Originally published at Fangoria.com on January 22, 2010
SPAWN #200 (Image) marks the landmark issue in this best-selling series. One chapter finally closes for the undead superhero, while another is about to begin. Long-time fans will surely be talking about the surprising last pages, which take the series in a completely new direction. To ring in this milestone event, creator Todd McFarlane invites other top-notch artists—such as Jim Lee, Rob Liefeld Marc Silvestri and Ashley Wood—to contribute variant covers.
Anyone who bought comic books in the ‘90s vividly remembers picking up the first issue of SPAWN. Al Simmons, a solider-for-hire, was betrayed and murdered by his best friend. To see his wife again, Al makes a Faustian deal with the demonic overlord Malebolgia. Resurrected from the grave, Al is transformed into Spawn, a demonic vigilante who takes on organized crime, streets gangs and a child killer.
According to Malebolgia’s plan, Spawn is destined to lead an army of demons against humanity. Determined to fight against his fate, Simmons uses his costume, which is a living and breathing entity, against the forces of heaven and hell. Now Earth’s last stand depends on Simmons making the ultimate sacrifice.
Jim Browning is a lost soul who currently wears the Spawn costume. Caught in the middle of a never-ending war, Jim is thrown into battle against the Omega, who has plans of its own to conquer Earth. Watching from the side, the Clown, a.k.a. Violator, intends on fulfilling his master’s wishes, making sure there is a Spawn ruling hell on Earth. The Violator may be a loyal servant, but he doesn’t necessarily care who is wearing the mask underneath.
Though the pages of SPAWN #200 are packed with gory and violent imagery, it’s the quieter moments that truly stand out. Trapped in Purgatory, Jim and Al are having a heated debate about destiny and spirituality. In a startling turn of events, Simmons finally says goodbye and leaves the Spawn mantle in the hands of Drowning.
The artwork has and always will be the main attraction of this series. An all-star lineup of artists helps make this issue extra special. THE WALKING DEAD’s Robert Kirkman wrote and illustrated the Omega Spawn prologue. Then, the stylized imagery heightens with McFarlane taking over as author, penciler and inker. In the final page, new series artist Szymon Kudranski provides an epilogue, which gives a worthy glimpse to the upcoming story arcs.
Long-time readers (including this critic) may be upset with SPAWN #200’s ending, but the change in direction allows for a new generation of fans to rediscover the series. Even after the ’90s, McFarlane still holds a lot of passion for his creation. The milestone issue serves as a miniepic tale, marking the return of Spawn’s greatest enemy.
In recent news, SPAWN’s 200th issue has officially been sold out. A second reprinting will be available on February 9. Head here for more info.