But back to Spawn. Spawn was of course created by Tod McFarlane as one of the first series of Image Comics. It outlived Young Blood, and all the other thinly veiled DC/Marvel ripoff books his friends were producing at that time alongside Savage Dragon, and are thus the ONLY two Image runs I can recommend. Of course Spawn is also a rip off. But instead of just taking a Marvel/DC character, changing the colour of costume and sticking lots a guns on it, McFarlane simply took the thematic value of Batman and Spider-man and give the character some damn development. He also used supernatural elements to make stuff possible, but kept the character grounded from becoming an unstoppable magician supreme. Aside from that, he made us actually relate to the character and feel emotion for him. We don't feel sorry if Wolverine-rip-off-no 124 gets a katana in the gut, but we feel genuinely sad to see Al Simmons, family guy, getting gunned down and resurrected as a hellspawn, with holes in his memory. We want to see that character get better, we want to see him kick the asses of the ones who killed him, and yet we also want to see him brood around graveyards or rooftops just as much.
But back to Blood Feud. McFarlane, probable realizing he's a good writer but not good enough, contracted several people to write his Spawn and maybe fill in some holes or something. So Neil Gaiman, Grant Morrison and Alan Moore among some contributed something to the comic. And during 1995 we got this gem: Blood Feud.
This story opens up with a horrible sequence where something is going on a bloodthirsty rampage through the city. We never get to see what's attacking the people, since it's behind the camera. We have broad horizontal panels of people looking at us and screaming while with thick red letters "WUBUB" is given as sound-effect (Dubstep is evil?) and after 3 pages of adults and kids being ripped apart unmercifully we get a vision of Spawn's uniform being a sentient vicious creature. Spawn wakes up, implying that everything we saw was just a dream. But he does keep lamenting about his costume, even suggesting that the spikes on his arms might be the creature's teeth. (Note here, that Spawn lives in an ally way with his hobo friends). Meanwhile, a certain Mr John Sansker is introduced in the story as a paranormal investigator. He's researching the killings and has come to the conclusion that Spawn is a vampire. He hands out leaflets and instructions how to kill a vampire. When Spawn hears that he's furious ofcourse. But he inexplicable collapse.
Another massacre sequence comes up, spanning 4 pages and a few more splash pages of the costume taking a sentient and gruesome pose. And finally on the last page of the comic we see Spawn has woken up, surrounded by police...with blood on his hand and dead people around him.
Also, this comic has some extra stuff like lay-out pencils by Alan Moore which McFarlane encourages us to compare to Daniel's finished work. I really like this kind of stuff in my comics.
In this issue Spawn evades the police, but is now hunted down all of New York.He sees himself being ratted out by most of his friends, as everyone is afraid of him as a vampire.Man while our favorite detectives Sam and Twitch see something fishy about the whole case. While visiting a friend who ratted him out, Spawn is attacked by Sansker who doesn't appear to be quite human himself. He seemingly kills the paranormal investigator in an uncontrollable rage, and is now genuinely afraid of himself. He decides to get rid of his costume, ripping it off and locking it up in a chest which he throws in the river. When he goes to his ally way to sleep, he is still haunted by disturbing dreams, but then he wakes to see his hobo friends, and a big giant stake in his chest.
Not as good as the first issue, but it still keeps up. This comic is really fast pace and frentic, and I accuse the art of doing so. Plain 90's art looks pretty ugly, even by Tony Daniel. But I've seen worse, so I can't call it bad art either. sigh.
Blood Feud #3
I don't have the physical copy of this comic, though I did read it. In this issue we see a Spawn who is now alone in the world. All of his friends fear him and betrayed him, and he isn't even with his powerful costume anymore. Sam and Twitch decide that something isn't right with Sansker, but when Twitch is confronted with him alone Sansker turns into some demon thingy and we cut away, making us fear that the famous Twitch has undergone an Alan Moore fate. Meanwhile, Spawn is helped by his old enemy Violator (surprising) and the ugly clown reveals him some things about the costume (it feeds on souls, not blood, and is apparently female). More so, Spawn can't live without his costume, so he has to retrieve it. Hot-wiring a car he tries to drive to the docks, but is attacked by Sansker - who reveals he framed him -. and the car crashes into the river.
Artwork here is less clear than the first, and very hard to make out. What I do like here is the back up info about the costume. Neil Gaiman added some characters to increase the historical scope of the series, and Alan Moore explains a bit about the costume. It;s also fun to see Spawn hijack a car.
Blood Feud #4
The Last issue starts with Spawn and Sansker battling it down there, but Sansker for some reason goes up to the docks again. There the police arrives lead by Sam. Via radio we hear that Twitch is alive, but barely, and Sam vows to take Sansker in. Sansker however fights back, killing almost everyone there. He also quips that he has no real motivation for this crime, and is simply doing an exercise to prepare himself for Hong Kong 2070 (how does he know a Hellspawn will appear at that time in Hong Kong??). Meanwhile Spawn reunites with his costume and goes back up to kick Sansker's ass. Though the ass turns into a snake-like being and after a short fight, Sansker flees and disappears. Sam says that he can clear Spawn's name, but Spawn decides to embrace the darkness and dives back into the water.
Well....that was disappointing. It wasn't a bad comic, for one, but it wasn't something to stand out either. Why is this a miniseries? Why does it need "Blood Feud" written on the covers so prominently? The comic tries to seal some holes that McFarlane left open, but it didn't feel pretty satisfying. The villain is lackluster and apparent since issue 1, and nothing extraordinary happens with him either. It ends very anti-climatic. What I do like about Blood Feud is the relationship of Spawn with his suits and humans. The paranoia was well done, the dream sequences as well. I think the dream sequences were the only sequences the art really suited. Everything else seems too rushed and dirty. Not one of Moore's best works, but a good effort nonetheless.
3 out of 5 stars (Weakest I've given to an Alan Moore story).