Martin John reviews Image's Spawn #205.
Credits & Solicit Info:
THE RETURN OF THE CURSE!
The Curse is now the leader of a newfound cult, whose plan is to discredit the work of Spawn's alter ego, Jim Downing. Politics, power, and pain lead the charge in this stunning tail of treachery.
Szymon Kudrankski, Todd McFarlane
Wed, March 23rd, 2011
I admit it, I read Spawn as a teenager and reveled in the 'hot' Todd McFarlane art and the hype that Image had in the nineties. Some of the stories were not that bad either. Both Neil Gaiman and Alan Moore wrote stories early on in the series. McFarlane also wrote a couple of nice issues too. I'll always have a soft spot in my heart for the gruesome manner in which Billy Kincaid was killed. However, MacFarlane mainly portrayed Spawn as a character that moped in a back alley about his wife and kid being scooped up by his best friend while fighting some new creation every month that made an awesome toy. Even for my teen mind, it got a bit boring after thirty issues and before too long I sadly dropped the title. I say sadly because I always wanted it to be good.
Cue issue #200 of Spawn, which came out a few months back. Over ten years had passed since I sat down and read a Spawn book (although I did read Sam and Twitch by Bendis). I had kept up with the news that there was a new Spawn, Jim Downing, and thought that issue #200 would be a good jumping on point. Unfortunately, Spawn #200 was horrid. However, McFarlane teased a new creative team, Will Carlton and Szymon Kudranski. The small part of my nostalgia that remained uncrushed by Spawn #200 decided to pick up the next issue. To my surprise, I quite liked it.
For those who haven't been following the series, Jim Downing, the new Spawn, is a celebrity now. He heals people by touching them and is trying to find out his identity by going on television. Downing is also being pursued by vampires and Violator is trying his best to manipulate him. While I haven't really read the last four issues of Spawn, I decided to leap once more into the breach, bringing us to Spawn #205.
The strongest aspect of the book is Szymon Kudranski's amazing art. His photorealistic style is highly kinetic and brings a lot of attitude to the panels. If there is one reason to pick up Spawn #205, it is for Kudranski and FCO Plascensia's art. While there is an obligatory "Spawn moping in an alley moment" in this book, it looks amazing. Spawn sits perched on his garbage throne all jagged edges and muted grey and red tones. Also, there are some heads obliterated in the issue which are rendered in such a gorgeous way that it leaves you begging for wholesale massacres of people. I would read a book entirely about evisceration with this art team attached. Szymon and Plasencia's splashes in this issue are horrifically terrific. Also, Tom Orzechowski kills the lettering as always with an unusually sparse style.
Will Carlton paces his comics out quite nicely, but there are too many plots and subplots flying everywhere. I sympathize with Will a little because he has the plot McFarlane and Jon Goff gave him to work with. The story is crowded with Twitch in a hospital, Spawn in an alley, mystery men getting recruited by bad guys and Jim's agents being bombarded with calls plus plot points featuring Jim's girlfriend and the latest from Violator and other bad guys. It's quite a lot of information to cram into one issue. However, Carlton manages it with tact, knowing that he is moving the plot forward and layering a lot of information over the requisite action scene. What Carlton and company fail to provide is an emotional heart to the story. I found the characters hard to relate to which leads to the issue's major downfall. I know Spawn is mopey and confused about his identity but there needs to be more for the reader to latch onto.
I want to like this book and the art will have me flipping through it on the stands, but without characters that I can relate to I will always put the book back down. If the creative team of Spawn can make me feel something for the characters, I will come back for seconds. A good plot makes an okay story but being able to feel with a character makes a stellar one.
Review by: Martin John