REVIEW: Spawn #224

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Spawn has been around for 20 years and has recently undergone some major changes. Are these changes in story enough to keep old readers interested and attract new readers at the same time? Major Spoilers looks at the latest issue of Spawn to see if this title is worth reading after all those years.


SPAWN #224
Writer: Todd McFarlane
Artists: Szymon Kudranski
Letterer: Tom Orzechowski
Colorist: FCO Plascencia
Editor: Todd McFarlane
Publisher: Image Comics
Cover Price: $2.99

Previously in Spawn: Jim Downing is the new Spawn and after awakening from a coma tries to piece together his past. Learning that he was part of Project: Ragnarök, he and Richard Masullo (Tremor) interrogate a man known as the Agent for answers about both their pasts.

TRYING TO KEEP IT FRESH

I should start this review by saying that I have every issue of Spawn in my collection. I’m not sure that’s something to be proud of, but it should give you an idea of where I’m coming from. I’ve been there through the good and the bad (and the really bad) and have a deep understanding of the Spawn universe. After 184 issues, Todd McFarlane decided to shake things up a bit, killing off Al Simmons (the old Spawn) and bringing a new character, Jim Downing, to the forefront. Over the course of the last 40 issues or so, we have begun to see the differences between this new Spawn and the old, and are beginning to learn more about his past. All this has been done to keep things fresh in a title that was, admittedly, getting stale. And after all this time, it’s worked, and has me extremely interested in Spawn again.

This issue is all exposition as the interrogation of the Agent by Spawn begins to reveal information about Jim Downing’s past and shows that he has major ties to the Spawn universe. Jim was known as Director Kramer and was responsible for creating many of the villains that we’ve seen in Spawn throughout the years. While this revelation does feel shoehorned in and may retcon some things, it also works because it tries to respect what has come before. McFarlane’s not ignoring what has happened, he’s just adding to it. And while Jim may have been the one pulling some of the strings, we learn this issue that a character crucial to the Spawn universe, Jason Wynn, was manipulating him.

McFarlane has been doing a good job with this book, slowly tying up some loose ends but also keeping enough mystery to keep the reader hooked. What used to be a superhero book has become a mature supernatural thriller. Many readers, like me, have aged and matured while reading this title and it’s nice to see the book do the same. Gone are the superhero battles and in their place are dramatic dialogue and mature situations. The horror vibe works well with Spawn and all the changes made not only help bring new readers in, but also please longtime fans like myself. I’ve been very pleased with Spawn lately and this issue and its answers have me wanting more.

DEEP SHADOWS, HEAVY PHOTO-REALISM

Kudranski’s style has been another huge change made to the Spawn title. His style really brings across that realistic horror vibe that the book has going for it. This is a dark book, not just in tone but in the art as well. Deep shadows and blacks are present in every panel and Spawn himself appears as if he is just emerging from the black. His characters look incredibly realistic, which has to do with the style itself. Kudranski uses photos as reference and I believe even draws over those very photos. I personally love his work but realize his technique may not be to everyone’s liking. Luckily, he doesn’t use references of famous people, which can really becoming distracting to a reader. Overall, Kudranski’s work compliments the book well and Spawn has never been more terrifying.

THE BOTTOM LINE: TRY IT OUT

If you used to read Spawn and stopped a while ago or if you’re a new reader and want something new I suggest giving Spawn a shot. While this issue is not a very good jumping on point, I suggest starting with issue 185 and reading on from there. The title has been given a breath of fresh air and the changes have been working. The reveals in this issue have me intrigued and extremely excited for Spawn again. And that’s something that hasn’t been true for a while. Spawn #224 gets 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Rating: ★★★½☆

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