Spawn #293

Writer: Todd McFarlane
Artist: Jason Shawn Alexander
Letterer: Tom Orzechowski
Colorist: FCO Plascencia
Cover Artist: Francesco Mattina

Review by Christoph Staffl

I want to begin this review with an appreciation of the gorgeous cover. Francesco Mattina has outdone himself once again. I get the feeling that the covers tell their own little story, mainly because they are all done in the same style. The cover of issue #292 was all about preparation, the calm before the storm. Spawn #293 shows Spawn in action, unleashing some of his powers. I say “some,” because he seems to hold back a bit. He cannot reveal his full deck of cards yet.

Nevertheless, his opponents know what he is capable of with just this glimpse of what is coming to them. There is the rage; there is the pain; and, he has finally learned how to control them. Focus them on a goal. That is not just visible in his face and his outcry, but also in the way he attacks. One hand almost explodes with energy, the other formed to a massive claw, disintegrating everything in its way. There is no mercy. There is no second chance. This is it. Inevitably. 

What else happens in this issue? The first couple of pages give us a look behind the scenes of Spawn’s antagonists. His various attacks show their gruesome effect on his opponents. Falling stock markets, investigations, and a media outcry are just some of the things that hurt them. Al does not play their game anymore; he put it on a whole new level. To gain power in the world of humans, heaven and hell needed to live and establish themselves here. But it also means they make themselves vulnerable to our ways. They might not have expected a wholesome strike against this side of their business, but I also think they have something secret in play that even Al does not know about.

With all that is happening, Al accomplished something no one has done before. He brought heaven and hell together. They are talking, negotiating, taking Spawn on as one. Their respective speakers Gabrielle and Clown (at least I think it’s Clown) might be able to draw on powers, more ancient than Spawn himself. Maybe they have a force or creature somewhere locked away that could destroy Al for good. But that is just a theory of mine.

With everything that is happening in this slower paced issue, one thing that blew me away in Spawn #293 is the artwork. Jason Shawn Alexander is born to draw horror and Spawn in particular. He already showed his incredible capabilities in the storyline “Dark Horror,” but I think this issue is one of the best so far. Combined with the color palette Plascencia chose, this issue could very well be my favorite Spawn issue.

With distorted, but detailed images, and dark and heavy, but also colorful scenery, Alexander takes something we have seen for almost 300 issues and gives it a new touch. Take Al’s transformation into Spawn, for example. We have seen it before, but never like this. It is not just the costume taking over, but there is a shift happening: the mood and atmosphere of the scene changes.

Throughout the last few issues, McFarlane has presented us with a different Spawn: someone who listened to the oracle’s motto: “Know Thyself!” (yes, this is a Matrix reference). He acts proactively, embracing his power and who he is. And it shows: every panel exudes power, horror, potential, and fun.

Al was gone for a long time. He might have planned all of this during his absence, but most important of all he gives into his powers. They are not hell’s or heaven’s or even Cogliostro’s. Though every one of them played a part in its creation, the costume and everything that it entails belong to him now. Like the rightful heir finally returned.

I mentioned before that I am not sure if Gabrielle’s hellish counterpart is Clown because his “human look” is different. But in one panel Alexander shows us Clown’s burning eyes, his sharp white teeth, and his weird hair. The rest of his face is black, lying in the shadows. It is a disturbing image, and I can’t wait to see what they have planned for him down the road.

The Verdict: Buy it!

These last couple of issues might not be a good jumping on point as they rely heavily on everything that has happened before. The reader should be familiar with some characters and the conflict. However, in Spawn #293, Al is finally the kind of Spawn I have been waiting for. I am not sure he will survive the war or come out the other end unharmed, but he fights on his conditions. He is ready, and his opponents have no idea what they are dealing with.

Christoph Staffl

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