Writer: Todd McFarlane
Artist: Jason Shawn Alexander
Letterer: Tom Orzechowski
Colorist: FCO Plascencia, Greg Menzie
Cover Artist: Francesco Mattina
In the last issue, Spawn showed us some of his new powers while hanging from a cross. He used his undead goons to “kill” Clown, behead him, and put his head on a stake. Now, while Al moves on to the next phase of his plan — whatever that phase might bring or include — we get a glimpse of Spawn’s antagonists. Some of them feel a bit uncomfortable about Spawn’s new powers.
Heaven and Hell know that they have to work together to defeat this incarnation of Spawn and to put an end to his recent misbehavior. However, Redeemer is somehow still confident and maintains a positive attitude about the coming war. We already saw him at the end of the previous issue. It seems like he is heaven’s spokesperson and the leader of a group. They discuss plans and what they should do next. To get a better understanding, they retell the history of Al Simmons. When everyone is on the same page, a plan can be made more efficiently. In Spawn #296, Redeemer tells the first half of Al’s story.
To let Redeemer tell the story is a pretty neat trick. It not only allows Todd McFarlane to avoid a bodiless narrator, which can quickly become boring, but also puts a unique perspective on things. We get Redeemer’s comments on some of the parts we already knew. This way, new readers of the series get a quick tour through the most important highlights, and Spawn experts get a bit more context concerning already familiar things.
To dedicate two issues to the history of Spawn could quickly fall apart. But because it moves the story forward at the same time and gives additional context, it is a brilliant way to keep the issue fresh and engaging. But how do you present the highlights of Spawn visually?
Simple, with mostly double-page spreads, of which every single one could serve as a poster on the wall. Artist Jason Shawn Alexander once again raises the bar in terms of quality and innovative visuals. Most of the pages don’t even need panels or borders. The images blend into one another to create a bigger whole. On each page, you find characters you recognize and some you don’t. But don’t despair, McFarlane provides a little guide at the end of the issue.
It is not just Jason Shawn Alexander’s art and style that make this issue one of the greats, but also the coloring and lettering. FCO Plascencia and Greg Menzie use dark tones and the familiar Spawn color palette to add to the grim and sometimes terrifying images. Letterer Tom Orzechowski cleverly places the paragraphs around the art to create a smooth flow among the pages.
At first, I was a bit hesitant about this issue. Reading through all of Al’s history could be a bit of a drag. However, Spawn #296 proves me wrong. The creative team delivers a fun and engaging ride, and I can’t wait for the next issue to come out.