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Spawn Kills Everyone #1 [Review]

spawn_kills_everyone_0001Spawn Kills Everyone!

Writer: Todd McFarlane
Art: JJ Kirby
Color: FCO Plascenscia
Lettering: Tom Orzechowski
Cover art: Todd McFarlane
Edtor: Todd McFarlane
Publishing Coordinator: Shannon Bailey
Art Director: Ben Timmreck
Publisher for Image Comics: Eric Stephenson
Published by: Image Comics
Cover Date: August 2016
Cover Price: $2.99

I’d THOUGHT it’d been awhile since the last issue of Spawn. Of course, with loving all the DC Rebirth stuff and recent life events going on, it’s caused a certain amount of blurring of time for me, so I didn’t think too much on it. I’ve been enjoying the Spawn title overall and particularly the price point–yet another thing to support given the actually INCREASING price point I"m noticing more frequently on Marvel books I’ve zero interest in.

Despite figuring I’d managed to somehow miss an issue of Spawn itself, I saw this listed, and then saw this last/only copy on the shelf, and once I verified it was actually "only" $2.99, included it with my double-week purchase.

There’s a certain sort of snarkiness to the cover, with a cutesy Spawn on a pile of skulls with a bunch of over-large knives (the size of swords) and a massive gun bigger than he is. In some ways poking fun at other (past?) extreme-ness…in some ways self-lampooning.

The issue’s story goes right along with this. We have this cutesy Spawn railing against his own cuteness (come to think of it, he looks like a Mopeez plushie [I would totally get one of him, provided it has the cape!] and lamenting the lack of recent movie, while all sorts of other comic characters have had movies. So he’s in San Diego at the comic con and makes his way to Hall H to BE his own movie announcement…but encounters a number of troubles along the way, that get dispatched quite graphically and violently, with plenty of call-outs to recent film franchises. And the whole of the thing is rather immature, crude, irreverent, with poop and fart jokes…and yet something to the whole of it left me having quite enjoyed this issue.

I’m not consciously familiar with the artist…but I really dug the visuals for this issue. I like this take on Spawn (or "Lil’ Spawn" or some such), and the art simply conveyed the ridiculous absurdity of the issue. Despite the "graphic violence," it still stayed somewhat cartooney…of course, I would not recommend giving this to a younger reader, but it’s definitely the sort of "fun" issue for adults, whether current, lapsed, or former fans of Spawn in general, or just looking for a truly one-shot issue with a familiar logo on the cover.

This has the "Spawning Ground" thing at the back, and a "Next Issue" box showing Spawn 265, which further lends me the notion of this being a "fill in" issue, to fill the gap between regular issues of Spawn itself. Given my reading experience with the main title and only somewhat noticing it being awhile since the previous issue I’d read, I’m not all that bothered at the lateness..but I’m definitely glad I noticed and bought this issue.

I didn’t see any "notice" in this acknowledging any lateness (and perhaps I really DID miss an issue), but this is a solid one-shot, well worth its $2.99 (compared to how frustrating some $3.99s can be that are not one-off/self-contained issues). Whether you’ve been following the ongoing title or ever did, if you just want a funny (and see other adjectives above) comic, a one-shot for $2.99…this is one to snag.

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Spawn #263 [Review]

spawn0263Plot/Script/Layouts/Pencils/Inks: Erik Larsen & Todd McFarlane
Color: FCO Plascenscia
Lettering: Tom Orzechowski
Cover Art: Erik Larsen
Editor: Todd McFarlane
Published by: Image Comics
Cover Date: May 2016
Cover Price: $2.99

While I’ve no idea how long I’ll stick with it, Spawn is presently on my pull list, at minimum as my tiny individual way of trying to support both "high/continuous numbering" and the $2.99 price point. This is my seventh sequential issue that I’ve picked up…which may be a record for me now, or at least close to matching any previous time I’ve tried to follow the title.

Spawn–or rather, Al Simmons–has returned to Earth…human and normal (not disfigured)…and without his costume (despite the cover, more on that later). With only tatters keeping him from being fully nude, but still functionally naked, he finds himself gaining unwanted attention from the authorities. Resisting unwarranted arrest, he fights back and lands in the hospital for his troubles–having been shot and then bashed in the head. On waking and learning what his situation is, he requests Terry Fitzgerald…who despite relatable reservations helps him. Simmons gets set up for his new life, including the start to (presumably) a new iteration of a supporting cast and status quo.

