Monday, February 11, 2013

I guess $3.95 in 1994 is like fifty cents today...

There's a dollar store by my house, where I often get cleaning supplies and grated cheese product stuff; and they occasionally have two-pack bags of comics. For some reason, along with old Crossgen comics or in this case, an issue of Robotech Masters; there have been multiple copies of 1994's Spawn-Batman. Written by Frank Miller, art by Todd McFarlane, and letters by Tom Orzechowski. (So many letters he deserves a bigger credit!)

This was so hyped up at the time; that it would've had a hard time living up regardless. The inside cover proclaims "Spawn vs. Batman is a companion piece to DC Comic's The Dark Knight Returns. It does not represent current DC continuity." That's a bold statement. The GCD synopsis simply reads "Spawn and Batman fight." That's pretty much it.

The art is undeniably dynamic, though: that still holds up, even if there's the occasional stylistic tic of Todd's here and there like the disposable villain or the overly gaunt Alfred or Batman's occasional underbite. He also nails Batman's scary grin, something not always done well on the rare occasions it's used. Orzechowski's letters are a master class in the art; but Miller's story...ugh. Even putting aside the plot, involving Soviet cyborgs and a persuasive humanitarian out for the peace of the grave; most of the issue is a "Marvel misunderstanding" type fight then team-up with Spawn and Batman. Except Batman is a total dick, referring to Spawn and just about everyone else as either a "punk" or a "twit." The dialogue and narration wants to be more hard-boiled than Miller's Sin City, but just goes over the top and keeps going.

Spawn comes off OK here, but this book seems like a bad example that was followed for years to come: Batman as a controlling, overly driven, overly grim bully who often puts down his friends and allies for not being as obsessive as he is. Batman lost his parents, and that trauma drove him to become what he is so no one else would have to suffer as he did. Miller's Batman uses heroism as the thinnest of justification because he just wants to beat people up until he feels better, which he never will.

Bats also threatens to come back and take down Spawn someday--since he does himself witness Spawn kill at least three people--but he never does. Still, the last page is so petulant and dickish that even Spawn seems unable to do anything except laugh. A pity McFarlane Toys never got to put out a "Batarang-Face" Spawn variant. And in our annual Christmas strip, Deadpool references it to Spawn!

1 comment:

Dale Bagwell said...

Batman/Spawn, or as I like to call it, the most expensive piece of shredder/trash-can fodder Todd McFarlane ever created....besides the Alan More Batman/Spawn crossover that's equally worthless despite the well-known named attached to said project. I don't know what the hell was going on during that period, but good lord were Moore and Miller just coasting off their own successes for awhile or what?


But that is cool you still have a dollar store that does that. It's been years here since that's been the case:(