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Thread: My Spawn-Athon

  1. #1
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    Default My Spawn-Athon

    I've decided to do the impossible and read through the first 150 issues of Spawn. I may extend it depending on if I enjoy it enough and if they announce more compendiums (I do also get the series month to month and have been doing so since 314, still, I'll probably pick up compendium 7 if that ever gets announced/ released).
    Anyway, I'm here to document my opinions and such, see if I get understand the complexity that is "Spawn"

    Issues 1-4
    The decompression is real with these issues, I feel that while it's a suitable enough opener, it really could have been told in about 2 issues. The first also needed to be a bigger issue as it really just feels like an episodic adventure with hints of a story thrown in. Saying that, the story we get here is actually decent. I'm on the side that Todd is a great artist, but not a very good writer, he understands layout and how to capture a cool image, but the structure can throw you off and his dialogue... leaves a lot to be desired. I will admit, it's a huge improvement over his Spider-Man book, which honestly feels like proto Spawn.
    The Characters set up here are at their most basic form, which is understandable as it is the start of a long running story. But information is given way too quickly. In the span of four issues, Al goes from having no memory of his past life to remembering that his Wife wanted a Child and that he was the problem in conceiving. For as decompressed as the comic feels, there seems to be a rush to get from one point to the other. It's a rather weird and contradictory notion to go through as the comic feels at odds with itself.
    Once Spawn meets Violator however, seeds of what the comic will become start to spread. Violator is an interesting villain in that he knows more than Al, and in many regards, is more powerful than him. However, he is just a slave to his Master, and that limits him to allow Spawn to win. It's always a good idea to allow your cool 90's Character win their first battle just to showcase how cool they actually are.
    The fight here is pretty well paced, not once did it feel rushed and there's a lot of great imagery at play here. Todd does a great job with the artwork here and the lettering adds to both the 90's charm, but also aesthetic the comic is going for.
    My complaints aside, I actually enjoyed this first arc a lot, it sets up the World well even through it could have been told in 2 issues, with revelations and motivations that could have been told in 12. While I don't think it's a masterpiece or anywhere in the list of best comics ever made, it serves the purpose it wanted to and is just a cool piece of fiction.
    I doubt all my reviews will go this in-depth as I go along, but there's a lot I wanted to address here.

    Issue 5
    This is the big famous issue, the one which everyone talks about and after reading it I can honestly see why. This is the Spawn I want to see more of, these short one off stories which portray him as a sort of Mythological figure told as a fun buddy cop horror story. What a unique genre that could be. Here, the spotlight is on Sam and Twitch, two officers who showed up in the first arc investigating a series of deaths from the Mafia. This time, they are unhappy with the premature release of one Billy Kincaid who serving time for the death of a seven year old Girl. I will say this now, the Violator was a cool design but ultimately a silly Character, but Billy feels more dangerous. There's order to what Violator is doing, but Billy kills just for fun. It also gives us a cool piece of World Building in that the law in this World is corrupt. Billy is released on a technicality, no one wants to talk about it and Sam and Twitch are both forbidden to investigate while they are on the job. Sam himself states that he hasn't got kids yet he feels more concerned than anyone. It really gives some insight into how the World works and the characters of both Sam and Twitch.
    We are also given some backstory on Al, how he was a merc and he was hired to take down Billy, but the Police got to him first. There's a lot of cool context and World Building in this single issue that it felt like Todd figured out how to write a decent plot. Even the dialogue, while not great, is a massive step up from previous issues.
    All this leads to possibly the most frightening image so far, and one that has stuck with the Spawn series since, and that is of Billy being hung up with popsicle sticks stabbed into him.
    It's a lasting image that makes you feel there's something more to this series than just cool imagery. At times, it can be an effective piece of horror fiction.
    Overall, I enjoyed this issue a lot, it may not have had the 90's excessive cheese that the first arc had, and while it has its moments, it feels like a great piece of dark fiction.
    If we get more issues like this (and I know there's at least a few, I have read some early Spawn and... I'll get to it when I get to it...) then I'll be a happy Man.

