Sam Burke and Maximilian "Twitch" Williams are two fictional NYPD homicide Detectives, created by Todd McFarlane. Sam and Twitch were originally featured in McFarlane's hit comic series Spawn. Due to their popularity, they were later given their own title in 1999, called Sam and Twitch. In their self-titled series, the duo were the main protagonists in a dark and gritty New York City, similar in feel to NYPD Blue and possibly served as a precursor to DC Comics' Gotham Central. The fictional universe of Sam and Twitch is somewhat based on the real world, where violent crimes are a norm and costumed heroes, though they exist, are not.
Sam Burke Edit
Detective Sam Burke is often seen as the brawn of the group. Sam is a large, headstrong man with a penchant for foul language and gruff behavior. Sam is usually the one to take "action" against any type of villain they encounter. Though Sam has often been accused of police brutality, the charges have never stuck. In fact, Sam takes great pride in being one of the few honest cops in a precinct he sees as infested with corruption and scandal. Although his style with criminals is rough, and he comes across as boorish to most others, he's actually quite compassionate, beneath his rough exterior, to those in need. He has a real passion for doing the right thing and seeing justice done, even if he has to resort to not-so-civil means. Sam is very protective of those few he trusts and considers friends, especially his partner Twitch. Twitch's dedication to his work despite the corruption of the Police department is shown to be inspiring to Sam, and he often goes to great lengths to protect Twitch from even their fellow officers, who may mean verbal or physical harm to Sam's highly intelligent, diminutive partner.
Despite his down-and-dirty, cynical, and hot-tempered personality, Sam is essentially a good man, with a strong sense of duty and honor. His straightforward ways have often put the detective duo at odds with even their fellow police, but while Twitch is considerably more reasonable than his larger partner, (and often pokes fun at Sam's fiery temperament and statements) he shows a deep trust and respect for him as well. While Twitch often figures out and solves the duo's various cases and predicaments, Sam is unquestionably the drive and conviction which sees the two through.
While Sam himself grudgingly admits that Twitch is considerably better at marksmanship and calculated strategies, many often make the mistake of thinking Sam as dumb or all talk, but this couldn't be further from the truth. Sam is quite intelligent, and although he isn't a calculating genius or a complex thinker like his partner, Sam can actually be extremely insightful of other people. Sam can often see right through deception and get to the bottom of people's actions. There are even some times where he sees truth in things not even Twitch can see. He's also very sharp and streetwise. Despite being quite overweight, as Sam's passion for his work is matched only by his enormous appetite, Sam is very tough as well, and has proven to be quite a fighter, more than a match for many of the criminals they come across in a straight forward fight.
Twitch Williams Edit
Full Name: Maximilion Steven Percival "Twitch" Williams III
In this duo of detectives, Twitch is mainly seen as the "brains" of the group. He is the one who usually solves or puts the pieces together in the rare crimes the detectives encounter. A brilliant mathematician who excelled at trigonometry, he has used his knowledge of angles to become an excellent marksman. A shooting prodigy, Twitch makes up for his small size with his ability to handle twin pistols with almost machine-like accuracy and efficiency. He claims to have earned the nickname "Twitch," as Sam once said, "because he doesn't, ever!" In reality, "Twitch" was his despised high-school nickname, which Sam learned after intercepting a reunion invitation asking for 'Twitch' Williams. He refers to Sam Burke as "sir," as throughout the years Sam has, time and time again, earned his trust and respect. At the beginning of their story/comic book we find the two employed as a private investigation firm known as "Burke and Williams" however, this does not last, since the two are called back into duty by their old captain.
Twitch was once married and has several children, but due to his busy schedule with crime cases, his wife eventually divorced him, and denies him custody of his kids. This had a great emotional impact on Twitch, but did not seem to hinder him from his work. He eventually reconciled with his wife and since then does his best to spend as much time with his family as his duty allows. Twitch comes from a family with a proud tradition in law enforcement, his father and siblings all being cops themselves. Despite his reserved and soft-spoken manner, he is extremely passionate and proud of his job, in some ways more so than Sam. It is because of this that, despite his incredible intelligence, the apparent rampant corruption of the Police Department which he works for troubles him greatly. In some ways, Twitch is a little more naïve than the street-smart and more realistic Sam, and has had to deal with many harsh truths. Despite this, however, Twitch never loses his resolve to be a good cop, even amongst corruption and a city that generally doesn't trust the police. Twitch often makes better relations with people than his partner, due to his kinder, more thoughtful way with people.
Twitch has also battled against many super-human foes in his past. Of particular note is OvertKill, a monstrous, mafia-hired cyborg from the Spawn comic series. Despite OvertKill's seemingly-bulletproof exterior, Twitch was able to defeat him with a single, well-aimed bullet through OvertKill's ear canal. While Twitch lacks Sam's strength, size, and tenacity, he makes up for it with calm and collected nerves of steel and immensely quick thinking under pressure. Combined with his marksmanship, he's not one to be trifled with.
Publication history Edit
Sam and Twitch were originally introduced in the comic book series Spawn as tertiary characters to the larger storyline of Al Simmons. The duo were at first at odds with Al, both due to Al's questionable methods and personality and Al's own distrust of the police. Eventually however, they had come to form a mutual respect and Al often sought help from the two..seeing them as two of the only people, cops no less that he could actually trust. Even after the detectives own spinoff series had started the two often made appearances in Spawn afterwards still.