The cover is quite misleading…we do not get Spawn–and certainly not in that classic sense–in this issue. Nor do we get an Al Simmons surprised at being human. That said, for one of extremely FEW instances in my life and as a comic person, it’s misleading because I’m actually "up" on this title. Much as the cover for #257 grabbed my attention (which started this whole current "phase" for me), I can see how this cover could be rather attention-grabbing and pique the curiosity. There’s also something kinda familiar about it–I’m not sure (nor am I planning to research the matter) if it’s an homage piece or just kinda evokes a bygone age of comic covers.

Of course, I’m quite enjoying Larsen‘s work–both the cover(s) and the interior art. Things one expects a comic’s art to do are done, and the visual style works well for this title. It "looks" and "feels" like Larsen art–it’s immediately recognizable to me as such, and I like it here.

Story-wise, I’m still far from being particularly "familiar" with characters (I had to do a quick Google search to confirm that Terry is indeed the guy Wanda married and such), but I’m enjoying the reading experience. This issue feels a lot like a "first issue," and functionally could VERY well warrant a "new #1" (and truly, many Many MANY Marvel books have "rebooted" or "renumbered" for far, far LESS a shift than the game-changing status quo we begin here!).

The backmatter backs this up…though I was disappointed at how "quickly" I got TO the backmatter of the issue. There’s no marking at the final panel of the issue, the final page of the story content–nothing saying "To Be Continued…" or any such, nor is it particularly cliffhanger-y. But darn it, I’m actually really eager to see where things go from here, how Simmons deals WITH his new status quo, how he gets back into the action and what this all means. The cynic in my worries at the shakeup being temporary…but even if it is, I have a bit of faith that it’ll at least last a few years. Simmons was gone from the title for some 65 issues–on a standard, unbroken monthly schedule of 1 issue every month on the month, that would indicate nearly 5 1/2 years. So I’m fairly confident that this status quo ought to take us to (if not through) #300 and/or beyond.

Spawn #258 [Review]

spawn258Story: Todd McFarlane
Art: Erik Larsen, Todd McFarlane
Color: FCO Plascenscia
Lettering: Tom Orzechowski
Publishing Coordinator: Shannon Bailey
Art Director: Ben Timmreck
Production Artists: Joe Ferstl, Jordan Butler
Publisher for Image Comics: Eric Stephenson
Cover: Erik Larsen
Editor: Todd McFarlane
Cover Date: November 2015
Cover Price: $2.99

Spawn has made it to Hell and has a message for Satan. Oh, and he fights a horde of demons, leaving only one ‘alive’ to deliver the message.

Oops…sorry! I just gave you the ENTIRE issue right there, including the end.

I noticed this issue was out this week, and having had my interest up from the previous issue, I wanted to check out Erik Larsen‘s first issue. Visually, it’s quite good. The cover is not nearly as impressive as the previous issue, but I like it well enough. And per my usual, knowing I wanted to get the issue, I didn’t flip through the interior…which proved unfortunate.

Story-wise…there are about 3 pages. Art-wise, we have a 20-page issue.

We see Spawn at the entrance to Hell, facing a huge horde of demons that knew he was coming and have been waiting for him. He plans to leave one alive to deliver a simple message to Satan…and the next 17 pages are dialogue-less, caption-less images of Spawn fighting the demons. I suppose SOMEWHAT to the issue’s credit, there’s a countdown of the number of demons remaining, and every several pages you see the count diminishing significantly.

My disgust grew with each page turned that revealed another page or pages with no…actual…words.

This was not billed as a "silent" issue. An issue-length brawl is not my idea of an issue worth being "silent." A fight like this–to me–ought to have been 3-4 pages, max…even if that meant having a grid with 50-100 thumbnail-type panels conveying the length and magnitude of Spawn’s fighting. Not an entire issue.

The final panel provides what turns out to be a sort of "punchline" to the issue as we learn what Spawn’s simple message for Satan is. Perhaps it’s supposed to evoke those action-movie one-liner/groaners (and I can picture David Caruso‘s Horatio Caine from CSI Miami donning his shades while delivering this line) or simply show us how powerful Spawn is, how singularly determined and focused he is on somehow "saving" Wanda.

