Best 1992 Adventures (10)
June 20, 2020
One in a series of 10 posts identifying Josh Glenn’s favorite 1992 adventure novels.
Todd McFarlane’s Spawn superhero comic (1992–ongoing).
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Todd McFarlane was the bestselling writer and artist at Marvel Comics. Blame him, if you’re not a fan of this sort of thing (I’m not), for the ’roid rage-ish “blood and boobs” style of the era’s most popular titles. He portrayed Peter Parker as a jacked-up, spiderish freak, and Mary Jane as a Red Sonja-esque bombshell; and he drew the first full appearances of Venom. In 1992, he helped transform the industry by cofounding Image Comics, contributors to which (supposedly) owned the rights to their creations; detractors were nonplussed by Image’s focus on cranking out of collectible products to the exclusion of, like, quality art or storytelling. Still, we can’t ignore the success of Spawn — an elite government assassin who is murdered by his best friend, then returns from Hell as a reluctant soldier of Malebolgia (the Devil). There were many morally compromised characters in comics, at the time, and plenty of gore; but Spawn immediately became iconic. The first issue sold 1.7 million copies, an indie record. Several talented writers — Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, Dave Sim, Frank Miller, Grant Morrison — contributed stories to the series. There was a 1997 feature film, a 1997–1999 HBO animated series, and a wildly popular action figure. Love him or hate him, Spawn remains popular around the world; he’s a phenomenon to be reckoned with.
Fun facts: The 1997 movie adaptation, directed and cowritten by Mark A.Z. Dippé, was one of the first films to feature an African American actor (Michael Jai White) portraying a major comic book superhero. Image remains the third largest comic publisher in North America, behind Marvel and DC; McFarlane Toys is one of the world’s top action figure manufacturers. Jamie Foxx has signed up to play Spawn in a forthcoming feature, costarring Jeremy Renner and directed by McFarlane.
JOSH GLENN’S *BEST ADVENTURES* LISTS: BEST 250 ADVENTURES OF THE 20TH CENTURY | 100 BEST OUGHTS ADVENTURES | 100 BEST RADIUM AGE (PROTO-)SCI-FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST TEENS ADVENTURES | 100 BEST TWENTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST THIRTIES ADVENTURES | 75 BEST GOLDEN AGE SCI-FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST FORTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST FIFTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST SIXTIES ADVENTURES | 75 BEST NEW WAVE SCI FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST SEVENTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST EIGHTIES ADVENTURES | 75 BEST DIAMOND AGE SCI-FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST NINETIES ADVENTURES (in progress) | 1994 | 1995 | 1996 | 1997 | 1998 | 1999 | 2000 | 2001 | 2002 | 2003 | NOTES ON 21st-CENTURY ADVENTURES.