Todd McFarlane made his name with his work for Marvel Comics in the early 90s. Along the way, he subtly reinvented Spider-Man, posing him more dynamically, redefining the way his webs were drawn and redesigning his mask. He went on to draw the first appearance of Eddie Brock/Venom, helping make that character the icon he is today. Fans adored his work and comics featuring his art sold incredibly well.
Flush with success, McFarlane asked that he be allowed to write and draw his own comic. Marvel granted his wish, with his Spider-Man titles instantly breaking sales records. But it wasn’t all sunshine and roses. Marvel higher-ups had problems with the darker tone of his work, which included at one point the rape of a child. Things came to a head in issue #16, where McFarlane clashed with editorial in 1991 over a panel showing Juggernaut being stabbed in the eye with a sword. Both sides refused to compromise and McFarlane walked, going on to set up Image Comics and release Spawn.
It’s been nearly 30 years and McFarlane and Marvel haven’t worked together since. But time heals all wounds, and in a recent interview, he suggested he’d consider going back, saying:
“To me, I’m way more concerned about how it has any lasting effect, but with where we stand today and not knowing what’s going to happen on the other side of normality and what that even looks like in terms of the comic book industry, then I’ve been sort of asking myself, are we going to need some event book or things on the other side
Something as crazy as a Spawn-Spidey [Venom] be I don’t know, maybe. I never really had a compelling reason to it, but you know, if part of it is that it helps a little bit in the stability of our industry, then maybe I should go back to doing manual labor and do my part. We should all be good soldiers somewhere along the line. So, yeah. We’ll see where it all goes.”
If this happened, it’d tie a nice little bow at the end of an acrimonious saga. There’s been a lot of water under the bridge since 1991 and the entire editorial board at Marvel Comics has changed multiple times. On top of that, McFarlane recognizes that the already precarious comic book industry is set to take a big knock from COVID-19.
While digital sales are booming, brick-and-mortar comic book shops are being hit hard. Faced with that, who wouldn’t say no to a little razzle-dazzle Spawn crossover to get people back into the stores when the lockdown ends?