In this time of reboots and renumbering it’s rare to see books numbered correctly, especially in higher digits. For an indy book to reach triple numbers is extremely rare but Spawn has endured. Whether you’ve been reading or even known it was still around, Spawn has turned 250. There are some big changes coming…Major Spoilers has your review!
Previously in Spawn: Jim Downing has been having his share of difficulties as the new Spawn. With healing powers, angel wings and a symbiotic suit from Hell, he’s coming to grips with who he used to be. Now Jim is fighting the costume as it unleashes evil, spreading through the whole city.
TREADING WATER BEFORE THE BIG SPLASH
I’m an unabashed Spawn fan, having read and collected every issue of the series. Like any long term relationship there have been highs and lows but I’ve enjoyed the ride. I was extremely excited for this book not only for the big changes, but because an independent book was reaching #250.
The story centers on Jim fighting the costume for control, as the costume unleashes evil in the form of bugs, snakes and other vermin. As the evil grows and spreads through the city, Sam and Twitch try to figure out the meaning of the symbols the bugs are forming. Once the fight ends and the smoke clears, we see the return of an old friend, Al Simmons; the original Spawn. While the last half of the book is epic and has some nice tension and drama, the first half dragged and seemed superfluous at times. While this is an oversized issue, it could have about ten or so pages cut from its sixty page count. Too much is repeated, with multiple newscasts telling the reader what they’ve seen and heard already. The bugs are spreading, chaos ensues, mass panic, etc. It’s all water treading in lead up to the big finale with almost Man of Steel level destruction. Jim’s fight with the symbiotic costume is huge and I liked the interaction between the two. The costume has always been a separate entity controlling its host at times, but now it speaks and it is one angry Hell being. Al Simmons’ return is great and McFarlane does a good job of tying it all back to #185 when Al killed himself. I’m interested to see more of an explanation as to why Al is back and exactly how it happened (and why he’s got a badass sword). Some of the symbol’s meanings seem to be a stretch, especially concerning times and dates, but McFarlane’s Spawn mysteries have always been convenient. Overall I’m happy with the issue and while long time readers will enjoy it, new readers will be lost and only interested in seeing the original Spawn return. Next month’s Spawn: Resurrection will be the place to jump on.
NOT THE BEST SUITED FOR ACTION
Szymon Kudranski leaves me impressed at times and extremely dissatisfied at others. His style is 100% photo reference and going over photographs with his own line art. It works great at times and in the past has suited the Spawn story but this issue doesn’t play to his strengths. Previous issues have been dark and heavy on dialogue and story but most of #250 is action based. I enjoyed the fight through the sky as Jim and the costume smash through buildings but other moments looked very stilted. This issue makes it clear that if Kudranski doesn’t have some kind of reference then his skills become lacking. Things like furniture or even Jim’s angel wings become simplified and off perspective. It’s unfortunate because I think Kudranski has done a great job on the title but this issue was his weakest. Newcomer Jonboy has an amazing last page and I can’t wait to see his work.
THE BOTTOM LINE: HOPE THE CHANGES STAY FRESH
It’s clear McFarlane has reneged on his “dead characters stay dead” rule, otherwise Simmons wouldn’t be back. There looks to be some change and I hope that bringing Al back won’t spoil what was making Spawn fun recently. McFarlane hasn’t been scared of mixing it up so it will be interesting to see where the story heads. This issue is a bit bloated but has a great finale that will have long time fans happy. New readers may find it neat to see Al return but will generally be lost. I certainly think Spawn is the best it has been in a long, long time and hopefully next month’s Spawn: Resurrection will draw in new readers. Praise should at least be given to McFarlane for making it last 250 issues because I know many didn’t think it ever would.