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sti.022 (Sam and Twitch)

Spawn series 25: Classic Comic Covers
by yo go re

Love him or hate him, Todd McFarlane's found his groove.

Unlike last year, when he released the triumphant Image 10th Anniversary Spawn, this year Todd's only doing one thing - line after line of numbingly repetitive "Classic Covers" series. Since most Spawn covers could be described as "Spawn lurks in the dark with some creepy stuff around him," who would have thought that the concept would support one set, let alone several? But here they are, and they just keep coming.

Series 2 of these beasts [actually Spawn Series 25 --ed.] gave us only our second set of figures based on Todd's deeply cliched detective pair, Samuel Burke and Maximillion "Twitch" Williams.

A few years ago, Todd wanted to try spinning Sam and Twitch off into their own comic, to give them some space to grow outside the pages of Spawn. He tapped some little indie-comic star that no one had ever heard of to handle the writing, and told him to create some great crime comics.

This bald little dork from Cleveland, Brian Michael Bendis, did what he was told, creating some great crime comics and making a name for himself in the process. But when Todd asked him to write a monthly Hellspawn comic and Bendis admitted that he didn't feel he was right for the job, McFarlane fired him immediately and ended his critically acclaimed run at issue 19. In a (no surprise) petulant and childish move, Todd then declared that Sam and Twitch were his characters, and that he could write them better than anyone else.

For almost two years, Sam & Twitch had delivered great stories and met its monthly deadline. Todd took over with issue 20 in March of 2001. We're still waiting today for issue 27, the final part of Todd's first storyarc.

I feel fine tossing all that info out there, because there's really not much to say about the figures themselves. We get Sam and Twitch together in one blister, based on Ashley Wood's cover artwork from issue 22. One of the book's problems had always been that every Ashley Wood cover looked like every other Ashley Wood cover, so it was hard to keep track of the issues.

Sam is great and monstrous, while his partner is a slender little twig, just as on the cover. A little stool is trying valiantly to support his tremendous girth, but it's bowing under the weight. Don't worry, that's not a result of soft plastic - it's purposefully sculpted to look that way. Obviously the nicotine patch hasn't been working out so great for our pal Sam, since he's got three smokes in his mouth and another in his right hand. Seated on his stool, Sam is 6¾" tall and moves only at the ends of his pants and his right elbow.

Twitch, looking positively microscopic next to his partner, stands 6½" tall and moves at the neck, shoulders, wrists and shins. He leans severely to one side, but that's a feature of the original art, not of poor workmanship (for a change). McToys included one of their plain black plastic stands to help support him, which was nice. Twitch includes two exaggerated guns, which can be clutched gingerly in either hand.

It really is amazing how close Todd's as-always uncredited sculptors (in this case, Andrew Frank) came to capturing the look of Ashley Wood's faded, expressionistic work in solid three-dimensional plastic. The figures have a nice sort of black and white paintjob with a sepia tone wash over that, which really captures the look well.

It's been a long time since we got Sam and Twitch figures from McFarlane, and those old ones just don't fit with the modern line. Fans have been calling for a new set of detectives for years, so it's nice that Todd finally listened, even if it is in such a pitiful, immobile form. As usual, it only took about a month for the newest Spawn series to reach clearance, and at half price, they're almost worth it.

-- 07/14/04

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