By Todd McFarlane (writer & inks), Brian Holguin (writer), Whilce Portacio (pencils), Jin Han (colors)

The Story: Al Simmons, the modern persona of Spawn and the main protagonist of this title for the last 16 years is now dead. Tired of being played as a pawn between the struggle of heaven and hell, Simmons comes to the conclusion that the only way to end the game is to remove himself from it.

And so he does.

With the end of Simmons begins a new story. Details are sparse, but we’re given a situation of a man who finally awakens from a coma at the exact time of Simmon’s death. The doctors have no idea who he is or how long he’s been in his comatose state — all they know is he’s gaining muscle mass at a highly accelerated rate. And so begins the next chapter in the Spawn legacy.

What’s Good? Al Simmons’ death is a good thing. As someone who read Spawn for the first 50 or 60 issues, I finally left the book when it became apparent that there was no finite store to his character (as we were initially led to believe). The stories began to drag and the eventual abandonment of Todd McFarlane left me with no reason to care.

Now McFarlane may still not be drawing this book, but he’s finally invested again and that has my interest. Spawn is about to make a big move forward and While Portacio’s storytelling and panel work does a lot to make me a believer. There’s a lot of time spent establishing the tone and mood of this new direction and it’s something I enjoyed.

And The Not So Good? McFarlane, himself, may be digitally inking this book, but to be honest I could hardly tell. Portacio’s pencil work sticks out like a sore thumb and the lack of any real inking leaves the book looking too raw at times. The flat coloring job by Jin Han nearly cripples the experience, too. Spawn has always been known for its brilliant coloring jobs and seeing the book look so muddy and plain is a huge disappointment.

Conclusion: Spawn #185 reads rather quickly and doesn’t give the reader much to go on. Some readers may complain of decompression as well. As for the new plot, I’m actually intrigued with this change of direction. Whilce Portacio’s art is excellent and Todd McFarlane’s involvement may be just what this book needed.

Grade: B-

-J. Montes

A Second Opinion

I think Jason brings up some pretty good points about this issue and Spawn as a whole. It’s a series that was a top seller. Then something went wrong. Going back to issue 100, when Simmons arc seemed to end, but didn’t. After killing Malebolgia instead of going to heaven and gaining redemption (a goal for much of the series), he walks away and says both sides are equally bad. That may be true, but it felt like a cop-out to keep Simmons on the title. So in my opinion, the decision to kill or remove Simmons from the equation is 84 issues late, but it’s a good move. I wish he’d gotten more of a send-off, and the fact that he didn’t makes me wonder if he’s really gone. McFarlane’s return has definitely brought some new life to the book, even one issue in. I agree that issue 185 hasn’t answered many questions but I’m willing to give McFarlane the benefit of the doubt. This book’s peaked my interest.

Grade: B

-Ben Berger