Review: Spawn #231

Can I just say how much I geeked out when I saw this cover? Classic Spawn! And oh so nastybadass. This is the image of Spawn that was in my head as a kid while I drew up characters and fantasy worlds over lunch that I’d go on later that day to pretend to be, in the yard we all played in behind the old apartment complex. All spikes, chains and cape... good stuff. Where’s my poster McFarlane?

Spawn may have a formula going but I like it. The issues have been starting with three weirdos in an instant messaging group doing a circle jerk on Hellspawns, past, present and future. If that sounds weird and unconventional, that’s because it is. Szymon Kudranski manages to paint a really cool scene this issue with a highly stylized imagining of Genghis Khan as a possible Hellspawn himself! I would have never thought of that. Smart and neat- it was a spiffy device through which to remind the reader that this is a power and title that has existed pretty much since the beginning of humanity itself and before.

Outside of that we get to see a parody version (just barely though) of the media handle the goings on with our hero which is funny and entertaining and a nice way to get a peek into the worlds reaction to a man with such gifts as Jim Downing possesses. These two bits serve as a much needed comedic palate cleansing for what is sure to be a miserable and dank main course. The one-two combo of McFarlane’s bleak and devilish writing with the surreal and suffocating art of Szymon Kudranski will leave you feeling happy that you are where you are in life- no matter where that may be.

Still though, it is for that very reason I love Spawn. Something about the overall aesthetics and tone of the thing feels like we`re in a real place. Maybe it`s not the dimension we`re in or even the planet Earth we`re on now but it all feels so fleshed out and comfortable in its own skin and grounded that I’m taken deep into the setting- even if it’s a place I wouldn’t particularly elect to go.

Not much happens in Spawn #231 which is slightly frustrating considering the similar pace of last issue. It does feel like its building towards something however, and I’m embarrassed a little bit to say this, but too much is going into building drama and scandal here when all I really want is to see more of Spawn fucking shit up. The small bit of that we do get here is kick ass with Spawn coming off as more an evil force of nature than the heartless cartel leader he kills. He feels like a demon who just happens to kill the bad guys- which are totally gnarly, and a big part of what I’m here for.

Overall the issue further sets up a story that I’m anxious to see explored and a character I can’t get enough of- the way Spawn rips Jim out of bed, comes over him and transforms him into a monster is really cool and makes me want to see the inevitable point where the man Jim Downing and the Demon symbiote Spawn butt heads. The setup of the corrupt Vatican and the traitor in the midst subplot of the demon inhabited Susan all make me want to stick around to see what comes of it all. I just wish it would move a little faster or at least that a few more heads would get split along the way.

Score: 4/5

Writer: Todd McFarlane

Artist: Szymon Kudranski

Publisher: Image Comics

Price: $2.99

Release Date: 5/1/13