Credits: Todd McFarlane & Brian Holguin (story), Greg Capullo (pencils), Danny Miki w/Todd McFarlane & Chance Wolf (inks), Tom Orzechowski (copy editor & letters), Brian Haberlin & Dan Kemp (colors)
Summary: Boots stops the fight and sends the vampire, Wolfram, away. Boots is taken into custody by the police investigating the disturbance, and allowed to give a message to Sam and Twitch. He tells them that Spawn will need them soon, which reignites their interest in his case. Meanwhile, a wino named Eddie Beckett finds the bag of necroplasm in the alleys, as Spawn suddenly goes into action. He rescues a child from strange men, unaware the child has the brand of Heaven on his stomach.
Spawntinuity: The “brand of heaven” is a white-on-black inverse of the Spawn insignia. Apparently, the men turn into vampires when Spawn kills them, but if that’s so, why are they targeting another agent of Heaven? Also, it’s odd that the uniform police officer allows Boots to visit Sam and Twitch’s office. It’s been established repeatedly (and as recently as last issue) that the police force considers Sam and Twitch a joke, so why is this guy going out of his way to allow a bum to personally give them a message? According to the next issue's recap, Sam and Twitch were at their office in the police station. These characters haven't been police officers for around thirty issues!
Todd Talk: McFarlane informs a reader that while his early stories are lacking, he feels that his writing today holds up to his contemporaries and is no longer a “deficit to the book.”
Production Note: Twenty pages, again.
Review: Didn’t this book just run a portrait cover that looks exactly like this one? Cogliostro isn’t even in this issue, and if anyone thinks he’s getting a lot of Spawn gunplay inside, he’s going to be disappointed. I’m convinced that this title is going through some sort of behind-the-scenes chaos, and the inaccurate covers are just one clue. Like the last issue, we have another story that has a slow build for the first half of the issue, before abruptly shifting gears into a totally different story in the second half. I suspected that the second half of the previous issue was plotted some time after the first was finished, and I have some confirmation that this is exactly what happened to this issue.
On the hype page, Terry Fitzgerald gives Greg Capullo credit for penciling eleven pages in under three days, as Todd handed him the plot for the final twelve pages on a Thursday. From this we can infer that a) Capullo is one of the fastest artists in comics, and could’ve taken on a second book during this era if he wanted, b) a twelfth page didn’t need to be drawn, confirming that the newscaster pages are just pulled from previous issues, and c) the first half of the book was finished and ready to go, while the second half was put on hold for an unknown reason. And guess what, it’s painfully obvious when you sit down to read it.
The issue opens with Boots, Wolfram, Sam, and Twitch leisurely recapping the story thus far, following the aftermath of Spawn and Wolfram’s pointless fight. On page ten, we have a subplot scene that places the paper bag of necroplasm in the hands of a new homeless character. Fair enough. Two pages on this scene even seems justifiable. Then, the book abruptly jumps to a two-page spread of Spawn leaping heroically into action, oversized ‘90s guns in tow. For absolutely no reason, he knows that a little boy has been kidnapped, and he’s taking down his captors. He spends a few pages killing them, the boy’s safe, and because nothing can ever have a clean ending in this book, he laughs manically and reveals his “reverse Spawn” symbol after Spawn leaves. Finally, there’s one more page to fill, so there’s a recycled page of the talking heads repeating the details of the previous gang war storyline.
It’s like they’re daring you to keep buying this book at this point. Out of the twenty pages of content, nine of them are dedicated to exposition. The eleven pages of actual story consist of a subplot setup and a vague fight scene that feels like it belongs in the second half of a different issue. If McFarlane was so hard up for time, why didn’t he hire other people to do the book? Couldn’t he have Tom Orzechowski write a backup story and get someone like Rick Leonardi to draw it? Yes, he now has a co-writer, but I suspect that Holguin is only scripting over McFarlane’s plots at this point. The issues he writes solo that I've read are actually coherent, so I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. While the book does need better scripting, it’s the actual stories that are the problem, and it’s unbelievable that McFarlane hasn’t realized that yet.