I love adult graphic novels that don't feel the need to lapse into juvenile predictability (yes Aliens, I'm looking at you). Needless to say, I loved Spawn.
I had almost no knowledge of Spawn before this, except knowing the name of his creator, and having seen the mixed-bag of a movie adaptation.
Having read this, on reflection the movie's pretty faithful - but nowhere near as dramatic and daring as the graphic novels.
Spawn is a fascinating mix of superpowered being and messed-over distressed human being, and McFarlane's written in some human touches and moments of anguish that really touch the soul. It's the bitter ironies, emotional conflicts, and vengeful anger that make Spawn stand out, and he's a very exciting anti-hero.
I found the assortment of characters surrounding him a bit less impressive, but the Violator was extremely striking, as was the superpowered nemesis who gets involved later on, towards the end.
The dilemma Spawn's placed in with regard to his powers was very clever and original, and I couldn't help feeling McFarlane exhibited some real genius by putting him in such a vicious catch-22 position, and then introducing a bad guy so chillingly repugnant and vile that you hoped with all your heart he'd kill the guy anyway.
Some of the gore and emotional horror in the novel is groundbreaking - I felt it was the first time I'd ever been truly chilled and confronted with something so brave and gutsy I'd actually class it as veering into 'horror' rather than just gore for gore's sake.
Astounding, visually exciting, and a great introduction. It left me wanting more. A lot more.