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