REVIEW: ‘Spawn Dark Horror’ Trade Paperback

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Some heroes wear capes. Others don brightly colored spandex. But I’ve always liked heroes with a darker sensibility.  Capes are cool, but what about chains? Luckily for me, there’s a hero who’s twisted looks have never lost their edge. He’s mean, he’s lean, and he’s coming for your soul. Image Comics’ Spawn: Dark Horror TP is co-written by Todd McFarlane, Darragh Savage, and Jason Shawn Alexander, with art by Jason Shawn Alexander and Szymon Kudranski, colors by Jason Shawn Alexander, Luis Nct, and Fco Plascenscia, and lettering by Tom Orzechowski.

Spawn: Dark Horror TP collects the issues #276-283 of the Spawn ongoing series. With the forces of Heaven and Hell hot on her heels, this storyline finds Cyan Fitzgerald laying low in Tokyo. But with the gates of Heaven and Hell shut tight, the residue of earthly evil lingers. Plagued by the ghostly apparition of a human trafficking victim, Cyan reaches out to her “Uncle Al” to for help, bringing the Hellspawn to the shadows of Tokyo. Newly mortal with a brand new set of powers, Spawn scours the streets for the source of Tokyo’s hauntings, discovering a web of dark magic and angelic intervention.

Spawn: Dark Horror TP is at its strongest when it allows its art to take center stage. Jason Shawn Alexander’s work in this volume is nothing short of phenomenal. There’s so much texture in these pages that I almost felt like I needed to wash my hands after reading it. Grime and decay fuse with moldy watercolor gradients that trail from images across the page. And Alexander’s take on Spawn is as incredible as it it nightmarish.

Al Simmons, through Alexander’s lens, is a wraith of blood and shadow. Far from the muscular antihero of ’90s, this Spawn is a corpse-like and undead creature pulled from the darkest corner of the world. The monsters Spawn faces in this book are twisted don’t get me wrong. But you almost feel sorry for them, for as scary as they are they have nothing on the Hellspawn.

Really, the only area where Spawn: Dark Horror TP isn’t a show stopper is its text, which is mixed since it was co-written by multiple authors. The textual consistency varies wildly between issues and even within them. When it works, this book’s pulpy prose lives on the edge in a place where angels and demons talk like mafia made men and the darkness can cut like a knife. This style shines in dialogue and character narration creating a damned sense of supernatural noir. Paired with Alexander’s inks bring a world that breathes in light and exhales tar to life.

However, there are moments where Spawn: Dark Horror TP shifts narrative styles completely, cutting out hard-boiled inner monologues for a third person omniscient narrator pulled straight from the silver age. These sections really hold this book back. It’s jarring to go from Alexander’s twisted visions to narrative boxes that read like Stan Lee writing Slipknot lyrics. These shifts aren’t enough to derail the book, but they detract from an otherwise ghoulish experience.

Spawn: Dark Horror TP delivers a blended experience of everything that made you love Spawn in the first place, along with the narrative shortcomings that stopped you from loving Spawn more. As a horror fiend firmly rooted in the 90s, that’s more than enough to keep me reading.

Spawn: Dark Horror TP is available in comic book stores everywhere now. 

 

Spawn: Dark Horror
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TL;DR

Spawn: Dark Horror delivers a blended experience of everything that made you love Spawn in the first place, along with the narrative shortcomings that stopped you from loving Spawn more.