Script and Plot: Todd McFarlane
Art: Jason Shawn Alexander
Lettering: Tom Orzechowski
Colors: FCO Plascencia
Cover: Todd McFarlane
The previous two issues of Spawn retold the character’s history. By letting other characters summarize Al’s past, McFarlane can neatly construct one continuous tale from beginning to where we are now. Before those intermissions, we last saw Spawn in the desert as he left a beheaded Clown behind, proving to his nemesis that he is not as weak as Malebolgia’s former dog thought. Now our main character is — for lack of a better word — free from Clown’s distractions. He can continue on his path to not just unveil his enemies plans but destroy them once and for all.
The main cover for this month’s issue comes from the master himself. Todd McFarlane’s drawing style will always remind me of a time long past. But don’t get me wrong, it represents a classic style which still holds up and is just magnificent to look at. Especially with the white background, the rough but somehow also detailed character designs (look at the veins on Redeemer’s neck) and, of course, the crazy movement of Spawn’s chains. McFarlane has such a distinctive style, and I hope to see more of it in the 300th-anniversary issue.
Did you notice the little Spawn drawing below the image logo in the top left corner? Also something we have not seen in a while. But let’s move on to the story that comes after this great entry page.
The central part of the story focuses on Marc and his collaboration with Al. They are at a point in their plan where they directly interact with the media. In previous issues, we saw the ramifications of Spawn’s revelations, but nothing as direct as an interview. The people and the media had enough time to do some research on their own and ask uncomfortable questions. Now Al tells them himself what he wants to do and why he does it.
Since Marc and Al work together, their relationship has had some up and downs. I am not sure if Marc really is just a means to end — someone with the right connections and a familiarity with the Spawn mythos — or if Al respects him. This remains to be seen in future issues. For now, they profit from one another.
I will not go into details here, but I want to mention the artwork again. As I said before, Jason Shawn Alexander is a master of horrific, uncomfortable scenes, as well as intimate conversations. In an interrogation scene, you feel as uneasy as the person interrogated. But what I love the most are the distorted images of Spawn, when he unleashes his power and goes against his enemies. Combine that with the colors of FCO Plascencia and the awesome lettering (including some disturbing sound effects) by Tom Orzechowski, and art-wise you get a perfect issue.
I say art-wise because the story drags a bit towards the end. I understand that McFarlane has to put all the pieces on the board into the right places, but at times, this issue feels very setup-y. This feeling mostly comes from pages where we see characters that have not been around for a while and now get re-introduced (maybe more on that next month). At the same time, we have not seen Sam & Twitch in ages, who are far more ingrained in Spawn’s DNA than anybody else. I miss them.
Spawn #298 prepares the world and the characters in it for the upcoming anniversary, and sometimes it shows. But for the most part, I enjoyed the issue. Not just because of the great artwork, but also because McFarlane draws a bigger picture through the conversations in this issue (pun intended). We get to know how Al’s operations affect the world. He also forces his enemies into desperate actions, which could end up hurting more people than it helps. But that remains to be seen for the two oversized anniversary issues — 300 and 301 — when Spawn becomes the longest running creator-owned comic book.
But first, we get to issue #299, with yet another cover by McFarlane. Again, he pays homage to times where he also drew the covers for The Amazing Spider-Man. For side-by-side comparisons, look here.