    Anyway, that's the first 5 issues out the way. I won'f follow the official arcs as I'd rather try to figure that one out myself (all part of the fun) and some single issue stories may just be bundled in with a bigger arc. Anyway, hope you enjoyed reading this review. I should hopefully put out another tomorrow or Sunday.

  2. #2
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    Cool good luck we are on 339 issues right now so take your time. If you want you can try the spin-offs and one shots both the classic and the current spawn universe titles

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Toxin45 View Post
    Cool good luck we are on 339 issues right now so take your time. If you want you can try the spin-offs and one shots both the classic and the current spawn universe titles
    I may decide to continue with it, especially as I'm already picking up the new Spawn titles anyway.
    I'm not sure I'll cover every single aspect of Spawn however outside maybe the Angela mini series, and even then, it probably won't be covered by the time I read #29.
    I will however do the Batman crossovers.

    Anyway, I promised more Spawn, so here it is;

    Issues 6-7
    Whenever People online talk about Spawn, what they usually bring up is the cheesiness and the fact that it kind of hasn't aged well, and for me, these two issues perfectly exemplify that. Following on from the Mafia plotline of issues 1-4, we are now given a new villain; Overt-Kill who, and I'm sorry to say this, is probably one of the single dumbest Characters I've read in all of fiction. His origin comes from a Stan Lee video back in the early 90's where Lee tasked both Todd and Rob Liefield to create a Character using the name "Overkill", what follows is honestly the single most 90's designs I've ever seen. Even Lee couldn't hold back at ribbing on them. The problem with the Character is there is no subtlety in the design. For as flawed as Lee was, it really did give some insight into his own creative process. The Marvel characters of the early years where designed with their identity in mind. How will they change costume easily? How will they move around? How will they fight? While I'm sure folks like Kirby and Ditko could have given you better answers, it would have been the questions that Lee would have asked them.
    But now this brings me onto my next question, just how self aware is Todd when writing Spawn? For the first five issues, there seems to be an earnest attempt at writing a serious piece of fiction. While prior issues have had their humorous moments (usually in regards to how the lettering has impacted the action), they have, for the most part, been devoid of irony. Yet here we are given a ridiculous, over the top cybernetic merc and the best solution that Spawn has to fight him, is to break into an armoury and steal as many giant weapons as possible.
    Even during the Lee video, Todd seems to have at least some awareness over how silly of a design Over-kill is, and he actually tries to give him some meaning to his design. But here he is, in a Spawn comic. For me, this is what People think about when they talk about 90's excess, and I'm not sure how much it works for me.
    What Todd does well is creating a great design. Something which makes you look at a comic and say "That drawing is pretty sick" and yet I can't say the same for Overt-kill. Even the name sounds like something which would be created by Rob rather than Todd.
    As for the comic in on itself, if I can read with the idea of irony, it becomes a lot more enjoyable. I'm not saying I want a serious and masterful in-depth look at the Super hero mind in my Spawn comic, but I at least want to go in reading that Todd isn't taking himself too seriously. I am also glad to see we're getting the Mafia plot running. It's one of the many plot threads that have started and I feel like we can get at least a couple years worth of stories out of it before it wears out its welcome. All in all, one of the lesser Spawn stories, but I don't think it's offensive, rather just stupid.

