Credits: Todd McFarlane (story), Tony Daniel (pencils), Kevin Conrad (inks), Tom Orzechowski (copy editor & letters), Todd Broeker & Roy Young (colors)
Summary: Under the demonic influence of his symbiote, Spawn withdraws from his friends and builds a refuge deep within Rat City. He contacts Bobby, one of his few remaining defenders, to tell him that he’s going underground. In private, Spawn continues to feed on the evil passed on by the worms. Elsewhere, Sam and Twitch receive info on Chief Banks’ associates from a mystery source (Violator and Jason Wynn), while Terry Fitzgerald uncovers Wynn’s secret arms dealing. While conducting the research, Terry’s health continues to fade.
Todd Talk: A letter writer complains that the Sam and Twitch storyline has moved too fast for his tastes. Even McFarlane seems incredulous at this suggestion.
Spawn Stuff: The Image Info page suggests you find a second job if you want to keep up with all of the McFarlane Toys releases.
Review: It’s another subplot issue, with a few more pages of Spawn acting spooky thrown in. McFarlane just can’t let go of this “feeding on evil” nonsense, so even more pages are wasted on Spawn showering himself in worms while extensive narrative captions try to sell the idea that this is supposed to be terrifying. It isn’t. It’s dumb. Greg Capullo might’ve been able to pull off the imagery, but Tony Daniel is just too cartoony to sell the idea. And there’s no getting around just how ridiculous an idea this is. Spawn relying on “evil” animals to build his strength once was pushing it; keeping the idea around for months is inexcusable. Spawn playing with worms and doing minor construction in an alley are pretty dull things for the protagonist to be doing, and unfortunately this problem is going to get worse (we’re still not up to the “Spawn builds a chair” issue). There is some acknowledgment now that the homeless don’t want Spawn around anymore, and only Bobby and Boots are left as his defenders. This at least makes logical sense, although I wonder if this was an idea McFarlane cribbed from the HBO series, since most of the homeless were opposed to him from the beginning of the cartoon’s continuity.
Credits: Todd McFarlane (story), Greg Capullo (pencils), Danny Miki (inks), Tom Orzechowski (copy editor & letters), Brian Haberlin & Dan Kemp (colors)
Summary: After blacking out at work, Terry is referred to a neurologist. Meanwhile, Cy-Gor approaches New York, searching for Al Simmons. Cogliostro discovers the fortress Spawn’s symbiote has created in Rat City. A mutated potion of the cloak attacks Cog, but he speaks in a strange language and calms the symbiote down. Violator senses the symbiote’s transformation and is thrilled. Later, Terry has a second blackout while driving and crashes into a semi-truck.
I Love the ‘90s: On the Image Info page, Terry Fitzgerald is excited to play an early demo of the Nintendo 64, but he has to ask “what’s with the carts Nintendo? CD is where it’s at.”
Review: Issue #50 is just one issue away, which means McFarlane has to pick up the pace if he wants to achieve his stated goal of having Spawn return to Hell in the anniversary issue. Consequently, there’s about 40% less padding this issue. After months of allegedly scary activity by Spawn’s costume, it’s now morphed into a hideous form and doing something non-worm related. The visuals of the mutated costume do look great, and it’s refreshing to see a cover that doesn’t involve generic posing for a change.
I was never keen on seeing Spawn go back to Hell so soon, though, since it feels as if McFarlane’s skipping ahead to something that shouldn’t have happened until years later. The early issues made a big deal out of Spawn’s power-meter, which is supposed to mark Spawn’s return to Hell when it reaches zero (a special graphic for the meter was even created, and it was worked into almost all of the early issues). Now, even though Spawn has more than half of his powers left, the story jumps ahead and just dumps Spawn in Hell anyway. Out of all of the slow-burning plots, I have no idea why McFarlane decided to rush on this one. Meanwhile, the recurring subplots of the past few years have barely moved, as Jason Wynn is still being investigated by Terry, Sam and Twitch are chasing the same conspiracy, Wanda is still clueless about Al’s return (despite Spawn outright telling her his identity), and Cy-Gor continues to waste pages. I think even McFarlane was bored by Cy-Gor at this point, as he only appears here in a one-page cameo after being forgotten for several issues.
McFarlane actually can get to the point when he’s properly motivated, as evidenced by the “Terry’s sick” subplot. McFarlane needs him at death’s door for an event in issue #50, and what do you know, he got him to that place in less than four issues. Maybe setting a few more specific goals (like, say, resolving all of the dangling subplots introduced since #25 by #50) would’ve removed a lot of the book’s aimless wandering.