Spawn (#327) – Rory McConville, Todd McFarlane

2 out of 5

I have no idea what’s happening here. I don’t read Spawn; I picked this up because I’ve liked writer Rory McConville’s work in 2000 AD, and have been interested by his recent non-2000 AD stuff, so his working on another big-universe title – Spawn – was intriguing. I was admittedly expecting a jumping on point, which this is not, but I’m a skilled comic book reader, y’all – I can generally pick up a Marvel or DC book mid-run and at least get a sense of what’s happening. Here? No idea.

And so part of that is on me for trying to dive in cold, but then I have to wonder… might there not be something to the way that McConville’s script lacks scene transitions, and tone transitions? If I had to guess, there could be some cleanup happening here, so Rory can jump into his own story, but I’m not even sure I can tell you what that story is.

I don’t see any reviews up for this issue yet, which I’d use to get my bearings; still, I go back to my question – even without context, I want to believe I should be able to “feel” my way through a comic, and I’m just completely at a loss. We start with a fedora wearing Spawn getting interrogated – bear in mind nothing in this scene mentions what the interrogation might be about, and then we switch to Haunt (having a little voiceover that disappears as a narrational tool for most of the comic thereafter) and cape-wearing Spawn battling… people, who disappear at some point and then Haunt is asking Spawn about a cure for poison (in the “previously” blurb, that Haunt has been poisoned seems important), which causes Spawn to give him a lecture on, like, just dealing with shit. Next non-transition (and a different artist?), we’re at a political rally which fedora Spawn interrupts, and then there’s an ending, which we’ll call a cliffhanger.

It’s not fair for me to wholly criticize this without the context, and maybe Spawn fans like that you can’t follow this stuff without that context, but again again: none of the dialogue (or action) feels very specific in this issue. It reads like I’m treading water just to get to that concluding shot. Additionally, Carlo Barberi’s art – supposing that’s the main section – has a good balance, but the nitty gritty choreography / placement is off; so my inability to follow the story is compounded by character interactions that don’t connect from panel to panel.

So you shouldn’t be here for a Spawn #327 review. I’m not the audience. I have no clue what’s happening in the Spawn-verse, or the multiple titles to which the book has expanded which Rory mentions in a brief interview in the backmatter. However, on the chance that you’re here like me, curious as to how a McConville Spawn book might read… well, I can’t say I sense any personality yet, and there’s nothing here to engender my curiosity further. I appreciate that the dialogue isn’t trite – it’s not generic, and not superhero quipping – but it’s also surprisingly completely lacking in anything a new Spawn reader can grab on to for even the smallest story foothold.