Writer: Todd McFarlane
Artist: Brett Booth
Inker: Adelso Corona & Corey King
Colorist: Ivan Nunes
Letterer: Tom Orzechowski
Cover Artists: Fede Mele; Kevin Keane
Release Date: August 9, 2023
When we last saw our heroes, Violator had gored Gunslinger, and Clown kicked his daughter Dakota into a chasm. Can either survive? Let’s fall into Gunslinger Spawn #23 and find out!
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Todd McFarlane enlightens us on how the pit on Omega Island relates to Clown’s nemesis Cogliostro, aka Sinn. He also reminds us why Clown wants to tick Gunslinger off Spawn’s list of allies. His aims are tactical but also personal and harken back to a Banquet Gone Wrong earlier in this series. On the surface, Violator slings Gunslinger off his tusks before leading a charge against the suffering spawn. Javier’s friend Taylor arrives to claim a piece of the action. Yet the heart of this story beats in the dark pit: a battle of wills between a Machiavellian father and his headstrong child.
While family drama slashes through the pit in Gunslinger Spawn #23, some dialogue and narrative need sharpening. The sentence “Dakota and her catch near their descent” induces head-scratching. A Clown balloon tells us: “I need won’t you anymore.” When Dakota gets personal, she talks about choosing. Then in the next panel, she says she went without choosing her destination. Taylor got on Gunslinger’s case in issue #21 because the illiterate cowboy from ages past had never heard of dinosaurs. Yet, when Dakota suggests to Gunslinger that one of her tiny dinosaurs can transform into a steed, Taylor asks, “You’re saying that thing turns into a horse?”
“Um, Taylor? What’d you ride in on, buddy?”
Still, there’s much more to like than dislike in Gunslinger Spawn #23, such as Taylor’s return, Gunslinger’s rejuvenation, and Dakota’s aching hunger for familial affection. My favorite sentence compares shrieking to the baying of injured dogs, which relates to one of Gunslinger’s abilities. Best of all: fans learn how darling Dakota forged her affinity with dinosaurs. That alone is worth the price of admission for Mr. Clown’s Wild Ride!
Brett Booth conveys realism and roughness to Gunslinger Spawn #23. Aided by inkers Adelso Corona & Corey King, dinosaurs and the Violator ignite the big-budget thrills of the Jurassic Park movies. Claws slash, gunfire flashes, blood flies, and hellspawn eyes burn. Momentous action shakes the compound on Omega Island, while at the bottom of the “near-bottomless” pit, light transfixes Dakota from a crack in the wall.
A few moments don’t quite gel with the narrative. After hitting the bottom of the pit head-first, Clown stands, unbothered, in the next panel. Then Dakota hurls him to the floor again. Although he’s struck from a far less height, this fall elicits a pained response. Up top, the narrator claims the minions are in a frenzy. While their eyes glow and innumerable incisors glisten, they’re just peering into the pit. Later, the narrator states they surround Gunslinger, yet all we see are individual close-ups. The end—when they see the sun through openings in walls, doesn’t marry with the poster-worthy double-page opening battle of issue #21. Hopefully, the next issue will finally unleash the clash of the spawn-titans.
As this review’s length has tested your patience, I’ll forego a detailed analysis of coloring and lettering. Ivan Nunes’ vivid and luminous photorealism elevates Gunslinger Spawn #23, while Tom Orzechowski ensures that dialogue balloons and narrative boxes are pleasing to the eye and easy to read. Sound effects help you feel the energy coursing through this prehistoric and hellish adventure. One final shout-out: Dakota relates her dinosaur-handling origins via narrative boxes colored somewhere between magenta and brown. It’s an eye-catching shade that sets the white letters off beautifully. Curious about Gunslinger Spawn? Read the first issue on the Image website. It’s free!
Amid the battle that rocks Omega Island, Gunslinger Spawn #23 examines the tragedy of dysfunctional families. Ironically, a monster’s unexpected act of caring has the final word.