Friday, January 14, 2011

SPAWN #60 - April 1997


Credits: Todd McFarlane (story), Greg Capullo (pencils), Todd McFarlane w/Chance Wolf (inks), Tom Orzechowski (copy editor & letters), Brian Haberlin w/Dan Kemp (colors)

Summary: Spawn takes aim at the invading police, until Cogliostro convinces him not to kill them. Following his advice, Spawn learns why they’ve occupied the alley and heads to Terry’s home. He convinces Terry he didn’t kidnap Cyan, and discreetly takes one of her toys. Spawn finds Cyan in the alleys by focusing on the connection between a part of his past (the shoelace) and the piece of her past (the toy). He confronts Violator, and uses his powers to seemingly kill him. Cyan returns home, but without a piece of her innocence.

Spawntinuity: When Spawn declares that he’s going after Wynn and Chapel next, Violator laughs maniacally. He mocks Spawn for still believing Chapel killed him, but refuses to reveal the true killer.

Spawn vs. Lawyers: As of 1997, Rob Liefeld is out of Image, and Todd McFarlane is adamant that he’ll never return. Since Liefeld’s character Chapel is supposed to be Spawn’s killer, that creates a problem. Just as the Spawn movie removes Chapel from continuity, the comic is now retconning him from Spawn’s past.

Spawn Stuff: Promotional material for the movie has begun. Despite the movie’s many faults, the producers have created a great costume for Spawn, one that trumps the many suits Batman’s worn in his movies.

Production Note: This story runs twenty pages instead of the standard twenty-two.

Review: And now the outside continuity has begun to override the comic’s continuity, instead of just influencing it. Allowing Spawn’s killer to be a character McFarlane didn’t even own always had the potential for trouble, but when Chapel’s creator has a falling out with McFarlane and the movie creates a new character for the role, it’s time for a retcon. (Although the HBO series kept Chapel as the killer, and even used him in several episodes, so some portion of the “mainstream” audience always knew him as the killer.) McFarlane’s just dropping hints this issue, though, as the rest of the story is devoted to Spawn rescuing Cyan. Which is what he does, without any real amount of drama or conflict. Spawn’s method of finding her is a little schmaltzy, and requires him to suddenly develop some form of psychic powers, but I kind of like the scene. Spawn’s actually acting like a hero, and using some of those vaguely defined powers Hell’s given him to do more than eviscerate someone, although he does that too at the end. Giving Cyan the shoelace a few issues ago also creates the impression that there was a purpose after all, which is somewhat rare for this book.

As much of a relief it might be to actually see the villain do something in this arc, there’s still a sloppiness that surrounds the story. Violator’s been working with Jason Wynn since issue #34. They’ve smoked cigars, plotted and schemed, and laughed menacingly for almost thirty issues now. So when Violator actually makes his next move against Spawn, is Wynn anywhere to be found? Nope. Is there even a scene detailing Violator’s frustration with Wynn, setting up his decision to torment Spawn on his own? Of course not. The closest the two came to ever doing anything is when they contacted Sam and Twitch, creating a phony “informant” that would give them information on the Billy Kincaid case. Not only did this go nowhere, but two separate subplot scenes, issues apart, had Sam and Twitch preparing to meet their snitch. The most recent was in #54, which was the last time the characters appeared in this title. It’s not as if there’s a cast of thousands to keep straight in the book. There are two main villains, two detectives who could be allies to Spawn, a few bums who never do anything, a really wise bum who never does anything, Spawn’s widow, his old friend, and their kid. Is it really so hard to remember your Laurel and Hardy detective duo were left on a that also involves your main villains? I could tolerate McFarlane’s short attention span if it meant each storyline had a lot of ideas and each twist lead to a new direction, but it’s a nightmare when the majority of his story threads are these slow-burners that just disappear into the ether.

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