Comic Review: Gunslinger Spawn (#1+2, Image Comics)

Issue #1 main cover by Brett Booth and Todd McFarlane

Story by Todd McFarlane and Aleš Kot

Art by Philip Tan and Kevin Keane

My rating: 4.5 / 5

This was a major, major surprise for me that came out of nowhere! This comic is like being dropped into the deep end of something but it is a complete blast and genuinely surprised with how engaging it can be in its better moments.

Quite simply, Spawns Universe and this are great new jumping on points for the Spawn comics, even if you’ve never really read any Spawn title before now.

Issue #1 variant by Greg Capullo

The main character (who I’m calling GS) is a time-lost Gunslinger Spawn (as the name simply describes, ala the toy lines of our youth) who is in our present. He in turn encounters a young man who of course gets a bit accidentally drawn into the ongoing conflict that GS is caught up in – a battle between angels, demons and any number of things in between.
Absolutely one of the things I did love about Spawn in it’s heyday was that even though it drew heavily from Christian mythology and iconography, it didn’t outright try and toe lines in any fashion and just lovingly tore it all to shreds. It took ideas and spun them and played with them and provoked but always in a way that was entertaining

Issue #1 variant by Robert Kirkman

That trend continues in this book – GS has to face down in the first two issues with Angels (of a sort) and the way his powers work is revealed to be more than a tad different than the Spawn we’ve known all these years. Unlike Al Simmons’ prehensile cape and seemingly (at times) limitless wells of power, GS is more like the Spawn of the first days, the one that could hurt AND be hurted, that had limited reserves of power and couldn’t just let his emotion get the better of him and be an exploding cannon. This Spawn has a fresh new character AND hands down the winner is the way the writers have portrayed his time-lost brain contending with the present. I genuinely had some laughing out loud while reading the few of those and it felt real, it felt like what might actually happen – which is funny in a comic that’s wall to wall supernatural, that the best beats are Spawns human confusion (without being outright goofy) and his new young friend/guide in his moments where he has to deal with what he is suddenly facing in this horror-scape.

Issue #2 cover by Brett Booth

No books set in or around Spawn have been on my pull list in the past decade at least. Back when Spawn was first created, I loved the comic, I loved the animated series and I even liked the movie.
But the book meandered a lot after a point, I fell a bit out of comics and when I got back in, it felt like a lot was going on and trying to dive back into the heavily loaded world of Al Simmons when it was literally heaven-and-hell war underway with all kinds of stuff happening that I had missed… it was like coming in at Season 7-8 of a show I stopped watching at the end of season 1. Crafting this new break-point where we get a sort of fresh start with new characters, new stakes and new rules we learn as we go is a good move by Todd McFarlane and team and honestly it seems to have come off better than most big company attempts at line-wide reboots – I’m sure it helps to be smaller but it shows it can be done well.

I have not read the rest and am planning on reading the post-Spawn Universe books, i.e, King Spawn, The Scorched and Spawn, but I will not expect them all to be winners. Overall I enjoyed the book a lot, Philip Tan‘s art suited it well and gave it it’s own look, plus his action sequences are not brilliant but solid enough. There’s still a remarkable feel of the 90’s Image Comics art to it but slightly evolved. Clearly Todd McFarlane is still capable of good stuff and I look forward to more of this book for now.

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