Credits: Todd McFarlane (story and art), Steve Oliff, Reuben Rude, & Olyoptics (colors), Tom Orzechowski (letters)
Summary: Convicted child-killer Billy Kincaid is freed on a technicality. He takes over an ice cream truck and begins victimizing local children. When Spawn hears of the case, he flashes back to his past as Al Simmons. One of Kincaid’s early victims was the daughter of a former Senator. He offered Simmons a million dollars to kill Kincaid, but the police found him first. Later, evidence implicating Kincaid was destroyed. Simmons suspected that enemies Senator Jennings made within the government were involved with the cover-up. Spawn now finishes his mission and kidnaps Kincaid from his home. Detectives Sam and Twitch are monitoring Kincaid, and catch a glimpse of Spawn outside. Later, they discover Kincaid’s body in their office.
Spawntinuity: It’s revealed that Sam has been a detective for sixteen years and has previously lost a partner. Twitch says that he has seven children. A narrative caption describes Spawn’s former wife, Wanda, as a businesswoman. In the HBO series, she’s a lawyer, which I think is eventually adopted by the comics. (The HBO series bases much of the first season on this one issue, by making Wanda a lawyer for a patsy framed for Kincaid’s crimes and later using her child as a potential victim for Kincaid). This is also the first issue to feature Spawn associating with New York’s homeless.
I Love the ‘90s: A newspaper headline declares “Bush Reelected.” The polls were probably leaning this way when McFarlane drew the issue.
Not Approved By The Comics Code Authority: Billy Kincaid “finger paints” by gluing dead kids’ fingers to the wall. He’s also chained up with ice cream bars (and a scoop) stabbed into his body after Spawn kills him.
Review: Because it’s just not out of his system yet, McFarlane brings us more dead kids. If I’m to believe a future letters page, this issue was banned in Australia, and according to Erik Larsen, this one lead to McFarlane’s wife removing her name as editor (the original Image creators credited their spouses as editors, just to give the impression that the books actually had editors). Since this is McFarlane’s own baby, I can’t say anything about how appropriate or inappropriate the content is this time. The hero of the book is a government assassin who sold his soul to the devil, so it’s not as if a child-killer villain is really out of line. A lot of this is cliché “honest cops rail against an ineffective system” material, but I actually think McFarlane is able to make Sam and Twitch likable characters in their own right. The other tired cliché is the shadowy government conspiracy angle (which is at least partly responsible for Kincaid getting released), which will pop up endlessly in this series. I don’t mind it so much here, since it adds an extra layer to Kincaid’s backstory. There’s a much more substantial plot this time, as McFarlane manages to tie Kincaid into Spawn’s past in a relatively smooth fashion, and connect Spawn’s feelings over Wanda’s child to Kincaid’s murders. It’s dark, it’s sick, but the story is told effectively, and it’s one of the few examples of McFarlane actually executing a one-shot issue.