Advance Review: Like The Original Image Comics ‘Spawn Universe’ #1 Is More Style Than Substance
by Olly MacNamee
Spawn Universe #1 introduces us to the next generation of Spawn inspired heroes in a book that’s too reminiscent of the original Image Comics of the early ’90s. The problem is, it ain’t the ’90s anymore. But, has anyone told Todd?
I will freely admit to not having read Spawn since the first fifty issues and given that Todd McFarlane wants to recapture some of the excitement of the original book with the launch of his Spawn Universe, I thought I’d be just the right person to give his one-shot extravaganza a look see. And while I may be many years older, and less the excited fanboy that I once was, it would seem that this book really does harken back to the heady nineties in its storytelling. But that’s not necessarily a good thing. In fact, the whole issue – bar the art – comes across as an example of arrested development, but in comic book form. McFarlane’s storytelling, from what I remember, hasn’t evolved too much whatsoever, with a storyline that feels over-extended even in an oversized issue.
The main story does a good job of acting as a jumping on point for new, and lapsed readers, but I really don’t feel I’ve missed anything in the 300 + issues I’ve missed. It’s still a story of Heaven versus Hell that seems will never end, but with a new twist introduced into an old, original character. But you have to wade through a great deal of exposition to get to that last page reveal. Thanks the gods then for the art work of Jim Cheung, who may not be the quickest artist out the blocks, but when he does produce comic book pages they sing. The script may be cumbersome, but the art is spectacular, especially when he turns it up to eleven on the double-page spreads and larger panels of this book.
Much the same can be said of the other two artists on this book. Stephen Segovia has long been an artist I feel has been overlooked, but his artwork on the Medieval Spawn section of this comic cannot be ignored. And neither can Brett Booth’s contribution. And artist who isn’t known for his horror, but, on Gunslinger Spawn he is challenged to break out of his comfort zone and rises to the occasion magnificently.
Marcio Takara also leaves her mark on She-Spawn, but out of all four strips, her’s is the more mundane because of the nature of the story she is illustrating. A ham-fisted story of family and sacrifice.
Back in the early days of Image Comics, the books being published were alway known as being comics with style winning over subsense. Since then, Image Comics have become far more, often publishing comic books that are thought-provoking and mature in content. This ain’t one of those books. Spawn Universe #1 is a blast from the past that may try to desperately appeal to fans of those kind of comic books, but are there that many out there anymore? It all feels like a comic book from a bygone era, And an era much lambasted too. Do we really want to turn the clock back? I suppose the sales on the subsequent series spinning out from this book will be the ultimate test. But those sales won’t be including my hard earned cash based on this one-shot.
Spawn Universe #1 is out Wednesday June 23rd from Image Comics.