If someone on the outside of comics fandom were to ask me to explain to them everything that was and is wrong with the comics medium, I’d hand ‘em an issue of Todd McFarlane’s SPAWN. It is the veritable definition of style over substance, of seeking profitability over quality of story. Back in the dismal early 90s, McFarlane led a mass exodus from then-corrupt Marvel Comics, and he and his cohorts founded Image, a “creator-owned” company wherein the rock-star artists—as all the founders of Image were—were free to create their own stories with their own characters, free of editorial oversight, and also free of having any actual writers penning their stories for them. The comics were pretty to look at, but they were collectively the worst that has ever been printed in the history of the medium. McFarlane’s SPAWN wasn’t as bad as some of them—Liefeld’s and Larsen’s work holds that “honor”—but it damn sure wasn’t any good, either. McFarlane did get better as a writer with the passage of time; after a few years he managed to attain downright mediocrity. But SPAWN was by far the most successful and the most visual of the only-the-artwork-matters mode of comic creating. The speculator market fueled by the creation of Image almost destroyed the comics medium, and that’s not an exaggeration.
An inevitable movie followed. It was the onscreen version of the comic, a perfect adaptation—which is a nice way of saying it sucked every bit as much as the comic series. Now, even though the horse has been dead so long that all the desiccated meat has fallen off the brittle bones, McFarlane claims he plans to inflict yet another SPAWN movie on the masses. Granted, nobody would go see it, but honestly, Todd, haven’t you done enough damage to pop culture already?