The much anticipated King Spawn #1 is out in comic book shops this week, and we already know it’s a huge sales success due to preorders. Following in the footsteps of Spawn Universe, Sean Lewis and Todd McFarlane are writing a sort of anthology issue with King Spawn albeit with a lead A story. Expect this extra-sized issue to feature King Spawn, Haunt, Nightmare, The Hero, and Gunslinger stories. Given its sales success, though, we must ask: is it good?
This issue opens with an unexpected first scene involving an elementary school. The teacher is kind, but he also has a Bible in his bag and that’s a good hint that something is up. Soon utter destruction and chaos ensue and Spawn is on the case. Somewhat surprisingly, the main story here is more of a hardboiled detective story. Spawn is sure demons or angels are involved in the attack, and it’s all a means to get his attention.
Lewis writes a strong opening story with a very pissed-off Spawn looking for answers. He finds some along the way, and his journey around the city is rendered wonderfully by Javi Fernandez with colors by FCO Plascencia. In one scene where he’s confronting two characters, he appears above them and the portal comes in on warps the shades of a window in a very cool way. You get the sense of his supernatural abilities thanks to the art, but also the badass imagery we’ve come to expect with bullets strapped across his chest and big guns.
Placencia delivers some of his best colors yet, especially with the ominous light in the final scene or the weird green glow of Spawn’s powers. There’s a noir element to the book that’s unmistakable due to the gray tones used here and there.
Ultimately, the story flows somewhat slowly, but hits hard when major reveals take place — especially in a double-page splash of a very gory monitoring room. That building up of stakes and danger leads to a classic talking-head TV show page, and then the final reveal. It’s unclear exactly who we’re seeing — at least for a casual Spawn reader like me — but the cliffhanger is intriguing.
Following the main story is a Haunt short drawn by Stephen Segovia. It’s a nice check-in on where he’s been and there’s one hell of a full-page reveal of the state he’s in after falling in love. The story here does well to remind us of Haunt’s abilities and the dynamic of his ghost brother, but also sets up a ticking time bomb mission to save himself.
Marcio Takara draws the Nightmare story, which leans heavily into hellish imagery and gore. Nightmare Spawn is a rather cool-looking character and Takara nails the monstrous nature of the character. It’s a shorter tale to be sure though.
This is followed up by “The Hero” drawn by Philip Tan which plays out like a good horror vignette. There’s a twist to the tale and it’ll be interesting to see how this character is used in the future.
The final story is drawn by Brett Booth and focuses on Gunslinger Spawn. This one is more like a quick recap or catch-up on the character as it explains what happened to him how revenge ruined him and where he’s at now.
Closing out the book is a solid interview of Sean Lewis by Todd McFarlane that adds a bit of context as we embark on this new direction for Spawn.
King Spawn #1 is an intriguing start to the series that does everything it needs to spark casual and hardcore fan interest. Played out like a hardboiled detective story, the main story draws you into the complex world of angels and demons. The shorts that accompany the main story serve as a good taster and set up for what’s to come. King Spawn reveals an ugly supernatural world that’s grim in its realism, holding you spellbound to the very end.
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