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Spawn (comics)

Spawn is a fictional comic book character created by Todd McFarlane. Spawn primarily appears in a comic of the same name, published by Image Comics, and his first appearance was in Spawn #1 (May 1992).

Overview

The religion-heavy book began with a very superhero-like tone, much like McFarlane's previous work, but the title character evolved into a more flawed anti-hero. The current book has skewed significantly darker than early issues would suggest. McFarlane attributes this to being a necessary part of development. To introduce the book to readers it had to be slightly cleaner than he really wished it to be so that it read like a superhero tale. As the book took off and became more established he was able to alter the tone closer to his vision.

A CIA agent killed by his own boss for witnessing his corruption, Al Simmons was sent to hell. To see his wife one more time, he made a deal with the devil Malebolgia to become an undead "hellspawn". Spawn has tried to retain his own humanity while finding a way out of Malebolgia's control and battling a variety of enemies, both supernatural and criminal.

The series has spun off several other comics, including Angela, Curse of the Spawn, Sam & Twitch and the Japanese manga Shadows of Spawn. Spawn was adapted into a 1997 feature film, an HBO animated series lasting from 1997 until 1999 and a series of action figures whose high level of detail made McFarlane Toys known in the toy industry.

Spawn's popularity cooled and creators other than McFarlane have been responsible for the monthly series—a source of criticism as McFarlane and others left Marvel in the belief that creators should own and control their own characters, although McFarlane still makes decisions for the book's course. After David Hine took over the title, the monthly series, with a new focus on horror, began picking up heat again. The title, along with Savage Dragon is one of the only two original Image titles still published; (YoungBlood returned to Image in 2008, but without Liefeld at the helm).

On April 20, 2008, it was announced at the NY Comic-Con that a new team consisting of two Image founders would be taking over Spawn beginning with issue #185. It was announced on June 12, that this team would consist of Todd McFarlane and Brian Holguin, with artist and Image founder Whilce Portacio.

Fictional character biography

Military history and death

Albert Francis Simmons was a highly decorated Lieutenant Colonel in the United Civilized States Marine Corps. He later joined the United Civilized States Secret Service and became a highly decorated member, most notably for saving the President in an assassination attempt. This led to his promotion to the CIA. In the CIA, he was recruited into a special division known as the U.C.S. Security Group, a high-level task force with jurisdiction in all domestic and foreign situations.

Al questioned many of the actions of his agency, particular of its director Jason Wynn, believing that certain missions involved the unnecessary sacrifice of innocent civilians. Wynn and Simmons began to butt heads more often and Simmons planned to resign. He returned home, and beat Wanda in his blind rage at Wynn, something that would rest heavily on Simmons' thoughts and haunt him later.

Upon learning of Al's resignation, Wynn ordered an assassin (initially Youngblood's Chapel, but later retconned to be Jessica Priest after arguments with Rob Liefeld) to murder Simmons. Simmons was sent to Hell, due to his life as a mercenary, and made a deal with Malebolgia: Al would be reborn a Hellspawn, a lieutenant in Hell's army, if he is allowed to see his wife one final time.

Resurrection

Malebolgia returns Simmons to the world, but with little memory, a badly disfigured body, limited yet seemingly boundless magical powers, and a monitor, the Clown, AKA Violator. Simmons slowly realizes that five years have passed. When he decides to visit Wanda for his "one final visit", he shapeshifts his body, but discovers his transformation forces cannot give him his former appearance - he finds himself turned into an unknown white man. He discovers that his wife, Wanda Blake, has since married his best friend, Terry Fitzgerald, and the two have a daughter, Cyan.

Now known as Spawn, Al's first few adventures are anti-hero in nature: he takes down street gangs and organized crime (including their enforcer Overtkill), and he kills a child molester/murderer named Billy Kincaid. Most notable of all in his early adventures, Spawn would encounter Dave Sim's Cerebus the Aardvark. Spawn encounters Anti-Spawn, who is actually Jason Wynn (unknown to Al), and the Redeemer (A God-fearing man transformed in a similar fashion as Wynn). He survives an assault by Angela, an angel whose mission in Heaven is to hunt Hellspawns for sport and claims the Medieval Spawn as one of her trophies. As this occurs, he takes over the alleys that comprise "Rat City" and befriends the homeless within it, becoming their champion. In particular, an old bum named Cogliostro seems to know a lot about him. Cogliostro and the Clown act as polar guides for Al, trying to convince him to use his powers for good and evil respectively. The Clown shows that he can transform into his real form, a demon known as the Violator. In his earliest adventures, he also encounters Harry Houdini who teaches Spawn some new tricks, saves Terry from being murdered by the mob (leading to a bullet ripping up Spawn's face, which his friend Bobby ties shut with a shoelace to conserve his energy timer), reveals that he is Al to Terry (which Terry mysteriously forgets), and brings his friend Bobby back to life after being killed by Chapel. Spawn would eventually encounter Cyan, who takes the shoe lace from his face. "Shoestring face" Spawn would remain one of the iconic visuals of the character.

First metamorphosis

After a nearly fatal encounter with the Redeemer, Spawn's costume evolved into a more advanced form. The formerly immaculate cape became ragged and shredded, and his costume lost its red coloring and became pure black and white. Spawn's gloves and boots also morphed, becoming heavily armored and covered with spikes. Spawn's costume was now much more powerful, and the cape and chains were capable of shapeshifting to a much greater degree. The costume shifted into a blade and cut off Redeemer's hand during their second encounter, while Spawn simply watched.

After his encounter with the Redeemer, Spawn encounters the Freak, and during the "Bloodfeud" storyline, nightmares began to torture the former military assassin, consisting of a first-person point of view, where a creature, seeming to have kind of the same appearance as Spawn, hunts down other beings and consumes them and when he wakes up he finds himself in a mess of several killed persons. He suggests that, after the metamorphosis of his suit, it feeds off blood like a Vampire, but after his first battle with John Sansker, aka Jean Sans-Coeur, "Heartless John" (a vampire and true reason behind the messes that Spawn finds himself in) and after he stripped himself of his suit, he argues with the clown about the latter. He tells Spawn that his costume feeds on souls, and after he made peace with his state he re-bonded with his suit and, in a vicious battle, drove Jans out of Raccoon City.

