Friday, May 6, 2011

SPAWN #75 - August 1998

Sacred Ground

Credits: Todd McFarlane & Brian Holguin (story), Greg Capullo (pencils), Danny Miki w/Scott Kobayashi (inks), Tom Orzechowski (copy editor & letters), Brian Haberlin, Dan Kemp, & Tyson Wengler (colors)

Summary: Spawn finds himself powerless in the Greenworld. He’s restrained by thorny vines and confronted by the Keeper, the Emerald Parliament’s representative. The Keeper explains that the Earth is the third force in the battle between Heaven and Hell, a war that will destroy the planet, unless someone forges peace. Spawn sees a vision of himself with angel wings, flying in-between God and Malebolgia. In Rat City, Boots channels energy through Spawn’s sigil, which brings him back home. An army of angels arrives and arrests Boots for interfering with human affairs and aiding a Hellspawn.

Spawntinuity: As the angels take Boots away, he asks Spawn: “The deal you made with Malebolgia -- how do you know you really made it?” He then says that a child will come, which Spawn must “look to.” Meanwhile, Cyan snaps out of her seizure when Spawn returns to Earth.

Production Note: The book is back to twenty-two pages, and even includes a five-page preview of the Harry Houdini limited series, Great Escapes.

Review: It’s an anniversary issue, and although the book isn’t double-sized (a stunt McFarlane rarely likes to pull), the creators still seem aware that it should be significant in some way. They accomplish this by, of course, vaguely hinting about future events and making cryptic revelations about the “real” story behind Spawn’s origin. Essentially, it’s the past twenty issues of this book, compressed into a one-issue story.

I’m sure McFarlane and/or Holguin thought the revelation that the Earth itself doesn’t want a war between Heaven and Hell was clever, and I suppose it is a justifiable take on the standard End Times theology. But, just as the previous issue intimated that God can’t create souls, I suppose we’re also supposed to believe that God couldn’t create another Earth after the war. Obviously, McFarlane isn’t bound to a strict Judeo-Christian interpretation of the afterlife when creating his comic, but he’s very casually recasting the role of God without dealing with any of the consequences. Is this God the universe’s ultimate moral authority? Does the God of the Spawnverse answer prayer? Is He or She responsible for the creation of existence? If not, who or what is? I’m not saying that all of these questions should’ve been answered by this point, but the subjects should’ve been broached. Mark Gruenwald wouldn’t have pussyfooted around like this.

Now, as for Spawn himself, we’re given the shocking revelation that he’s the one destined to bring peace between Heaven and Hell. Oddly enough, his death is also supposed to trigger their war during Armageddon. He’s so special! Certainly, he won’t be replaced with a different character within the next hundred issues. (How exactly his death is supposed to start the war isn’t clear, by the way. Does this mean that with Spawn dead on Earth, his soul returns to Hell, where he’ll fight alongside Malebolgia’s army? Or does his mere existence prevent the two sides from ever fighting the final battle?) Since Spawn is the lead, it’s understandable that the creators want him to fulfill some grand destiny and be “special” in a way the previous Hellspawns weren’t. Fine, but why does he have two separate prophesies attached to him? It’s overkill.

Finally, as Boots is hauled way in chains (a plot thread that actually did have something of a resolution), it’s revealed that maybe Spawn never made the famous deal from his origin, and that a mystery child is the key to everything. Obviously. We’ve already discovered that Spawn’s memories are fake, and that Wanda was Hell’s target all along, so why not undermine the rest of the character’s well-established origin story? And, gee, could that exceptional child be Cyan? Actually, I have no idea how this played out. Did anyone read Spawn long enough to know if any of these cryptic references were paid off? Looking through Wikipedia, I know that Cogliostro replaced Malebolgia in Hell, Angela died, and Al Simmons has become the villainous Omega Spawn…but what about the revelations from the end of McFarlane’s original stint as writer? Did we learn more about Hell’s interest in Wanda? Was the magic child revealed? Did the Earth make another attempt at stopping Armageddon? I’m genuinely curious…do Spawn fans have a strict stance on continuity, and has the series lived up to it in the years following McFarlane’s departure?


The Estate of Tim O'Neil said...

I really don't know if there are any die-hard "Spawn" fans left. Leastwise on the internet, you are in all seriousness the first and only person I've ever seen discuss the series at any length. A quick scan of Google doesn't reveal ANY substantial Spawn websites that have updated within the last ten years.

I think when it comes to Spawn continuity, *you're* the ranking authority, at least up to wherever you stopped reading.

G. Kendall said...

When I first began to search for bios and images of the characters, I was surprised to see the small amount of material online. Someone updated the main character bios up until issue #100 or so on Wiki, but that's basically it.

I like the idea that I'm an expert on continuity I consider essentially unreadable.

Anonymous said...

Having stopped buying Spawn around issue #80 or thereabouts, this blog piqued my interest in finding out if anything ever actually got resolved... and so, last fall, I tracked down and skimmed through a hefty chunk of the later Spawn issues.

To summarize: It continues meandering around aimlessly for a very long time, them David Hine takes over as writer and spends a couple dozen issues actually tying together all the various cryptic hints from years gone by and brings the storyline to a moderately satisfying resolution.

But I don't think the idea that Spawn never REALLY made a deal with Malebolgia is ever mentioned again.

G. Kendall said...

That's interesting to know. David Hine is generally regarded as a decent writer, correct?

Anonymous said...

I think so. The only other stuff of his I'm familiar with is a few X-Men spinoffs from a few years back.

Hine's run on Spawn wasn't an unheralded classic or anything, but I thought it was a decent enough horror-meets-superheroics comic.

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