Spawn #9 -Reviews Of Old Comics
After doing two DC comics, and using the DC Universe service, I was inclined to make use of my Marvel Unlimited Plus membership. How did this get to me reviewing an issue of Spawn?
I browsed the titles and among all of the comics from the past, I was tripping across a plethora of comics from the past few years. Of course, this was after discounting the first appearance of Doctor Bong, which I thought would be fun to read again. I was wrong. Among these comics came a few featuring Angela, retconned by Marvel as Thor’s long, lost sister. Those issues are too recent for this feature, but her first appearances in Spawn are eligible to be revisited.
In 1993, Todd McFarlane contracted four well-renowned writers to each do an issue of Spawn. In order, they were Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, Dave Sim and Frank Miller. There was a lengthy court battle after McFarlane claimed sole ownership of Angela and the other characters Gaiman created for this issue. In the final settlement of the lawsuit, which also revolved around the actual ownership of Miracleman. The case was settled in 2012 with Gaiman taking full ownership of Angela, according to a statement McFarlane gave to Newsarama in 2013.
Writer: Neil Gaiman
Artist: Todd McFarlane
Colorists: Steve Oliff, Reuben Rude
Letterer: Tom Orzechowski
In the Dark Ages, Angela disguises herself as a damsel in distress to lure a Spawn into a cave. Too late, the Spawn realizes he’s been tricked by the Spawn-killing angel, who promptly dispatches the unfortunate creature. In the present, Angela continues her mission by attacking the modern Spawn, only to be defeated for the first time ever! (Source)
A disheveled woman calls for help in the woods. A knight comes to her aid, but his armor resembles the costume of Spawn. Captions give us insight into the nature of “Hellspawn.” The woman tells the knight that an ogre has taken her younger sister to his cave. The knight lifts the woman to his horse. All the while, text describes hunting young Hellspawn before they become experienced officers in Hell’s army. It also describes a limited power reserve that they have at their disposal.
The woman follows the knight into the cave where he questions how much farther they should go before finding the ogre. The woman reveals herself to be a hunter of Hellspawn, killing the knight with her special lance before doing final battle with the shifting creature that made up his armor. She kills it, taking the sigil that the Knight wore as a trophy. Eight hundred years later, that woman walks the streets of New York, not appearing a day older.
In an alley, Spawn wakes up from a dream. One of the homeless men in the alley tells him that the police were looking for him. The homeless men all told them nothing. He wants to repay them and one old man, Count Cogliostro, asks for a case of wine. He even instructs Spawn on how to do it by tapping into his costume’s energy levels. After conjuring the wine, Spawn is shocked by Cogliostro calling him by his real name.
The woman who slew the Midieval Spawn arrives at a skyscraper office demanding to see Ms. Gabrielle. She calls herself Angela. Gabrielle is the Director of Terran Affairs. Angela is there to inform her about a hunting permit. Gabrielle can’t stop Angela, but wants her to be done quickly.
Spawn wants to know how Cogliostro knows so much about him. Angela arrives and a battle ensues. A blast from Angela’s spear seems to discorporate Spawn, leaving only his cape behind. When Angela comes near, Spawn reaches up through the cape, dragging her into a void within the cape. Angela panics and flees as a burst of white light shooting into the sky. Spawn picks up her spear and presses a button on the shaft that shoots energy through him, draining his power levels and disintegrating him. Cogliostro laments that he thought Al Simmons could have been the one.
The writing is really good, but the character hadn’t been defined very well by McFarlane at this point. It almost feels like the creator of the character is putting it on a guest writer to define his world for him, and it almost fails to flow from the previous issue. It breaks the flow of the narrative, but I don’t mind so much. The flashback flows into the present day, focusing on the new character of Angela, despite her being the antagonist in the story. The story is left open-ended with quite a few mysteries. It can be assumed that Angela and Gabrielle work for heaven. This builds on Alan Moore’s story in the previous issue, which defined the levels of hell and heaven. It also defined Spawn as one of many soldiers in Hell’s army.
The art is heavily stylized with complex layouts. The use of Spawn’s power level counter was always a favorite element of mine. However, there’s a part of me that finds the unconventional layouts on every page tiring. It’s the old adage of if everything is special, then nothing is. From the dialogue in the alley, the homeless men in the alley should resemble famous people like John Kennedy, Richard Nixon or Elvis, but the likenesses just aren’t there. Finally, Todd McFarlane uses a style that just doesn’t appeal to me.
There are a few panels of Angela that seem too cheesecake to me, with the flowing parts of her costume moving in ways that don’t ring true with the action. The worst part is the only reason is to make the panel more visually striking. This also has the effect of revealing more skin on a character that already is showing more than enough. Fortunately, her depiction since arriving at Marvel has been better.
As If you want to immediately read a digital copy, you can find it on Comixology.
This issue has been reprinted in Spawn Origins Vol 2, (ISBN: 1607064898). Finding a copy shouldn’t present too much of a problem in cost, and most likely, given the high print run on this book, it might be in bargain bins. There was a spike when Angela started showing up in Marvel Comics, but that has subsided since her presence doesn’t have the same importance as it once did.
I feel the need to talk about toys now. McFarlane Toys produced several Angela action figures. The “Party Angela” was a mispainted variant that gained notoriety. Due to the character’s costume design, the lack of painting was very apparent. There were also variants painted differently on purpose. Since coming to Marvel, she’s also had a Marvel Legends figure, which amazingly, shows more skin that her first figure, but doesn’t seem anywhere near as gratuitous.
Final Rating: 6 (out of 10)
The story is well written, but it’s really just a case of writers better than an Image creator taking a relatively blank slate and building upon it. Another prime example of this is Alan Moore’s work with the Image founders.