Heaven and Hell

Spawn struggled to find a way to free himself from Hell's control and recapture his humanity. Attacks from both Heaven and Hell were coming faster and faster, and Spawn was on the verge of losing himself to the violence and the evil. Salvation arrived in the form of a mound of festering garbage - The Heap, an emissary of the Purgatory, a power equal to Heaven and Hell that Spawn had never encountered before. They endowed him with a host of new abilities that would enable him to overcome the worst both Heaven and Hell had to offer.

While these powers are not directly described, they appear to give Spawn control over all the elements and other aspects of the natural world. It was explained to him that the Purgatory did not care for the war of Heaven and Hell, but were growing increasingly agitated by the destruction it brought about. They inflicted on him the pains of the Gazer, and when he returned Spawn became "aware" of the world. Spawn did not utilize his powers however, other than listening to the Gazer, until he was impaled on the pole of a large sign by the dark god Urizen (named after the tyrannical creator-figure in the personal mythology of Romantic poetartist William Blake). Urizen was wreaking havoc on the world, and the Purgatory imbued him with a "gift" which, after recovering thanks to Angela, Spawn uses to contain Urizen. Spawn splits the ground open and imprisons Urizen within the Gazer.

The New King of Hell

After defeating Urizen, Spawn learns that the dark god's release was orchestrated by Malebolgia, as part of an elaborate scheme to take total control of all the kingdoms of Hell. Having failed spectacularly, Malebolgia's power is at its lowest ebb. With the help of Angela, Spawn is able to return to Hell and finally destroy his demon master, although Angela's life is lost in the process. Though offered Malebolgia's crown by the sinister Mammon, Spawn declines both it and an offer to enter the gates of Heaven. Spawn instead turns his efforts towards stemming the torment of humanity and defeating the evil that exists on Gazer.

Overwhelmed by the darkness on Gazer, Spawn turns to his old mentor, Cogliostro, with a new plan. He will accept the crown of Hell, and then remake it, turning it from a dark realm of evil into a new paradise that will sweep away all sorrow and sadness on the Gazer. Spawn and Cogliostro encounter Redeemer III, and in the subsequent battle, Spawn is dragged to Hell by some Scorpion demons. Mammon hands a box to Cogliostro, who kills himself and ends up in Hell, box in hand. He gives it to Spawn, who opens it and sees a fleeting glimpse of a utopia, along with his wife, and then Cogliostro reveals that he is the biblical Cain, the first murderer, and takes the crown of Hell for himself. Cain uses his newfound power to return Spawn to gazer, alive and well, back in the body of Al Simmons, but separating him from the Hellspawn symbiote.

Spawn reborn

Wandering the Earth in a daze, Al Simmons is confronted by a young witch named Nyx. With Nyx's help, Al is reunited with his Hellspawn symbiote, and Spawn is reborn. Seemingly human, with a human's frailty and vulnerability, when not shrouded in his costume, Spawn has lost much of his power, but continues with his mission to right the wrongs of the world and seek out peace of mind for himself. However, Mammon continues to plot against him from the shadows. After tempting and betraying Nyx, Mammon gains his magical power over the union between Al Simmons and Spawn, and uses it to rob Al of all of his memories. Al wanders the Earth, searching for something he feels, but cannot remember. During this wandering, Al unwittingly unleashes a band of angels known as the Forgotten, angels who were neutral, taking neither the sides of Heaven or Hell during the Fall. Al learns that Mammon is one of the Forgotten, and is far more powerful than Malebolgia ever was.

Armageddon

With the aid of the Greenworld, Spawn regains his lost memories, and something more. His costume metamorphoses again, seemingly becoming one with his necroplasmic body. Spawn is captured by Mammon and his demonic minions, and tortured horribly so that the secrets his body contains can be revealed. Spawn's discarded heart, torn from his chest in an earlier battle with the Disciple, Heaven's Warrior, transforms into a young boy named Chris. Chris, together with Sam and Twitch, rescue Spawn from Mammon's clutches and return him to Earth. Spawn learns that thousands of human souls are contained within his body, each one capable of being summoned in the form of a Hellspawn. As signs of the end of days wreak havoc across the world, Spawn must find a way to stave off Armageddon, and learn the true nature of Heaven, Hell, and the Earth.

Spawn learns that Wanda's recently born twin children (by way of Terry) are the ones responsible for Armageddon. The twins, who have been displaying destructive and sadistic tendencies for months now, attempt to murder their entire family, when Spawn arrives to stop them. Spawn is unable to destroy the twins, and the unexpected arrival of Zera, the Queen of the Seraphim, reveals the awful truth - Jake Fitzgerald is God, and Katie Fitzgerald is Satan.

It is revealed that both God and Satan were removed from their respective kingdoms and reincarnated as human children by the all-powerful being known as Mother. Mother is the creator of the universe and all its worlds, and God and Satan are two of her many children. She regards them as disappointments, being consumed with destructive hatred towards one another. Mother, who has aided Spawn in the past under the guises of Kali, the Keeper of the Greenworld, and the Man of Miracles, warns Spawn that he alone has the potential to rise above God and Satan, and preserve the human race. He also warns that Armageddon cannot be stopped - it is Earth's destiny.

Spawn is entered into one last final test to prove if he is worthy to preserve the human race: the Disciple. Before his final test, the Mother told Spawn to trust Cyan because she is "wise beyond her years". She also reveals that the Disciple is actually the guard of the portal to the Garden of Eden, where Spawn must eat the Forbidden Fruit in order to save humanity. After Spawn blasts the Disciple into Eden and killed him, it is revealed that there are actually 11 more Disciples, who are based on the Twelve Apostles. Also, because Hellspawns are never meant to enter into the Garden of Eden, Spawn's life will fade away the longer he is in the garden. This is shown through a video game like counter, which Cyan sees through a laptop. With the help of Cyan and the souls within him, Spawn fights each of the Disciples, killing them off one by one as the counter continues to drop to zero until the final Disciple left is Judas, whom Spawn is about to kill. However, Cyan yells to Spawn to not kill him. Spawn, remembering what the Mother said about trusting Cyan, does not deal the final blow to Judas. Judas stabs Spawn through the heart and his counter reaches zero.

