Overview

Spawn #158

Review

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Spawn #158

Credits

  • Words: David Hine
  • Art: Philip Tan
  • Inks: Danny Miki, Allen Martinez, and Ryan Winn
  • Colors: Brian Haberlin, Andy Troy, and Ian Hannin
  • Story Title: N/A
  • Publisher: Image Comics/McFarlane Productions
  • Price: $2.99
  • Release Date: Aug 23, 2006

The origin of the Spawn universe is finally, exhaustively revealed, including the secret history of God, Satan, the Man of Miracles, and even Al Simmons himself!

Right from the start it’s obvious that Spawn #158 is a special issue. The cover by Greg Capullo is breathtakingly gorgeous, a lavish piece of painted portraiture that deserves a heavy, lacquered frame to even begin to do it justice (and the cover does try to "frame" the work as best it can). Why such a stunning cover for this randomly numbered installment of the ongoing (it sneakily replaced the solicited cover by Philip Tan, which was dynamic, but nothing quite like this)? Well, this is the big one, folks. I’ve waited 158 issues for someone to come along and make the egregious continuity of supernatural happenstance called Spawn to make (I’d settle for) vaguely coherent sense, and here it is. With what amounts to really no more than a single, brilliant twist of an idea, writer David Hine has not only done this, but he makes it believable, too.

I can’t reveal much about the plot without giving it all away, but basically this is the big reveal issue. There’s nothing that’s really a plot twist, per se, but the revelations, which themselves are seemingly benign, are laid out in full as a cosmic blueprint for the Spawn universe is cemented, and the implications rock Spawn to the very mud beneath its foundations! Everything, finally, makes sense by the end of this issue (Hallelujah!), and sheds the obscurity of the (quite frankly) incompatible permutations the character has gone through before, placing them into a new and mercifully contained spotlight.

Hine pens a script that can’t help but enthrall with its celestially epic scope that includes mythology, religion, cosmology, and more into a dense yet blisteringly paced read. The dialogue is smoothly, believably done, which can normally be a major strike in an exposition-heavy issue (most characters would never talk the way writers think they do when they need to deliver long-winded explanations).

There was one terribly un-PC moment (the twins’ respective origins) that personally thrilled me all the more for its complete lack of unabashed misogyny. I think it was a Catch-22, lose-lose concept, as if Hine had reversed it to be more tactful, it would have read superficially wrought to be precisely that, and therefore run the risk of coming across hollow, selected to reflect modern rather than archaic gender-biases and having little to do with telling a good story. And strangely it’s more fitting this way, as it reflects biblical themes (which probably shouldn’t be reflected) perfectly.

The art, beyond the cover, is equally eye-popping to the extreme. Philip Tan has, in past issues, given readers a sinisterly shadowed horror book, but here he drives straight up and over the bar to grant a dark fantasy grandeur to every page, every panel, and every line. Nothing seems out of place or rushed for this grand origin issue, and in fact seems remarkably nursed and perfected, even though Tan hasn’t taken additional time from previous issues to do so. As the universe dislodges its most fervently buried, distant secrets, Tan has pulled out every stop he knows and dishes out a book worthy of the cover that graces it.

One final enjoyment of Hine and Tan’s run that shows up here as in past issues, only in a much more slam-bang way – the cliffhanger ending. While the larger Armageddon arc revs up to the start of the Rapture, there’s a smaller, yet far more significant event that closes this chapter and changes…well…everything that made Simmons the Hellpawn that he’s been since issue #1. So this is the keystone, the centerpiece, the key, map, and guide for all the long and winding history of Spawn, all in one issue. Plus it contains an ending that that marks a startling new chapter in the life our favorite antihero. In every way that possibly matters, this is the issue not to miss.

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