Black Azrael Interrupts Spawn’s Carnage in Image Comics’ King Spawn #8

King Spawn #8 unites a host of Spawn’s villains and showcases their strength in an interesting and meandering story without much progress.

Since the release of the first issue almost thirty years ago, spawn you have amassed a lengthy list of adversaries including demons, angels, and even humans. They have all experienced first-hand the wrath of Spawn’s vengeance, a power unlike anything either Hell or Heaven has seen in centuries. In a bid to harness that power, the fallen angel Black Azrael wants the Hellspawn to sit on the Godthrone and rule all existence. Spawn confronts the terrorist cult Psalms 137 only to learn that they are mere puppets of Azrael and his Council of Priests tasked with luring him into a bait. Published by Image Comics, King Spawn #8 wreaks havoc across New York City as the clock strikes the eleventh hour.

King Spawn #8, written by Sean Lewis and Todd McFarlane with artwork by Javier Fernandez, Thomas Nachlik, and FCO Plascencia, serves the titular character with an ultimatum. An unhinged Spawn, bursting with anger, tears through his former rogues’ gallery when suddenly the one-winged fallen angel Black Azreal lights up the ground with spectral energy and puts an end to the carnage. Azrael has been filled with awe ever since he witnessed Spawn’s rampage in Heaven, but now he is disappointed that he won’t take the next step to become what is essentially the ruler of reality. Meanwhile, in Gaia’s garden, the boy named Simon has mastered swordsmanship under the tutelage of Heap as a mysterious body rises from the dead.

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Spawn fights his enemies in King Spawn #8

With a cabal of evil forces having surfaced, things are looking to heat up in King Spawn #8 as the issue treats readers to gratuitous violence and reckless destruction. While it may be exciting to see Spawn in action, the issue skips around the climactic battle, ending the issue with another teaser. The story employs split narratives that run in parallel and cutaways to flashback scenes, making the storytelling more non-linear in nature. Like always, Spawn’s exploits are narrated in poetic prose with an ominous tone that informs the reader on behind-the-scenes events that foreshadow the things to come. Writer Sean Lewis gives the story an uneven pace, dragging some segments on in favor of others.

One thing that remains consistent in the book is Javi Fernandez’ raw artwork that brings the pain and suffering in Spawn’s life to life. His intricately detailed illustrations of him, coupled with the gritty inks from Thomas Nachlik, give the book a dirty, gory look and feel. Positioning plays a substantial role in creating striking panels as Fernandez uses wacky paneling across the entire length of splash pages to ramp up the energy levels in the artwork. The monster designs and close-up shots make the characters look imposing. Meanwhile, colorist FCO Plascencia predominantly uses three color tones for different aspects of the story. He uses vibrant, fiery colors for the New York battle, a bluish filter in Gaia’s garden, and a sepia tone to denote flashbacks, all mixed together to give an immersive experience.

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Despite the bombastic display of action, King Spawn #8 progresses the story no further than last month’s issue and teases a big fight brewing in the future. The astounding number of villains and their sheer power levels, while impressive in itself, causes Spawn to question his commitment to his path. Much of Simon’s side story is wrapped in mystery as readers are still on the fence about the character. On the other hand, Black Azrael’s haunting origin story makes him look more like a fanatic, confirmed by the symbolism spread throughout the rest of the series. King Spawn #8 ends with the possible revival of a long-lost ally of Spawn, which can rapidly change the dynamics of the story in the coming issues.

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