REVIEW: ‘Spawn,’ Issue #306

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Spawn 306 Cover

Spawn #306 published by Image Comics, is written by Todd McFarlane and features art from Philip Tan. Jonathon Galpion, Daniel Henriques, Todd McFarlane, and Philip Tan inked the issue, which includes colors from  Sunny Gho and Jay David Ramos and is lettered by Tom Orzechowski.

Spawn #306 picks up directly after the end of the last issue and finds Spawn teleported into the mind of a character named Raptor who is losing a fight on a future earth. In this future earth Raptor and Claudiaz are in a heated battle against a giant monster as they attempt to capture an object called the “Heart of Heaven.” During the action, Raptor is disoriented and for some reason a man named Al and a woman named Wanda pop up in his mind.

If your reaction is “WTF,” well that was my reaction too while reading the issue. From the first page, things are just confusing as Spawn is being warped away from She-Spawn, and the next couple of pages of narration explain that he’s entering a new battle that he must win. Except it’s not Spawn trying to win the battle, but it’s this character named Raptor. The rest of the issue is equally confusing. But to be fair, on the Spawning Ground page of Spawn #306, editor-in-chief, Jon Goff explains that Todd and Philip want readers to feel “confused/disoriented,” but promises that it’s all helping set up the “foundation for Spawn’s future.”

Because Spawn #306 is so hard to follow, it was difficult for me to get into it. The exposition in McFarlane and Tan’s story feels like it’s too much, but not enough at the same time. At one particular moment in the story, I wasn’t sure if a group of narration boxes belonged to Spawn or Raptor. At one point Spawn chops off a character’s head, but in the next panel, he’s holding the wrong character’s head. In that same panel, the words “My head!” are coming from a Spawn word balloon. This doesn’t make sense. I don’t think it’s a lettering mistake from Orzechowski. I think this is exactly what the script called for but I wouldn’t be surprised if there was some confusion through a combination of the script and art on this page.  McFarlane and Tan don’t want to give away too much just yet, which is fine, and I can usually appreciate when creators do that, but here all of it just seems off-kilter.

Spawn 306 Panel

Tan’s artwork is as great as it’s been in some of his previous work, but you can notice the different inking styles throughout since four different people inked the issue, including Tan. I actually like Tan as an artist on Spawn, because his style is similar to the detailed McFarlane and Capullo style that has been prominent throughout the series. One of the things that I have always liked about the early Image artists, especially on Spawn, is that they experiment with panels. On page one Tan uses his panel design to add to the confusing tone of the issue. The first panel is a regular vertical rectangle, but the action is being interrupted by a jagged “L” shaped panel. Spawn spends pages two and three in darkness before that same darkness suddenly crashes into page four just behind the first three panels of that page. The combination of the first three panels on the foreground of the black chaotic panel lets the reader know that Spawn has crash-landed in the mind of Raptor.

After that expect to see a lot of rubble and debris flying around as the big fight takes place. My personal favorite page of art is a splash page where the moon looks like someone literally bit a piece out of it, while it overlooks a decimated city. The artwork on the page is great, but Gho and Ramos’ make the moon look like it’s actually glowing which really makes it stand out.

If I was going to grade this issue based on McFarlane and Tan’s attempt to make their readers feel “confused/disoriented” I would give Spawn #306 a solid 5/5 because they accomplished what they set out to do. I can applaud a creative team for taking a risk and trying to provoke a specific reaction or feeling from their readers and then reaching this goal, but in the end, it all just felt too disjointed (even unintentionally at times). The story was okay and the artwork was good, but overall I felt perplexed while and after reading Spawn #306.

One  of the upsides is that if you’re a long time Spawn fan, there’s a very brief appearance by a character from the early years of the series, that will make some readers say, “holy crap!”

Spawn #306 is available where comics are sold.

2.5

TL;DR

I can applaud a creative team for taking a risk and trying to provoke a specific reaction or feeling from their readers and then reaching this goal, but in the end, it all just felt too disjointed (even unintentionally at times). The story was okay and the artwork was good, but overall I felt perplexed while and after reading Spawn #306.

One  of the upsides is that if you’re a long time Spawn fan, there’s a very brief appearance by a character from the early years of the series, that will make some readers say, “holy crap!”