Todd McFarlane on Broken Frontier

The famous creator of Spawn and writer/artist on Spider-Man, and so much more is now a regular contributor to comics site Broken Frontier. The Image co-founder speaks about his gig on the Image series Haunt, the absence of long-term creative runs these days, and more in his first column right here. Here’s a snippet that’s sure to cause a stir in fanboy circles:

But for me, I don’t think and never believed you needed to define everything about a character within the first 10 issues or so.  I actually think it’s a detriment at times.  If you give the complete origin and background and motivation to a character in the first three issues, then What are you doing with the next 60 or 70 issues?

This is why Superman was never really that interesting to me.  He came out of the womb perfect, he was perfect, and he kept acting perfect.  Now keep that going for 500 issues.  It’s entertaining to a certain extent, but I would never name him in my top 10 heroes.  There were no flaws, no inconsistencies, and it never seemed like his character ever grew much.  He was prebuilt right from the get go, there was no mystery to him.

That argument is also one of the reasons why Wolverine was so popular in my heyday of collecting: we were screaming for more answers.  “What’s his origin?  Who does he belong to?  Why won’t you ever talk about him instead of Phoenix and Cyclops?!!”  And Marvel kept with that and after a while he became the most popular member of the X-Men because, in part because they were able to make his story engaging for a long time before they actually spilled the beans on him.

I’m hoping that Haunt has that same mystery about him where people don’t get to issue #15 and think they know all the answers. Because then it would devolve into superheroes punching each other for 60 more issues.

Haunt #1 Review

Haunt #1 CoverRightly so, there are big expectations for this new ongoing series from Image. Writer Robert Kirkman has become an indie darling with the success of his Walking Dead and Invincible series. One is a dramatic zombie epic, and the other is a bloody superhero epic, but they both show Kirkman’s skills at generating interest in unique characters in a new comic series, and that is something extremely hard to do in today’s funnybook climate.

His co-creator on Haunt, and inspired by Kirkman’s gauntlet throwing to get him back in the biz, is Spawn creator Todd McFarlane. McFarlane hasn’t been a regular writer or artist for years, and although he’s not the penciller on this series, it still smells of McFarlane’s influence. And that’s a pleasant odour.

Living up to the hype, the first 3 pages are a treat. A woman, a man, a cigarette moving to reveal the “holy” job of the man – it’s all a subtle set up that hooks you immediately. The priest, Daniel is then party to a confession by Kurt, his military brother, which is revealed to us via flashback. The next few pages are like something from a Tarantino film with a Bruckehimer budget, and it’s all good. Kurt climbs out of a body bag, “rescues” a scientist and a few of his test subjects and the shooting begins. It’s all rather bold and boisterous, but very enjoyable.

Then as Kurt leaves the church he’s kidnapped, tortured for the whereabouts of the scientist’s notebook and killed (off-panel). Daniel begrudgingly visits Amanda, Kurt’s widow and Kurt shows up, obviously causing Daniel to ask himself if he’s crazy, as it appears no-one else can see him.

The bad guys chasing the notebook appear, ready for more brutal intimidation, and just when you think that the loose Spider-Man/Spawn hybrid character on the cover won’t show up, he does, in a rather surprising fashion.

Capullo’s layouts combined with Ryan Ottley’s (Invincible) pencils and McFarlane’s inks make for a true visual feast. At first I was hesitant to give this series a chance as it seemed like a dull nod to the very early days of Image, when dark heroes with brutal methods were a dime a dozen, but these gentlemen combine to form a dynamic creative team. It’s never over the top just for the sake of it and Kirkman’s script whisks us away every few pages to a new scene and characters without ever muddying the waters of simple storytelling.

Of course, it all looks great, but it doesn’t cast that generic, cross-hatched look I was expecting. Too many cooks don’t spoil the broth in this case. Ottley, Capullo and McFarlane make every page detailed, visually interesting and unique. People look like people. There’s no over-exaggerated musculature and the sole woman who appears in full, looks normal. The action scenes in the secret bunker are laid out with just as much flair as the dialogue scenes in the church, limo and lounge room.

Kirkman manages to ditch any lengthy exposition and just focus on a character driven action yarn with much bravado. It makes for a seamless and intriguing narrative. Consider me hooked.

Spawn: Endgame TPB

Todd McFarlane’s return to his signature creation appears to have paid off. Press release below.
                                                                                                                                                                                                     SPAWN ‘Endgame’ storyline reaches the halfway point with a complete distributor-level sell out!

SpawnSPAWN, the long-running superhero saga recently relaunched by series creator Todd McFarlane and fellow Image Founder Whilce Portacio, kicks off the second half of its series altering storyline ‘Endgame’ with a distribution-level sell out making way for the upcoming collection.

“Our goal is to slowly build up momentum and the sellout of issue #191 is another indication that we’re accomplishing that goal,” McFarlane said. “With a majority of our single issues out of print, the release of the first Endgame collection couldn’t be more timely.”

SPAWN’s current storyarc, ‘Endgame’, has seen the original Hellspawn, Al Simmons, end his life as the amnesiac Patient 47 awakens with Al’s powers. Soon after, new horrors and allies have come into play with familiar faces, including Al’s widow, Wanda and his worst enemy, The Violator. The next several issues promise to conclude Patient 47’s transformation into SPAWN as the truth about his identity is finally revealed. Readers eager to read the entire first half of ‘Endgame’ can do so in the June-shipping tradepaperback. All fans are advised to check in with their local comic book store to see if copies of SPAWN #191 are still available. 

SPAWN #192 (MAR092463), a 32-page full color comic book for $2.95, will be in-stores June 3rd, 2009. SPAWN, VOL. 1: ENDGAME PART 1 (APR090346), a 160-page full color tradepaperback for $14.99, will be in-stores June 24th, 2009.

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