Wednesday, February 10, 2010

SPAWN #11 - June 1993


Credits: Frank Miller (writer), Todd McFarlane (art), Tom Orzechowski (letters and editor), Steve Oliff, Reuben Rude, & Olyoptics (colors)

Summary: Spawn’s home in the alleys is disrupted by gang violence. Buffy of the Creep gang is killed by Boomer of the Nerds. After Spawn steals his military hardware, Boomer escapes to the Nerd headquarters. Boomer is accidentally killed by Byron, the largest Nerd. James of the Creeps discovers Buffy’s body and begins harassing Spawn’s homeless friends. Spawn tricks the gangs into a confrontation, which leaves only Byron alive. Spawn teleports inside Byron’s armor and rips open his body. Spawn then tells his friends they can move back home after the police clean up the mess.

Spawntinuity: Spawn believes his encounter with Cerebus from the previous issue was a dream. How exactly Spawn returned after touching Angela’s lance in issue #9 isn’t addressed. Boots, the other major member of the homeless supporting cast, appears for the first time. He’s named Boots because he owns a nice pair of boots that he keeps in mint condition. Hey, Frank Miller never sued for ownership of Boots, did he?

Creative Differences: The original announcement had Miller writing a Sam and Twitch story, which this clearly is not. McFarlane will soon establish that the duo has been assigned to desk duty since Billy Kincaid’s body was found in their office, so maybe he asked Miller not to use the characters.

Not Approved By The Comics Code Authority: Many characters, including Spawn, have holes shot into their chests. The alleyway is littered with dismembered corpses after the gang fight. After Spawn rips out of Byron’s body, he dumps his disembodied head into the pile of body parts.

The Big Names: Geoff Darrow draws a pin-up. The previous issue announced that Frank Miller and Darrow were doing a new Image book called The Big Guys, which soon became Dark Horse’s Big Guy and Rusty the Boy Robot. Rusty and the Big Guy are in the poster, along with the Dark Horse logo in the background.

Review: Was it widely known by 1993 that Frank Miller had lost his fool mind? I know some people have dismissed this as a mercenary job Miller rushed out for a paycheck, but I’m not so sure. Miller declared in the first Spawn TPB that he was a genuine fan of the comic and read it every month. I think it’s possible that Miller enjoyed the absurd aspects of the book (as opposed to the overly serious gothic material), and perhaps viewed this as an opportunity to create the most ridiculous Spawn story yet. It is certainly ridiculous, but it’s usually more bewildering than honestly funny. I can’t imagine what McFarlane thought when he hired the writer of “Born Again” and got a story about nerdy white gangbangers with gigantic, Liefeld-style guns. At the very least, Miller does write in his standard pulp-influenced narrative style (which just makes everything more absurd), paces the story so McFarlane can work in a few Spawn pin-up pages without slowing things down too much, and gives Tom Orzechowski a chance to show off, as most of the gang members have distinctive fonts and are introduced with big dramatic captions. Miller also gives Spawn the closest thing to a clever line I can remember him speaking (he invites Byron to “play ‘Alien’” with him before he teleports inside his body and rips it apart). Maybe this issue stands out so much because McFarlane continues the book on such a deadpan, somber path as the years go by. It’s certainly an anomaly in the title’s history; almost the equivalent of Batman’s wacky ‘50s adventures with aliens.


Anonymous said...

People definitely didn't have the same low opinion of Miller as they do today. Sin City had a lot of critical acclaim. I do think the Spawn/Batman crossover he wrote raised a few eyebrows because it was a 'prequel' to The Dark Knight Returns. I don't think Miller's Spawn work was him going insane, I think he was just writing for the audience. I seriously thought that this was great stuff when I was 12.

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Anonymous said...

I always got a kick out of this issue (also being the first issue I actually owned as I borrowed from friends a lot). The early days of image were a crazy time with lots of goofy storylines and tons of crossovers (deathmate, savage dragon/megaton man, youngbloods/everything else on image) but it was a great time to be a kid. Personally my favorite at the time was Shadowhawk, but all of the old image titles were fun: you have to love a company that doesn't censor their artists like marvel did at the time. Makes me miss the mid 90s.

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