    Issues 8-11
    And how do you follow up the worst issues of Spawn? By giving us the best issues of Spawn. It seems rather weird to look back on it now, but getting Alan Moore, the writer of such greats like Watchmen and Swamp Thing to write your edgy, silly 90's comic probably seemed like the big move at the time. Seeing at how, by this point, Moore felt he had been wronged by the big two, this must have been the power move for both parties.
    And what a wonderful issue he gives us.
    What we get is pure Moore horror, where the protagonist for the issue is one Billy Kincaid, waking up in Hell as we see the torment that is given to him following the events of issue 5. Spawn isn't actually in this issue, but his presence is felt. Billy becoming haunted by the image of Spawn is honestly rather cathartic. As I said in my review of issue 5, what that comic did well was showcase how the everyday monsters can sometimes be scarier than the demonic monsters that plague Hell, and we are show that Hell is recruiting these monsters.
    Moore does a good job at expanding the Spawn Universe inward rather than outward. Instead of talk of Youngbloods or showing Savage Dragon, we are instead giving glimpses of each level of Hell. It feels like Moore (And Gaiman... we'll get to his issue in a sec) looked at the previous 7 issues and felt that more needed to be done with this Universe. Instead of trying to create an Image shared Universe, why not make the Spawn Universe first? And it works. The lengths Hell will go to torment you is honestly one of the scariest things in this comic. With the comedic visual of Billy in a Spawn suit being both the funny gag that it is, while also being a horrific punishment playing into a dead man's fears.
    And the strengths keep coming as Neil Gaiman is brought in to further expand the Spawn Lore. We are now introduced to Angela, an Angel who is also a Spawn Hunter as she goes up against Spawn.
    As I stated before, it seemed that both Alan and Neil looked at the previous issues and saw their opportunity to expand on the Universe of Spawn, given us some backstory and even some context for the issues that proceeded them. If we had gotten more ideas like this early, I feel Spawn would be better remembered.
    Regardless, what we get with Gaiman is a fun issue which feels like a lost Sandman script. It's complete with a historical background as a new Spawn is introduced, and a new mysterious Character by the name of Cogliostro, a Character who I'm sure will pop up again.
    Angela herself is a great addition to the Spawn Universe, being an Angel sent to hunt Spawns. It helps give us another storyline to follow, and one that can easily tie into the Hell arc that oversees the series.

    Issue 10 is probably the most interesting of these guest writer issues however. This was Dave Sims' issue, a rather controversial figure in the World of comics, yet one who is a huge supporter of creator rights. And this issue feels more like a thank you to Todd rather than an issue of Spawn. It feels weird, as without the context that this wasn't written by Todd, it would feel like a rather masterbaturing issue, patting one self on the back for "saving" the comic's industry against the big two. With imagery that sees the heroes and villains of Marvel in DC locked in a cage as their creators are blindfolded. It can be seen as a rather pretentious issue. But instead it's seen more of a pat on the back from a fellow creative who has seen how the industry has changed, and has been shown the first real competition the big two have. It still comes as a little self indulgent, especially as this was drawn by Todd and was in the main Spawn comic. But there's enough trippy imagery here and comedic aspects that it kept me entertained throughout. The closing pages feel like they could shut the door on Spawn altogether, with Spawn returning to his Wife and Daughter... or rather Todd's Wife and Daughter.
    It's a fun ending in an issue that has a lot to say, most of which I can get behind, but it feels weird to have an ending comparable to The Holy Mountain in Spawn. I'm not trying to say that Spawn can't be used as a soap box for writers to give out their opinions, but considering that only 3 issues ago I was asking whether Todd had any self awareness with a Character like Over-kill, it just feels a bit disjointed.

    But after that, we return to what Spawn has been with a Frank Miller penned issued. This time we are given a one-off story which is just a simple gang war with Spawn caught in the middle. I actually like this issue, mostly as it's just a silly issue with Cybernetic gangsters who don't look like Overt-Kill, both with unique lettering which really steals the shows. Todd really flexed his inner Miller as we are given a number of homages to Miller.
    If the previous issue was Dave Sims' love letter to Todd, then this is a Todd love letter to Miller.
    There really isn't that much to say with this issue. It's just a rather fun issue which has no bearing on the main plot. A true one and done which wraps up nicely.

    These four issues are certainly the best issues of Spawn so far, and now we've raised the bar, what will McFarlane do to progress Spawn from here?

  4. #4
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    Had to split the post into two, anyway, here's Part II of todays reviews...

    Issues 12-13
    So I've not spoken much about the early Image Universe, I touched upon it briefly when talking about Moore and Gaiman's issues, but whenever Todd writes Spawn, he seems to want to push other titles that are published under Image. While this is a good idea, and a rather fun way to expand the publishing line to give us a third big comic company, the problem with it comes down to the nature of the publishing agreement. When you publish a comic with Image, you essentially own the rights to any Characters you make. This is all well and good, but when you make a Character owned by a friend of yours integral to the origin of your own Character, and then you later fall out with said friend losing any rights you could to use that Character, you essentially make a messy continuity.
    In many ways, Todd has sadly proven himself wrong against the Marvel and DC line with this way of thinking.
    However, as I've never read a Youngblood comic or have any interest in doing so, they appear to me as a Super Hero team in this Universe, another group of Characters for Spawn to have conflict with, meaning this two parter is just a cool cap to Spawn's origin instead of a crossover.

