Medium: comic
Year: 1994
Writer: Frank Miller
Artist: Todd McFarlane
Keywords: Spawn, superhero
Format: 51 pages
Series: << The Dark Knight Returns >>, << Batman >>
Website category: Batman
Review date: 17 September 2021
It's the Image one of the two 1994 Batman/Spawn crossovers. It's fun, but it's aiming low. Frank Miller didn't work hard here. It feels jolly. Batman and Spawn don't stop hitting each other until there's only a third of the book left, then even at the end they still hate each other. They swap insults like eight-year-olds. "Twit" made Batman sound like a child, to me, although I'll admit to laughing at their assessments of each other's intelligence. "I mean, I know you're a little thick, but..."
There are good moments in the early pages. "I don't know where I am" is an empathic human moment, although Miller soon overuses it to death. Miller also finds a lot of levels in Alfred's characterisation, especially given the brevity of his appearance. Alfred's having a comedy dig at Batman's obsessive behaviour, as he tends to in Miller stories, but we also see his plaintive attempts to offer tea and his down-to-earth perspective on, say, removing the mask. He's sharp, but affectionate.
Once Batman and Spawn meet, though, the story descends into FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT. They're not even fighting the baddie, except when absolutely forced to. They just hate each other and like nothing better than pummelling each other and bragging about it. They both think they're the strongest and that they'd completely flattened the other. Miller's making them both look like idiots... and, to tell the truth, it's quite funny. It's a travesty, of course, and I'd probably go ballistic if I were an all-consuming Bat-fan, but I'm not. It's a laugh. Besides, the script fits McFarlane's cartoonish art, which is actively fighting against any attempt to take the story seriously. I wouldn't buy it regularly, but I admire how boldly McFarlane discards realism in order to draw Batman's cloak as bat wings.
The inside front cover says, "Spawn vs. Batman is a companion piece to DC Comics' The Dark Knight Returns. It does not represent current DC continuity." Theoretically, should linking it to The Dark Knight Returns make the fan affront better or worse?
Also, its narration has the voice of a crazy person. I don't think that's deliberate.
It's not wrong to read comics like this, from time to time. It's got tons of energy, it's by two huge name creators and Miller wasn't afraid to go apeshit with the fact that Spawn and Batman have violently clashing worldviews and methods. (Crossovers often carefully avoid noticing things like that.) I enjoyed it.