Sam and Twitch Edit
Due to issues with publishing, Sam and Twitch was not always released in a timely manner. This affected sales. The series was subsequently cancelled in 2003 with only 26 issues after a four year run. The delays continued until the end.
The character Spawn makes a small cameo appearance in Sam and Twitch and requests the duo's help. Sam and Twitch say that they are preoccupied and brush him off.
The series has been collected as these graphic novels:
- Sam and Twitch Book One: Udaku TPB - collects #1-8 in black & white (Image Comics, 2000, 192 pages, ISBN 1-58240-176-4)
- Sam and Twitch: The Brian Michael Bendis Collection Volume 1 TPB - collects #1-9 (Image Comics, 2006, 224 pages, ISBN 1-58240-583-2)
- Sam and Twitch: The Brian Michael Bendis Collection Volume 2 TPB - collects #10-19 (Image Comics, 2007 ISBN 978-1-58240-745-6)
Case Files: Sam & Twitch Edit
The first issue of Case Files was released in June 2003, a few months before the November cancellation of the original Sam and Twitch series. Whereas the original series was concurrent with the duo's appearances in Spawn, the continuity of Case Files starts much later in their lives and revisits one of their old nemesis.
May 1, 2006 - Brian Michael Bendis is perhaps the biggest writer in comics today. He wasn't always a comic-book hot shot, however. Bendis began modestly as an indie writer/artist. His work on the crime noir book Jinx brought him to the attention of Todd McFarlane, who gave Bendis his first mainstream job. The task wasn't so easy -- Take Spawn periphery characters Sam and Twitch and turn them into full-fledged stars of their own series. He nailed it. Bendis' run on Sam & Twitch remains one of the highlights of Spawn's decade-long dominance at Image Comics.
While Bendis' work on Sam & Twitch has previously been collected, you could only get the books in black and white. The new Bendis Collection offers the books in color for the first time and on glossy stock paper. If you've never experienced Sam & Twitch or, like me, you haven't read this series in year, this is your opportunity to enjoy top-notch horror noir.
'Eff off, Spawn This first Bendis volume collects "Udaku". Sam & Twitch, having recently rejoined the force, find themselves knee-deep in a s---storm following a series of grizzly murders. A killer is decapitating gangsters and leaving extra body parts as a calling card. Five genetically identical thumbs at one scene, ears at another -- even someone's crank at one brutal murder site. As the bodies begin piling up, Sam & Twitch come under suspicion, leaving the duo fighting to clear their own name while trying to apprehend a seemingly superhuman killer.
Set in McFarlane's New York, Spawn is part of Sam & Twitch's world, even if he's not a central figure in the storyline. Spawn shows up in the background of a couple of scenes and has one very brief and brilliant encounter with S & T. Bendis' trademark dialogue-heavy style is in full effect, as is his hearty sense of humor. "'Eff off," Sam tells Spawn when he comes to ask for assistance. No other writer would even think to tell off Spawn. That scene alone is worth the unfortunately high price of admission ($25).
The mystery, the corruption angle and the action are beautifully orchestrated, but there are some trouble spots. Bendis' dialogue often gets in the way of his own story. The graphic narrative often feels negligible compared to Bendis' words, so much so that it's easy to overlook panels altogether. There's no one to blame for this other than Bendis, since he thumb-nailed the issues. His love of two-page spreads causes another problem. Many of the panels can get lost in the spine. Dialogue is never lost, but you will come across faces that disappear into the crease.
Angel Medina got his big break with this book and does some of his best work. The fact that Bendis is controlling the tempo with his own layouts probably helped Medina considerably. Where Medina has seemingly gone to extremes with his art style, sacrificing storytelling for flare, here he is able to draw the grotesque without losing control.
Current Status Edit
In the recently released Spawn #161, the Rapture occurs as the forces of Heaven and Hell fight their final war. The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Sam is one of many who fall victim to the Horseman "Famine". He starves to death due to an insatiable hunger. Twitch and his family are overwhelmed and killed by the armies of "War".
Spawn recreates the entire world, though the two detectives still remember what happened.
As of Spawn #166-168 they are back on the normal job in the revived world. Spawn assists the duo investigating a haunted apartment building. After the resolution of the case, the two have a discussion on how everything will be the same from now on, but also different.
Currently in the ENDGAME story arc, Sam and Twitch try to uncover the mystery of how a hospital explosion is connected to a group of drug dealers who were massacred by an unknown assailant. The two detectives believe that Spawn is the killer(so far unaware that Spawn committed suicide and has been dead for at least a week) but are not so sure. The victims' blood was boiling when they died, which has never happened with any of (Al)Spawn's victims. Whoever the killer is, it is certain that these two amazing detectives will soon find him, or it.
Other notable characters Edit
Dr. K.C. McRory: Dubbed "Dr. Death" by the detectives, Dr. McRory is in charge of the crime scene investigation department at the precinct. As with many characters, she dislikes Sam for his sloppy habits and abrasive personality. She gets along quite well with Twitch. She may be based loosely on the DC Comics character Carrie Kelly, as they share initials--albeit in a different order--and have matching glasses and hairstyle.
Jinx: a bounty hunter who assists the duo in tracking down a fellow hunter who has gone insane. Jinx also stars in a separate comic book series.
Appearances in other media Edit
- In the HBO miniseries Todd McFarlane's Spawn, Sam was voiced by James Keane and Twitch was voiced by Michael McShane.
- In the 1997 live-action film, two detectives resembling Sam and Twitch arrest Jason Wynn towards the end of the film.