Episode #01 - The Burning Vision
Original Airdate - May 16th, 1997 - Series Premiere
Al Simmons returns from his grave, lost, confused and bewildered at the
world around him. While trying to figure out what has happened to him,
Jason Wynn and Tony Twist are trying to figure out how to move out their
Media and Review by Bird Boy
Written by Alan McElroy
Directed by [Unaccredited]
Music Composed by Shirley Walker
Animation by Ko-Ko Entertainment, Sheen Production
Keith David as Spawn
Richard Dysart as Cogliostro
Michael Nicolosi as Clown
Dominuqe Jennings as Wanda Blake
Victor Love as Terry Fitzgerald, Bobby
Kath Souche as Cyan
James Keane as Sam Burke, Tony Twist
Michael McShane as Twitch Williams, Gareb
John Rafter Lee as Jason Wynn
Ronny Cox as Senator Scott McMillan
Alex Fernandez, John Hostetter, Matt K. Miller as Additional
Review: One thing you will undoubtedly
hear me say repeatedly throughout all of these reviews is how hard it is
to review individual episodes. This series truly is one sprawling story
arc and it’s nearly impossible to dissect each episode to scrutinize.
Perhaps even worse is I’ve seen this entire series nearly half a dozen
times, so I know how everything is going to play out. But for the sake
of being a completest and striving for the fullest Todd McFarlane’s
Spawn site out there, I’m going to start at the beginning, which is
where this episode takes us to as well.
Right away the episode starts out with something the first season is
known for: gore, violence and cursing. Those who didn’t know what to
expect when walking into this show knew right away that this wasn’t
going to be for the faint of heart. Indeed, on many levels the animated
series is more violent than even the comic book and the piss poor movie.
But strip away the gore, vulgarity and nudity and you’re left with the
same basic story: a man put in a position that tears him apart mentally
and physically, all while the Devil and his minions are mocking him.
You really can’t complain about much in this series, unless you don’t
like the character of Spawn to begin with. As McFarlane explained on the
special features of the DVD release, this first season was created with
so much adult content (the kind your parents don’t want to you see) just
to establish it’s audience, that when it moved onto different adult
content (the kind that’s philosophical and doesn’t have breasts flying
around) that it had it knew who was watching it. They came for the
violence, nudity and cursing and the overall “cool” factor of the
cartoon and stayed for the story. I’m sure some left, but being an
already established Spawn fan, I knew I was staying for the story from
the get go.
For a pilot episode, it does its job well. We’re introduced to the major
players right away, given a great narrative by Cogliostro and we learn a
little bit about what has transpired while Spawn has been “dead.” With
five years past, a wife that moved on, married his best friend and had a
child together, Spawn had a swift kick in the pants from the start.
This episode holds one of my favorite moments in the entire series, with
Spawn digging up his grave to check for his body. When he finds it, his
decaying body wakes up and begins talking to him about the deal Spawn
made with Malebolgia. Dripping acid onto Spawn’s mask and the lightning
flashes, switching places with Spawn and his corpse…it’s a scene with a
lot of great atmosphere. There are a few scenes that can almost match
it, but it remains as one of the best scenes in the series to me.
The animation is strong, though the characters models do deviate a bit
later on in the series, due to McFarlane being unhappy with some of the
colors and shading going on with Spawn and Violator. The music, composed
by the great Shirley Walker…doesn’t really come off so great here. In
fact, and this is another thing you’ll hear me repeat throughout these
reviews, her music really doesn’t do much for the first two seasons of
the show. A lot of it sounds the same, which I’m sure was meant to fit
the mood of the show, but you really just don’t notice it half the time.
I’m still confused as to whether that is a good or bad thing, but
there’s certainly nothing here I’d care to listen to outside of the
Only other minor complaint I have is the odd delivery of some of Spawn’s
lines by Keith David. Granted, this was his first go around as the
character, but when he first tears off his mask after killing the men in
the first act, his cries and moans sound really forced. Luckily it was
all improved on later in the show and he’s become the definitive voice
of Spawn whenever I read the comics or look at images.
Overall a strong series and season opener; love it or hate it, you have
to admit that Spawn certainly opened with a great episode with good
pacing and animation.
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