Spawn 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 (later retconned 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 (Angela actually performs a Heroic Sacrifice).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, not 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.While Spawn was really popular during the Dark Age, holding the title of best-selling independent comic for 15 years, the writing was full of Retcons and SnapBacks. 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 for HBO 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 level.
Tropes this character is famous for: