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The ’90s Revisited: Spawn #25

spawn0025Tremors

Writer: Todd McFarlane
Pencils: Marc Silvestri
Inks: Batt, Billy Tan
Copy Editor & Letters: Tom Orzechowski
Color: Brian Haberlin
Computer Colors: Brian Haberlin, Tyson Wengler, Ashby Manson, Juan Carlos Rodriguez
Background Assist: Nathan Cabrera
Production: Dennis Heisler
Production Assist: Peter Steigerwald
Big Gun: David Wohl
Published by: Image Comics
Cover Date: October 1994
Cover Price: $1.95

Like seems to be the case for me with what (relatively) few Spawn issues I’ve read, I don’t have an easy time summarizing it. This one, Spawn seems to have been “outed” in the media–the world now knows he exists–and so he has to deal with that. He’s living in the alleys amongst a number of other Homeless, serving as a protector to them, though he seems to be less than thrilled at their growing “reliance” on him. After being attacked by a rogue demon, he confronts the entity and learns its backstory–it’s not actually a demon, but a man who was experimented on, resulting in his current form. He seeks vengeance on a gangster named Tony Twist, and given the situation, Spawn sees more benefit in helping than opposing, if his people are left alone as a result.

I bought this issue with a number of other “quarter books” at a Half-Price Books earlier this year…and I suppose for that price, it was worthwhile. I have another copy–my original–of this somewhere in one of my too-many longboxes, but was interested in this issue this time the same as when I originally bought it: the cover, and it’s Spawn #25, one of those “special number” issues. I also remembered there being something else about this, like it being part of some “creator swap” month, but on reading this couldn’t tell if it was part of that or not.

The story is typical Spawn for me…I’m not really sure how else to put it. I recognize Spawn himself of course, Al Simmons; his (former) wife Wanda, and at least know of the man Wanda is married to here. I remember (vaguely) the sense of–at the time–having no clue what Spawn was ‘about’ aside from being this disfigured entity with a huge cape, apparently back from the dead with some sort of “deal with the devil” thing involving his powers and some kind of amnesia that resulted in his living with the homeless/street people.

The art is good overall…which I pretty much expect from Silvestri‘s work. I’m not overly familiar with it, but I’ve seen enough of it to know that I associate it with 1990s/Image stuff (as well as the Grant Morrison New X-Men story Here Comes Tomorrow back in early 2004). The art fits the book…though after reading the story itself and getting into some of the text/backmatter stuff, I gather that Silvestri was NOT the series artist at the time, and so that was probably the creator swap–the creators maybe kept on plot/writing, just swapped books for art duties or such. Whatever it was, it was over 21 years ago, and for Spawn, nearly 240 issues ago as of Spring 2016.

I was impressed with the cover’s visual as well as the physical issue itself–not quite a cardstock cover, but hardly some flimsy paper, and the interior pages seem good quality as well. Thus, for the physical product itself, the 25 cents I paid was mostly worthwhile. Though I read the issue in isolation, it brought back slight memories of having read it back in 1994, and given my attempting to follow recent/current issues of the title, I’d consider my money well spent…though I maybe appreciated the issue/reading experience more for the backmatter than the story content.

Among other things, while knowing the title has been notoriously late in its time, this issue seems to have come out at a time the book had had some major issues in timing, shipping in this order: 18, 21-24, 19, 25, 20, 26. There’s even an ad explaining things a bit, as well as a “cartoon” image “Todd Can’t Count” trying to poke fun at the situation. I find that morbidly amusing in a way at present, given recent complaints of books RE-numbering and such, and continued amazement that this title is presently–in 2016–the highest-numbered (legitimately) comic that I can think of published in the US (Regardless of returning to “legacy numbering,” Detective and Action from DC lost that designation in the 2011 New 52 reboot). I somewhat recall seeing mention somewhere of Spawn having shipped issues out of order, in some online discussion years ago, but didn’t recall exactly when that was, so coming across it hear piqued my interest, and I’d actually be somewhat interested in working on tracking those issues down. I actually already have the first 12 or 13 issues of the series, so can’t imagine it would be terribly hard to find the rest of the run up to this point; nor overly expensive given what a “hot” book Spawn was at this point in the ’90s. But I suppose that’ll be a back-issue quest for some other time, if it even still holds my curiosity by the time I’d get around to it.

All told…this was an ok issue, though not anything I’d encourage hunting down. If the cover strikes your fancy or you want a similarly randomish reading experience, it’s worth the 25-cent purchase, but I wouldn’t recommend paying more than $1, possibly $2 and absolute most for this (and it’s a 21+ year old issue with a $1.95 cover price).

Marvels: Eye of the Camera #1 [Review]

Just One Little Thing

Writer: Kurt Busiek
Artist: Jay Anacleto
Colors: Brian Haberlin
Letters: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Associate Editor: Jeanine Schaefer
Editor: Tom Brevoort
Cover: Jay Anacleto
Publisher: Marvel Comics

I’ve been looking forward to this series for years. I mean, we’re talking at least a decade. It’s been rumoured for many years, with apparently a couple of false-starts, and now after all this time, this series is here. Now what?

From the cover we immediately see this is different from the original. Different artist, different look…separate entity. No real attempt is made to have the cover evoke the feel of the original series–the “cover dress” with the black border/negative space over a full single image might have worked very well here, with the subtitle Eye of the Camera along the bottom.

The first page is an introduction by the main character, Phil Sheldon; and the issue’s creator credits somehow make me think of some “event” ticket, indicating who is involved for the night and all that. Not bad–I don’t think I’ve seen/held a ticket like that…well, ever–so it helps to indicate this story is not set during my lifetime.

The story follows Sheldon in the opening of the 1960s as he begins to realize that some of his “marvels” may be monsters, unlike the heroes during the war. He also considers that as a family man, perhaps he needs to lay down the freelance photography in pursuit of a steady/full job so that he knows he’s got provision for his family and isn’t still playing at his youth. Through this, we also see the arrival of the Fantastic Four on the scene and the “man on the street” reaction to the super-team’s unveiling.

The art is a very clear departure from that of painter Alex Ross from the original series. I’m not familiar with this artist at all offhand–ntohing comes to mind and I have nothing prior to compare the work to. In and of itself–and I’m sure credit must be given to the colorist in tandem here–has a look that while apparently not painted, has just the right feel to suggest painted, and very nicely captures the look of the characters I recall from the original. By itself, I’d deem this very good art; I honestly think the only thing that may keep it from that is the unfortunate fact that as a sequel, this has got to be compared to the original…and as such, the comparison to Ross must come up.

That said, I found this to be an excellent issue. It seems to be “sequel” in that it is a follow-up; though time-wise, it seems to be coming between the pages of the original story. As the first of six issues, I have no idea how the other issues will play out in that regard–are these meant to be taken as “between issues” stories from the original, between pages, or just another story from the same period, much as one could tell two independent stories that both follow the same life, the difference simply being the events chosen to focus on and unpack in each story.

Without Ross, I can think of no artist who would have done better than Mr. Anacleto; and I trust Busiek–who wrote the original series–with whatever he’s choosing to do here.

A very worthwhile issue…though with about a decade and a half of having the original story available in full under a single cover, I can’t help but wonder if this sequel will read better in the same way–as a whole, rather than split into six segments across half a year.

If the rest of the issues hold up to this one, this could be one of those rare sequels that at least matches its original.

Story: 8/10
Art: 9/10
Whole: 8.5/10

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