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 illegal arms.

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 Voices
Screen Grabs


Sound Clips
Todd McFarlane Intro (MP3, 617kb)
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 show.
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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