I’m not going to lie, a good jumping on point for Spawn is virtually impossible unless you read some summaries of past issues to catch you up. Currently, Al Simmons is Spawn again and he’s going after the people responsible for killing his wife Wanda. That’s the main gist of this arc which continues in Spawn #287.
The good news for some of us long time readers with this issue is that we finally get some connection to the Jim Downing Spawn arc (roughly 100 issues). Arguably, the Jim Downing period of being Spawn was really where this book excelled in the horror and supernatural genre. When that arc was brought to an abrupt close with certain creative teams departing and Todd McFarlane taking back over, we got the return of Al Simmons and all of his baggage and family issues.
When Spawn was focused on Wanda’s daughter Cyan, that was a good thing. I really thought her powers and her character made her an interesting focus, maybe even in her own book. Instead, that arc gets dropped too and we’re back to Al pining away for Wanda in some way. This arc is an overly complex plan to find her killers and take vengeance for her. Maybe too overly complex.
Does the current story draw you in? Yeah, but it could be better. When Marc Rosen (a friend to Jim Downing) shows up, I got excited! I really did. I thought maybe we were going to somehow come back around and Jim could once again take over. Alas, I think it may have just been a nod to fans of that past arc. The quest for vengeance continues. Don’t get me wrong, Todd McFarlane has come up with a terrifying and horror filled universe for Spawn but he’s better at the big picture and overview rather than writing the stories linked within. I love his art but I’d rather have him working with a dedicated writer who has a storyline mapped out, rather than he himself telling it. The reason the Jim Downing period worked so well for me was because Al’s story has been told. At this point, it’s just stretching him out. Jim’s character and the mystery surrounding him was fresh and way more interesting.
The art and cover art by Jason Shawn Alexander is beautiful, moody, and creepy to behold (that’s a good thing). Spawn is not a superhero book. It’s been a long time since it was a superhero book and this art style is becoming synonymous with this title. Normal comic book superhero art just doesn’t cut it for this book any longer. When you open a Spawn issue, you want to see that dark “painted” look with lots of shadows
So should you buy into this trip? It’s a solid long running book (when it hits #300 it will be the longest running independent comic book ever), that even when it becomes shaky, still has far more positive reasons to keep following than negatives.