Sunday, October 30, 2011

Spawn: The Armageddon Collection Part 2 (2007)

This collection of Spawn #156-164 is an examination of how thoroughly a ball can be dropped. It opens with a child having brutally murdered their sibling, while Spawn begins his battle with the Hindu goddess Kali. Both of these situations carried over directly from the previous volume, and both reach temporary resolutions of a satisfying nature. The book returns to the mad warrior angel Zera as she slaughters the less faithful, as well as to the Man of Miracles, whose nature is further differentiated from Marvelman/Miracleman. Each of these characters are built up through sacrilege, so the religiously sensitive should damned well already know to keep their distance from a book about the Hellspawn. Unfortunately, both characters are also sold out to a large degree by the demands of the megaplot, which really kicks in two issues into the collection.

Fonzie, meet shark. In the annals of genre tropes, there are few more hoary than the big reveal seen here. "It was just a dream" is probably the worse, and guess what, it kind of comes into play by the end, as well. I can't lambast this development as thoroughly as it deserves to be without spoiling the book to a degree I'm not comfortable with. Suffice to say at one point, Jesus H. Christ makes a guest appearance, and even M.Night Shyamalan might be inclined to groan. The "Armageddon" in the title is taken literally, but in place of the affective foreboding of part 1, this edition descends into TBN Megiddo: The Omega Code 2 level bullshit.

There are a few attempts at "aw man, that's messed up," but they're wimpy compared to the earlier stuff. The really interesting revisions to Spawn's powers and nature(s) are written out. There's a lot of video game logic where characters who at one point destroyed Spawn turn pussy as he gains dubious level-ups. None of the curious, novel asides are present here, with one major through story of middling interest and a single cypher of a protagonist. Basically, everything that's ever been wrong with Spawn is in full effect here, from the overheated melodrama to the tone deaf characterization to the meandering pace to the lack of stakes or repercussions. How do you manage to make the Biblical day of judgment so tedious? How can such heavy theological themes be rendered as a retarded WWE smackdown, complete with homoerotic imagery?

The best part is the book's coda, which absolutely comes out of nowhere. Fourteen straight issues of a widescreen Warren Ellis take on Tales From The Crypt of Pat Robertson, and the wrap-up run head first into Lifetime: Television for Women's special presentation of Todd McFarlane's Spawn, starring Viola Davis as Wanda and Blair Underwood as Terry Fitzgerald. What could have been a defining moment for Al Simmons is delivered with all the subtlety of a falcon punch, which strikes with such force as to render any prior good will insta-borted. It's so bad, you'll wish Superboy-Prime would jab his way into the Toddverse.

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