As Spawn lies slain, Mother appears and plucks a piece of fruit from the Tree of Life. She speaks with Judas, revealing that when she took the form of Jesus, Judas was his most beloved disciple, the only one who had the courage to betray him. Without his death, the life of Jesus would have had no greater meaning. Mother gives the power of the Forbidden Fruit to the lifeless Spawn, resurrecting him in a new form - his cloak and chains are gone, replaced with shining white wings. Mother explains that Cyan was right; Spawn needed to die in order to be resurrected and gain the power to rival God and Satan. Returning to Earth, Spawn finds New York totally destroyed by the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. The slain population of the Earth have become possessed by angels and demons, who are gathering for the final battle. As Spawn races to the place where Armageddon will be fought, he confronts Zera, the Queen of the Seraphim.

During this battle, Spawn shows Zera his true power as an equal to both God and Satan. Spawn defeats Zera and returns to the battle between Heaven and Hell with her head as a trophy. Spawn arrives at the battle as the last of Heaven's warriors are slain. He believes that he knows one of them. Searching the battle field, Spawn discovers that he knows one of the soldiers as Granny Blake. She realizes that she has been betrayed and misled by her faith in God. Spawn faces off against the Hellspawn of Satan's army, declaring that the Earth realm belongs to him. Calling him a traitor for breaking his oath, the Hellspawn from all the ages converge on their "brother." Spawn battles the Hellspawn, calling upon the earth to swallow them, returning them to Hell. Hearing of this, Satan sends all of his remaining warriors after Spawn. Fearing that Spawn will unbalance Armageddon, God does the same. These events are watched by Mammon and a cloaked figure, whom Mammon responds to as a subordinate. During their exchange it is implied that all is going according to their plan, and Mammon says that he should have never been doubted. As Heaven and Hell attack Spawn, he calls to himself all the power given to him by the Mother, and in a single display of power destroys the armies of Heaven and Hell, along with the rest of humanity.

Laughing, he dismisses his act as a way to halt the Armageddon itself, leaving God and Satan without soldiers to use in their battle. He then asks the Mother to restore his children to their former glory and powers, but refuses to fight them. They eventually incinerate Spawn, then proceed their endless battle... fighting by themselves, in a barren, scorched Earth.

The Reconstructed World

Spawn, now given the powers of a god and the protection of the Mother, gains the power to recreate Earth, restoring everyone to life, but leaving humanity every memory of the Rapture. Both God and Satan have no role in the "new" Earth, because they're trapped in their perception of a barren Earth until they cease their seemingly endless fight, and Spawn, with his last act as a god himself, closes every door between Hell, Heaven and Earth.

He then asks the Mother to turn him back into Al Simmons, convincing her into letting the former Spawn have the chance to win back Wanda and becoming a fatherly figure for Cyan. A now fully human Simmons returns to his former home, but facing the memories of the miscarriage he inflicted upon Wanda by beating her the last night before dying, he relinquishes humanity once more, accepting to go on in his death as the monster he was always thought to have been in life.

Realizing how Al Simmons himself, not Mammon, claimed the Hellspawn role as penance, Spawn, again in his "red-cowled" costume, once more takes residence in a deserted and barren Rat Alley.

Later a robed figure would tell Mammon of Spawn's defeating of Clown and closing the portal to hell, which he had wanted Spawn to do, and calls Spawn "my good and faithful servant."

In Issue 169 Zera has returned. She is seen again now as a rotting decapitated head immersed in preservative liquids within a glass container. As she was one of God's favorites she was granted immortality by God. Spawn is summoned by Voodoo priestess Mambo Suzanne while Zera is trying to possess Nyx. Zera uses Nyx's body to successfully do battle with Spawn. Mambo Suzanne, however uses the conflict as a distraction to shatter the glass containing Zera's head and throw the head to streets below. There, demon dogs devour the head until there is nothing left, thereby freeing Nyx from Zera's possession. This issue leads to the recovery of Nyx and Spawn's friendship as well as Nyx's recovery of her powers.

A tale of three brothers

In the next arc, "A Tale of Three Brothers" composed of the latest few issues but was the title that run through issue 170-173, Ab and Zab create a literal hell house where visitors are forced to face their most heinous sins, due to demons called sin eaters that feed on the guilt by making their prey face the evil that they had done. A woman and a minister within the house are both caught in the delusions caused by the sin eaters, and slowly fed on by the demons. Spawn confronts Ab and Zab but is faced with his own sin against Wanda and his unborn child. Unable to break free from the guilt, he is slowly fed on by a sin eater. Nyx however decides to intervene, overcoming a sin eater and breaking a sin eaters illusion that was subduing Spawn. (It is revealed later on that Nyx is becoming more powerful) Spawn then tears apart many of the other sin eaters until he comes upon the minister who is being fed on by a sin eater.

It is then revealed that the minister is Al Simmon's brother, Richard, who was reliving his own worst sin. Spawn, who up to that moment had not yet recovered all his memories as Al Simmons since he became Hellspawn decides to allow Richard to relive his sin so that he can peer into his own past. It is then revealed that Mammon, under the guise of a man, Mr. Malefick, had a profound influence on Al Simmons childhood. It was Mammon/Mr. Malefick (a constant visitor in the Simmons' household and close acquaintance of Al Simmons' mother) that tutored Al Simmons to torture and murder small animals at a very young age as well hurt his own body, seemingly grooming him to become his servant, who would feel neither glee nor pity in taking another being's life. Malefick had also influenced Richard Simmons to take drugs as well as introducing him to the drug dealer Weasel. It was only Marc Simmons that seemingly was able to save himself from Mammon's influence, but was unable to help his brothers. Richard Simmon's vision of his past climaxed with him stabbing and gravely injuring Weasel (with a knife that was given by Mammon/Malefick) while intoxicated with drugs. Richard calls his brothers to come and help him in his predicament. Al Simmons not wanting him and his brothers to be implicated in the crime decides against calling an ambulance that could save the drug dealers life and instead pulls the knife from Weasel's body and kills him with it. Mammon/Malefick then appears sending the brothers home while he hides the drug dealer's body.

