With Marvel and DC starting and cancelling books faster than they can find an audience it’s impressive Spawn is still going strong 301 issues later.
For this big milestone issue, writer/artist Todd McFarlane kicks things off with a big thank you for all of the readers and fans who’ve made him and Spawn so popular for decades. With a big movie starring Oscar winner Jamie Foxx coming to theaters soon Spawn might be on the verge of another resurgence.
But after all the back patting, congratulations and Guinness World Records set, how does #301 measure up? For a series 300 issues in, this is a reasonably open jumping on point for new or lapsed readers curious to see what the fuss is about while setting up some intriguing subplots and changes to status quo strong enough to retain them for #302.
One thing I’ll never take for granted is the fact that McFarlane made the star of his big record setting comic a black man. McFarlane continues to shake up the norm by having Al Simmons start to be more of a public face while maintaining some mystique about his superhero alter ego. There’s a fun discussion where Al is on a TV interview and goes through the motions of putting on his costume so as not to startle the viewers.
Al is also starting to rally the public to strike out against government corruption and hold lawmakers accountable for their actions. It’s all very topical stuff and while some of the dialogue reads a little stilted, the message is clear.
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Naturally a Spawn book wouldn’t be as exciting with a ton of dialogue and McFarlane packs in a lot of action for this super sized issue. He introduces some new players, both as adversaries and allies for Spawn as he deals with a new mounting threat.
McFarlane teams with some of his longtime collaborators for this one as artists Greg Capullo, Jason Shawn Alexander, Clayton Crain and Jerome Opeña handle chapters while McFarlane also provides some art and inks. Breaking the issue into chapters was a smart play considering the very diverse artist styles.
Additionally, McFarlane adds a nice personal touch to end the issue showing how long he’s been at work on the book. It’s the kind of thing the more corporate companies can’t do, which is a reminder of why Image has been so important to the industry.
Spawn #301 is a nice celebration of what’s come and what’s in store for fans old and new.