Episode #2: Spawn 1

If you’re talking 90’s comics, there’s no getting around Todd McFarlane in general, or his creation Spawn in particular. For better or worse the man and his dark gothic superhero helped define the decade. Most people tend to view both as something to be rather embarrassed by these day, but how does the actual premier issue hold up? Let’s find out together!

Listen to Episode 2: Spawn #1.

Spawn

You can subscribe to the Council of Geeks podcast, home of 90s Comics Retrial, on iTunes or now at Sticher.

And now for a few choice samples from writer/artist Todd McFarlane.

Our hero, ladies and gentlemen! Don't mind the garter.

Our hero, ladies and gentlemen! Don’t mind the garter.

This is a crowded page done wrong.

This is a crowded page done wrong.

This is a crowded page done right.

This is a crowded page done right.

And this is how you properly jolt back to reality.

And this is how you properly jolt back to reality.

Ladies and gentlemen... our hero? Huh... it's almost like there's something complex going on.

Ladies and gentlemen… our hero? Huh… it’s almost like there’s something complex going on.

Come back in a week when Nathaniel Wayne will take a look at another decade defining artist: Jim Lee, and his work on X-Men #1 and #2.

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4 thoughts on “Episode #2: Spawn 1

  1. I was already reading G.I. Joe, X-Men, and a few Batman titles when Image Comics burst onto the scene. A whole group of my friends discovered the Image books around the same time and dove into collecting… for about three months or so. I remember us getting together after school or on weekends for communal reads. Somebody had Spawn and Savage Dragon. Somebody else had WildC.A.T.S. and Shadow Hawk. Somebody had Youngblood. I remember collecting Cyber Force, but I don’t even know if it had come out at the same time as the others. As a result, I read a lot of those early Image comics but didn’t collect them and I barely remember them now. My friends all seemed to bite down harder on these new characters that they were discovering with debut issues, but I didn’t. I thought, why would I read Spawn when I’ve got Batman and Detective Comics? Why would I bother with Youngblood when I’ve been collecting X-Force for a year? Okay, so, every other Image team book was a ripoff of X-Men, but I still followed Cyber Force and WildC.A.T.s for a while, and then Storm Watch and Wetworks, which–while not always good–at least had their own individual style and feel.

    None of that really has anything to do with Spawn issue #1 other than explaining why I never owned it when I was the perfect age and audience for such a title. In fact, I hardly remembered anything about the book until hearing your recap. I have much stronger memories of Spawn’s battle with the Violator in issue #2, but that’s it.

    It’s late and I’m tired and I can’t think of a good segue but this was a really good episode, better than the first. I loved how you explained the premise and your comics history in the first episode, but now that we’ve gotten past it, this is a great example of what a typical 90s Comics Retrial episode should be. A detailed-but-not-overdone recap, a humorous but convincing analysis, and probably a fair verdict.

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  2. Your coverage of Spawn was surprisingly fair, and more favorable than my own feelings upon my original reading. While I loved McFarlane’s Amazing Spider-Man artwork, I felt he was going off the rails with the adjective-less Spider-Man. Spawn was certainly pretty to look at, but the story left me cold. Extreme heroes, dark-dark-darkety-dark setting, and reprehensible bad guys. Not my cup of tea.

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  3. I picked up a lot of the original Image books – as I did a lot of the nascent alternative superhero universes of the decade (Valiant, Impact, Ultraverse, Malibu, etc.) – and the only decent monthlies from that initial batch were probably Spawn and Savage Dragon. The rest were either truly awful or at least so derivative as to hold zero interest for me. True, Spawn had a look derivative of Spider-Man, but the story wasn’t completely different.

    But not particularly well written. I think you do well to praise the things you do about the book and Macfarlane’s art in general. But I do remember at the time having a similar reaction to this that I’d had to his Spider-Man #1. Macfarlane’s not a very good writer. The dialog is lame, the stories are bog standard, and he’s just looking for his next splash page opportunity. Free of editorial oversight, Spawn #1 had an awkward mix of cartoony art and ultra-violence that I didn’t think worked.

    I did keep up with the series for a 18-24 months (and Spawn was one of the few Image books to stay on schedule), but the only stories I give a rat’s ass about are the ones written by other (or I should say, ACTUAL) writers. Sim, Gaiman, Morrison, even Miller. That’s one of the things I hated about the 90s aesthetic – the idea that comics should be art showcases rather than stories.

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  4. Ed Moore says:

    In January 2016 I decided to make my way through the Image uncatalogued as I bought them when they were coming out but have read few of the books more than once.

    Month by month I am currently in October 1993. More than the actuals of the art/writing I find I enjoy the reminiscing of where and when I was when I read the books for the first time. Oddly enough the books feel very new as few details stuck with me lo these 20+ years later.

    I am enjoying the podcast, carry on.

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