Panels From Beyond the Grave #4

SPAWN: BLOOD FEUD (4 of 4, September 1995)

Remember when the mainstream gave a shit about Spawn? The amaroidal anti-hero's surge in popularity came and went like a dance craze, but it was fun while it lasted. I gravitated towards Image Comics as a kid. The vanilla superheroes that DC and Marvel were peddling didn't appeal to my tastebuds, so a "Spawn phase" was inevitable. The final installment of the Blood Feud mini-series was one of several comic books that introduced me to gore in four colors. I can't vouch for the first three issues, but this fucker is violent. And gritty. And Alan Moore-y.

It should come as no surprise than Alan Moore wrote this epic, yet self-contained vampire saga. There are bodies piling up, and someone has framed Spawn. The guilty party is a primordial bloodsucker who calls himself Heartless John. As for the comic's namesake, he spends most of this issue sulking and pouting underwater. He seems to be searching for something, a voice murmuring to him from beneath the mattresses and dead kittens that litter the ocean floor. What is it? Will it help him defeat Heartless John? Find out next week!

A Spawn serial...I'd watch that. Anyway, this issue kicks ass, and I'm sure that the rest of the series stands the test of time. The artwork is outstanding. Moore's script is as eloquent as you would expect it to be, and it ends on a sour note. I dig the fact that the plot resolves itself in a realistic, dolorous way. Heartless John proves to be a worthy foe, mutating into a snake beast and slithering into the sewer system. Spawn concedes that the brash brute may have emerged victorious. I don't consider that to be a spoiler, by the way. Of course, I'll probably find hate mail in my inbox tomorrow morning. You can't please all of the fanboys all of the time.

I want to give this comic a perfect rating, but in order to do that, I would have to read the first three issues of Blood Feud. Out of context, I can only assume that this was a fitting conclusion to the story. I really need to catch up with Spawn, even if it means bankrolling Todd McFarlane's next project. How is that R-rated sequel coming along?

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