Writer: Steve Foxe
Artist: Piotr Kowalski
Colorist: Brad Simpson
Letterer: Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou
Cover Artists: Piotr Kowalski and Brad Simpson
Publisher: Dark Horse
Release Date: April 19, 2023
When his roomie throws him out after four months of nonpayment of rent, Vin wanders through the park in the early morning hours. He spies a homeless man hammering another man in the head. The homeless man grabs him and pulls him over. Vin sees a giant spider lying beside the corpse. What happens next? Let’s brave a look inside All Eight Eyes #1 and find out!
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Vin had thought to report the man. Now all he wants to do is get away. But the homeless man chases him and bashes him with his hammer. The dog licks him. He jerks awake. The dog backs off and growls. The man crouches before him and thrusts his hammer in his face. “Don’t scare my dog,” he says. A patch on the man’s jacket reads Reynolds. Once again, he shows Vin the spider. He shares how his discovery has changed his life. He shows Vin his journal, in which he’s recorded his adventures. Most people never see this menace, he claims. If Vin sticks to well-trodden areas, he’ll likely never see one again. He advises Vin to forget about the spiders if he can.
All Eight Eyes #1 shines a light on the homeless community in the United States. As Kim Stanley Robinson does in his novel Green Earth, Steve Foxe posits that some vagrants might contribute more to the public good than their more socially acceptable neighbors. He also reminds us how easy it is to merely see what we expect to find. His story asks: How much more might we discover if we broadened our vision and explored more of our world?
Piotr Kowalski draws interiors with incredible detail, imbues his characters with personality, and packs outdoor scenery with realism. Brick walls reveal cracks and surface imperfections. Clothing show texture, creases, and shadows. Like Vin and Reynolds, the spider-warrior’s dog overcomes his breed’s bad rep to become a sympathetic character. Kowalski limits panels to individual pages rather than working across pages horizontally. Even pages with big reveals sport several panels. My only quibble was Reynolds’ journal. He shows it to Vin, who holds it while they talk. Then we never see it again. Did Vin take Reynolds’ journal or not? At least we can read two pages of his adventures at the end of All Eight Eyes #1.
The hall of Vin’s former apartment reveals color differences in peeling wallpaper and shadows cast on walls and floor by an inadequate overhead light. Vehicle headlights illumine darkened streets beneath the violet sky. The green of grass, shrubs, and foliage contrasts with Reynolds and Vin’s earth tones in the early morning light. When Reynolds’ dog licks Vin awake, he sees brown brick walls that show color differences, highlights, and shadows. While Kowalski draws lines beneath each character, Brad Simpson shades the area to deepen shadows. His coloring is never harsh or garish, and he uses gray sparingly. Intriguingly, he colors the spiders purple, blue, green, and yellow. It’s not as psychedelic as James Stokoe’s coloring in Orphan and Five Beasts, but it reminds me that Vin’s seeing something that shocks him.
Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou uses uppercase letters in spherical white dialogue balloons. Inflection makes words grow bold. Rectangular narrative boxes overlay scenes of spider infestation as Reynolds relates his adventures. Sound effects include the dog’s growls, the giant spider landing on a brick floor, and the Whoosh of erupting fire. Words combine with art to help us see sound in All Eight Eyes #1.
Grounded in cultural relevance and monster lore, All Eight Eyes #1 is a fast-paced, thought-provoking read that may make you look at the world differently. The beautiful art, additional story pages, and journal entries make this lovingly detailed comic a must-buy for all but the most ardent arachnophiles.