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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).

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Rise of the Magi #s 0 & 1 [Review]

riseofthemagi001Writer: Marc Silvestri
Artists: Sumeyye Kesgin & Marc Silvestri
Colorist: Betsy Gonia (#0 – Jasen Smith)
Letterer: Troy Peteri
Editor: Betsy Gonia
Art Assists: Bridget Silvestri
Cover: Marc Silvestri & Betsy Gonia (#0 – Silvestri & Andy Troy
Published by: Image/Top Cow
Cover Price: $3.50 (#0 – Free)

Rise of the Magi is one of the Free Comic Book Day comics that seemed to jump out more than most…though at present whether that was internet “hype” or the logo and cover of the issue itself catching me, I’m not sure. I hadn’t gotten around to reading that issue, but saw the first issue of the series itself out this past week, so decided to give it a chance. (While not the $2.99 that anymore is a quick-sell for me, the 0-issue having been free and this first issue being $3.50 at least kept it under the frustrating $3.99 price point).

riseofthemagi000The 0-issue’s cover was a bit deceptive…I can’t quite put my finger on it, but it led me to believe the main character was going to have some sort of agenda against witches (and warlocks?) or otherwise be opposed to magic/etc. in general. However, the issue begins with a page of mostly text setting up the situation–all magic is contained in a small orb, and doing something to the orb would affect the entire universe. A boy whose brother is part of some sort of guard unit protecting the orb stumbles across a situation threatening the orb, leading into the #1 issue.

In Rise of the Magi #1, we get some further context of the magic orb, the Spellguard, and what’s going on that threatens the orb. As the threatening scenario plays out, the boy is drawn tightly into the situation, and ultimately thrust into a world he’s going to have to learn to operate in as the series moves forward.

Visually, I was more impressed with the first issue–brief as it was. The second issue had a bit of a jarring visual shift, though at least it came with a “chapter break” in the story rather than just shifting with no apparent rhyme or reason. Given this is not an “established property,” I have no visuals to compare it to–simply the archetypal fantasy setting given the primarily-fantasy setting of the story. That lack of comparison leaves the art to stand on its own, with no preconceived notions on my part with the specific characters. Given I’ve liked Silvestri‘s art in the past on X-Men stuff in particular, I had rather high expectations for this, but found myself a bit disappointed. The art was not bad, it just didn’t live up to whatever my expectations had set.

Story-wise, I found myself rather “iffy” partway into #1, figuring this to be “just another” fantasy thing, but the ending of the issue gave a bit of a twist to that…yet, it’s a twist that also feels like “just another” of its kind. The characters and specifics may be a bit different, but it’s definitely not the first such story I’ve seen/read of its kind, and I’m not entirely sure what to make of it.

I can’t say I’m exactly “impressed,” but to again use the passive: it’s not bad. If you like Silvestri or any of the other creators involved, it’s definitely worth taking a look. All in all, I think it’s safe to say that if I happen to notice the next issue I’ll pick it up, giving the series another issue to really hook me, but it doesn’t yet have me enough to want to put it on my pull list.

Spawn #200 [Review]


Full review posted to cxPulp.com
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Story: 3/5
Art: 3.5/5
Overall: 3.5/5

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