But I paid $2.99 (THANKFULLY 25% cheaper than the standard $3.99 that most comics cost) for an issue to read…not look at and analyze the imagery, etc. I glaze over with certain action sequences in general in comics. I can appreciate detail and nuance to art…but when there’s some frenetic action sequence and it’s just several pages, I tend to fly through it, "taking it in" as I would a tv show that has a 3-4 second quick-action bit. I also expect forward movement in story/plot…and for me, there’s none of that here…or at least, certainly NOT an entire issue’s worth. TECHNICALLY we move from Spawn facing a horde of demons…to having defeated them. Catch-22: I feel there should be more to the issue–words–to read as he does this, if it’s significant enough to worry him, or bother him, or threaten him. If (as seems to be shown) they’re not truly a concern for him, the sequence could be pulled off far more effectively (in my mind) with turning the page and simply seeing a trail of defeated demons behind Spawn as he passes his message along.

I simply can’t believe this is indicative of Larsen‘s extended involvement with the title…and the previous issue interested me enough in seeing where things go that as frustrated as I am with this issue, I’m probably now going to check out the next issue (despite not liking this one) to see if #259 is what I expected of this one.

If you’re a fan of Larsen–particularly his art–or of McFarlane‘s inks, or seeing the two collaborating on art, and you don’t care too much or won’t be bothered by an essentially "silent" issue, you’ll probably enjoy this.

That being said…on my personal standards and expectations, I do not recommend this issue…and would actually encourage passing on it and trying the next issue, if you were considering this one.

Heck, if you want to see a bunch of pages with no dialogue/captioning, there are countless "free previews" out there to show off silent art where you still have to actually buy the issue to GET the dialogue and such…which is what this feels like.

Spawn #257 [Review]

spawn257Voyage to the Center of Hell!

Story: Todd McFarlane
Art: Szymon Kudranski
Color: FCO Plascenscia
Lettering: Tom Orzechowski
Cover Art: Jonboy
Editor/Art Assists: Todd McFarlane
Publishing Coordinator: Shannon Bailey
Art Director: Ben Timmreck
Production Artist: Andy Arias
Published by: Image Comics
Cover Date: October 2015
Cover Price: $2.99

I usually know before I set foot in the store what “new” comics I’m going to be buying. This issue of Spawn, however, was an impulse-buy…and credit really is the cover–a definite rarity for ME. There’s something to the coloring of this one that caught my attention, I think–the Venom-esque Spawn, the red and black of the cape and its shadows…as well as the fact that 257 issues in we still have the classic, original title logo whose coloring ON the cover looks fantastic to me. And as it’s been a few years now since I “checked in” on the title (back around #200) AND noting the cover price is “only” $2.99 I figured FOR $2.99 (compared to $3.99) I was willing to take a chance on a “random” single issue.

For the most part, I may as well be lost, on this issue, read in isolation from any surrounding issues or bothering to try to remember what I’ve seen/read/”heard” recently of the title. Thankfully, there is a “previously” blurb that sets some loose context.

Essentially…Spawn’s (Al Simmons) wife Wanda has been killed, and he wants to save her. To do so, he needs the help of an angel and a demon…which is where Michael and the Violator (Clown) come into play. With their assistance, he gets to the entrance of the Tunnel, where he wants to be…and whatever happens from there, we will see unfold in coming issues (apparently to be drawn by Savage Dragon creator/writer/artist Erik Larsen).

As said, I really liked the cover, enough that I bought the issue. The interior art didn’t exactly stand out to me–I was reading for the story and didn’t really care ABOUT the art. But it works very well and kept the tone and feel I’d expect OF a Spawn book, and never left me wondering at some kind of wonkiness to the visual style. The linework has a certain roughness I like for conveying the dark stuff of the issue…and the muted colors accentuate that very well.

Story-wise, I wonder if I came in at the tail-end of an arc, or part of set up for the coming arc–I’m not really sure. I’m truly not familiar enough with the title or characters to have any real sense of nuances for them, but nothing here stood out as contradictory to whatever knowledge I do have. There’s not really much given in the way of exposition–this clearly is not geared specifically AS a jumping on-point–but I definitely like seeing McFarlane on the story credit, even if not art. That smooths over any roughness (to me) of the story making sense or not…just appreciating the original creator’s on the book. (To say nothing of my choosing to just jump in for an issue without seeking an entry point).

