Al Simmons was your ordinary government assassin, until one day he was killed in the line of fire. Making a deal a demon lord named Malebolgia, Simmons is promised that he can return to Earth to see his wife Wanda but he must become a Hellspawn and serve in the demon’s army. Now Spawn has a choice: give in to his darker side and commit acts in the name of Hell, or overcome the evil that’s inside of him and become a hero.
Today I’m looking at the third episode of Todd McFarlane’s Spawn, “No Rest, No Peace.”
1. Overkill; Underwhelming.
Overkill’s presence in this episode is disappointing. We get a strong introduction where he tears the arm off a homeless guy and uses it paint a message on the wall for Spawn, but it all falls apart from there. The show’s murky visuals really don’t help the coherency of the fight scene between Spawn and Overkill. It works well when Spawn is hunting down gangsters like a supernatural shark, but a slugfest like this doesn’t work. It’s poorly lit and sloppily edited. There’s no weight to the hits and cuts. Overkill wrecks shop, but in the very next scene Spawn is totally fine. He later rocks up at the lab Overkill is being repaired at and anti-climatically kills the cyber-merc off-screen.
2. Twist Again.
Spawn comes face to face with Twist for the first time, delivering him Overkill’s dismantled corpse and threatening the mob boss to leave the alley alone unless he wants to meet the same fate. Again, I cannot stress enough just how good Keith David’s voice acting is. In any other actor’s hands, Spawn’s dialogue could come across as a try-hard tough guy, but David really makes it work. It’s such a strong perform and presence.
Meanwhile Wanda, Al’s ex-wife, will be defending a child killer, Kyle Watson. But after looking over the toxicology reports and speaking with Kyle it looks like he might actually be innocent. It’s almost as if he’s a scapegoat to take the fall for another child killer on the loose…
3. Enter Chapel.
At the end of the episode we’re introduced to Jess Chapel who also works for Wynn. Naturally, he’s at a strip club and cuts off some random guy’s fingers. In fairness, the random guy was doing one of the worst South African or Australian accents I’ve ever heard (I honestly can’t tell which), so he probably deserved it. We then get to see him have sex while screaming ”I’m Sorry!” and flashing back to when he used to work with Al Simmons. I think there’s an implication that Chapel is the one who killed Al, but this scene is so bizarre and disorienting I’m not totally sure.
I’ve barely read the “Spawn” comics, so I’m surprised to see a character from Rob Liefeld’s “Youngblood” in the mix. Did Chapel show up in the “Spawn” comics too?
4. For Adults!
The Chapel scene epitomize Spawn’s biggest problem: it constantly confuses what constitutes “mature.” Sometimes it feels like it’s an animated series for adults with some solid writing that wants to be taken seriously. Other times it falls back onto that juvenile definition of “adult” – how much nudity and violence can we cram in? It’s unfortunate because Spawn is so interested in exploring the internal conflict of its characters but they undercut that emotional depth. Showing that a cold-blooded killer like Chapel is wracked with remorse for killing his old teammate? Interesting! Showing us this character’s conflict while mid-doggy style? Swing and a miss.
5. A Better Cut.
I originally watched these first three episodes cut together into a single episode. Watching it this way, the show’s pacing and writing feels a lot stronger. If it seems like I haven’t really been delving into the intricacies and plots of past episodes, it’s because there honestly isn’t that much to look at. Single episodes bring in interesting plot elements but most of the time they don’t fully explore them in a satisfying manner within their runtime. It feels bare, like they’re breaking away from done-in-one episodes of something like Batman: The Animated Series, but it doesn’t back it up with a legitimate reason. There’s a world of difference between not answering questions to keep the viewer coming back for more and sloppy writing. It’s way more enjoyable as an hour long episode.