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Spawn #200 [Review]


Full review posted to cxPulp.com
.

 

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

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Haunt #2 [Review]

Co-creator/Writer: Robert Kirkman
Layouts: Greg Capullo
Pencils: Ryan Ottley
Co-creator/Inks: Todd McFarlane
Color: FCO Plascencia
Lettering: Richard Starkings/Comicraft
Cover/Variants Artists: Todd McFarlane, Ryan Ottley
Publisher: Image Comics

I’m actually enjoying this series. We’re only two issues in, and there’s still a lot of questions about the main characters, and I still have to look back into the issue to remember character names and such. But it’s a pot brewing a good deal of potentil to come.

The brothers from the previous issue must literally work together to stay alive and protect their friend–the dead brother takes control of their “merged” body and explains to the living brother that he can do what needs done, but needs to not be fought.

Father Kilgore–the surviving brother–is none to pleased at the current state of affairs and wants to be left out of things. As his brother makes clear, though, he’s already involved. They wind up fighting a mercenary who seems to almost be played for dark humour more than actual threat. Finally, the brothers–as “Haunt” (though I don’t think the name’s been given yet for their merged form) begin to move toward some answers, with a fairly cliche sort of cliffhanger.

As said, there’s a lot of potential here. Backstory to both of the brothers and their friend will be interesting to discover in coming issues. Seeing how the cliffhanger will likely add greatly to the status quo, and that development will be cool.

And whether the visual style and tone or something else, I can’t help but be reminded somehow of both Spawn and Spider-Man; though this character seems like he’s much more at home in a Spawn world, obviously. He could also almost work in an Invincible sort of world. (Though as yet, I don’t believe there’s anything to say this takes place in one, the other or either).

Taken as a whole, the writing and visuals make for an interesting issue, and I find myself intrested in and planning on pickin up the next issue to see how that one is.

For now, especially if you can still get ahold of the first issue, I recommend this for fans of McFarlane, Spawn, Kirkman, or Invincible…and casul fans somewhere in between.

Story: 6.5
Art: 8.5
Overall: 7.5

Haunt #1 [Review]

Co-creator/Writer: Robert Kirkman
Layouts: Greg Capullo
Pencils: Ryan Ottley
Co-creator/Inks: Todd McFarlane
Color: FCO Plascencia
Lettering: Richard Starkings/Comicraft
Cover/Variants Artists: Todd McFarlane, Ryan Ottley, Greg Capullo
Publisher: Image Comics

OK, so call me a sucker. This is a first issue, yeah. And I recently missed out on the debut of Chew, which had seemed interesting from an ad or two I’d seen. The Todd McFarlane and Robert Kirkman co-creation Haunt also seemed like a sorta interesting thing–again, from an ad. I’d pretty much forgotten about it entirely, though, until I received an email yesterday (the day before the comic’s release) about its release. I don’t know what landed me on this particular email list, but at least it was targeted, and did its job very, very well. Take these factors: two big names–creators whose books I’ve enjoyed recently, and a cheap-in-today’s-market cover price (this book’s only $2.99 cover price)–and combine them with “notice” or “attention” and you have a combination sufficient to get me to pick the book up. (Unfortunately, though I should’ve realized, there is the taint of variant covers, which I didn’t even consider…I wasn’t paying attention and am not particularly thrilled with the cover I wound up with).

So…what’s this Haunt thing all about? It’s only the first issue, so there’s plenty to wonder at. We’re introduced to a handful of characters and how they’re related to one another…and find out that one of them is actually dead, apparently a figment of his brother’s imagination. Only, there’s something more to it than “imagination.” When the surviving brother looks in on a woman both brothers had been involved with in the past–he’s got some less than wonderful history with her, it seems–he doesn’t think there’s anything to protect her from, though is soon proven wrong. When a couple of armed individuals enter the scene, a bit of a transformation occurs, and we meet the title character of the series.

