Spawn’s Universe issue #1 from Image Comics was released on June 23rd, 2021. It’s a 68-page comic which creator Todd McFarlane introduces with the following quote:
“Three hundred and eighteen issues have led to this, the founding of Spawn’s Universe. A Universe of possibilities for Spawn and his Allies, as well as his Enemies.”
Spawn first appeared back in May 1992, so it will be 30 years of Spawn comics next year. Growing up collecting comics, I was aware of the character but never got into reading the book. I knew Todd McFarlane from his work on The Amazing Spider-Man in the late 1980s, and then the new title named simply Spider-Man which he both drew and wrote. Man, I used to get lost in the detail of Todd’s Spidey-webbing!
Before the release of Spawn’s Universe #1, I bought a few of the recent issues of Spawn in a digital sale. The art is excellent, but the story didn’t pull me in. Perhaps I’ve missed too much that’s come before? So, I thought this new issue might be a good jumping-on point. Plus, I knew the art would be next-level, especially when compared with a lot of recent content the so-called “Big Two” comics publishers have been putting out.
The main story opens with an established character called Cogliostro being questioned by a group of men whose leader talks about their “Lord Omega” and a “great cleansing” that will soon begin. He also refers to “Gunslinger,” a character who appears near the end of this comic in a separate mini-story.
Next, we jump forward two weeks in time and find Spawn fighting his way through some local thugs who are targeting a woman; it’s unclear why. I was pretty lost at this point, but at least it all looks amazing! Following this, Spawn needs to go to an island and he takes “Cy-Gor” with him. I’ve no idea who Cy-Gor is, but he looks kick-ass! A huge cyborg gorilla leaping into the action–how can you go wrong with that?!
Unfortunately, Spawn loses his gorilla ally and gets captured. He is locked up in a room with Cogliostro and “Gunslinger Spawn”.
This main story continues to page 37, and is followed by three mini back-up stories which introduce new Spawn characters. I have to mention Jim Cheung’s art in this main story. It is fantastic, with dynamic action scenes and gorgeous detail on the characters.
The first back-up story focuses on “Medieval Spawn”. Stephen Segovia takes over on art for this story. Again, I’m not sure what’s going on but it looks really good.
The second back-up story gives us a glimpse of “She-Spawn”, real name Jessica Priest. She is visiting her young daughter in what is an emotional scene that suggests a complex background that I’ve obviously missed. The art is by Marcio Takara.
The final mini-story is about “Gunslinger Spawn”. It opens in the year 1864 on a bloodied battlefield surrounded by wolves. This is the goriest story in the book, which you will see if you read it.
So, is Spawn’s Universe issue #1 a recommend?
As I’ve already said, this comic looks absolutely stunning! Each of the artists knock it out of the park, especially Jim Cheung in the main story. But does the book work as a stand-alone story? Well, coming into this without knowing any background to the character, I was pretty lost. There are references to past events that went over my head. This issue also acts as set-up for 3 new upcoming Spawn titles: King Spawn, Gunslinger Spawn, and The Scorched. But it has made me curious to see what happens from here.
If you are looking for some great comic book art, then I do recommend Spawn’s Universe. The story is okay, but I would probably have enjoyed this a lot more if I were reading it as a teenager. McFarlane’s writing style can be a bit clunky at times, and there are some pages that are a bit heavy on the word count, especially for a comic book. But at least we can say that Todd McFarlane respects the fans and he puts out high-quality content with top class talent. I had fun with it, and sometimes that’s all you need.
Here is a link to my short video review of the comic:
Thanks so much for reading!
-Wakizashi, typing this early in the morning with the rain lashing down outside.