Credits: Grant Morrison (story), Greg Capullo (pencils), Art Thibert & Dan Panosian (inks), Tom Orzechowski (letters and editor), Steve Oliff & Olyoptics (colors)
Summary: Spawn’s alley friends distract Anti-Spawn, preventing him from delivering the killing blow and allowing Spawn time to recover. Spawn uses magic to bring Anti-Spawn to his knees before punching a hole in his face. The angels retrieve Anti-Spawn, leaving Spawn free to return to Simmonsville. There, he encounters Major Vale. Spawn kills him in retaliation for one of Vale’s military cover-ups. After destroying the town, Spawn reshapes the memory of the day he proposed to Wanda into a spark. That night, he hides outside of her window and releases the spark into her mind.
Spawntinuity: A mysterious man in the alley gives Spawn a blank card, telling him he’ll know when to use it. He claims that he belongs to the same group as Cagliostro, and that there are other powers outside of Heaven and Hell. When "Cog"’s origin is later revealed, I don’t believe it’s ever reconciled with this scene (although the card shows up later).
Creative Differences: The next issue blurb claims that McFarlane will return with a story about the Freak. Not only does this not happen, but a series of behind-the-scenes events will prevent issue #19 from being released until the latter half of 1994. The Freak won’t show up until late 1995, in an issue guest-scripted by Alan Moore.
Spawn Stuff: A fifty-dollar Spawn satin jacket is advertised.
Review: When I reread these issues a few years ago, it dawned on me what Morrison was doing with this run -- he was giving McFarlane Spawn: The Movie. Starting with the opening issue, you have a major plot point tied to the character’s origin (Al Simmons’ death creating Simmonsville), the villain from the hero’s origin becoming a costumed threat (Jason Wynn’s transformation into Anti-Spawn), a clarification of the hero’s status quo (Spawn’s discovery at his grave, which actually is in the live-action movie), and a touching ending that ties back to the hero’s secret identity (Spawn releasing the memory to Wanda). The final splash page of Spawn, jumping towards the camera in the rain, declaring, “Darkness is my home now”…how could that not be the final scene of a Spawn movie?
Was Morrison literally doing this as a movie pitch? Probably not, but it does seem like he’s intentionally playing off the structure of a traditional action film, or the 1989 Batman movie at least. The story isn’t helped by a few of these elements, such as the unexplained selection of Jason Wynn as the Anti-Spawn, or the professional wrestling-worthy spontaneous second wind that allows Spawn to suddenly defeat Anti-Spawn. However, there’s no shortage of intriguing ideas throughout the arc, and I think the final moment between Spawn and Wanda is legitimately touching. This is a good example of a story that wouldn’t work with the later interpretation of Spawn; the cipher who’s really just a ghost on the edges of the stories.