Finding that the sin eater was already killing Richard Simmons Nyx breaks the illusion while Spawn kills the last sin eater. Spawn then asks Richard about their parents, finding that Richard had neither thought nor heard of them in years, Spawn determines that Mammon had blocked the memory of their parents and prevented the brothers from even thinking about their parents. Spawn then leaves, but not before Nyx places a spell preventing Ab and Zab from leaving the building and Spawn promises to come back for his brother. Spawn then finds his parents home which Mammon had hidden under a spell and within it his parents who were trapped there for many years. There he is greeted by his mother, who recognizes Al Simmons even in the form of Spawn while Al Simmons' father is shocked.

Al Simmons' mother had conspired with Mammon to give birth to a hellspawn that would be greater than those which came before, that would remake the world and place all of existence under Mammon/Malefick's power. Al Simmons father falls into grief for not being able to stop his wife from what she and Mammon had done to his son. When Spawn wonders why his father was chosen to bear him, his father points out a journal from his great grand father, passed down from generation to generation. A journal that Al Simmon's mother had prevented her husband from showing their children.

As Spawn is given the journal by his father, Richard Simmons is seen providing the demons Ab and Zab some food, then retiring to his quarters to recall a time in his childhood when he would pretend to be asleep and his father would come weeping and reciting a prayer beside his bed. Mammon/Malefick then appears. Feeling that there can be no redemption for himself, Richard follows Mammon down to a door where upon entering Richard is swallowed into the bowels of hell.

Gunslinger Spawn

Spawn issue 174-175 tells the story that is found in the journal. A runaway soldier, who later becomes Henry Simmons, Al Simmons's great grandfather, is to be lynched with a man who supposedly murdered his family. Mammon approaches both, saying he will give them what they want. Henry refuses, while the innocent man accepts, when they are hanged. While the man is hanged, Mammon causes a misfire to save Henry's life. A short time thereafter, the man is reborn as Gunslinger Spawn, and he slaughters the town, but leaves Henry alive under Mammon's orders. The Gunslinger Spawn places the soldier in a pine box casket belonging to the now-dead real Henry Simmons. The box floats down a river, where an awaiting Mammon tells Henry a descendant will become the Spawn that destroys the world.

The Monster in the Bubble

The story returns to the Simmons house where the television mysteriously reports reveals a new case involving the death of American comic book artist. The artist was a deformed teenager named Kenneth Erskine, a man that had been unable to leave the protection of a bubble dome due to a medical affliction. Though he didn't die during the end of the world, he was affected by a leak inside his sterile bubble that gives him the power to project anything he draws as real. Al's brother, Marc, is the lead detective of the case, and the only one not to be corrupted by Mammon's influence. Nyx and Al leave to assist Marc, believing that it was Mammon who sent the transmission to the television about the case. As soon as Al and Nyx leave, Mammon and a figure in a cloak with visible vampire-like fangs suddenly appears in the house and proceeds to draining Al's father of blood. The cloaked figure's identity seems to be known by Simmons' mother as she smiles after Mammon asks her if she knew who the creature is. Spawn fails to save the Erksine's next victim. The last frame of the final part of the arc leaves Spawn doubting himself, unable to save a few people from dying - much less the entire world.

The continuation of "The Monster in the Bubble" from the last issue left Spawn utterly helpless against Erskine's psychic projection of a tentacled creature, that had impaled him multiple times. Erskine's projection suddenly shows features of Mammon, continually coaxing and tempting Spawn to accept death. Nyx intervenes by stabbing the creature with a sword, gaining the creature's attention, but leading her to become the creature's next target. She then telepathically contacts Marc Simmons, begging him to shoot Erskine. Erskine relents and ceases his attack causing the creature to disappear, allowing Nyx and Al to go to the hospital where Erskine is held. Spawn is faced with the predicament however of whether or not to cause Erskine's death, threatening to enter the bubble dome if Erskine does not reveal the whereabouts of Mammon, whom Spawn believed was pulling the strings. Mammon then appears to complicate the situation allowing Erskine to complete his last murder using a psychic projection of a woman to attack the last victim in his home. Mammon reveals that it was he who taught Erskine to use his powers. Upon killing his last victim, Erskine then proceeds to commit suicide, leaving his worldly possessions in the name of the doctor who had taken care of him. Spawn then proceeds to attack Mammon, and ask what Mammon wanted from him. Mammon then says that he wants nothing from Spawn, saying that Spawn had lost everything that made him special, only wanting Spawn to accept that it is his time. It is then revealed that Mammon had been using Erskine's powers to project a psychic projection of himself, and he was actually in another location. As the psychic projection melts away, Spawn is left kneeling, accepting the belief that whatever he tries to do goes wrong, that he is no longer needed by the world.

Dead Man Walking

The story then shifts to a mortuary. The story begins to be told in first person by an amnesiac vampire know as Severin. Severin awakes, from what is thought to have been his death, and finds himself in a mortuary lying on a table. He is not alone as two doctors are examining a body close by. Once the doctors discover that Severin is alive they flee in terror only to be killed by Morana (the robed associate of Mammon). With Morana's help, Severin begins to remember his past and discovers he is one of the Vrykolakas, the first of the vampires.

Morana seeks Severin's assistance and promises to end Severin's life if he agrees to help. Morana takes Severin to Spawn's warehouse where Spawn and Nyx try to explain to Marc about his brother's current situation. Morana explains that Severin must infect the Hellspawn with his curse. Severin must bite Spawn. Severin emerges and easily defeats Marc and Nyx before infecting Spawn with the vampiric curse.

Severin and Morana escape to the rooftops where Severin receives his reward, death. However, Severin has been tricked. Severin desires death but was instead given an inescapable hellish experience; Severin must relive the moments leading up to his infecting of the Hellspawn for all eternity.

Spawn: Endgame

Cyan, the daughter of Wanda Blake and Terry Fitzgerald is having terrible visions. Her visions seem to be targeted mostly at her mother. Cyan sees her mother covered in blood every time they see each other. She envisions the pain that her savior, Spawn, is suffering through. Her visions are confirmed to be true.

