Spawn is big business in the collector’s market these days, what with the movie announcement last year, but how many of you remember the all-star creative line up Todd McFarlane recruited in the early issues of the Image flagship title?
In 1992, back when Image Comics was still in its infant days, Spawn was the premiere title for the company. He was a superhero, sure, but he had mature stories with horror elements. It didn’t hurt that McFarlane, at the time, was the biggest name in the comics industry, which helped get Spawn #1 all the publicity it needed.
During those early days of Spawn, McFarlane handled the art and the writing duties for most of the issues. But in 1993, he contracted some marquee creators to write single issues of Spawn: Neil Gaiman, Alan Moore, Frank Miller, and Dave Sim. Of course it may have sounded better than it turned out, at least for McFarlane, considering one of those issues spawned (see what I did there?) a legal battle. At any rate, here are the four hidden gems.
When you think Spawn, the first name that comes to mind is Alan Moore, right? The man who made gritty, brooding superheroes a phenomenon penned this issue of Spawn. Moore, best known for his work on Watchmen, and the same guy who made Swamp Thing one of the best horror comics on the market gave his take on McFarlane’s baby. The big deal here was that this was Moore’s first mainstream comic since he left DC. While Spawn #8 wasn’t groundbreaking, it was entertaining and served its purpose. Moore would later write Spawn: Blood Feud and Spawn #32.
That legal battle I mentioned earlier? This is it. Of all four of these guest-written issues, Spawn #9 is the only true key comic in the mix. This is the first published appearance of Angela, the rights to whom would later be sold to Marvel, where she is currently a major player in the Thor comics. She was an instant hit for Image, and even had her own self-titled, limited series under the Image banner. Then in 2002, Gaiman and McFarlane began a 10-year legal war for the rights to Angela, which was finally settled in 2012.
This issue was a landmark in its own right because it gave us the first Spawn inter-publisher crossover. We had Sims’ own Cerebus the Aardvark leading our anti-hero on an ethereal, fourth-wall-breaking journey that clearly alluded to characters from Marvel and DC. In hindsight, the big moment was when Superman made a cameo appearance. Overall, this was just an interesting issue because it was so different for Spawn at that time.
Another of my all-time favorites, Frank Miller finished up the four-issue run of all-star creators. Like the Alan Moore story from Spawn #8, there’s nothing major that happens in this particular comic. It’s simply Miller giving us a street-level Spawn and violent imagery in the vein of Sin City. Personally, when it comes to Miller and McFarlane team-ups, I’m more of a fan of their work on the Spawn/Batman crossovers.