Script: Todd McFarlane
Art: Jason Shawn Alexander
Plot: Todd McFarlane and Jon Goff
Letters: Tom Orzechowski
Colors: Peter Steigerwald
Cover: Francesco Mattina
Publisher: Image Comics
The cover of Spawn #304 could very well serve as a Batman cover. A giant moon in the background, a cross in the bottom-left corner, and a lot of bats around the main character. I especially like the motion blur of this cover and the hints of green between the creatures — you can also see it in their eyes. It’s as if Spawn controls them as he jumps into action, using them as a distraction for his enemies. The details and the work Francesco Mattina puts into those covers astounds me every single month. I also love the different approach in contrast to last month’s cover. There were hints of bats and the moon in it, but the background was mostly white. Now, we see the full extent of it. Just beautiful. This cover breathes Spawn through and through.
With a new year, there also comes an urge to make new resolutions. I need this time of year to refill my batteries and relax. This year, I took two weeks off from work, didn’t write or read much, and just enjoyed the time at home. A few trips here and a little exercise there, but I learned that it is also essential to do nothing for a while — just play some video games (Star Wars – Jedi Fallen Order is fantastic, by the way) and clear the mind. A fresh start with an open mind is the best way to begin the new year. And with that, let’s talk about Spawn #304.
Every month, we witness extraordinary things in the pages of Spawn. It has become an intricate tale where heaven and hell might still fight each other, but in between, other creatures wait for their turn. Cyborgs, gorillas, ghosts, and demons inhabit this world, but sometimes we forget that — beneath those costumes, suits, and mutations — sits a human being. Someone who has emotions, thoughts. Someone who remembers a loved one or went through hell — maybe literally. In the grand scheme of things, it does not matter what powers one possesses; fear can paralyze everyone, even someone like Ed Frank.
To be honest, I had to reread his biography to remember that someone else is beneath the costume of the Redeemer, not Al’s former boss. But as I read the summary of Issue #29, everything came back. The issue featured the introduction of Eddie into the Spawn mythos, and it still has a special place in my heart. It might be a one-and-done story, but it was a very memorable one. It is hard to read because the events that take place in it are brutal, honestly, and McFarlane does not pull any punches, but it still gets marked as one of my favorite issues of the series.
With this additional knowledge, his transformation, which happened a few issues ago, makes me even happier. Eddie is on the run. Heaven hunts him for his betrayal, and underneath all of his weapons, fabric, and power, sits a frightened young man. He’s someone who was dragged into all of this and who might not grasp the full potential of his skills yet. A pin-up-esque artwork might look incredibly cool, but it just shows one aspect, one moment in the time of this character. Spawn does not even know what he has done, how should Eddie?
His situation and the hunt he gets involved in also serve as a social commentary. I don’t want to spoil it here, for it has an emotional impact, one should not miss. Especially the news coverage after. There are no sides taken, no critique on anything, just the facts and the emotional trauma of the events that took place. It feels raw by showing the different reactions and interpretations of the news anchors. However, such an honest representation would not be possible without the artwork.
Jason Shawn Alexander, Peter Steigerwald, and Tom Orzechowski do a great job of showing not just the brutality, but also the heartbroken reactions later. It is great to see that this incredible creative team can convey the smaller, tender moments as well as the bigger-than-life characters and situations. We may have seen it before, but here, in this issue, I felt the impact even more. Throughout the story of this issue and its slow pacing, we witness those smaller moments numerous times, which is necessary. Otherwise, the big battles would have no impact on the reader at all.
Still, something else comes to the surface as well: Al might not know everything. It is a simple fact, but because of its simplicity, even more critical. The main character’s viewpoint is just that: a viewpoint. Nothing more, nothing less. The last words of the issue come from Mark Rosen, who has played a key role for quite some time now. His intricate knowledge of the characters in this world are refreshing, and I can’t wait to read more.