Wednesday, November 10, 2010

SPAWN #40-#41, January 1996


Credits: Todd McFarlane (story), Tony Daniel (pencils), Kevin Conrad (inks), Tom Orzechowski (letters), Todd Broeker w/Roy Young (colors)

Summary: Agents working for the Curse booby-trap Spawn’s throne, shocking him into unconsciousness. He awakens inside Curse’s laboratory, where he discovers he’s being dissected. Meanwhile, Cy-Gor is hunted in the woods by locals who believe he’s Bigfoot. After rescuing a boy from a careening SUV, Cy-Gor disappears.

Spawntinuity: This is the first time “Rat City” is used to describe the specific area where Spawn resides in the alleys. Curse now has tiny, cloaked followers with cybernetic body parts and giant teeth. Wanda and Terry have a two-page conversation, recapping their ongoing storyline and confirming that Wanda doesn’t believe Spawn is Al Simmons.

Production Note: Many of the pages clearly aren’t lettered by Tom Orzechowski, but the other letterer isn’t credited. Orzechowski's one-time assistant, Lois Buhalis, who also letters a future issue, is probably the letterer.

Todd Talk: McFarlane uses the letters page to map out the future of the series: A new angel (and lawsuit) named Tiffany will appear soon. Next, Spawn will return to Hell in #50 and stay for around ten issues. Post #60, a new character who knows Spawn’s identity will appear as Spawn uses his CIA training and goes on covert missions. Beginning in #70, Spawn will begin to learn more about his homeless friends, which will take the book to issue #80. McFarlane, perhaps, is overestimating his audience’s attention span.

Spawn Stuff: A letter to the McFarlane Toys “Endcap” column wants to know how many Angela action figures shipped without the painted-on panties.

Review: After a break for the Christmas story, we’re back to one of the alternating Tony Daniel issues. Cy-Gor has returned, and now he’s in an exhilarating battle with local hunters who think he’s Bigfoot. Surely a full third of the issue should be devoted to this excitement. As for the title’s star, he’s suckered into a trap by the Curse, which actually does end with a nice cliffhanger. Spawn’s strapped to a table, severed from his cloak and chains, and his legs are missing. That’s certainly a teaser for the next issue. However, before getting there, McFarlane spends forever on showing Curse’s followers (who were originally homeless people, but now appear to be Muppets or something) trying to move his body. This filler, added with the Cy-Gor filler, and the Wanda and Terry filler, leaves you with around six pages of actual story.

Fugitives Part Two

Credits: Todd McFarlane (story), Greg Capullo (pencils), Todd McFarlane (inks), Tom Orzechowski (copy editor & letters), Brian Haberlin, J.D. Smith, & Dan Kemp (colors)

Summary: Curse continues his dissection of Spawn, hoping to learn the secrets of Necroplasm. When he leaves the room, Spawn snatches a scalpel and amputates his right hand. He mentally commands the hand to punch the containment tank that holds his uniform. The uniform escapes through a tiny fracture and absorbs Spawn’s severed limbs. Reformed by his uniform, Spawn thinks he has the advantage, until Curse presses the lab’s self-destruct button. Meanwhile, Cy-Gor is pursued by hunters while Violator reminds Jason Wynn of their deal.

Spawntinuity: During his dissection, Spawn flashes back to a jungle mission, which is apparently supposed to be in Vietnam (the narrative captions place him at twenty-one years old, which would easily put Spawn in his mid ‘40s, even in 1995). After Al Simmons’ friend is killed, he’s rescued by another soldier nicknamed “Saigon.”

Review: The first page of this issue opens with an extended prose sequence that is at least four hundred words long. I question if the entire first issue of this series had that many words. Once McFarlane decided his book was too much of a “quick read,” he certainly threw himself into the opposite direction. I wouldn’t mind the verbiage if it added something to the story, but instead McFarlane just drones on with another long-winded recap of Spawn’s origin. Other recycled material in this issue includes more pages of Cy-Gor tearing through rural America, and Violator discussing his deal with Jason Wynn. Wanda & Terry and Sam & Twitch’s never-ending subplots apparently have the issue off.

Despite the stretches of boredom, the main story really is fun. McFarlane actually takes advantage of Spawn’s supernatural origins and does something with him that you can’t do with Batman or Spider-Man. Those wimpy heroes can’t survive a vivisection, while Spawn’s x-treme enough to cut off his own hand and get the job done (“Spawn’s hand had done its job” is an actual narrative caption in this issue, by the way). Watching Spawn’s hand run around like Thing from the Addams Family is honestly entertaining, and it’s the type of lunacy we don’t see often enough in McFarlane’s humorless stories. Spawn’s costume is also given something to do, as it escapes from captivity and consumes Curse’s lab in black ink. This is obviously a Venom riff, but I guess McFarlane deserves some license to go back to the idea. Even Curse has a somewhat credible motive, as he now wants to study what exactly Spawn is made of and use it in his war against the devil. He’s still nuts, but it’s less of the generic “ka-raaazy” that’s supposed to justify any ridiculous action, and more of a coherent motive. If the story had less Cy-Gor and more progression of the ongoing storylines, this would be a pretty solid issue.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

#41 was the last issue of Spawn I ever read after being a giant fan. I remember being bored by the slow pace the series was taking but planning to stick it out through #50 to see if things got better. Alas, this is where it ended for me. I'm not sure why I stopped here because it seemed like this was one of the better stories in recent times. Maybe the giant text pieces drove me away. I remember hating the Christmas issue so maybe it just took two more issues to tear off that band aid. Either way I definitely have memories of thinking 'Okay, Spawn was killed by The Curse' and using that as my personal end to the continuity.

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