is a Comic Book
telling the story of commando Al Simmons
, who is betrayed by CIA spook Jason Wynn
and murdered by his friend and teammate Chapel
as Priest, a Distaff Counterpart
of Chapel). The character first appeared in Malibu Sun #13
(May 1992), created by Todd McFarlane.
After his death, Al meets a devil named Malebolgia, and his Dragon
Violator (who goes disguised as a clown in the mortal realm). He makes a Deal with the Devil
in an attempt to go back to his "loving" wife Wanda. He comes back as a Nineties Anti-Hero
with a living costume and Green Goo powers, powerful but finite, and must use those powers to increase the army of Hell and train as one of its lieutenants, called (Hell)Spawns, as Malebolgia, Mammon
, and Satan
prepare for the Apocalypse. He finds a Mentor
named Cogliostro, a retired Spawn who fills the role of The Obi-Wan
and All-Powerful Bystander
Spawn befriends some bums in an alley, and becomes a urban-based vigilante. He fights Angela
, an angel trained to slay Spawns, who he later befriends as she becomes a Defector from Decadence
. He also interacts with his former best friend and Wanda's current husband Terry. After receiving antagonism from Violator (who is determined to see him keep to his obligations with Malebolgia), using his Green Goo powers to save Terry's life by curing his cancer, and presenting Wanda's daughter Cyan with a cursed shoelace, he goes back to the Bonus Level Of Hell
and re-visits his former foes. Malebolgia also mentions that his memories may be fake.
Unsure of his past life and having trouble with his costume changing and becoming wild all the time, Spawn starts to interact with former cops Sam and Twitch
, and finds out Mammon sent Ab and Zab
to release a soul-destroying demon that makes its enemies Deader Than Dead
. After turning it into Sealed Evil in a Can
, Spawn handwaves
his way back to Hell and, with the help of Angela, kills Malebolgia.It turns him into the lord of (that piece of) Hell
, but he refuses to take Malebolgia's mantle and goes on fighting evil on Earth, with little success. His position is eventually robbed by Cogliostro, who performs a Face-Heel Turn
and reveals himself to be Cain
Suddenly, the whole story suffers a Snap Back
and Spawn is revealed to be not just Al Simmons, but actually a mix of thousands of souls that died at the same time Al had. Spawn fights both Heaven and Hell as an independent warrior during the Apocalypse, and at the last minute, he manages to re-create the world. But in doing so, he discovers that, as Al, he intentionally caused his pregnant wife's miscarriage by punching her in the chest
. Additionally, she was planning to finally leave before he died. It turns out that his amnesia
and current form
were actually subconsciously caused by his unresolved guilt
by Malebolgia. He then retreats to the alleys to live out the rest of his life as The Atoner
, having saved everyone but himself
. Since then, his universe has evolved into
more of an Gothic Punk
-focused Crapsack World
. Al Simmons himself seemingly commits suicide, and the mantle of Spawn is passed on
to a man named Jim Downing
was really popular during the Dark Age
, holding the title of best-selling independent comic for 15 years, the writing was full of Retcons
. Spawn's Power Counter that informed the reader of how much Green Goo energy he had left before he had to return to Hell was also abandoned after a few issues, angering many fans. It's definitely gotten much better
over the years. There were definite cases of Schedule Slip
, but far less so that most of the initial Image Comics (as of January 2010, 196 issues will have been released in 211 months, missing only 15).
Furthermore, the heavily-publicized idea of creator rights surrounding Image
in the early nineties
was, unfortunately, muddled when creator Todd McFarlane stopped writing and drawing the comic himself, and even had legal problems for using characters created by Neil Gaiman
(Angela and Cogliostro). However, he has since announced his intention to return to the main series, and is in the credits as co-writer and inks for the next few currently-unreleased issues.Spawn
is also The Merch
, as McFarlane Toys became popular for being skillfully detailed (and, according to some people, for using higher-quality material) and made the creator a fortune selling hundreds of toys, costumes, clothing, related comics, tatoos, Spawnmobiles (actually, those are just for show) and bumper stickers, amongst others. Additionally, the Spawn toyline had a massive impact on the toy industry, starting the careers of the Four Horsemen
and other sculptors who introduced greater detail and articulation into mainstream superhero toys (even though the Spawn toys were notoriously unarticulated).
It later had an Animated Adaptation
that viciously battered the Animation Age Ghetto
, and is often seen as being of higher quality than the comic
. The movie
(1997) placed Michael Jai White
in the lead role, Theresa Randle
as his wife, Martin Sheen
as Wynn and John Leguizamo
as arch-foe Clown/Violator. The film was somewhat cartoonish, but it is said the sequel, still in Development Hell
, will have a high Mind Screw
Tropes this character is famous for:
- Retcon: The Spawn: Resurrection is intended as a Continuity Reboot of sorts that undoes most of what went on between Al becoming a Hellspawn and his suicide: God is now a good guy, and Al Simmons had a son who was stillborn rather than a daughter he aborted himself.
- Scary Black Man: Doubly Subverted. Al Simmons is viewed by the public as a handsome war hero who died sacrificing himself for his country. But in reality, Al was a paid assassin guilty of not just multiple murders but violently and horrifically beating his wife. Al was arguably scarier (and definitely far crueler) when he was alive than he is now that he's come back as an undead monster. In fact that's why he came back looking like such a monster.
- Shout-Out: Early in the comics, Spawn is hanging out with two homeless men in an alley, one's named Frank, the other Alan. Frank's drinking Miller brand beer, and Alan's drinking Moore brand beer. Alan also has an epic beard, like someone we know.
- Many of the more recent covers are shout-outs to other classic superhero comic covers, including Spider-Man and Superman.
- The effects of the war mask, at least in the HBO series, are possibly a reference to JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, where a similar mask results in vampires.
- Skull for a Head: There's really not much left of Al under the symbiote.
- Spikes of Villainy: Spawn can project them at will from his body, and so can many other characters. Jim Downing took this Up to Eleven earlier in his run by eschewing the cape for a carapace of thorns.
- The Symbiote: Spawn's outfit. It acts on its own to save Spawn several times. And boy is it pissed when Spawn tries to get rid of it due to having been convinced it's killing people vampire-style while he's asleep.
- Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Twitch and his wife Helen is a very straightforward example. Not that the difference in appearances seems to ever have put a damper on their passion - They have seven children.
- Variable-Length Chain: One of Spawn's main means of offence.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Angela appears in one episode during the HBO Animated Series in Season 1, and is presented like she'll become a big part of the story. Instead, she never appears again, and another bounty hunter named Jade appears to hunt Spawn during Seasons 2 and 3.