Spawn, having been infected by the vampire Severin, struggles with his symbiotic costume inside his own conscience while Nyx and Marc stand by unable to help in any way. The costume insists that although Spawn is the host, the costume has always been in control of the Hellspawn's powers. The costume is angered by Spawn's actions, namely deciding to throw away the powers of a god. The costume begins fighting with Spawn, now returned to his Al Simmons form. The costume tries to convince Simmons that his wife Wanda Blake had betrayed him while they were married. The costume insists that Wanda decided not to have Simmons' child because she hated Simmons. The costume continues to taunt Simmons bringing up Wanda's marriage to Simmons' best friend Terry Fitzgerald. Eventually, Simmons' accepts what the costume has been saying and returns to consciousness.

The setting shifts to Mammon's residence where it is revealed that Mammon was guiding Spawn's costume into turning against him. Mammon is accompanied by Morana and Morana's foster parents Lucian and Daciana, leaders of the original vampires. Mammon orders Morana to prepare himself for what he must do next, which is unknown at this point.

The scene shifts back to Cyan's bedroom. There her visions tell her that something terrible is about to occur. For the first time in the story she is afraid of Spawn, fearing his return will be to murder someone close to her. Cyan stands, approaches her closet door (which is covered with blood), she opens the door and finds Spawn standing before her. Cyan looks at him and asks, "You're going to kill my mom aren't you?"

Forewarned by Granny Blake, Cyan plunges a knife wrapped with the shoelace once bound to Spawn face into him. The knife, mystically charged, is able to rip a wound into the symbiotic entity, plunging Simmons in a delusional world, based on his memories with Wanda, to settle his unresolved issues with her in a more peaceful manner.

They are transported into a boat in a lake, similar to the location where Al Simmons and Wanda Blake once had a boat ride together. Spawn talks with Wanda, stating that he wished to move on, but couldn't due to their connection and what he had done. Wanda asks if Spawn could move on if she forgave him for the the miscarriage of their child to which Spawn responds to do it. But Wanda states that she couldn't forgive him, but also that if anything of her late husband is within him, that she loves him. Spawn, contemplating what to do, feels the pain of the knife that Cyan had stabbed on his chest and attempts to extract it, but upon doing so finds hanging form the shoelace,his wedding ring, the symbol of his bond with Wanda. Spawn, Al Simmons is then able to reject his costume and bring the boat to the side of the lake, finding that both Cyan and Nyx were able to follow them into that location. But upon getting on shore the symbiote resurfaces and attacks Nyx.

The symbiote is revealed as retaining its sentience and independence, and to have always worked for Mammon, offering full collaboration to his efforts to breed a perfect Hellspawn in exchange for being free to roam the Earth. Since Al Simmons is no longer needed, K7 Leetha merges with Nyx, in retailation for its past enslavement, gaining full control over Nyx's actions and torturing her by imposing its will on hers. The symbiote attempts to kill Wanda and Cyan, but Mammon stops it by promising to bestow it with new powers and a new host if it keeps obeying. Mammon then leads the whole party, now formed by the new She-Spawn, Al Simmons in a human, unscarred, body, Wanda and Cyan, to a distant castle. He then unveils how Wanda and Al were part of a master plan to breed the perfect Hellspawn, thus connecting Al Simmons to all previous Hellspawns, coming from Al and Wanda's bloodlines, and the Armageddon was simply a convenient way to put Malebolgia, God and Satan out of the picture, paving the way for his rule over the Universe.

On the way to the castle Mammon reveals that Al Simmons has now outlived his usefulness, as a new, better host is already prepared to take his place, loyal to his plans and more powerful than Al Simmons ever was. The host is finally unveiled to Wanda and Al Simmons as Morana, their miscarried child, stolen by Mammon the day in which Al Simmons brought Wanda to the hospital after beating her.

Morana, now a full grown woman, waits in the castle, bathing in the blood of virgin youths as a part of her coming of age rite. After that, Morana is restored to her human self, ready to meet her parents for the first time. Renouncing them as she claims they've abandoned her, she takes over the K7 symbiote from Nyx and plans to feed over Wanda's and Al's souls.

Since Nyx is powerless, and the Mother of Miracles is away from the earthly plane for ten thousand years, Cyan is pressured by Granma Blake's apparition to push her precognitive powers to the limits, where she meets an old woman writing down a book in a dilapidated house. Ready to die, yet willing to help Cyan in her role, she gives Cyan a message for Spawn.

Returned to Limbo, Cyan pressures Spawn into calling down the Legion, or at least the still living souls of it, numbering a mere dozen. Even if Christopher claims that this new incarnation of the Legion is made by the strongest members, stronger even than the Hellspawn, Cyan shares with Nyx how her plan actually involves the Legion being soundly defeated by Morana.

As the Legion fight Morana the old woman from Cyan's vision writes in her book. She writes that Cyan will be wracked with guilt by setting the Legion against Morana who will inevitably destroy them. The Legion are torn apart one after another. First the elder zombie hunter Spawn, then his granddaughter, then the other Spawn until Christopher is the only member of the Legion left. Spawn, Al, feels the pain the Legion is suffering and attacks Mammon when he begins to taunt Wanda. Morana defends Mammon and prepares to kill Al. Al pleads with Christopher to flee with his life. Christopher explains that he is not afraid of death because there is another afterlife between Heaven and Hell where souls can truly be at peace. Christopher is obliterated by Morana as he asks Al to die with them and be at peace.

Morana, after killing the Legion, begins to kill her own servants to sate her maniacal bloodlust. Mammon taunts Al by stating that the one thing that could have made Al and Wanda forever happy was a child, which Al tried to murder.

Cyan tells Nyx to attack Morana, who is weak due to her battle with the Legion. Cyan explains that the old woman from her vision said that Nyx would be able to conjure a binding spell that would trap Mammon and Morana in Limbo. She goes on to say that Nyx would teach the spell to the old woman who taught the spell to Cyan. Nyx calls upon all of her power and binds Morana and Mammon with a powerful spell. Cyan and Nyx are preparing to leave when Morana begins to ask Wanda to save her. Al, who feels no love or connection to Morana, convinces Wanda to leave Morana behind. While Cyan, Nyx, and Wanda prepare to leave, Al stays behind to put an end to all this madness that has been controlling him his entire life. Wanda reaches out for Al and tells him she loves him and the two say their farewells.

