of the Operator fleet, Director B’Tay has a dark secret waiting within the lush landscape of the habitat.

A monster attacks

Review

What struck me immediately about “All Against All” is its jaw-dropping artwork. Everything from the bio-mechanical designs of the Operators to the lush scenery within the artificial habitat has a balance of beauty and brutality. Artist Caspar Wijngaard’s creative use of pastel colors gives the futuristic world a more textured and vibrant look. Especially in the comic’s more violent scenes, you can’t help but be amazed by how beautifully visceral the artwork is. While I was unfamiliar with Wijngaard’s work before, I am definitely going to keep him on my radar now.

Letterer Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou also plays a big role in defining this title’s distinct visual identity. In a brilliant touch, the speech bubbles and letters coordinate with the color schemes of each character. This style makes the reading experience easy while adding more artistic flair to every page.

The concept of the Operators stands out as something very unique in sci-fi. “All Against All” explores what it means to be human but through the lens of an alien race. Despite being parasites by nature, the Operators have evolved beyond the need to act like parasites. Instead, they act more like humans with their capacity to show love, compassion, and even hatred. With humans long gone, the Operators are the benchmark of humanity within the story. It’s when we meet an actual human that we see how humanity is defined not necessarily by one’s species but by a person’s ability to take control of their actions and emotions.

That subtle role reversal of humans and aliens plays out in many different ways throughout the story. One sequence particularly is reminiscent of Ridley Scott’s “Alien.” But in a unique twist, it’s a human who plays the role of a monster hunting down its prey. It’s a visually brutal scene that also subverts your expectation of classic narrative tropes.

Helpless attacks and Operator

Final Thoughts

Creators Alex Paknadel and Caspar Wijngaard did incredible work building a sci-fi world that stands uniquely on its own with a strong message behind it. I feel a bit embarrassed that I never had this book on my radar until its trade paperback release. But after turning its final page, I can safely say that “All Against All” was a truly special experience. Don’t miss out on one of the most visually stunning and narratively compelling comics out today.

Why You Should Read All Against All

  • Compelling sci-fi concept that breaks the norm
  • The visuals are jaw-dropping on every page
  • The stylized lettering makes for an easy reading experience
TAGGED: Image Comics
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