As you will notice from the title, this review is not like my others. I will be discussing a collection of comic books from the Curse of the Spawn, a spin-off series of the comic series Spawn, which have been compiled into a ‘best of’.
Spawn is neither Marvel nor DC, and is not as widely known as, for example, Spider-Man or Superman, yet is still relatively famous amongst comic book nerds. I think the reason for this is, not only the smaller frame of it, i.e. fewer characters, fewer comics, etc. but because of the potential fan base. With a typical superhero comic, you are able to adapt characters and settings to fit any role you wish, however, Spawn targets and appeals to horror and supernatural fans, almost exclusively.
The comics seem aimed towards a male demographic. Almost each of the stories contains a central, stereotyped sexually attractive female character. As a matter of fact, the artwork is heavily based on character stereotypes – a fat blob of a detective, a large but stupid henchman, and so on. They almost borderline cliché.
The artwork is brilliant yet messy. It uses a sketchy style, relying heavily on lines and shading. I believe this is done purposefully to match the genre, story, and style of the series – dystopian, supernatural, and inherently evil comics. While making it harder to discern the layout, the monochrome print suits well the dark quality and theme.
The main themes set the basis for the story – crime, the supernatural, death and apocalypse, judgment and retribution. You can see a lot of research has gone into the series – the characters, the religious aspects, the background of the story and course of events, and the supernatural law of the universe.
The graphic content, mature themes, and intelligent vocabulary are but a few factors which make Spawn more appealing to an older audience than what Marvel or DC produce.
The bulks of speech and text are unusual for comic books and can be viewed as both a good different and bad different. On one hand, it slows the pace of the comic, and sometimes prevents that flash-quick reading you’d expect. On the other hand, it provides great detail which you won’t often receive and brings something new to many readers of the form.
While there is diversity amongst characters, backstories, and settings, a lot of the individual stories revolve around a similar plot. Plots that are both interesting and intricate – they are, nonetheless, repetitive.
Overall, the pros outweigh the cons. I definitely suggest reading this. However, I would recommend it more to teenage readers and above, and to people who enjoy a darker piece of reading. Despite it being aimed towards a male demographic, it is, of course, equally enjoyable for both sexes.