Current Reviews


Spawn #164

Posted: Tuesday, February 13, 2007
By: Chris Murman

Writer: David Hine
Artist: Philip Tan

Publisher: Image Comics

Every Thursday or Friday, I get a phone call from my buddy Sean who is one of my oldest friends. He’s one of those guys who those of us in the married realm have to remind us of our single days. He’s an all-around great buddy to have, complete with a sick sense of humor. We chat about many things: football, movies, and most importantly, comics. He got me back into reading them when I was in college. His end-of-the-week call usually centers on what he picked up from his shop in San Antonio versus what I picked up. I mention this only because of the call we had this past week. It went something like this:

“Sean, guess what book you need to get this week.”

“Did Battle Pope have sex with the Virgin Mary again?”

“No, dummy. You need to start reading Spawn again.”

(Groans from his end.) “Yeah, yeah.”

This is what many of those who read the book in the early days of Image getting off the ground say. I have found out he’s not alone. Many lost their taste for ole Charred-Face after reading story after story of Al Simmons fighting the same tired fight for his wife Wanda back even though he’s a member of the undead. What in the world do we need to learn from yet another foray into this world of Todd McFarlane?

It’s not the same world anymore. We all know that. Armageddon has come and gone, seemingly left with nowhere for the book to go anymore. Hine’s latest arc would have been a great place to end the book, ending the need to put out more issues, right?

In the words of Lee Corso: not so fast, my friend.

Al’s created his own new world, with him seemingly in charge as its new “creator.” He’s even given himself a new body, and he’s going to go after the one person he really cares about: Wanda. What we learn, however, is the woman he loves more than anything really didn’t feel that way about her dead husband.

The Man of Miracles gives Spawn a look into the Fitzgerald household to see pure truth. What Al thought he would see is his wife declare her undying love for her dead husband, opening the door to his return to this “new” Earth he created. What he got, in actuality, was repressed memories that would have led to Wanda leaving him if hadn’t been killed anyway.

This issue resonated with me because it was a twist not many saw coming from Hine. You’re going to have to read it for yourself, but it would seem our alley-dweller went through all of this for nothing. What does this do?

It opens the door for a ton of great stories, that’s what.

Tan’s work is great as always, as this issue will be his last on the title, as the book will be going off in a completely new direction very soon. Brian Haberlin outlines as much in a letter at the end, as the superhero movement changes to a more horror-laced take on the character McFarlane introduced to us more than a decade ago. Al will continue his own brand of justice as this world without spiritual rules goes to crap in a hurry.

Some will cry foul at this new direction, and I say to those people you are going to miss out on what will be a great book for the next few years. Hine’s take was necessary to make the book readable for the foreseeable future. Spawn made this world in his image, so to speak, and he’s going to have to live with the consequences of his actions. MoM isn’t going to give him a get out of jail free card, and I for one can’t wait to see what may come.

Spawn has seen its ups and downs over 164 issues, most recently a huge roller-coaster ride that ended with a flourish. The next issue will be a bit of a breather as Hine cleans up some loose ends with Eisner Award winner Lan Medina giving us a one shot to the upcoming Mandarin Spawn book, then it’s off to the races with issue #166. Now is a great time to become a renewed Spawn fan and start picking up the book again.

The story ends with a great line to set up the new arc: “He is Al Simmons…the man who saved the world, but could not save himself.”

Can he do so? Only time, and the great David Hine, can tell for sure.

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