With the women gone, Al gathers his strength and journeys to the place of his "birth." Al plunges into another realm, carpeted with the faces of forgotten souls. Hell.

The old woman narrates once again. She tells of what is to come next. She writes that both Heaven AND Hell fell before the wrath of Al Simmons. She finishes her book acknowledging the coming of Spawn's revenge. As the old woman finishes the book's final sentence she signs her name, Cyan Blake.

Powers and Abilities

Spawn's body is quite dense, weighing over five hundred pounds (226 kg), and is composed completely of necroplasm. This gives him superhuman strength and durability. While he still has internal organs, they are non-functional, and their damage/destruction does not hinder Spawn in the least. These organs re-appear when he magically regenerates his wounds. This may be due to Spawn's inability to let go of his human self, retaining his human organs even though he no longer requires them.

Spawn wears a living symbiotic costume, Leetha of the 7th House of K (aka: K7-Leetha). While wearing it, the host assumes a dominant role over his suit. His cape, spikes, chains, and skulls are all part of an organism bonded to his central nervous system that will protect Spawn even if he is unconscious.

The true source of the costume is the necroplasm in Spawn's body, from which it feeds. It is possible for Spawn to draw this energy back when he needs it, using it to power his abilities without draining his own reserves. The costume can also feed off evil energy from the physical world, feeding off the ambient evil of people, animals (mainly carrion insects, but also wolves and bats) and even certain parts of the city. A part of his physical powers actually comes from his suit, because of its connection to his nervous system, Simmons is able to use it in a shapeshifting manner, including the manifestation of spikes, armor plating, or transforming the cape into a battle axe. The cape itself is an effective offensive weapon able to strike in battle with its extreme preciseness, severing limbs, and/or disarm enemies.

Spawn has vast magical powers. Spawn has a limited power supply whose quantity would be shown to the reader in the form of a counter that began at 9:9:9:9. Each time Spawn used his energy, the counter drains. Consequently, Simmons relies primarily on his costume's natural abilities or weapons rather than the magical abilities in combat. Though the power source is finite, Spawn's biggest limitation is imagination. Simmons uses this ability in various ways, including resurrecting the dead, firing blasts of necroplasmic energy, teleportation, shapeshifting, flight, and curing the sick. Simmons powers briefly becomes omnipotent, after he eats fruit from the Tree of Life.

Spawn is practically immortal unless beheaded by a weapon of heaven. He is also rendered powerless (and therefore mortal) in a patch of alley known as "The Deadzone": a small patch of Earth that is Heaven's domain and in the ethereal realm of the "Greenworld."

Following the Armageddon storyline, Spawn's power level has decreased, deriving most of the power he has left from his symbiotic suit.

Simmons is a highly trained soldier proficient in both armed and unarmed combat. Spawn's training is to the extent that he chooses to use firearms over his magical abilities.

Spawn has an ability to "feel" or "sense" misery, pain and hatred as a gift/punishment given to him by The Keeper, an agent of the Emerald Parliament of Greenworld. He is aware, even subconsciously when someone is attacked or murdered because he has gained a further affinity with the creatures of the night and shadows and through them experiences the anguish of all mankind.

Spawn contains an unknown quantity of lost souls who can share his Hellspawn abilities, collectively known as Legion. Detective Twitch theorized that the souls that Spawn carries are those that died during the same hour that Al Simmons was killed, and that there could be as many as 6,000 souls within him. The power from these souls rendered Spawn uncontrollable by Malebolgia, and after the souls move to a higher plane, Simmons retains their knowledge and experiences. Spawn can also cause these souls to manifest themselves physically as Hellspawn, allowing them to appear and aid him in combat wherever he is. The Armageddon ordeal grossly reduced the effective force of the Legion from 6000 souls to a mere dozen: however, since the souls left are the strongest and most tempered to battle, the strike impact of the force didn't change so much.

Publication history

Popularity

Spawn enjoyed considerable popularity upon its initial release in the 1990s, which was a notable feat for a non-DC and non-Marvel character. Indeed, McFarlane stated repeatedly that his goal was for the character to become as well known as Superman and Spider-Man. Comic-book collecting was enjoying a marked upswing at the time, fueled by the speculator boom looking for the next hot book that would jump in value after its release. McFarlane had also already enjoyed superstar status among comic fans with his work on Spider-Man, which had featured McFarlane's name prominently as both writer and artist. McFarlane's subsequent break with Marvel and the formation of Image Comics was seen by many as a sea-change event, changing the very way in which comics were produced. Wizard Magazine, on May 2008, rated The Launch of Image Comics as no: 1 in the list of events that rocked the Comic Industry from 1991 to 2008

The first issue of Spawn was very popular with sales of 1.7 million copies , however, popularity has faded over time. A recent issue, Spawn #174, ranked 99 out of 300 with preorder sales of only 22,667. The popularity of the franchise peaked with the 1997 Spawn feature film, which was only a mild commercial success and failed to start a film franchise based on the character. Although a sequel is lined up (co-written by creator Todd McFarlane himself), it is still in development at McFarlane's camp.

Most recently, the hype around Spawn #150 allowed the issue to sell-out quickly as a new creative team was brought on board and fan interest in the book has again picked up.

South African releases

They were originally published by a South African publisher named Battle Axe Press in the early 90s. Only the first 10 issues got published due to legal matters. The comic book prints got released on standard paper as opposed to the original glossy paper from Image comics.

