Written by Guest Contributor: Jordan North Jim Downing is getting played, but can’t nobody say he doesn’t look damn good doing it. Spawn has always been one of my favorite anti-heroes, aesthetically at least. The idea of the living suit, that enormous red cape with the count collar; the perfectly roguish mix of black, white and red and the whole bit about being a guy in a demon suit that took what amounts to a weaponized version of the devil’s Ferrari and then told him to f#$k off. That stuffs always gotten me. I’ve always been a lover of the angels, ghosts and demons sub-genre of hero-fiction and there are few books out these days that really remind me why and bring back that same wonder I felt as a 9-year-old boy pretending to kill the denizens of hell with my triple barreled shotgun (AKA: long ass piece of fire wood). Spawn is that book, and this is that issue.
Oh the glee I felt as men on the page in front of me were torn in half by chains, or a cartel member was lifted—impaled-- into the air by a demon’s sentient cape! It’s geek out moments like this that make me want to travel to the woods down the street with a buddy and find anew a long ass log to play with (there’s some suspect innuendo here that’s just managing to evade me). This issue was just that cool.
The writing on issue #232 is clear and concise with a simple message to convey, K7- Leetha is a demon who plays demon’s games--not just a suit-- that’s so easy for us to forget. When Spawn stands in place in the middle of some warehouse and rips apart half a dozen SWAT team members it’s because his costume is letting him, it’s deciding to help him. Al Simmons was a badass in life and a bad man with a powerful dark soul. He was able to control Leetha in that way, like one may temporarily domesticate a wolf or a lion, but a single chink in the armor and the ringleader can easily become lunch.
Jim Downing never had control in the first place. He just doesn’t know it yet. In a brilliant move the suit lets Jim think he’s doing good while taking advantage of pesky human neurotransmitters like adrenaline and emotions like fear, rage and righteous to delude Jim into thinking he’s a hero. Man is he wrong, but I don’t weep too much reader as the panels where we get to see the suit take control and let loose in this issue. Narrated over by an awe-stricken Violator is bad to the bone, limbs fly, trucks are hoisted off the ground and it all looks so damn good.
The artistic tag team of Szymon Kudranski and Fco Plascencia do wonders on a goddamn action sequence. So atmospheric, so perfectly dynamic. Every bit with the Hellspawn feels like a cinematic, hazy, blood-drunken dreamscape where violence and rage are the law. Action in comics has rarely looked this good.
The other half of the story focuses on Jim himself, a man manipulated, however, a man also with great power residing in him. Apparently he visited hell, heaven and earth and told each of their respective deities to shove something up each of their respective asses. And apparently if one can pull off such a thing he/she becomes potentially incredibly powerful. The catch is that Jim was in a coma the whole time and has no idea he’s such a crazy hard-ass. But everyone else does, including K7-Leetha who chooses Jim as her first ever-living host; and they want a crack at the power residing in his soul. It’s intriguing writing and sets up a conflict that I can’t wait to see pan out, especially if the art team continues to do such a tremendous job with action and atmosphere. You had my curiosity gentlemen, but now... you have my attention.
Writer: Todd McFarlane
Artist: Szymon Kudranski
Publisher: Image Comics
Release Date: 5/29/13