From writer Steve Foxe (X-Men) and artist Piotr Kowalski (Bloodborne) comes a return to the beloved horror subgenre of big damn bugs with All Eight Eyes #1. Featuring colors by Brad Simpson and lettering from Hass Otsmane-Elhaou, this first chapter is a perfect blend of human moments and skin-crawling creepiness that makes this one of the most entertaining first chapters of 2023 thus far.
“In the forgotten corners of post-9/11 New York City, skittering shapes in the darkness prey on the people society leaves behind. College dropout Vin Spencer floats through life in a drug-and-party-fueled haze, until one terrible night sweeps him into a drifters reckless war against the giant eight-legged horrors stalking the city.”
Writing & Plot
Steve Foxe does a remarkable job of introducing giant killer spiders in a story that is still firmly planted in human issues with All Eight Eyes #1. Vin, our protagonist, is both the audience’s window into this world of big bugs and an established person himself. When we find him, Vin is a broke dropout living far from home – and then he stumbles upon a homeless man beating a giant spider to death with a hammer. From there, both Vin and the reader learn more about the arachnid threat and how it directly impacts some of the world’s most vulnerable people – those without a place to call their own. Like all great genre stories, the core is embedded in very real concerns which the fantastical aspects are then used to flesh out. In this case, being poor, destitute, and forced to live on the fringes of society makes one more susceptible to being eaten by a tarantula the size of a box truck. Foxe’s dialogue sensibilities feel naturalistic yet clipped, creating a flow between characters that is interesting and divulges info while staying entertaining. Overall, Foxe has one hell of an opening chapter for this great tale of big damn creepy crawlies.
For a comic like All Eight Eyes #1, there needs to be an artist that knows their way around some big, nasty, and anatomically correct arachnids. Piotr Kowalski just so happens to be the perfect man for the job. His work on Bloodborne adaptations proves that he can handle the disturbing details on unimaginable monstrosities, so converting that skill over to making very big spiders may have been a cakewalk by comparison. His nightmarishly massive web-spinners look to be pretty accurate comparisons to their real-life versions. He uses a variety of species and even utilizes them in settings identical to their natural habitats. Kowalski’s sequential direction makes for great creep-out moments on one hand while also delivering great character-focused scenes on the other. There’s a stellar eye for picking what details and reactions need attention, and it carries the story remarkably well. The color art by Brad Simpson paints this world in a gradient of neon detritus. Some pages are cast in the dingy glow of fluorescent apartment lighting and streetlights, while also being caked in a sort of slimy aesthetic. There’s a direct intention falling in line with the comic’s thematic objective to show that the least well-off are the most victimized by giant spiders roaming the dark corners of the earth. Simpson’s unique color work makes for a continuous sense of unease coupled with Kowalski’s eye for horror direction. Finally, Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou’s letters are an absolute standout. The industry veteran heard “giant spider creature feature” and went all in on SFX work. While his normal dialogue lettering is great as well – constantly dynamic with spot-on changes for character tone – his FX lettering goes all in on the gross. His fonts match whatever is happening on the page, from liquid-stickiness from a giant spider being beaten to a pulp to the rough penciling of something being dragged over the dirt. Elhaou’s work fits perfectly into the rest of the aesthetic. Overall, the visuals for this giant monster fest create a perfectly atmospheric experience.
All Eight Eyes #1 is a brilliant start to this old school-style creature feature. Steve Foxe’s script is smart and poignant, knowing how to layer in real human issues with the genre trapping of a story about killing giant arachnids. The visual from Piotr Kowalski and Brad Simpson are atmospheric, textured, and well-directed, making for a comic with art as sharp as the story it creates. Be sure to grab this stupidly fun debut when it hits shelves on April 19th!