Spinoffs and crossovers

Angela miniseries
In 1994 and 1995, a three-issue Angela limited series was published, written by Gaiman and illustrated by Greg Capullo. The series along with Angela's one-shot were later reprinted in a trade paperback (ISBN 1-887279-09-1), which, as of 2005, is out-of-print.Spawn: Blood Feud
Spawn mini-series during 1995, issues 1-4. Written by Alan Moore. Drawn by Tony Daniel. Ink by Kevin Conrad. Spawn The Impaler
Three-issue mini-series released in October 1996, inspired by the story of the Wallacian voivode Vlad Ţepeş. Written by Mike Grell with art by Rob Prior.Spawn: The Dark Ages
This series focused on Lord Covenant, a 12th Century knight killed in a holy crusade far from his homeland, who returns to Earth as a Hellspawn. As a plague of violence and turmoil cover the English countryside, the Dark Knight must choose whether to align himself with the innocent inhabitants of the once-thriving kingdom or with the malevolent forces of evil and corruption. The series ran for 28 issues.Curse of the Spawn
Tales of other Hellspawn and Spawniverse characters, including Sam & Twitch, Angela, Jessica Priest and Antonio Twistelli.Spawn: Blood and Salvation
A prestige-format one shot that concludes the story of Daniel Llanso, the Hellspawn featured in the first four issues of Curse of the Spawn.Hellspawn
A relatively avant-garde spin-off comic inspired by Spawn. Darker and more atmospheric than Spawn, Hellspawn frequently dealt with disturbing subject matter. It originally featured writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Ashley Wood.Spawn: Blood and Shadows
A Spawn prestige-format one shot released in 1999. Written by Paul Jenkins with art by Ashley Wood.Sam & Twitch + Case Files: Sam & Twitch
A spin-off series following the crime investigations of detectives Sam Burke and Twitch Williams. Sam and Twitch ended in 2003 after 26 issues, to be followed by Case Files.Spawn: The Undead
This series concentrates on the Al Simmons. Unlike the original Spawn series, it was self-contained, single-issue stories. Written by Paul Jenkins and lasted 9 issues.Spawn: Godslayer
Originally a prestige format one-shot, Godslayer became an ongoing series.Spawn: Simony
Published in 2003 by Semic of France, Todd allowed the creators (Jean-François Porcherot and Alex Nikolavitch) to create an Spawn : Simonie without using Image comics.Shadows of Spawn
Recently released on American shores are three graphic novel compilations of the Spawn manga, known as Shadows of Spawn.Spawn: Architects of Fear
A prestige format one-shot released in February 2008. Written by Arthur Claire with artwork by Aleksi Briclot.The Adventures of Spawn

At the San Diego Comic Con (SDCC) '06 it was announced that a new take on the Spawn mythos was in the works. This new Spawn story is known as The Adventures of Spawn and as stated by Jon Goff, a moderator on the Spawn.com Message Board and McFarlane employee, it is a re-imagining of the Spawn story that is essentially a "What If?" universe that hearkens back to classic kid-friendly Saturday morning cartoons. The story takes place in a webcomic format and has been tied into the action-figure world through McFarlane Toys' Spawn Series 30.Crossovers
*Spawn has appeared in crossover storylines involving Batman, Witchblade, Wildcats, Youngblood, Savage Dragon, Cerebus, The Ant, and Shadowhawk.
*Angela has also been featured in several crossovers. The "Rage of Angels" miniseries saw Angela meeting Glory in Angela and Glory (1996), and was continued in Youngblood #6 (1996) and Team Youngblood #21. There was also a crossover Aria/Angela, featuring Angela in the Aria comic series.
*Clown/Violator was also part of a Violator/Badrock crossover miniseries.
*Spawn also appeared in one panel in Archie Comics' Sonic Super Special #7, mistaking Sonic and Knuckles for kids in costumes.
* Spawn appeared in the Xbox version of the fighting game Soul Calibur II.

Legal disputes

Dispute with Neil Gaiman In 1993, McFarlane contracted Neil Gaiman to write Spawn #9. While doing so, Gaiman introduced the characters Cogliostro, Angela, and Medieval Spawn. All three characters continued to be featured prominently in the series after Gaiman's involvement, and had many tie-ins with McFarlane's toy company. Cogliostro had a prominent role in the live-action movie in 1997. McFarlane had agreed that Gaiman was a co-creator of the characters and paid him royalties for reprints, graphic novels and action figures. After a few years he ceased the payment of royalties and gave Gaiman notice that he owned all rights to the characters, citing the copyright notice from #9 and claimed that Gaiman's work had been work-for-hire and that McFarlane was the sole owner.

In 2002, Gaiman filed suit against McFarlane and in response Todd counter-sued. Gaiman had partnered with Marvel Comics to form Marvels and Miracles, LLC which bankrolled the lawsuit. The main goal was to determine the issue of ownership for another character Gaiman felt he had a stake in, Miracleman, which at the time McFarlane was believed to hold a sizeable stake in after his buyout of the assets of Eclipse Comics. This issue was thrown out. Instead the court chose to rule on the breach of contract issue, the rights of ownership and the copyrightability of the characters from Spawn #9. Several arguments were presented by McFarlane and all were rejected, leading to a sizable judgment against McFarlane and Image Comics. The matter went to appeal and the judgment was upheld in a 2003 decision.

Gaiman's rights as co-creator and co-owner of Cogliostro, Angela, and Medieval Spawn were acknowledged. The court's view was that Gaiman and McFarlane's collaboration led to each contributing half of the work. Gaiman wrote the story, McFarlane illustrated the character and because of this each held a 50% stake in the characters. The fallout of this lawsuit is still unclear and the issue of Miracleman is yet to be resolved. In a recent reprint collection of the first twelve issues of Spawn, the contentious issue (along with Dave Sim's #10, featuring copyrighted character Cerebus) was excluded.Tony Twist suit Todd McFarlane created a mob enforcer character named "Antonio 'Tony Twist' Twistelli," who McFarlane acknowledged was named after hockey-player Tony Twist. Twist won a $15 million verdict in 2004 when a St. Louis, Missouri jury found Todd McFarlane Productions had profited from Twist's likeness. The verdict was upheld after two appeals in June 2006.

Creative teams

Writers

Artists

Guest writers

Guest artists

Collected editions

Many issues of Spawn have been gathered together in various trade paperbacks. Collections since the mid-nineties. The original US and UK trade releases contain Issue 9, but not 10 (Cerebus' appearance).

