Spawn #1 Director’s Edition
Writer, pencils and inks: Todd McFarlane
Letters: Tom Orzechowski
Colours: Steve Oliff
What do you love most about comic books? Is it the artist’s pencil with its sharpened eye on the detail? The smattering, or precision, of the colouring engulfing each frame? Or is it the careful craft of the written word, loaded with inference and symbology? Whatever the attraction, a director’s cut, such as this, offers rare insights into the creation, the thought processes and the sense of time that forms the foundation of every page in every book. Image are in a celebratory mood, and they’ve a lot to celebrate. With twenty-five years under their collective belts, they have racked up winning formula after winning formula.
Whether or not you think Spawn has that winning formula, its place in the comic book canon is undisputably reserved. Fact of the day: Todd McFarlane drew up his first promo poster for Spawn, back in 1991, the very same day he handed in his notice at Marvel. Spawn was to herald a new age; an age where ‘edge’ was king and boundaries were as thin as the paper the frames were being sketched on. By May 1992 Spawn had hit the shelves for the first time and today we’re talking in the region of two-hundred and fifty issues later, that the 25th anniversary edition of that very same #1 issue is offered out, all-be-it in a unique ‘extras’ format. This isn’t just Spawn #1; this is Spawn #1 under the microscope and beady eye of it’s writer/creator. Every page has been revisited by Todd McFarlane himself and he gives a meticulous commentry of the how’s and why’s involved in each step.
The story itself centers around the now often immitated concept of a special ops operative, Al Simmons, who, after meeting a grizly end, makes an agreement with Malebolgia, a demon from the very depths of Hell itself, to return to Earth’s surface and continue living. The unforseen catch? The catch is that Al returns years later as Spawn, a demon-like anti-hero with an all too real sense of what it feels like to be a piece of burnt toast. This first issue deals with the trauma of his return to the surface as well as strongly hinting at his sense of purpose of being there.
The colouring in the early panels reflect the mystery that McFarlane wanted to create with some panels being predominantly black; faces and detail of Spawn, shrouded in the shadows. In fact McFarlane himself states that this was intentional so as to create a bland opening that would contrast with the following more artistic pages. What follows is a range of panels that include sould searching, as well as blasts of violence without becoming awash with it. A perfect example is the sequence where a lone female is attacked, leaving the action and the ensuing violent rescue, much more to the imagination, rather than getting bogged down in it visually. The fact that the female ends up comforting Spawn, suggests a vulnerability that continues to this day. This vulnerability is also cleverly displayed through Orzechowski’s lettering, where letter sizes vary when Spawn speaks to show variances in volume of his damaged larynx, and to hint at the damage to his humanity. This damaged Spawn is balanced out with the often blacked-out features and detail, which itself creates a forboding and frightening character. This, in turn, leads beautifully to a super ‘reveal’ moment when Spawn removes his costume and we are treated to some amazingly detailed pencilling that we’ll be sure to remember. the background detail is non existant which only heightens the effect.
It would be fair to say that Spawn is renound for its hyper detailed artwork. This special edition not only delivers the original comic with its original impact, but gets us a personal invite to the production process and the guided tour from the master himself.
Reviewed by Arun S.
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