Credits: Todd McFarlane (story & art), Tom Orzechowski (letters and editor), Steve Oliff, Reuben Rude, & Olyoptics (colors)
Summary: Spawn invades Youngblood’s headquarters and teleports away with Chapel. They travel to Botswana, where Chapel killed Al Simmons five years earlier. When Spawn reveals his identity, Chapel flashes back to Jason Wynn’s order to kill the “traitor” Simmons. Before Spawn exits their fight, he uses magic on Chapel’s face. When Youngblood discovers Chapel, they see a skull image has been burned into his face.
Spawntinuity: Terry Fitzgerald is listed as an employee of the U.S.S.G - United States Security Group. This is supposed to be Jason Wynn’s agency, which was described as the CIA last issue. Flashbacks to news reports covering Al Simmons’ death in 1987 describe Simmons saving Ronald Regan’s life during John Hinckley’s assassination attempt. He’s also described as a “former president” which means someone got their dates mixed up, or Regan was a one-term president in the Spawn universe.
Spawn vs. Lawyers: Youngblood member Bedrock is now “Badrock,” apparently due to legal threats from Hanna Barbara.
“Huh?” Moment: Chapel spontaneously shouts that a government serum he took gave him HIV (!). I assume this is what happened when Rob Liefeld went “relevant” in Youngblood.
The Big Names: Walt Simonson draws a Spawn poster. Todd McFarlane Productions is working with Industrial Light & Magic on a “two minute live action commercial/mini-movie.”
Review: I’m convinced that McFarlane’s attempt at turning Spawn into a faceless ghost on the edges of the storylines was not where he wanted to go all along, since he seemed genuinely interested in developing him as a character in the early issues. Here, he dedicates paragraph after paragraph of prose to Spawn’s memories as Al Simmons. McFarlane’s prose is legendarily purple and melodramatic, but he gives Spawn a natural tone and allows him to tell the story (perhaps autobiographical on McFarlane’s part) of his wife comforting him after a career-ending baseball injury. It’s a million times more effective than any “Why did you take away my wiiiife?!?” posturing could’ve been. McFarlane is also smart enough to keep the captions on the edges of the pages and out of the artwork. It’s a trick that comics don’t use that often, and it’s another opportunity for Tom Orzechowski to showcase his advanced lettering skills.
The Youngblood cameo is a reminder of the early appeal of Image. Image was supposed to be a new comics universe that kids could access at the starting level (as opposed to the future legal quagmire it became). Spawn sneaking into Youngblood’s headquarters and confronting Chapel was almost the ‘90s equivalent of Spider-Man asking the Fantastic Four for a job. McFarlane seems to especially enjoy Badrock, the mutated teen superhero whose giant fingers destroy Nintendo controllers. Yes, Chapel is a cliché bloodthirsty ‘90s anti-hero, but McFarlane is able to use that as a contrast with Spawn. It works rather well, making Spawn more sympathetic and less of a stereotype (although all of this work is abandoned as McFarlane makes Spawn less human and more of a ghoul as the years go on).
Issues #12 and #13 were some of the earliest Spawn comics I read, after I decided that buying an Image comic wouldn’t lead to anyone revoking my Marvel Zombie card. They were good enough to pique my curiosity, so I began to consider buying the book on a regular basis. Having reread them, I’m relieved that both issues do hold up and are much stronger than the later issues I remember (eventually I’ll get to the issue that’s entirely dedicated to Spawn building a chair).