Spawn Celebrates Huge Milestone - 250 issues!

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This might sound strange, but I only recently became a Spawn fan. I couldn't even tell you what made me decide to check out Spawn, but after doing some marathon reading over the last several months, #246 was the first issue I bought new. Which was a real hassle, because Spawn is one of the few mainstream comics that was not available digitally. I've mentioned in the past, I really don't have a regular comic shop, and it seemed like most stores don't order much Spawn at this point. I also don't have a lot of room to store comics right now, but I was really invested in Spawn, so I would make the effort to get these issues. 

Spawn 250 was the first issue to come out as a digital release. McFarlane also put out the first 249 issues digitally as well, including some huge bundles on Comixology you can get for basically 75 cents an issue. I know Spawn has a bad reputation from the 90's, but the series has been ridiculous ambitious and at it's heights, it is consistently a great comic book. 

Way back in issue 185, Al Simmons killed himself and a new Spawn debuted. Jim Downing had a shady past that ended up with him in a coma. At exactly the moment Al died, Jim woke up. Jim soon discovered that he had the ability to heal others. But over time, it was clear these powers came with a cost. The Spawn costume was slowly taking over his soul. Issue 250 was the cumulation of Jim's battle with the Spawn costume...which brings us to this issue... 


Spawn #250

Written by: Todd McFarlane

Art by: Szymon Kudranski

Cover by: Todd McFarlane

Colored by: FCO Plascencia 

Lettered by: Tom Orzechowski 

Published by: Image

Cover Price: $5.99

Note: This is a review of the digital version which can be found on Comixology.

Warning! This review contains quite a few spoilers!

Summary (contains spoilers): New York is being overwhelmed with all kinds of vermin, especially bugs. Reporters are calling this apocalypse...which unfortunately is a regular occurance in this reality.

The bugs seem to be forming symbols that look like the numbers and letters 7, I, V. Sam and Twitch are in the police station trying to put this all together. Twitch says he thinks this is all tied into Jim Downing. When Jim Downing was in a coma, he was patient 47. IV for 4, 7 for 7. The numbers 5, 1, and 7 keep popping up in reference to both Spawns, including the date and time that Al Simmons killed himself.

Jim shows up in his Spawn form to his agent, Marc. He reveals that Marc's girfriend Susan can't be trusted. She's possed by a demon and working with the Violator. Jim blames himself for everything going wrong. He's at war with his costume, and all these creatures are here to help power the costume in it's battle. Jim sends Marc to ensure that Sara (Jim's girlfriend, currently in a coma) is safe. When Marc hesistates, Jim goes full Spawn on him.

Meanwhile, Violator is plotting with Susan. He says the bugs represents evil and power. Something big and full of both is coming.

Jim battle with the costume is getting ugly. They end up killing several people as they crash through the city. Jim taunts the costume into following him into the alleys. He brings him to the spot where Al killed himself. This is a dead zone, where creatures of hell have no power. He attacks the costume, losing his arm in the process. He asks the heavens for help, and the ground splits open, swallowing the costume up with green energy. Jim thanks god, but then he is dragged down as well, and the ground seals over them.

Sam and Twitch decide to go into the alleys. That is where they first encountered Spawn, and they understand the significance of that spot. Twitch realizes with some modifications that the 7, I, V symbols can be used to spell Al. Before they can do anything with this knowledge, they are swarmed by the bugs. On 5/17 and 7:51, a flash of green energy appears in the alley. It speads across the city, banishing all the bugs and other creatures. Al Simmons has returned.

Review: When I sit down to do a review, I typically try to avoid talking about a comic until I've gotten a chance to get my own thoughts on paper.  I also typically will avoid reading other reviews before I finish mine.  But, I was curious what people were saying about this issue, so I did check out some reviews and message boards.  What immediately became clear was that many people who were talking about this issue were people who had never read Spawn before...or at least not in many years.  Which is legitimate and fair, these types of anniversaries SHOULD be accessible to curious readers.

But, I am someone who has read every issue of Spawn.  So, I had a great appreciation for how much build up there was for this issue. The Jim Downing story over the last 65 issues really brought some fresh life and perspective into Spawn.  It also opened up a lot of interesting ideas about heaven and hell, that I hope McFarlane will expand on some in his upcoming "Savior" series.  It definitely seems like that book will be hitting on a lot of these same ideas.

For a newcomer, this issue might have seemed strange for a "superhero" comic.   There is a lot of narration and Jim's only real battle is against his own costume.  But that really is what Spawn is all about.  It's much more a book about ideas and looking at good and evil from different angles.  Sure, there are big battles sometimes, but the more personal internal struggles of the characters has always been much more important to Spawn than seeing him fight Violator for the millionth time.  

For the most part, I think this issue landed solidly.  It had a lot to do here, tying up a lot of loose ends and giving the book back over to Al Simmons.  I know I had grown really attached to Jim Downing, and I was a bit hesistant to see this book seeming to backtrack some, but the way the story played out made a lot of sense, and I thought it gave Jim a very fitting ending.  

Don't get me wrong.  There were some flaws here.  The whole 1,5,7 concept really wasn't introduced until the last page of issue 249 (or it was was introduced earlier, it wasn't all that obvious).  And the execution felt inconsistent.  Sometimes it was Roman Numerals, sometimes it was supposed to be a name.  It definitely felt like a quick and cheap fix to bring the story to a close.  Which is unfortunate, when you have built up such a terrific story over such a long period of time.

And there were still a lot of loose ends at the end of this issue.  Violator and Susan are still out there plotting, and as far as we know Sara is still in a coma. Also, there was some hints that the people Jim had been healing were in a lot of trouble, but it was always kind of vague what that meant.   With Al Simmons back, will this book even be touching on these characters and themes anymore?  The issue wasn't for new readers...but at the same time, old readers might feel they got cheated out of a completely satisfying resolution.  Hopefully when Paul Jenkins takes over this book, he will give us a little more closure.

One thing I did love unconditionally about this book was Symon Kudranski's art.  He has such a great style that really works perfectly on Spawn.  It was gritty and often "ugly," and that showed how dark this world has gotten.  I especially loved the many shots of critters causing destruction all over New York.  I will definitely miss him on this book!

Personally, I am impressed that Spawn has had this kind of longevity.  With all the rush to renumbering we see in comics these days, seeing a book hit 200 or 250 (like Savage Dragon and Spawn both did recently) is a rare sight.  This issue was a little overpriced, and it wasn't quite perfect, but as a Spawn fan I was definitely satisfied.  

And besides...AL SIMMONS IS BACK!!


 

Title: Spawn #250
Written By: Todd McFarlane
Art By: Szymon Kudranski 
Company: Image
Price: $5.99
Pros:
  • Tied up the last 85 issues of Spawn very well.
  • Stayed true to the series.
  • Art was close to flawless.
  • Al Simmons is back!!
Cons:
  • There were definitely some things left hanging in the end.
  • Hard for new readers to jump in.
  • Some plot elements (like the numbers 5, 7, 1) were underdeveloped.
Is it worth your $5.99? This comic was ridiculously expensive, especially for the digital version.  As a Spawn fan, I paid it to get the conclusion of this long running story, but I really think they need to stop overcharging for big anniversary issues.  These are great opportunities to pick up new readers, and you aren't going to do this for a 6 buck cover charge.  Especially since the digital version felt padded with all the "bonus" covers.

 

Grade: 
4.0 / 5.0