This comic books series was like “Batman” meets “Castlevania”, sort of!
Created by Chip Zdarsky and Jason Loo, “The All Nighter” is a five-part comic book series about a bored vampire flipping burgers at an all-night diner, completely bored out of his mind. That’s no way for a nearly immortal being to live. So, inspired by his favorite superhero movies, Max, the protagonist, decides to become a caped hero, and his origin story is straight out of the panels of a Batman comic. No, Max does not lose his parents to a brutal mugging. Instead, he saves a middle-aged couple from being mugged in a dark alley, probably also preventing someone from becoming an orphan. The scene instantly made me think of Thomas and Martha Wayne; and “The All-Nighter” is filled with such allusions to popular comic book scenes, characters, and tropes.
Issue #1 of the series starts with a rather angst-filled scene introducing Cynthia, who works at “The All Nighter” diner, and is fuming at a customer for calling her ‘doll’ while placing his order. Cynthia is calmed down by Joy, a young girl. Right on the second page, two regular cops who’ve been visiting the diner for years remark about how Joy hasn’t aged at all in the time they’ve been eating at the place. The humans think it’s a rare condition, but readers are informed that the diner is run by a group of four vampires. Nobody seems to be happy with their situation, but it seems like the best way to keep a low profile in a world where their kind is rare. But tired of his mundane life, Max decides to become a caped crusader who takes on criminals in the night. Joy’s sub-plot was a throwback to the bratty Claudia from “Interview With The Vampire”, both are adult vampires trapped in a child’s body, which can be exceedingly frustrating.
Published by Dark Horse Books, the artwork in “The All Nighter” carries a style quite typical of established DC/Marvel superhero comics, characterized by vibrant and bold panels along with striking coloring. While the first two issues prove to be quite gripping, the pacing notably slows down starting from issue #3 onward. The creators attempt to introduce numerous new characters, creatures, and sub-plots, we to making the series rather chaotic to follow.
Adding to the confusion is the concept of “Takers” – an evil group that persecutes non-humans when they step out of line. The exact origins of this group are never properly explained, further muddling the narrative. While Chip Zdarsky adheres to established superhero and vampire archetypes, the infusion of inspiration from popular culture feels excessive, and it overshadows the essence of the vampire fiction elements. Apart from a few pages depicting Max and his friends enjoying blood-smoothies, there’s little that truly portrays them as creatures of the night.
“The All Nighter” heads towards a pretty predictable end, but makes for an entertaining read due to the blend of two beloved genres. Read it if you are a superhero comic book fan with a soft spot for vampire fiction too. It’s also available on Kindle Unlimited.
Also Read: The Madman’s Library – Book Review (audio version below)