As an avid reader of both DC and Marvel comics there tend to be some smaller comic companies that get lost in the bluster of weekly issues and mega blockbuster movies, one of these such companies is Image Comics. Image Comics was founded in 1992 by several freelance artists who worked for both DC and Marvel drawing comics as needed, one such artist was Todd McFarlane. Todd had just come off an amazing run at Spider-Man and was one of the eight founders of Image Comics.
When McFarlane moved to Image, he decided to create an all new character that he could call his own and has become one of the flagship properties of Image Comics, Spawn. Spawn has received 1 major motion picture starring Michael Jai White as the titular hero, as well as a very successful HBO cartoon series with Keith David delivering his voice to the main character. Spawn has also had several cross overs with many different heroes most notably Batman. Spawn has quite the extensive back story and has had quite a large fan base since his first issue rolled out in May of 1992.
Spawn is the alter-ego of Albert Francis “Al” Simmons, a retired Force Recon marine and assassin. After saving the President from an assassination he was recruited into the CIA to conduct black ops missions and assassinations. Through an extensive career Simmons wracked up a considerable kill count, not all of which were intended targets. There were quite a few collateral damage kills which weighed on his conscience and caused him to question the morality of the agency he worked for. Jason Wynn who was the individual who oversaw the missions Simmons was conducting noticed his lack of devotion to the agency and hired his friend and partner Bruce Stinson (aka Chapel) to kill Simmons. In what can only be dubbed as a “blazing inferno” Chapel killed Simmons, and Al’s soul was sent to hell. Simmons was cast at the feet of the demon known as Malebolgia, where he sold his soul so that he could see Wanda again. Malebolgia accepted his offer and returned him to Earth. In the time between when Al was killed and resurrected, five years had passed. When he awoke on Earth he was a deformed demonic creature (a Hellspawn) with very few memories of his past life. When he finally regained his memories he sought out Wanda. When he found her he discovered Wanda had moved on with her life, marrying his best friend Terry Fitzgerald and they had a daughter named Cyan. After this the Violator shows up and taunts Spawn. The two of them fight but their battle is interrupted by Malebolgia. Spawn takes to “Rat City” a series of alleys were bums and homeless live and quickly becomes their protector and eventual king. It’s in Rat City where he meets Cogliostro (a former Hellspawn) who becomes his mentor. Spawn becomes a brutal anti-hero and warrior for the people of Rat City, he solidifies his dark anti-hero status when he brutally murders a pedophile and child murderer named Billy Kincaid.
Powers and Abilities
Al Simmons is an Olympic level athlete, fluent in 10 languages, expert with fire arms, and master of 13 known martial arts.
Spawn is bonded with a symbiotic suit called Leetha of the 7th House of K (K7-Leetha). The suit is bonded to his central nervous system and will defend him even while he is unconscious.
This is where it gets a little weird so bear with me…
So Spawn is just one of a long lineage of Hellspawn. Hellspawn are officer’s in Hell’s army and double as hit-men for the supreme demon Malebolgia. Each Hellspawn is given a certain amount of Necroplasm (the green goo from the comics). The Necroplasm is used when the Hellspawn uses it to regenerate wounds, create constructs out of his cape, create his chains and spikes, etc.
Al Simmons weighs roughly 450 lbs as Spawn and almost all of his body is composed of Necroplasm. The true power of the suit is taken from the necroplasm that composes of Al’s body, though he can take it back to power constructs he needs in battle. His suit can also feed on the evil energy from the physical world. This included the ambient evil of people, insects, animals and even some areas of cities like Detroit, New York and LA. The Suit itself can be changed based on the task at hand. It can manifest spikes, armour plating, or even change his shroud (cape) into an offensive weapon such as a battle axe or sword. The shroud itself is a very capable offensive weapon able to strike quickly in combat and has been known to sever limbs and generate various hooks and blades as needed.
Spawn also has vast magical powers. These powers are related to the necroplasm level the Hellspawn currently possesses and is presented to the reader by a gauge that read 9:9:9:9 when the comic started. Each time Spawn uses some of his energy this counter will drain. Because of this Spawn relies on his suit as well as physical weapons such as firearms in combat rather than magic. The limit of Spawns magical abilities is much like the Green Lantern from DC comics, it is basically limited by the user’s imagination. These are some of the powers he has exhibited throughout his publication: resurrecting the dead, firing blasts of necroplasm energy, teleportation, firebreathing, transmutation, elemental manipulation, shapeshifting, flight, animal communication, mind reading, invisibility, portal creation, time manipulation, soul manipulation, reality warping, regeneration, curing the sick, and feeding off the evil energy of others to restore his necroplasm counter and strength.
The only way to kill Spawn is by beheading or similar trauma to the head (ex. gunshot). Spawn also loses his power in a small patch of alley called “The Dead’s Zone” which is an extension of Heaven’s domain.
Malebolgia released a very powerful God named Urizen to wage war on Heaven and conquer their domain. Spawn used power obtained in the Greenworld ( a place that’s power is equal to that of Heaven and Hell) to stop Urizen and swallow him imprisoning him. Spawn teamed up with Angela a warrior of Heaven; and took the fight to Malebolgia in Hell once Spawn discovered Malebolgia was behind the whole thing. After mortally wounding Malebolgia in their battle Angela was cut down. Enraged at the death of Angela, Spawn took Malebolgia’s head. Upon killing Malebolgia Spawn is informed by a demon named Mammon, that Hell’s throne is now his.
When Spawn was cast down and killed and then resurrected (a never ending cycle apparently?) he awoke to find Armageddon was beginning. He was informed by the Mother (an omnipotent being and mother God and Satan) that Spawn could not stop Armageddon but could ascend to Godhood and preserve the Human race. In order to do so Spawn must defeat the 12 Disciples (Guardians of Heaven’s domain against the Hellspawn) and eat fruit from the forbidden garden. With the help of Cyan he is able to defeat all the Disciples but the last and most powerful (Judas). Spawn is stabbed in the heart by Judas and the mother resurrects him and presents him with fruit from the garden. Spawn returns to the Earth with his new immense power to discover the world is ravaged by the 4 horsemen and humanity is dead. Spawn fights the armies of both Heaven and Hell alone and vanquishes them, when God and Satan turn their attention to him he is slain and the two of them continue their battle. Spawn is resurrected by the mother and he resurrects everyone on the planet with their memories of what happened intact. He banished Satan and God to fight on their own little world where they couldn’t harm anyone and shut the doors of Heaven, Hell and Earth.
Spawn is quite an extensive character with many similarities to other properties from DC and Marvel such as Ghost Rider and El Diablo. The thing that makes spawn so different is that his story is tragic, he fights because it’s all he’s ever known and because he is compelled to do it. Spawn relies heavily on Christian mythology as well and mysticism to deliver a compelling story about a man trapped within his own destiny. Image comics has had several successful titles since their founding like: Savage Dragon, Witchblade, The Darkness and the Walking Dead; but very few people know of this company and the great stories they put out. Regardless of what comic series they put out, Spawn will always be their best contribution to the comic community.