All Nighter #3
Writers/Artist/Cover artist: David Hahn
Letters: Aditya Bidikar
Publisher: Image Comics
Price: $2.99 US
The first issue of this five-part series was good but really didn’t stand out all that much, maybe because I thought it was going to be about a couple of punks who got kicks from stealing from others and breaking into other people’s homes, but the issues that followed have really grabbed my attention. This series just keeps getting better and better, because those subsequent episodes of All Nighter have focused on the relationships in the main character’s life. David Hahn has crafted a tremendously compelling collection of characters and interpersonal dynamics, and his simple cartooning style has made for some attractive but believable figures. I’m thoroughly enjoying this series, in part from an unusual mystery but mostly because I’m interest in seeing Kit learning from the mistakes she’s making. Ultimately, this series seems to be about a girl maturing into a woman, not from a physiological or sexual perspective, but from an emotional one.
A big house party proves to be a turning point in Kit’s life, as she discovers her new housemate Martha is an interesting soul and a potentially great friend, but more importantly, she reconnects with Jim, a guy she dated once who seemed truly genuine and, well, perfect for her. Unfortunately, he’s dating another one of her housemates, Donna. Kit faces a difficult choice: pursue a potentially fulfilling relationship or be the tried and true friend society expects her to be.
Hahn employs a simple style that nevertheless conveys a genuine tone in his characters. All of his characters are thin, attractive people, but there’s also a convincing, believable look to them. While lean, he doesn’t opt to portray them as dripping with sexuality. There’s never anything gratuitous in the visuals, even though there’s passion between two of the characters. I like how Martha stands out among the characters as the only really bookish one, which conveys her meekness. The detail in the backgrounds is impressive, and there’s always a strong sense of place — again, this comes despite the fact boasts a simpler approach in his linework. I love the “cameo” from comic artist Colleen Coover, who provides an illustration in the main character’s sketchbook.
There’s an interesting study in contrasts in Hahn’s plotting for this issue. Kit finally turns her back on her thieving ways, but despite the change of heart, her crimes bite her in the ass, harming her relationships with not one but two friends. Furthermore, her connection with Jim places her in an unenviable position. The reader can see she genuinely wants to be a good person, that she’s growing up, but circumstances seem to place her in a position where she does the wrong thing but for a good reason.
The title for this five-part series is something of a misnomer, as it suggests most of the story unfolds in the all-night diner from which the comic derives its name. Maybe that was Hahn’s original intent, to employ the diner as a nexus where these characters’ lives intersect. But that hasn’t really proven to be the case. The diner keeps popping up, yes, but it doesn’t feel as vital an element as it did in the first issue. Perhaps the plot simply evolved and developed away from the diner as Hahn crafted the story, or maybe he was at a loss for a title and defaulted to the diner as inspiration.
I’m pretty far removed from the social drama of being in your early 20s and trying to find yourself, so one might expect that the characters in All Nighter would be somewhat foreign to me, that I wouldn’t be able to connect with them. But for a reader such as myself, four decades into his life, Hahn’s characters represent memories. Jim’s sheepishness, his embarrassment, his awkwardness around women — I recognize myself (or my past self) in him. Kit and Martha’s sense of wonder at the house party is also something just about anyone can recognize in themselves or in past points in their lives. 8/10
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