Writer: Todd McFarlane
Artists: Greg Capullo, Jason Shawn Alexander, Clayton Crain, Jerome Opeña, Jonathan Glapion
Colorists: FCO Plascencia, Peter Steigerwald, Matt Hollingsworth, John Rauch, Greg Menzie, Jay Fotos
Letterer: Tom Orzechowski
Spawn #301 continues Al’s status-quo-changing quest right where we left him in the last issue. With his brutal new costume and powers, which come from god knows where, he faces Clown and Godsend — one an adversary from the early days of this comic and the other a newer, but also very intriguing figure. This part of the story serves not just as the end of an era for Spawn but also marks the beginning of something new. McFarlane takes everything from Al but his powers — which are faint and almost gone, something we get to see thanks to the previously re-introduced Spawn-Power-Meter. An oldie, but a goodie. I still don’t know what the four digits stand for, but the lower they get, the less power Al has left.
Now Al has to regroup and rebuild. I like this kind of protagonist very much. Someone who takes action and does not just react to situations. But as much as Al planned ahead, he cannot know everything. The costume holds many secrets. Soon, it seems, he will get to know the consequences of his actions. Because even Al might be expendable.
One of those consequences we saw in the last issue when we witnessed the origin of a new kind of Spawn, She-Spawn came into being. This time around, even more types of Spawn are reborn, awakened, or created. It might be a bold new world order, in which Al has to find his place again. The old ways will not work anymore; it is time for something new. If you were a fan of classic Spawn, read those. I hope McFarlane dives deep into the newly established mythology.
But it’s not really new, is it? Those kind of Spawn already were around, just not in the main storyline, and if so, briefly. I am eager to know more about them and what their purpose is on earth. Will they all work together to fight the powers of heaven and hell, or are some of them following their own path, as Al did all those years and act more like adversaries? We already get a glimpse into the future and what it could look like when two different kinds of Spawn, of two different eras, meet.
As the story moves through different scenes and places, the artistic style changes as well — just like last time. The techniques are very different at times, which takes some time getting used to. But overall, it is a great looking comicbook, and every artist, colorist, and the letterer Tom Orzechowski show off what they can do. I especially like the chapter called “Brotherhood,” which was drawn by Clayton Crain. His style is so different than what we previously saw from Spawn, but it fits this world perfectly. It looks rough, detailed, and kind of realistic, but also dirty. The action looks great. His version of Spawn is impressive. Hopefully, we see him again on a later issue.
This chapter also gives us a little more background on Freak, which is nice since readers might have forgotten that those creatures were somebody before they became such nasty creatures. Also, this little interaction is an excellent example of the challenges that may lie ahead. McFarlane introduces us to many new ideas, monsters, backgrounds, and lore throughout those two anniversary issues. I hope we get to explore all of those things on a deeper level in the coming months and years.
So far, I am not disappointed in the anniversary — and record-breaking — issues of Spawn. I very much look forward to the next issues. Quite like X-Men, a new era lies ahead of us.