While a strange assailant stalks the city, ripping out human hearts, another otherwordly being arrives. As his mind reels, our tortured hero remembers that he struck a deal with the devil in order to return to his beloved wife – five years after his death.
May 1992, almost 25 years ago, saw the release of the upstart comic publisher Image Comics‘ second series Spawn by Todd McFarlane. With lettering by Tom Orzechowski and colors by Steve Oliff, the first issue was the launch of one of comics’ currently longest running series (and really one of the longest, period). In honor of Image’s 25th, I thought it’d be fun to explore the first issue again as part of our “Retro Friday” to see how the comic holds up after all this time.
I remember enjoying the series, one of the first “edgy” heroes I was introduced to at the time. Seeing Spawn then, and now, it’s hard to miss how different the character and series was from what else was being published.
With McFarlane’s signature art, which still holds up all these years later, the first issue is a choppy start jumping between two detectives figuring out a string of murders and our “hero” who himself is figuring out what happened to him.
There’s some interesting things I didn’t notice when I first read the series and reading it now. Being 13 years old when it was first introduced, the fact Al Simmons was African-American wasn’t as apparent then as it is now. McFarlane doesn’t make it 100% clear, but on this re-read, it’s a bit clearer. There’s also a solid use of time which I remember standing out during my first read. The issue has two news reports and through subtle changes between the two we can tell time has passed. 25 years later, that still stands out and what I really remember of the comic.
As I said, the story itself is a bit choppy but pretty easy to understand. McFarlane’s art is what really stands out and some of that choppy sense is due to choices that enhances the horror of what’s going for Simmons as he begins to remember his life.
The colors by Oliff and lettering by Orzechowski stand out as well. They each enhance the issue, especially the lettering which really gives a “voice” to Spawn. Through the lettering you can “hear” the gravely voice.
The first issue isn’t perfect by a long shot, but it holds up surprisingly well in both the art and story itself. My gut says, out of all of the initial Image releases from 1992, this one might hold up the best and it’s longevity is an indication of that.
Story and Art: Todd McFarlane Lettering: Tom Orzechowski Colors: Steve Oliff
Story: 8.15 Art: 8.45 Overall: 8.45 Recommendation: Buy