Wednesday, July 28, 2010

SPAWN #30 - April 1995

The Clan

Credits: Todd McFarlane (story), Tom Orzechowski (story assist, copy editor, & letters), Todd McFarlane & Greg Capullo (art), Steve Oliff & Olyoptics (colors)

Summary: Spawn continues to wander the South. He encounters Brad Armstrong, whose family is being terrorized by the Ku Klux Klan. When Spawn tries to stop them, he’s shot in the head and lynched. After recovering, Spawn discovers that the local judge is also a KKK member. Spawn secretly punishes the various Klansmen, then arranges to meet the judge alone. Spawn transforms Judge Missen into a black man, which soon leads to his own lynching by the Klan. Spawn hands Brad Judge Missen’s files, which implicate the local government’s attempts to steal Brad’s property, and leaves town.

Spawntinuity: Sam and Twitch have a brief scene, reminding us once again that they have dirt on Chief Banks. Spawn’s thoughts confirm he had a tryst with Angela. When speaking to Brad, Spawn calls Terry Fitzgerald a “token black” for the government, and says that “the white man” is responsible for torching him and replacing him with “the next one who was let into line.”

Spawn vs. Lawyers: Two of the Klansmen are named “Johnny” and “Peter.” Peter David has said that John Byrne contacted him, asking David to join him in a lawsuit. David assumed the names were a swipe at them, but didn’t want to pursue a lawsuit.

Spawn Stuff: The first hints of a Spawn movie have begun. The movie is released relatively soon by New Line, the studio mentioned in this issue.

Review: I’ve always liked the fact that McFarlane made Spawn a black hero without really drawing attention to his race. Rather than creating one character who’s supposed to represent an entire race, Spawn exists as a character who happens to be black, which is significant in its own way. Now, because the character is in the South, he just has to run into the Klan, and give a speech about how terrible the white man is. After witnessing the Klan’s harassment of Brad, Spawn reveals to him that there was a racial motive behind his own murder. That’s a potential avenue to explore, but why is this only coming up now? And why wasn’t it ever brought up again? If Spawn really believed this, why wouldn’t he use “racist” as an adjective when listing all of Jason Wynn’s other horrible attributes? I have to assume Tom Orzechowski scripted this sequence, if only because it just doesn’t fit with the previous stories McFarlane wrote (Spawn also uses thought balloons in the start of the issue, which only happened in the issues Orzechowski scripted).

If the last issue didn’t fulfill McFarlane’s cliché quota, he’s working overtime here. Apparently, doing research on the KKK just meant watching movies set during the 1930s, which is the decade this town apparently lives in. Everyone lives in shacks in the middle of barren fields, and I’ll just bet none of these hicks has ever experienced the joys of indoor plumbing or electricity. If Spawn actually did travel through time after exiting Hell, that’s a potentially good idea. It would keep him out of the alleys for a while, give him a wider variety of people to meet, and pose the dilemma of how he could get back to modern times. Instead, he just happened to land back in America, just not in the specific state he wanted, and his main obstacle to getting home is how long it takes him to walk to a train station. (He couldn’t even land in Kosovo, or Darfur, or someplace engaged in conflicts we don’t normally see in comics?)

For some reason, he stays in this town for what seems to be a decent amount of time, since some of the Klansmen from the issue’s opening are sued by Brad and found not liable (Spawn couldn’t have taken care of the Klan during all of those weeks?). After giving the lead Klansman his appropriately ironic punishment, Spawn hands Brad a file that details everything the local government’s done against him (another story resolved with a manila file folder!) and wanders off, “The Lonely Man” playing in the background, I’m sure. The judge’s ironic fate actually works fairly well, as it’s reminiscent of something that might’ve happened in an old EC comic (“Racist Swaps Race” might’ve been an actual EC story for all I know). Since that type of story has mostly died out by the ‘90s, Spawn’s a good enough title to resurrect it, and I believe that is the direction McFarlane eventually goes in. Everything else in this issue, however, is hackneyed beyond belief.

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