US Releases

Each containing four to five issues, the original Spawn trade paperbacks started in 1995 under a different trade cover design. After the live-action 1997 movie, a new trade cover design was created, where Brent Ashe provided new covers for Books 1-7, and Ashley Wood for Books 8-12. All of these books were retitled with subtitles for later printings. The trades stopped after Book 12, but several new collections appeared in 2006-2007 that bring together writer David Hine's run, particularly the entire "Armageddon" storyline. The various United States Spawn collections are as follows, with included issues.

  • Book 1, "Beginnings", 1-5
  • Book 2, "Dark Discoveries", 6-9, 11
  • Book 3, "Book 3", 12-15
  • Book 4, "Book 4", 16-20
  • Book 5, "Death and Rebirth", 21-25
  • Book 6, "Pathway to Judgement", 26-30
  • Book 7, "Deadman's Touch", 31-34
  • Book 8, "Betrayal of Blood", 35-38
  • Book 9, "Urban Jungle", 39-42
  • Book 10, "Vengeance of the Dead", 43-47
  • Book 11, "Crossroads", 48-50 (50 is double-sized)
  • Book 12, "Immortality", 51-54
  • Spawn: The Armageddon Collection Part 1 - contains issues 150-155
  • Spawn: The Armageddon Collection Part 2 - contains issues 156-163 (issue #164 should have been included)
  • Spawn: The Complete Armageddon Collection - contains issues 150-163 (does include Issue #164, the finale of the Al Loves Wanda story arc)
  • Spawn: New Flesh Collection - contains issues 166-169 (note: Issue #165 wasn't included because it features the story of Mandarin Spawn)

Spawn Collection

In 2005 the entire Spawn series began to appear in massive trade paperback releases containing (with the exception of Volume 1) approximately twenty issues each. These began after the Gaiman lawsuit, and therefore do not contain either Issues 9 (featuring the 1st appearance of Angela and Cogliostro, both created by Neil Gaiman) or Issue 10 (featuring Dave Sim's Cerebus).

  • Spawn Collection Volume 1 - contains issues 1-8, 11-12
  • Spawn Collection Volume 2 - contains issues 13-33
  • Spawn Collection Volume 3 - contains issues 34-54
  • Spawn Collection Volume 4 - contains issues 55-75
  • Spawn Collection Volume 5 - contains issues 76-95
  • Spawn Collection Volume 6 - contains issues 96-116

Spawn Collection Volume 1 was ranked 17 in the top 100 graphic novels for December 2005 period, with pre-order sales of 3,227.

UK releases

These releases were originally published in fifteen 5-6-issue volumes in the UK by Titan Books, with titles named by religious theme. The following books contained original series issues 1-82, with the exception of the previously mentioned Issue 10.

  • "Creation" - contains issues 1-5
  • "Evolution" - contains issues 6-9 and 11
  • "Revelation" - contains issues 12-15
  • "Escalation" - contains issues 16-20
  • "Confrontation" - contains issues 21-25
  • "Retribution" - contains issues 26-30
  • "Transformation" - contains issues 31-36
  • "Abduction" - contains issues 37-42
  • "Sanction" - contains issues 43-48
  • "Damnation" - contains issues 49-53
  • "Corruption" - contains issues 54-58
  • "Devastation" - contains issues 59-64
  • "Termination" - contains issues 65-70
  • "Resurrection" - contains issues 71-76
  • "Ascension" - contains issues 77-82

Spin off Trade Paperback Collections

  • "Angela" - contains Neil Gaiman's "Angela" issues 1-3 and the 2005 one-shot.
  • "Spawn: The Undead" - collects "Spawn: The Undead' issues 1-9
  • "Spawn: Godslayer Collection 1" - collects "Spawn: Godslayer" 1-6
  • "Sam & Twitch Book 1: Udaku" - collects 1-8 of the "Sam and Twitch" spin off.
  • "Sam & Twitch: The Brian Michael Bendis Collection 1" - collects issues 1-9
  • "Sam & Twitch: The Brian Michael Bendis Collection 2" - collects issues 10-19

Curse of the Spawn

  • "Curse of the Spawn: Book 1: Sacrifice of the Soul" - issues 1-4
  • "Curse of the Spawn: Book 2: Blood and Sutures" - issues 5-8
  • "Curse of the Spawn: Book 3: Shades of Grey" - issues 9-11, 29
  • "Curse of the Spawn: Book 4: Lost Values" - issues 12-14, 22
  • "The Best of Curse of the Spawn" - contains issues 1-8, 12-16 and 20-29

Appearances in other media

Television

  • Spawn made his animated debut in the critically acclaimed HBO miniseries Todd McFarlane's Spawn where Spawn is voiced by Keith David. The series won two Emmys (one in 1998 and another in 1999) and two Golden Reel Awards (1998/1999). A new animated series, unrelated to the first, is currently in the works.
  • Spawn appeared in the "Robot Chicken" episode "Celebutard Mountain" voiced by Adam Talbot.
  • In one episode of The Powerpuff Girls, the main characters appear as super-heroines that parody different comic-book characters. Buttercup appears in a likeness of Spawn, the character being known as "Spore" in their universe. Her appearance is dark with a large cape and green eyes, and she gives herself the name "Mange". Even a parody of Malebolgia appears, giving her powers.
  • Spawn appeared in a South Park episode "Imaginationland Episode III." He was amongst the good characters fighting against the bad characters.
  • A villain who appeared in the new Kids WB! show "World of Quest" named General Ogun oddly looks a whole lot like Spawn.

Movies

Video games

Spawn has starred in several video games:

Merchandising

  • At the time of the release of the live action movie Spawn made several commercials for Taco Bell.
  • In "Yu-Gi-Oh!", the monster "Zombyra The Dark" is based on Spawn.
  • In "Yu-Gi-Oh GX", the monster "Elemental Hero Necroshade" bears a striking resemblance to, and is proven to be based on, Spawn.
  • In "Yu-Gi-Oh GX", the monster "Destiny Hero Doom Lord" is based on Spawn.

Music

  • The Dark Saga by Iced Earth is a concept album based upon the Spawn story. The cover of the album, by Greg Capullo and Todd McFarlane, depicts Spawn himself, though due to legal issues, Iced Earth could not use the names of the characters in the songs.

See also

References

External links

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