Credits: Todd McFarlane (story & art), Mark Pennington (inks), Tom Orzechowski (copy editor & letterer), Steve Oliff & Olyoptics (colors)
Summary: Bobby sews Spawn’s face back together with an old shoelace. Soon, a skinhead enters the alleys and challenges Spawn. Spawn brutalizes him and forces him to confess that Tony Twist sent him as a warning. Nearby, Sam and Twitch continue their search for Spawn. Meanwhile, Jason Wynn learns that an investigation has cleared Terry Fitzgerald of stealing military hardware. Unwilling to admit his error and show weakness, Wynn orders his men to continue harassing Terry. Elsewhere, Tony Twist’s spies inform him that Terry Fitzgerald is the man suspected of stealing the weapons used against Overt-Kill.
Spawntinuity: Spawn’s face is being sewed up after Batman launched a batarang into it in Spawn/Batman. A footnote says that issues #19 and #20 (“Not out yet!”) will have the explanation. I wonder if McFarlane considered offering an alternate explanation for Spawn’s face injury in those issues, but later decided just to let Spawn/Batman be canon. Also, Jason Wynn is referred to as a CIA boss again, a few issues after McFarlane started referring to his agency as the fictional “United States Security Group.” A few issues later a narrative caption claims that the USSG is an “umbrella agency” incorporating the CIA and various other groups.
Todd Talk: In the letters page, McFarlane brags that he shares royalties with the creators who’ve worked on the book, and lists Neil Gaiman as one of the creators who will give a testimony about his experience on Spawn.
Review: This issue begins “The Hunt,” a multi-part storyline I remember enjoying during its initial release. Actually, I tend to remember this storyline as the highlight of my time buying the book, which makes me wonder why I kept going until issue #75 or so. The story opens with Spawn receiving makeshift surgery in the alleys, as one of his homeless friends sews his face back together. This creates “Shoelace Spawn,” a look that sticks around for years, and even becomes an action figure. That’s one aspect of Spawn from this era that I do enjoy. McFarlane’s free to stitch a dirty shoelace into the middle of his character’s face, and leave it that way for years, because it’s his character and he doesn’t have to worry about any other creators, editors, or marketing people telling him to cut it out.
The scene also develops Bobby as a character, as he tells the story of his wife’s brain cancer and his descent into alcoholism. McFarlane’s not exactly able to use it as a subtle character piece, but I think it does humanize Bobby and makes him feel like a more legitimate member of the supporting cast. Bobby also admonishes Spawn to be better than he was and not to feel sorry for himself. Wow, if only Spawn (and McFarlane) actually took that advice. It’s amusing that Spawn’s getting a “get off your butt” speech this early in the run, considering how many years he’ll go on to spend doing virtually nothing.
McFarlane’s goal with this arc obviously is to tie together some of the series’ ongoing plot lines. Spawn’s decision to steal CIA records and military hardware has inadvertently left his old friend Terry to take the blame, Jason Wynn is unwilling to admit that he’s wrongly accused Terry, and Tony Twist assumes that Terry must be the guy who used military hardware against Overt-Kill because that’s what Jason Wynn thinks. Meanwhile, Spawn’s impulsive decision to kill Billy Kincaid has angered Sam and Twitch, the cops wrongly accused of the crime. The threads are coming together, and Spawn’s friend, who’s also his ex-wife’s current husband, is caught in the middle. I don’t know if McFarlane had this planned out from the beginning, but the connections feel pretty natural. The first chapter of this storyline is essentially a recap of the ongoing plotlines with a few moves towards bringing the various threads together. It could be dull, but McFarlane creates a sense that things are actually happening. If I only knew how rare Spawn would generate that feeling…