Written by guest contributor James Maddox
A couple of years ago at New York Comic Con, I happened upon a writer and artist who were selling ashcans of a newly developed comic. Since the writer had previously created a comic that held a strong spot in my “Top 10 List of All-Time Awesome Fucking Comics”, I was quick to buy a copy of his new preview.
I’d gotten about two steps away from Justin Jordan and Kyle Strahm before I knew Spread would be cleaning house no matter where it landed. The fact that it landed at Image made complete sense, but really it would have done well anywhere. That cover said it all:
With that cover image, there’s all the things you might expect to see on the front of a horror comic. There’s blood, a burly man with an axe, and the threat of encroaching and ominous tendrils. But what sold this comic was that the story’s main character (a dude named No) had a smiling baby strapped to his chest in one of those harnesses you see dads walking around with at the mall.
Sometimes you get a cover that does all the heavy lifting. People see the combination of images, or the style being utilized, and it’s all they can do to not just throw money at the shop owner on their way to the counter. Spread #1’s cover was like that for me, because it used all the elements that I’d wanted to see in a comic, then threw in that adorable little curveball that made me walk into the narrative with less of a “glorious wonder” about me and more of a “how the hell are they going to pull that shit off?”
Because I knew Justin Jordan’s work from Luther Strode, I had no doubt that the resulting yarn would be entertaining (and seriously, if you haven’t checked out Luther Strode…), but paired up with Kyle Strahm’s art, the story grabbed you with its tendrils and cut you in two before eating out your eyeballs. Every month since its original release, Spread has been awesome, and now that it’s just been released in a trade paperback, there’s no reason not to get caught up.
The thing that makes Spread so enjoyable are the twists. The good vs. bad elements of the story have been caught up in a windstorm, so you start to realize that alliances and reader perception is largely dependent on the moment. Enemies can turn into friends at the drop of a hat, and new threats can be quickly forgotten about with the introduction of a three-headed spreadworm.
While there are characters with specific interests (even if the reader isn’t exactly sure what those interests are all the time), the notion that those agendas are shiftable lends an immediacy to Spread that is more refreshing than it is cumbersome to the plot. This could have been easily mangled by a lesser writer, but Jordan is able to reassure that there is a purpose to his story, mainly because the narrator refers to all these deeds as something that has been lived through. Something survived. She is the light at the end of this ever-roiling and tumultuous tunnel, tethering us to some solid outcome so we can brave the chaos.
As of this writing, Spread is embarking on its seventh issue, so if you haven’t had a chance to dive in to this tale, the amount of reading you’d need to do isn’t at all daunting. With a crazy range of characters and hardships laid at the feet of our heroes (unlikely as they may be), Spread’s one of those titles that will stick to your pull list for its entire run.