A dark mystery is brewing in the world of Spawn. Sean Lewis, with help from Spawn creator Todd McFarlane, crafts a brilliant supernatural crime to expand on that mystery. This tale is great for those who are well versed in McFarlane lore as well as those who are looking for a good place to jump in.
KING SPAWN #1 is out on August 25th from Image Comics. This first issue’s central story is scripted and plotted by Sean Lewis, and Todd McFarlane provides additional dialogue and backup stories. The King Spawn main story’s art is handled by Javi Fernandez, and colors are provided by FCO Plascencia. Finally, Andworld Designs crafted the lettering.
The story is dark and packs an emotional punch right at the get go. It is clear that, in some ways, this is a traditional Spawn story. There are battles between Heaven and Hell, where no one appears too morally righteous. There are elements of social commentary that track all the way back to the first issue of the original series, nearly 30 years ago. However, Sean Lewis is able to be a new voice in McFarlane’s world and open it up for new readers. In the space of a single issue, Lewis introduces the world and a plethora of characters. Of course we have our hero, Spawn. While we do not have his entire origin, we see enough into his character to understand he is gruff and that he’s the middle voice in the supernatural war. Spawn is a character with heart, who cares about this issue’s central mystery. The story also gives a supporting cast featuring She-Spawn, Sam and Twitch. While their time in front of the reader is minimal, they make an impression. If you’ve never met them, you’ll get a taste. If you have read Spawn before, it is nice to see your old friends.
The tone of the story is great as well. Lewis does a great job spinning a tale that feels like a supernatural crime noir. It is a mystery, and it is dark. Spawn is reminiscent of a 1950’s tough-as-nails PI. The crime is big and hard to comprehend. It is a gut punch, and you are cheering for the good guys to solve the crime. However, you are worried that Spawn and his supporting cast won’t be able to find out who is behind this. The villain or villains are playing many people like pawns. When our protagonist and the reader think they have figured it out, the rug is pulled out beneath them. But you don’t feel cheated or lied to. You want to keep reading, and the next issue can not get here soon enough
Javi Fernandez handles the elements of the story masterfully. It feels gritty, dark, and rough. The pencils feel steeped in the tradition of McFarlane but still fresh and full of the artist’s own voice. The opening crime is depicted with victims that say little to nothing but, due to how they are rendered, they feel like real people. Fernandez also has two amazing splashes in the book. One feels new and does a great job constructing a piece that wrestles with the reality of radicalization on the internet, and the role that technology and social media plays. On its own it can stand as a piece of art that would make you think. The other is very familiar to those who have read Spawn. It is the usual three news networks the title depicts spinning the events in the world. This piece feels like a great tribute to what has come before, and really makes this comic feel connected to the larger Spawn narrative. Fernandez’s art is really strong, fresh, yet familiar to those who have been on the thirty year journey.
FCO Plascencia’s colors do the world and story justice. The colors help set the crime noir tone for the book. They are dark and the backgrounds are various stages of gray, while the characters are vibrant and colorful. This helps them jump off the page and puts them in contrast to the harsh environment they are inhabiting. It is not as drastic as Frank Miller’s use of a single color in the black and white Sin City stories, but it invokes a similar construction.
Andworld Designs lettering does exquisite work, using a variety of fonts to differentiate the voices of the characters on the page. The character of Spawn has his constant rough letters, letting you hear his gravely voice. There are traditional characters that have very standard letters. Then a villain has a font that feels sleek but grows to show the sinister nature of the plot. The lettering offered is a cornucopia of styles but it never feels disconnected.
KING SPAWN #1 is well executed first issue in an established world. It tells a wonderfully sublime supernatural crime noir tale that should delight long time readers and invite new patrons to the party.