    I like this issue a lot, Todd is certainly improving as a writer, it feels like he was given some tips from the writers of prior issues, and we have the return of beloved Characters like Sam and Twitch.
    A new plot thread is started with this issue where Terry is being watched by Jason Wynn, the true mastermind behind Al's death.
    My biggest gripes with this issue outside the external forces of publishing rights comes down to the relationship between Al and Chapel. Throughout issue 13, we are given no reason as to why thus betrayal hurt Al so much. The two could not be any more different, and Chapel himself is not given the Characterisation of a Saint. He enjoys killing, never questions orders and objectifies Women to the point where he even asks Al if he needs Wanda taken off his hands once a week. Under the pen of a better writer, the fight between Spawn and Chapel would be more than about betrayal, but about ideals and how Al sees himself as Chapel's better because Chapel is true evil to him.
    Instead, Al is given the opportunity to stop the fighting and talk it out with Chapel, cutting out the misunderstanding and giving the two a chance to team up against a common foe. But I feel like they need to set up future conflicts to give Spawn a rival for later arcs.

    While I do enjoy this two-parter, and I do feel Todd's improvements as a writer, it really does fall below the bar of the guest issues. Narration is given to every emotion that Spawn and supporting Characters have rather than just showing them. I would say Todd should trust his artist, but considering that Todd is the artist, it instead comes across as a lack of self confidence in ones own work.
    I can only hope Todd improves from here as I move onto the second year of Spawn, and seeing as we are going to get one more guest writer for a few issues and a new artist coming up, I'm more than excited as they are names which I have a lot of faith in.

    Overall, I've enjoyed my time with the first few arcs. There's been more highs than lows, and even those lows aren't so bad. The comics look good and even the concept itself is fun to read and follow along with.
    And it's always special to see a writer improve in real time.
    I have a lot of respect for Todd, and I don't want People to come into this thinking I just see Spawn as some stupid comic, because it does have merit. I just feel that other writers are able to give life into this Character that Todd is sadly unable to. But still, one of my favourite comics of all time is a Todd penned Spawn issue, and while it isn't going to come up yet, it'll probably come sooner rather than later...

  5. #5
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    Just ordered the Violator and Angela minis, so I will get to them at some point soon.

    Anyway, here's todays load
    Issues 14-15
    Violator returns in this two part story which only features Spawn is a small supporting role. Here Clown tells some children about a story of how he fought Medieval Spawn while Sam and Twitch begin their hunt for Al. There's not much to this story, but what we are given are some pieces of actual good World building while also going into depth with who Clown is. It seems Todd has started to look inward on his Universe and building the Spawn mythology using his own ideas rather than trying to branch out into the greater Image Universe.
    I like the idea of Clown as an unreliable narrator, it really does add to his Character and gives the visuals give us an indication on what the true story is and he twists it to his own liking.
    While this isn't my favourite of the Todd penned issues, I'll argue that it's the best so far as the dialogue is good this time.
    It's rare to see a writer improve their craft in real time like this, and maybe the gap for Guest Writers had given Todd some time to craft a good script, but I was impressed with how good these two issues were.
    There isn't much to say about them, they are just two really good issues of Spawn.

    Issues 16-18
    Now we bring in a guest Writer and Artist, and who does Todd get to write a three part Spawn story? None other than Grant Morrison of course.
    This arc reintroduces the Spawn Hunter Angels (as seen in issue 9) and gives us a new Spawn villain; Anti-Spawn. Again, there isn't as much to say about this arc. It's a more introspective story where Al learns that his body is still in his coffin and shares memories of the day he proposed to Wanda. Grant brings a lot of heart to the title, something which the prior issues have been lacking. For all the "I love Wanda" we get from Spawn, we don't really see how the time they shared together has effected him.
    Well, this is where Grant steps in and tells us what Wanda truly means to him.
    However, for the first time we get a different artist, one Greg Capullo takes pencils for this arc and he is probably the Person to take on Spawn after Todd. He carries a lot of the same energy and style as Todd. My only real issue that it is a lot less defined compared to his later work (but we'll get to it when we get to it).
    It does feel like other writers are trying to correct the problems I have with Spawn anyway. Gaiman expanded the Universe by giving it lore and new factions while Grant expanded it by giving us the emotional weight on Al and Wanda's relationship.
    Regardless, this is another great arc which gives us a new Character to play around with. It is funny how Spawn, this otherwise cheesy relic from the 90', managed to get Moore, Gaiman, Miller and Morrison on as writers, but I guess Image was seen as the alternative choice back in those days.

