There and Back Again selects a character to highlight, then showcases iconic stories and moments within that character’s history.
Here we are, it’s been a while since we last talked about Spawn, but this is it, our final spotlight on one of my favorite characters and series in all of comics. We’ve talked about it’s origins, highlighted some of it’s best and most compelling stories, and even talked about the struggles a book like Spawn has faced over the years. With that, we’ve now culminated into what I believe to be the best Spawn stories told in the last few years: the Satan Saga Wars.
Now, as always I’m going to do my best to discuss this current story-arc without spoilers, however, I will say there will be, what I consider, mild SPOILERS ahead.
Without rehashing what I’ve already discussed about Spawn’s origins (you can read it here), we understand that the entity known as Spawn is brought to life through the powers of hell to be a sort of, Commander, in hell’s army. This connection to the spiritual world has been, and continues to be, a strong foundation of storytelling for the character. In this current story-arc (Satan Saga Wars), Spawn has fought, schemed, bargained, and forced his way into hell. Why? Well, he wants to punch Satan in the face because his now dead wife, Wanda, is trapped in hell. God has intervened, somewhat, by protecting her for a short time, but time is running out and Al needs to do some rock’em sock’em on the devil’s noggin. He wants Wanda back, is seven different kinds of pissed, and is willing to go nuckin-futs in hell to get her.
That’s a short synopsis, with mild spoilers, of the current run. This arc is actually complete, meaning you can literally use whatever method of your choosing and purchase this entire story. However, why should you do so? That’s the real question isn’t it? What makes a character, that’s over 20 years old, without a single reboot, restart, or easy entry point worth jumping into? Well, it should come to no surprise that McFarlane, who’s been making comics nearly as long as I’ve been alive, actually knows what he’s doing.
You see, with Spawn, we had a character that was nearly limitless in power and unstoppable by even the most omnipotent divinities in the Spawn universe. Seriously, Spawn goes to Hell to punch Satan in the face, and he has the ability to do it…that’s some serious fire power he’s rocking. With that power the character can grow extremely dull and boring because you need to constantly throw more powerful foes for him/her to fight. A great example of this is Dragon Ball(Z)(GT). All the heroes keep getting stronger and stronger. I mean Goku fights a god (Beerus)…and WINS! When your heroes start punting gods around the universe there’s only one thing that can happen: your villains become stronger. However, you can’t have your heroes getting rocked every episode, so they get stronger…then the villains get stronger…and so on, and so on.
What a miserable cycle to be in for any story, and this is why I boast that Spawn has become better than it has ever been. Within this story-arc we take this near limitless character and force him to make a sacrifice for the thing he loves the most: his family. (HUGE SPOILER) By doing this, Spawn is stripped of nearly all his power, thus, the conflicts he now faces are far more entertaining. He can’t just go full blown ultra-powerful-super-spawn and nuke everything that gets in his way. Now that the Satan War is over, Al Simmons will now have to be a far more clever and intelligent hero.
What that means for fans and new readers alike is simple: better stories and a phenomenal entry point for any reader. I can’t boast enough about this because it accomplishes something wonderful without delving into the craziness we see coming from the Big 2. Spawn has stayed true to his original character, with the same motivations and drive. We are playing off of his foundational elements in character development, while also toning down the out-of-control power the story was facing. By putting Spawn through a major character-changing event we get all the benefits of a reboot without any of the garbage.
As for this fan, there’s never been a better time for Spawn comics. It’s been one of my favorites for the last two decades, and to see new life being pumped into it both in story and art (Erik Larsen is absolutely KILLING the pages…err murr gurd so gewd!!) I’ve never been more excited for this book. McFarlane, with the help of Larsen and the rest of the creative team have seriously done something that the Big 2 companies need to look at. We don’t need new #1 issues, and world/universe changing events. We need our characters pushed to the limits. Have the core of who they are stripped and challenged, thus we can watch as they rise from nothingness once more, like the heroes they are.
This is literally the best time to jump into the Spawn franchise. The Satan Saga Wars are covered from issue #256-263 (you can buy the collection here), so it’s a short read and fills in all the information any reader would need to start enjoying this fantastic character and book. From the Satan Saga Wars, we now see a new world through the eyes of a veteran hero who now has to work harder than ever to be the hero he’s always been.