Writer: Todd McFarlane
Artist: Mike Del Mundo
Colorist: Mike Del Mundo & Marco D’Alfanso
Letterer: Andworld Design & Tom Orzechowski
Cover Artist: Mike Del Mundo
Release Date: February 22, 2023
Reviewer: David Dunham
A police horse injures a black girl. Spawn defies police orders to clear the scene. Meanwhile, the Freak hunts for clues to the deaths of children. Will virtue and truth emerge, or will chaos reign on Earth? Let’s dive into Spawn Unwanted Violence #2 and find out!
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In the first of these two interwoven stories, the Spawn causes the authorities no end of grief. The police wish to clear the scene. Spawn’s televised passive resistance sparks protests nationwide. As the forces of Law and Order grow increasingly frustrated, their efforts become more and more extreme. They can’t relent. They can’t back down. Yet Spawn is an unmovable force. One of their attempts may remind readers of a humorous scene in Kenneth Branaugh’s Thor movie. A later move reminded me of the tragedy underlying the Bruce Willis movie The Siege. When does common sense give way to madness? The reader wonders as this story plays out.
Meanwhile, Freak searches for answers. The animated mummy ignores the law as he pilfers secret files and interrogates a government employee. Are agents of Heaven and Hell behind the poisoning and deaths of children? Sadly, no introduction or helpful footnotes help readers understand the scope of Freak’s investigation in Spawn Unwanted Violence #2.
Upper-and-lower case letters in black narrative boxes guide us through Spawn’s story. The narrator’s voice seems intrigued and even amused by how events escalate. Lights spear through the early morning darkness, creating a colorful haze. What’s so interesting is how light and color play upon the participants. At times, richly colored panels suggest a comic painted rather than drawn. At others, light suffuses scenes, leaving characters and objects flat. Bold upper-case letters in white dialogue balloons indicate intonation. Shouts make letters grow and turn red. Sound effects—when they arrive—merge with the art. They slice through the panel like a knife or fill the background with large, colorful letters. The mixture of styles and techniques in this issue reminds me of C.O.W.L., another Image series that muses how superheroes and traditional authorities sometimes clash as they attempt to keep the peace in troubled inner-city neighborhoods.
Compared with the luminous and atmospheric art of the first plot, we follow more traditional horror art as the Freak pursues his investigation. Darkness surrounds the skeletal detective; little light and limited colors paint rooms and corridors. Scrawls suggest wisps of hair. Are the circles on his skull injuries that never healed? The mummy uses pins and string to connect photographs and documents. Black upper-case letters in yellow dialogue balloons are unevenly spaced and don’t quite line up. His posture and movements suggest dogged determination. Yet when—as Anakin Skywalker might say—he opts for aggressive interrogation—his swift movements stun, shock. There are reasons never to venture down dark alleys: the Freak is one.
At times, the Spawn narrative seemed excessive. The Freak story seemed overly violent, not directly related to Spawn’s actions, and poorly explained. I didn’t fully understand the Freak narrative. Yet long after I read it, the two strands in Spawn Unwanted Violence #2 played through my mind as they merged, each building upon and emphasizing the other. Clad in the robes of Black Lives Matter, this issue speaks to the mystery of government. We invest power in others for our protection. Yet we are shocked when they chose legalities over common sense and The Rule Of Law over safeguarding people. If only there were easy answers in the constant battle to reforming, maintaining, and preserving fair government for all. Moody, atmospheric, haunting: Spawn Unwanted Violence #2 will live with you long after you read it.