Vin Spencer is at a low point in his life when he meets a man who hunts giant spiders in New York City. Is this a drug-induced hallucination, or did it really happen? Find out in All Eight Eyes #1 from Dark Horse!
ALL EIGHT EYES #1
Writer: Steve Foxe
Artist: Piotr Kowalski
Colorist: Brad Simpson
Letterer: Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou
Editor: Daniel Chabon
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: April 19, 2023
Previously in All Eight Eyes: Vin Spencer lives in New York City not long after 9/11. A college dropout, his life consists of drugs and parties, and trying to make ends meet. Life is not easy, but he has no idea how much harder it is going to get.
ONE NIGHT IN THE PARK
Let me just be up front and say that if you have arachnophobia, All Eight Eyes #1 is probably not for you, which you can tell by the name. If you don’t mind spiders, this is a take on them that I have not seen before and, horrifying as it is, it draws you in.
It is 2003. Vin knocks on the door of the place he has been staying, but he has not paid rent in four months. Having no place to go, he walks and smokes. As he goes through a park, an odd noise catches his attention. He looks up to see a guy hitting another man with a hammer. He is terrified but pulls out his phone. The man with the hammer spots him and grabs him, but he also makes Vin look at what happened. There is a dead man, but there is also an enormous spider that killed him. Vin does the only sensible thing and runs as the man finishes killing the spider. But then he catches up to Vin.
Vin awakens in a basement as the man’s dog licks his face. The man notices and throws him against the wall, threatening him with the hammer. Vin tells him he’s broke. The man, Reynolds, based on the name on his jacket, is not trying to mug him; he just wants to know what Vin saw. Vin knows he is drunk and stoned and is worried that he is losing his mind because he is still sure he saw a really big spider.
Reynolds drags a sack over to him. Vin is afraid it will be full of dismembered body parts, but no, it is the giant spider. Reynolds then hands him a book which is an account of everything he has learned on his own or from other survivors. He has been following and hunting these spiders for years. Vin thinks this is nuts and wants better answers. How could people not know about giant spiders? Reynolds claims he has tried to tell people, but they are all dead. He decides to send Vin on his way but gives him the option to meet again in a few days,
Vin gets kicked out, refuses to go back to his childhood home, and finds another couch to surf on. Then he goes to see Reynolds. Reynolds introduces him to his dog, Possum, and hands Vin a shovel. They start digging in the park. Vin’s shovel strikes a mass of webs. Reynolds throws something into the hole and there is an explosion. Spiders come pouring out and they kill them. But Reynolds knows that, come the next day, the official report will have rationalized this all away.
SO MANY SPIDERS
The art of All Eight Eyes #1 uses strong inking and a lot of cross-hatching to provide texture, and I like the way it gives the book a gritty feeling. This is not the shiny New York of millionaires and tourists. This is a place millions of people call home and try to survive. Their lives may not be great, but something about the city is better than whatever they left behind. Against this backdrop, Vin is so much a regular guy. This shines through when he meets Reynolds and assumes he has witnessed a murder. That may be sensational, but to his addled brain, it is believable. Adding spiders into the mix just drives him over the edge.
I love that our first contact with the spiders, like Vin’s, is by hearing the sound effect of one being hit repeatedly with a hammer. The gooey, red lettering bodes no good and we shudder to find out what is happening. When the spider is revealed, it has wrapped a human halfway in webbing, and it is almost as big as a person. It is shown again later to great effect when Reynolds seems to be testing Vin. There is also a wonderful montage of spider attacks in the city. One of the panels I love looks like it dates from around the turn of the last century. In the foreground is a group of men, and their background is a bridge. But hanging from the arch below the roadway we can make out the slender legs of a spider.
BOTTOM LINE: CREEPY AND INTRIGUING
All Eight Eyes #1 is horror of the creepy-crawly variety combined with the flavor of conspiracy fantasy. The spiders have been here for ages, yet people keep explaining them away. Is there an even bigger story behind their presence?
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All Eight Eyes #1
Vin thought his life could not get much worse until he found out about the spiders.