All that said…I’m interested enough in where things go from here, just from reading this issue, that if I happen to notice the next issue, I’ll probably pick it up. I’ve never engaged with this book on a long-term basis, so I’m not interested now in tossing it on my pull-list or anything. I’m also intrigued at the notion of Larsen on the art and seeing what Spawn looks like in his style.

All in all, I’d say this is “just another issue” of the title…if you like the title, you’ll probably want to get it; if you don’t care, there’s really nothing here that says the story itself is anything essential or groundbreaking (maybe the next issue will have/be that).

Still…for my $2.99, I am definitely satisfied with my random purchase of this issue.

Spawn #200 [Review]


Full review posted to cxPulp.com
.

 

Story: 3/5
Art: 3.5/5
Overall: 3.5/5

Spawn #192 [Review]

Endgame (Part Eight)

Writer: Todd McFarlane
Pencils: Whilce Portacio
Inks: Todd McFarlane
Color: Jay Fotos
Lettering: Tom Orzechowski
Editor: Todd McFarlane
Cover Artists: Whilce Portacio, Todd McFarlane, Jay Fotos
Publisher: Image Comics

Part Eight?!? That means this is my EIGHTH issue of this title in a row, and if it hasn’t been quite monthly, I sure haven’t noticed a lateness. I’m not even sure–including duplicates–that I even OWN 8 issues of Spawn before this story.

That said…this is still one of those books that I’m a bit “iffy” on. For one thing, I’m not all that thrilled when I learn more about the characters and story from the letters pages and other sources outside the story in the book itself. I learned from the letters pages in this issue, for example, that the new major protagonist Jim apparently first appeared waaaaay back in issue 3 as a then-throwaway character. I’m also not all that familiar with the fairly large cast of characters, and so feel like there’s something of a shadow hanging over my reading experience; that I’d almost get more out of reading online summations of the story in text format with no visuals at all.

This issue sees the new Spawn meeting several apparently old players, or entitities tied to old players. He finds out a bit more about himself and the costume, which keeps things moving along, but it doesn’t feel like there’s REALLY a lot going on, even though there is. I’m increasing contemplating the fact that I’d probably get MORE out of this title reading a collected volume.

The art continues to be a high point, and it seems Portacio’s a perfect artist for this book. The only drawback is a certain factor in some of the panels that seem almost over-the-top “graphic” and violent–moreso than maybe necessary, and in one case almost more bloody than seems plausible given the rest of the image.

On the whole, as far as the title and characters go, it seems that offing Al Simmons and allowing essentially a fresh start (and withOUT numbering shenanigans, to boot!) was the best thing to happen to this book. At the least, it’s made me a regular reader for the better part of a year–something that never before happened in the 16-some years this book has been in existence.

Story: 6.5/10
Art: 8/10
Whole: 7/10

Spawn #188 [Review]

Endgame (part four)

Writers: Todd McFarlane, Brian Holguin
Pencils: Whilce Portacio
Digital Inks: Todd McFarlane
Color: Jay Fotos
Lettering: Tom Orzechowski
Editor: Todd McFarlane
Cover Artists: Whilce Portacio, Jin Han
Publisher: Image Comics

After the incidents in the previous issue, a hospital’s worth of patients are being evacuated and put up in other hospitals resulting in plenty of overcrowding. A bit more is uncovered about the “conspiracy” Jim is caught up in, and while he and Sara seek each other out, Jim ultimately finds a new role thrust upon him.

The art has a consistent look from previous issues, and fits the story. Given that this is the first time I’ve “regularly” picked up this title I have no real comparison–so really, the art now is defining for me what the art “should be” for Spawn. No complaints as such there.

There’s something about this series–it’s like somewhat following a tv series. It’s far from being my favorite, but it quickly gets so I recognize (visually) characters and while I watch it can follow along, but am not so immersed as to be able to REALLY tell someone else what’s going on. The story is not entirely engaging at this point–and it’s lost the immediate impact of “first! issue! of a new direction!” that #185 had. However, like one of those tv series, I’m just interested enough to follow along. And given this issue’s final page, I want to see what happens next issue.

Not a bad issue, though, all told. While it’s nice to see that the numbering was NOT reset to #1 (as surely would have been done at a certain other publisher if there was the change this run has already wrought), I still come at this as being “#4” of an all-new current series. Worth getting if you like Portacio’s art or McFarlane’s writing, or just simply feel like checking out this long-running series without having to have slogged through 184 issues’ prior content.

Story: 7/10
Art: 7.5/10
Whole: 7/10

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