Spawn is one of those comic books that I’ve wanted to get into for a good long while, but since its been running for over 250+ issues and a dozen or so spin offs, that’s a pretty intimidating back catalogue to clear your way through just out of idle curiosity. So I thought I’d pick up one of the trade paperback editions, but then I found that the main line (the Spawn origins collection) seems to only go up to somewhere around issue 100 and manages to be massively extortionate in terms of price (even when going for second hand). As it happens however Titan books published 15 volumes collecting the first 80 odd of Spawns adventures, way back in the late 90’s and early 2000’s and as luck would have it, after combing Ebay and Amazon, I managed to get the whole lot for pretty damn cheap, so to say I’m feeling pretty smug is an understatement.
This first volume, Creation, collects the first five issues from the ongoing spawn series and introduces you to the character of Spawn. Now for those not in the know, Spawn is the reincarnated soul of Lt Al Simmons, a former hitman who made a deal with a demon to return to Earth to see his wife. As with all deals, the devil is most definitely in the details and Al Simmons returns to Earth five years after his death, with huge chunks of his memory missing, and now seems to be walking around in some form of living, magic suit, and because its the mid nineteen ninety’s and an Image comic, said suit seems to encompass a lot of muscles and chains. Al is also scarred beyond belief, but can transform his looks for a short period of time (catch being, he looks nothing like he did before he died).
The book starts slowly and by issue three, we’ve been introduced to Al Simmons and gained an insight into his backstory , and we’ve been introduced to The Violator, a sometimes demon, sometimes clown, who has been sent to train the Hellspawn, but to what end we don’t know. We’re also introduced to Detectives Sam and Twitch, a pair of detectives that have been investigating a spate of gangland murders committed by the Violator, for which they assume Spawn is responsible.
Todd Mcfarlane manages to build an interesting world and solid characters in a very short amount of time, we get enough of a backstory to be sympathetic towards the characters, but this doesn’t give away too much in terms of the mystery surrounding them either. The artwork feels right for the tone of the story, even if you do factor in the mid 90’s cliche of over exaggerated muscles, really big weapons, spikes and chains that seem to be a big part of any comic from about 1992 to the early 2000’s. But tonally this works, in some places McFarlane’s art borders on the grotesque, and that’s because it needs to, when depicting the violence and brutality of what demons do, the art is perfect, when depicting someone like Billy Kincade (an insane, serial child murderer) his use of shadow and shading, really does just bring home every parents worst nightmare made flesh, and through his art, he has really made me think that my daughter will never be going to an ice cream van unaccompanied in her life.
This first volume has really piqued my interest from the first panel to the last, the story was compelling and not overly complicated and the art, was varied enough to remain fresh throughout. So I’m glad that I went out on the limb to try this series, and look forward to more in the future.