REVIEW: Spawn #251

Story: Todd McFarlane and Paul Jenkins
Art: Jonboy Meyers
Letters: Tom Orzechowski
Colors: Laura Martin
Publisher: Image Comics
Release Date: April 15, 2015

I’m going to start this review with a confession. It’s something that I’ve not told anyone and wasn’t even fully aware of myself until a few weeks ago.

I’m not a huge fan of Spawn comic books.

There, I got it out with as little hoopla as I could. Before you stop reading and totally disregard my opinion, please, allow me to explain.

I like Spawn the character, and the concept, and I like the peripheral characters that have come to life because of the popularity of the book. I also like, no, love McFarlane Toys and every iteration and spin-off of an Al Simmons or movie-themed action figure that exists as a result of the company’s unparalleled attention to detail.

All of that fanboy love notwithstanding, I’m not sold on the way that McFarlane writes the character or the book. I recently went back and re-read the first issues of Spawn — when Image was new and I had yet to discover how poor of a grasp Rob Liefeld has on human anatomy — and I was shocked at how stiff those early scripts felt.

Starting with issue 3 (yeah, that early) things start to feel convoluted and unfocused. The next four issues don’t get much better and not until Moore started the run of guest writers did the comic begin to pick up steam in my eyes. Over time the story improved, marginally, but I’m convinced now that it’s probably always been McFarlane’s (and later, Greg Capullo’s) amazing art along with the idea of a super-powered zombie soldier saga, rather than the execution of the story, that carried this title.

Well, despite my own surprisingly high and probably misplaced expectations, I was excited when I found out that good ole’ Al was slated to make his return from self-imposed exile in Spawn Resurrection. And the issue did not disappoint. There was a good deal of social awareness, particularly concerning issues of race and law enforcement, as well as Al’s melancholy, but also weirdly triumphant, return.

As for this issue, well…I’ll just say that I was a little less than impressed. In the preceding story, we needed an explanation as to why, after so many years in limbo ,Spawn was deciding to put himself in the middle of the supernatural war. Again.

What better reason than his beloved Wanda?

Issue #251 expounds – and expounds – on what happened to Wanda following the riots and introduces us to a new general of Hell, Belial; Spawn also discovers he’s going to be receiving aid from Mike, an angel-turned-mortal.

Not a whole lot other than that happens in terms of relevance, still I feel like the propensity to reveal things too quickly, and to tell aspects of the story that could have greater effect by remaining implicit rather than explicitly stated, is returning.For instance, showing Wanda in a decrepit cabin in Hell, after we’ve already been told, twice, that she didn’t quite make the Heavenly cut seems like overkill to me. Pick one. Tell us or show us, but please, don’t do both.

Maybe it’s just nostalgia or maybe I’m just stubborn, but I’m willing to hang with this new run, at least through the first arc, regardless.

Oh, and McFarlane probably couldn’t have picked a better successor to take over the drawing duties than Jonboy Meyers. His work is bold and contemporary, exaggerated in ways that fit what is essentially a horror comic perfectly.  If nothing else, there’s always the great pictures to look at.

By: A.C.

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