    There may not be a set of reviews tomorrow, but next time, we'll take a look at some other issues written by guest writers and maybe both 90's Batman crossovers.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by FFJamie94 View Post
    Just ordered the Violator and Angela minis, so I will get to them at some point soon.

    Anyway, here's todays load
    Issues 14-15
    Violator returns in this two part story which only features Spawn is a small supporting role. Here Clown tells some children about a story of how he fought Medieval Spawn while Sam and Twitch begin their hunt for Al. There's not much to this story, but what we are given are some pieces of actual good World building while also going into depth with who Clown is. It seems Todd has started to look inward on his Universe and building the Spawn mythology using his own ideas rather than trying to branch out into the greater Image Universe.
    I like the idea of Clown as an unreliable narrator, it really does add to his Character and gives the visuals give us an indication on what the true story is and he twists it to his own liking.
    While this isn't my favourite of the Todd penned issues, I'll argue that it's the best so far as the dialogue is good this time.
    It's rare to see a writer improve their craft in real time like this, and maybe the gap for Guest Writers had given Todd some time to craft a good script, but I was impressed with how good these two issues were.
    There isn't much to say about them, they are just two really good issues of Spawn.

    Issues 16-18
    Now we bring in a guest Writer and Artist, and who does Todd get to write a three part Spawn story? None other than Grant Morrison of course.
    This arc reintroduces the Spawn Hunter Angels (as seen in issue 9) and gives us a new Spawn villain; Anti-Spawn. Again, there isn't as much to say about this arc. It's a more introspective story where Al learns that his body is still in his coffin and shares memories of the day he proposed to Wanda. Grant brings a lot of heart to the title, something which the prior issues have been lacking. For all the "I love Wanda" we get from Spawn, we don't really see how the time they shared together has effected him.
    Well, this is where Grant steps in and tells us what Wanda truly means to him.
    However, for the first time we get a different artist, one Greg Capullo takes pencils for this arc and he is probably the Person to take on Spawn after Todd. He carries a lot of the same energy and style as Todd. My only real issue that it is a lot less defined compared to his later work (but we'll get to it when we get to it).
    It does feel like other writers are trying to correct the problems I have with Spawn anyway. Gaiman expanded the Universe by giving it lore and new factions while Grant expanded it by giving us the emotional weight on Al and Wanda's relationship.
    Regardless, this is another great arc which gives us a new Character to play around with. It is funny how Spawn, this otherwise cheesy relic from the 90', managed to get Moore, Gaiman, Miller and Morrison on as writers, but I guess Image was seen as the alternative choice back in those days.

    There may not be a set of reviews tomorrow, but next time, we'll take a look at some other issues written by guest writers and maybe both 90's Batman crossovers.
    Enjoying reading your reviews and letís see if you can catch up to the 300ís. Itís quite the series with its ups and downs.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by captainzombie View Post
    Enjoying reading your reviews and let’s see if you can catch up to the 300’s. It’s quite the series with its ups and downs.
    I do promise to return to this, I just put it off for a few days as to not burn myself out. I have read #19-20 however so I'll post a review of that in a few days.

    As for getting to the current date Spawn, I plan to. Hopefully we get Compendium vol 5&6 at some point.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FFJamie94 View Post
    I do promise to return to this, I just put it off for a few days as to not burn myself out. I have read #19-20 however so I'll post a review of that in a few days.

    As for getting to the current date Spawn, I plan to. Hopefully we get Compendium vol 5&6 at some point.
    I think we probably will as the last one came out back in December from what I recall.

    When you can, I also highly suggest reading Gunslinger Spawn. That has been very good.

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