I doubt much of it will stick as interesting to me long-term. But for the moment, there’s something interesting about the title character to me–the relationship between the brothers and the transformation that leaves one facing “Haunt.” I was put in mind of the Kevin Green transformation into Prime (for those few of you who remember the character). There’s also the slight twist on a quasi-archetype that I won’t get into as it’d be pretty serious spoiler territory.

The art team’s pretty familiar, and yet brings something new to the table. There’s a difference in visual style from Invincible and Spawn, but also a similarity to both…sorta like it has the grittiness of Spawn softened by the brighter style of Invincible. And honestly…works very well to me.

On the whole–for both the story and the visuals–this feels very much at-home in the same universe as Spawn (it remains to be seen if it is, actually) while not entirely out of place in a universe that has Invincible in it. With or without the comparisons…it’s got a fairly generic premise mixed with an intriguing twist sufficient to hook me and leave me interested in seeing what the next issue brings.

I bought this issue thanks to the initial hype/marketing and the names attached to it.

The package itself–the story, the hook–will bring me back for another look-see.

As something new, to get in at the beginning of what’s likely a major project with either Kirkman or McFarlane, this is well worth checking out…if only for this first issue.

Story: 7/10
Art: 8/10
Whole: 8.5/10

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

Spawn #187 [Review]

Endgame part three

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

This sets a new record for me, as the first time I have ever bought three consecutive issues of this title. While the previous couple issues weren’t bad despite my lack of context and knowing who characters are (helped by recognizing the Clown/Violator character), it’s starting to wear a bit thin with this third issue of the arc.

The issue opens on a reporter pressing his boss’s buttons as he seeks a promotion; we then see that patient that woke upon Al Simmons’ death terrorized by a super-powered/supernatural bounty hunter…as outside people speculate what the green flash was that was seen as others wonder if explosions in the hospital are terrorist-related.

The story–as said–is starting to wear a bit thin…I’m not a huge fan of long periods reading a comic without knowing/recalling characters’ names. I do hope there’s more development soon that draws me in, as this issue feels the weakest of these three that I’ve read this time checking in on the title.

Visually, nothing all that new to say–the style works well with the narrative, having a linework that fits the supernatural nature of parts of the story without losing its “grittiness.”

All in all a decent issue–I’ll give a couple more before I drop this again, as I’m interested conceptually at where this title can go and how a new Spawn might emerge from all this.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t feel quite strong enough to justify recommending staying on-board/jumping in if you’re not otherwise interested. If the story’s not grabbing you, no need to bother here; if it’s got your interest, this issue does keep things moving forward somewhat, just not in leaps and bounds.

Story: 7/10
Art: 8/10
Whole: 7.5/10

Spawn #186 [Review]

Endgame part 2

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

The Violator, investigating the green beam last issue deals with what he found at its source, showing the truth to the name “Violator.” Meanwhile, the newly-awakened comatose man has a name, and begins to learn about his surroundings. As this is going on, others scurry into action now that this patient is awake…and the patient finds that he has a friend he was unaware of, as something shows up promising harm.

I have no idea who the character on the last page is. I have a slight suspicion, but will have to wait for the next issue. The visual style in this issue is quite good…I like it in context of the story, though it probably wouldn’t be as pleasing on a more “clean” or less “gritty” type of story–it wouldn’t work well with Superman, for example, in my mind.

The story is a bit take-it-or-leave-it…I think I’m more engaged for the simple fact of wondering if the major change wrought last issue will actually stick, and curious at the potential if it does, and what that would mean for the series.

Something about this whole “Endgame” thing feels like a soft reboot, and I’m rather curious at how quickly I might engage with the series as this is the first time I’ve ever bought two consecutive issues, let alone on the day of release.

The main weakness I see is that there’s very little given in-story/contextually to let someone know who someone is–“the patient”‘s name is Jim, but there are no captions for other character (only a couple for locations), and so there is the feeling of being a bit lost, wondering who is important and why or when.

If you’re looking for an entry point to Spawn, this issue coupled with the previous seems as good as any as a point to start–there’s definitely a feeling of a new beginning that would probably justify a new #1, even (making this a new #2).

Story: 7/10
Art: 8.5/10
Whole: 7.5/10

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