The All-Nighter trade paperback from Dark Horse Comics shows us that even creatures of the night want to be superheroes too. They may not have entirely the best reasons to do so, but at least they have their undead hearts in the right places.
The All-Nighter is basically the graphic novel compilation of issues #1-#5 of the comic book series of the same name from ComiXology. Chip Zdarsky is the writer, with Aditya Bidikar as the letterer. Jason Loo is the artist and cover artist, with Paris Alleyne as the colorist. Lastly, Dark Horse Comics is the publisher behind this graphic novel compilation.
The All-Nighter went on sale on March 16, 2022 for a retail price of $19.99. You can order it in print or download it digitally directly from Dark Horse Comics.
Warning: spoilers for The All-Nighter below. If you want to read about the (mis)adventures of a vampire superhero for yourself, stop here, and come back once the sun has set again.
The All-Nighter: Plot Summary
The All-Nighter stars us off at the titular all-night/night-only diner, where a group of vampires led by Ian live and work there to cover up their undeath. The diner provides them with both income and a food source in the form of blood from the butchers providing them their meat. It’s a pretty comfortable life for a vampire overall. For our main character Alex though, just merely living isn’t enough. He’s bored out of his mind, and wants to live instead of just collecting his daily blood. So when a mugging gives him an opportunity to be a superhero like his idols, he takes it by the throat.
Unfortunately, his vampire family catches on that this superhero is him. Starting with his best friend Joy (a 45-year old woman trapped in the body of a 12-year old), who fortunately decides to accompany him on his nightly patrols also out of boredom. She actually saves his hide from being found out during a raid on a drug deal. Apparently, if a human identifies a supernatural creature in this world and spreads that information, said supernatural creature will have the Takers come for them. We never learn what the Takers actually are in The All-Nighter. Only that once they get you, you never come back. Just like whoever Charlie was. We never learn who he was either though, so that’s a bummer.
Creatures of the Night, Assemble!
Unfortunately, Alex and Joy’s nightly hijinks give other supernatural creatures ideas. See, the superhero gig turns out to be a loophole supernatural creatures can use to avoid the attention of the Takers. This starts with a group of trolls attacking cars crossing their bridge, and taking people hostage. Alex and Joy manage to free them, but it results in Alex getting arrested, and forcing his family to break into the police station to free him (with a little help from Frankenstein and his private army of werewolves).
Alex promises not to do this again, but events conspire to force him to break that promise early. A clown-like boogeyman and his army of goblin-like things invades the local city hall, takes the politicians hostage, and terrorize any bystanders. The vampire family decide to intervene, and even Ian eventually comes around and helps slay the boogeyman. In the midst of the fighting though, Ian disappears. As his vampire family celebrates their victory and newfound liberty (courtesy of police allies) though, we find out what happened to Ian.
Apparently, his vampire clan takes him prisoner, claiming that he violated an ancient vampire law. Said law was simply that vampires cannot have clans they didn’t approve. This is a kangaroo court, but the vampires are fully aware of this. They in fact intend to use this as an excuse to eliminate Ian, who turns out to be Dracula. What will happen to Ian/Dracula? Well, that’s what we’ll presumably find out in the next volume of The All-Nighter. Assuming that there will be one.
The All-Nighter: The Good
The basic premise of The All-Nighter is probably its biggest hook. The idea of a vampire family becoming superheroes is a very interesting one. It’s like Interview of the Vampire crossed with The Incredibles. And to Chip Zdarsky’s credit, he carries out the premise pretty well with a nice balance of action, comedy, and drama. With a small but noticeable amount of blood thrown in to boot. It’s rather fitting for a family of vampires.
The artwork of The All-Nighter is another good point about it. Not only is the art in general pretty good, but Alex and Joy’s costumes are pretty well-designed too. They feel like a combination of those old Silver Age superheroes crossed over with the dark grittiness of Kick-Ass.
The All-Nighter: The Bad
One of my complaints about The All-Nighter is how Chip Zdarsky characterized Alex early on. Alex explicitly decided to become a superhero not out of morality, but because he was bored out of his mind. Granted, he does grow out of this midway through the story. However, I feel like the transition from “Superhero-ing for excitement” to “Superhero-ing because it’s the right thing to do” wasn’t as smooth as it could’ve been. I think it could’ve been better if his antics accidentally caused civilian deaths, which forces him to reevaluate why he’s being a superhero. But that’s just my opinion here. Your mileage may vary.
My other complaint about The All-Nighter was how Frankenstein basically convinced Cynthia to step down as CEO of her own company. Frankenstein acted like a chauvinistic, condescending jerk; although that might be intentional on Chip Zdarsky’s part. The reasoning for Cynthia to step down as CEO (“The world will tolerate a wealthy eccentric man, but not a wealthy eccentric woman.”) also feels…off. I suppose it’s a social commentary on the glass ceiling women face in the business world, but it seems…unfair, is the best way I can put it. I guess that might be intentional too on Zdarsky’s part. Maybe it’s a good thing that makes me uncomfortable then. At the very least, it brings attention to the issue. Hopefully in a way that is thoughtfully uncomfortable.
Source: Dark Horse Comics