Writer: David Hine
Artists: Philip Tan (p), Danny Miki, Allen Martinez, Ryan Winn, Crime Lab Studios (i)
Publisher: Image Comics
Honestly, I havenít touched a Spawn comic in at least three years. I think, in the back of my mind, that Spawn represented everything wrong with comic books, aiding in creating the era of despair that was the 1990s. Iíve always felt this was a title that concentrated too much on cool graphics and the merchandising these cool graphics produced, sacrificing compelling stories in the process. Like many of the titles from publishers such as Silent Devil or Aspen, there is little substance for the discerning comic book reader to latch on to. However, after reading the last two issues of Spawn, I am beginning to see a compelling story under construction and a bright future for the title in the days ahead. Yes, thereís still a lot of work to be done to make Spawn as interesting and exciting as it could be, but the capable talents of David Hine and Philip Tan are making a nice go at it.
First, I need to get my fan-geeky infatuation with David Hine off my chest! Out of the entire current Marvel bullpen, he is probably the most exciting writer of the bunch. Any new series written by him is immediately added to my buy list, and I have been pleased just about every time. District X was fantastic, as well as the underappreciated Daredevil: Redemption. And, letís not forget the multiple House of M X-titles that were more enthralling than the Bendis stuff. Finally, I canít wait for X-Men: Civil War to hit the stands! Now that Iíve sufficiently sopped up my drool, back to the review! Similar to his work on Marvel titles, Hine is constructing a solid story with many possible interesting directions. In Spawnís case, it is the concentration on the many souls inhabiting Al Simmonsí body, and how those souls and their stories will impact the coming Apocalypse. Think about the many stories that could possibly develop out of this plot feature. Itís like Hine has combined the epic good-vs-evil battle that is Spawn with the plot flexibility of Lost, giving him a million different directions with which to take this tale. Reports of this titleís demise have been greatly exaggerated! With the armies of Heaven & Hell lining up their most powerful warriors and compelling subplots throughout (including, in just this issue, a samurai, his party girl granddaughter, and a psychotic baseball bat-wielding toddler), Spawn is getting warmed up again at the elderly age of 155.
The main complaint I had about this issue, and it is a large complaint, is the lack of inventiveness concerning the art of Philip Tan. I realize that Todd McFarlane probably still has a lot of say in how Spawn looks from issue to issue, but there has to be some element of individual style and personal interpretation from each artist. I was shocked at how nothing has really changed artistically in the 14 years this comic book has been in shops. Spawn still has the cape and chains flowing in every direction and filling every panel, creating an impression of extreme busyness in every single frame of the issue, which actually distracts from the story being told. Also, all of the human characters here have the same McFarlane feel we have always seen, particularly the little kids at the very end of the issue. They look like something straight out of the early days of the title. I am not the biggest fan of Tanís previous work in Uncanny X-Men, but he still had a unique style, a style that should incorporate itself into this Spawn run, if nothing else than to give the series a new look that coincides with the improvements in storyline. However, this complaint aside, Spawn #155 is an entertaining comic book that will definitely have me coming back for Issue #156. Spawn, youíve come a long way, baby!
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