Helpless took the fight to the station. Now Cov’n brings it back to the habitat, determined to exterminate everything. Who will reign supreme? Find out in All Against All #5 from Image Comics!
ALL AGAINST ALL #5
Writer: Alex Paknadel
Artist: Caspar Wijngaard
Letterer: Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou
Editor: Chris Ryall
Publisher: Image Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: April 12, 2023
Previously in All Against All: Helpless breaks free and rampages through the ship, killing Operators as he goes. General Cov’n retreats to the lab and demands to be given a prototype body, that of the gorilla, Thumper. He is confident that his discipline will allow him to overcome the body’s instincts. In the habitat, V’lmann recognizes her father who is connected to the alligator attacking her. She leaves her body to connect to it and free him. Then she transfers him into a corpse to keep him alive long enough to get him out. B’tay talks about Helpless and how he was trying to save him from their people. Then Helpless re-enters the habitat, followed by Cov’n!
HAVING AND LOSING CONTROL
All Against All #5 opens with a flashback of a young V’lmann in her first body. She is looking for her mother whose body stands there, open and empty. And B’tay says it is not possible to put her back. He says it is time to say goodbye to her. V’lmann’s mother is in her natural form in a tank, and she does not recognize her daughter. As V’lmann becomes more upset, B’tay urges her to pull herself together, to stay in control. And control, including self-control, is one of the underlying themes of this book.
In the habitat, Helpless fights Cov’n but also remembers Thumper, the ape who protected him as though he were its child. Now his protector, reshaped by Operator technology into a new body, tries to kill him. The fight comes close to V’lmann. She does not know who is in the prototype body, but B’tay knows it must be Cov’n. V’lmann urges Helpless to run, and B’tay warns him that they cannot control the Earth bodies. Helpless whistles for the wolf, and Cov’n hits him hard.
Helpless runs further into the habitat while Cov’n, ranting about how he is going to take over everything within the habitat, follows him and tells him he is nothing but a resource. But Helpless is hardly running aimlessly as he leads the general over a pit trap full of spikes that impale him. Helpless remembers Thumper being caught this way. Cov’n realizes that the body he is trying to control has some affection for the human.
Helpless then turns on V’lmann. He does not see Cov’n drag himself out of the pit, but the wolf does and attacks. Cov’n kills the wolf and becomes even more maddened. He grabs Helpless and demands that he help them win their war. With a sudden, dreadful realization, V’lmann realizes she is complicit in this tragedy. She grabs a sharp rock, leaps onto Cov’n’s back, and splits his skull. Helpless strikes, pulling out Cov’n’s natural body and killing it. Helpless again turns on V’lmann.
Thumper’s revised body strikes him down. B’tay moved inside it. He had to kill Helpless to save his daughter. He tells her this body has always been his, and he picks up Helpless and walks away, deeper into the habitat.
V’lmann reveals all this in her briefing to the Operators who come to the outpost. They have more news. Their war is lost, and they are in retreat. The enemy will arrive soon, and they are not kind to captives. She must leave, but there is no way that they could save her father, even if they could find him.
LOVE AND LOSS
The lettering in All Against All #5 is so important to keeping track of the main characters. The Operators can switch bodies. The dedicated coloring each of them has is not just a way to help us distinguish them when looking at their humanoid forms. We understand immediately who is in anybody. In this issue, where the switch between Cov’n and B’tay happens, it is crucial. We have seen the bond between B’tay and Helpless as well as the bond between Thumper and Helpless. Had the Director been spending time in the habitat within Thumper’s body?
Cov’n is terrifying in his madness. We have seen how the Operators get caught up in the emotions of the bodies of Earth creatures. He was determined to kill Helpless before he took over the prototype. The joy of killing intoxicates him. Putting that emotional energy in the strongest body in the habitat is a dangerous combination, one that Helpless cannot overcome alone. I like how V’lmann makes her decision to help in the fight. This is nothing she ever dreamed of doing, and she is terrified even as she leaps onto Cov’n’s back and strikes his head.
BOTTOM LINE: A SCI-FI TOUR DE FORCE
All Against All #5 is a stunning read. It has the suspenseful inexorability of a great horror story, but mixed within are the threads of familial connections. Those connections seem so fragile, but sometimes, when life is in the balance, they have the strength to overcome adversity.
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All Against All #5
Can the human, Helpless, take on General Cov’n who has taken over the enhanced body of the ape, Thumper?