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Spawn Goes Down South.

August 22, 2018 by  
Filed under Comics, News

( Todd McFarlane’s Spawn is one of those early 1990s comics that came out at the right point in time. It’s almost too “Xtreme 90s” when you look back on those 1992-1996 issues but it fit pop culture at the time.

In the U.S, music was dominated by grunge, alternative rock, and gangsta rap. In stores, every toy line had an “extreme” version or a new extreme one came out. Remember the extreme version of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in the stores or Street Sharks and S.W.A.T Cats?

In comics, you had Marvel and DC doing the “Xtreme 90s” thing, Age of Apocalypse, X-Men volume two, the grittiness of Blood Syndicate and Hardware over at DC’s Milestone imprint. Then you had Image Comics, a whole company that was peak “Xtreme 90s” with Spawn, Savage Dragon, Youngblood, The Darkness, Witchblade, and WildC.A.T.S. The crown jewel of the company was co-founder McFarlane’s Spawn series. Created right after he left his run on Marvel’s Spider-Man.

Who Is Spawn?

Spawn is a being that has existed in various forms throughout history to fight and lead the armies of Hell against Heaven. In the late 1980s, CIA agent Al Simmons dies in action. He returns to Earth several years later as the new Spawn after taking a deal from the demon Malebolgia to see his wife again.

The deal is extremely vague and while he does see his wife Wanda again, she is now married to his best friend, Terry. Initially, this doesn’t sit well with Spawn and he begins investigating his death to find out who was involved. The whole time, he is being tailed by Violator who is on Earth as Clown. Violator’s job is to make sure Spawn fulfills his destiny as one of hell’s generals.

The first few years of the series has Spawn learning about his powers, fighting threats from the government and the mafia, and learning about his death. He eventually teams up with his former best friend in an attempt to bring down the CIA who had him killed and tried to kill Terry, Wanda, and their kid Cyan.

Al Goes Country

This brings us to issue #30 of Spawn, also called “The Clan Issue.” Published in April 1995, it is part of a continuing story featuring Spawn regaining his powers. He’s traveled throughout the U.S. and into another dimension while dealing with his fluctuating abilities. Sometimes they work as intended and other times they don’t work at all.

There’s nothing like being a super powered being and your powers are hot and cold in consistency. Image being Superman and you power to fly just bottoms out on you and your extreme durability decides to take a smoke break. You’re done and it wasn’t even Lex or that kryptonite that took you out, it was inconsistency.

Al is wandering through the South thinking about all that’s happened with his powers, saving his ex-wife Wanda, and his tryst with the angelic bounty hunter Angela. He initially notices two trucks come through and men with torches. Spawn thinks he sees them wearing hoods and sheets but thinks “It’s 1995, who is still doing that ish? Nah, Al. You didn’t see that. Back to these thoughts.”

Hiding From His Past

As he gets close to civilization, he finds out that yes, it was the Klan and they just attacked the house of a Black family living out in the sticks named The Armstrongs. Now, I saw this and had to wonder if Spawn’s powers just threw him clean back a couple of decades. But no, he was definitely still in the 1990s and yes, these people are living amongst good ol’ boys.”

The young man, Brad–yes, the pro wrestling fan in me marked at “Brad Armstrong”–puts a gun to Spawn’s head believing he is another sheet. Spawn assures him that he isn’t and that his mask is purely to hide from his past.

We then find out that while Spawn was in the CIA, he dealt with racism as well. He and his best friend Terry were top field agents brought into the office to meet quotas. Spawn also mentions that another character, Chapel was just all too happy to please superiors to even care that he was being used. This alludes to Chapel killing Al Simmons after the agency suspected him of being a spy.

He unmasks to show the Armstrongs what was done to him. Mrs. Armstrong wants Brad to listen to Spawn but Brad isn’t having it. The sheets have burned his family home is trying to force him out of town.

Spawn vs. The Klan

After a run-in with the hoods leaves him hanging from his own chain, Armstrong finds Spawn and believes him to be dead. The Klan arrives to take Spawn down and end up being up Armstrong. Once their attention turns to the tree, Al is gone and the two sheets are knocked out cold.

Some time later, Brad Armstrong takes the two Klansmen to court and loses his case. Apparently, Spawn’s launched a campaign against them and has been either attacking them or outright killing them. The judge over Armstrong’s case is a member of the Klan and vows to ride the town or county of Armstrong on Thursday.

Once the night arrives, the sheets are gripped in fear not knowing who has been attacking them. Al finally meets the judge face-to-face. The judge believes its Armstrong pretending to be Spawn and his gunfire proves to be ineffective. Al is able to overpower the judge easily and decides to give him a taste of his own medicine: fear.

Spawn transforms the judge into a Black man just as the other hoods arrive. They don’t recognize the judge and carry him off for “desecrating” the sheets. Meanwhile, Spawn gives Armstrong enough evidence on the judge that not only will the sheets leave his family alone, other Blacks will get their property back. Armstrong says he hopes that the judge doesn’t come back to cause trouble and its shown that his fellow sheets already hung him.

Personally, I found this to be a really good issue. While it was fast paced and didn’t seem as long as some other issues, it wouldn’t serve as a good introduction to Spawn since it drops you in the middle of his power crisis. If you’ve been reading from the start, it’s one that you’ll want to check out. Plus, it’s thirty issues in and Spawn is a linear series and one of the younger comic book series, so there’s no renumbering to deal with.

One thing to note about this issue is that even though it does give a little background on why Al Simmons ended up being killed and eventually became Spawn, it’s something of a skippable issue. It’s just more of Spawn’s travels before he makes it back home and his powers fully return. That said, it’s one of those issues that tend to stick out for a lot of readers, yours truly included.

Staff Writer; M. Swift

This talented writer is also a podcast host, and comic book fan who loves all things old school. One may also find him on Twitter at; metalswift.

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