Spawn is one of the biggest independent characters in comic book history, and he embodies the spirit of the creator-owned revolution in the '90s. After Todd McFarlane's hellish hero kicked off the Image Comics era, he appeared in a live-action movie, an animated series, and several video games.
Along with Savage Dragon, Spawn is the only founding book from Image Comics still published regularly. While Spawn has a new movie and TV shows in development, Spawn reaches its milestone 300th issue, which will set it up to become the longest-running independent comic series ever. Now, we're taking a look back at how Spawn went from his devilish beginnings to this landmark issue.
WHO IS SPAWN?
The story of Spawn begins with Colonel Al Simmons, who is supposedly killed in the line of duty. Wishing to see his beloved wife one more time, he unwittingly makes a deal with the demonic Malebolgia and is brought back as a Hellspawn, part of a long line of not-quite-undead soldiers in Hell's army. Though his newfound power is great, using it up completely will result in his true death, which would make him Malebolgia's slave forever.
Initially amnesiac, Spawn comes to remember his name and the reason for his return. He also finds out that his wife Wanda has remarried to his best friend Terry, and had a child with him. Anguishing over his lost life, Spawn broods about the alleyways of New York. There, he begrudgingly defends the city's homeless, befriending souls easily as lost as his own.
Spawn also does battle with criminals like the child killer Billy Kincaid, the local Mafia, and cyborg hitman Overtkill. Simmons eventually discovers that his former boss Jason Wynn had him killed, with Rob Liefeld's Chapel and later assassin Jessica Priest being responsible for pulling the trigger.
Simmons also encounters the mysterious Cogliostro, who knew much more then he let on about Spawn's nature. He would go on to face threats from both Heaven and Hell. These included Clown, who could transform into the demonic Violator, and the Hellspawn-hunting angel Angela, who would eventually be owned by Marvel after a complex series of legal proceedings. Spawn would also learn that his costume was a symbiotic creature named K7-Leetha, and that the various chains and spikes that adorned him were part of it.
HELL AND BACK
After a series of encounters meant to jumpstart Armageddon, Spawn and Angela take the fight to Malebolgia in Hell. A wounded Malebolgia kills Angela, causing Spawn to behead him in response. With his greatest enemy gone, Spawn is tempted to become the ruler of Hell by the demon Mammon. After his doing so, Cogliostro reveals the he is the Biblical Cain. Having manipulated Spawn all along to rule Hell himself, Cogliostro ousts his former ally but gives him his human form back.
The resulting storyline involves Simmons attempting to stave off Armageddon again. This time, the End of Days has been initiated by the twins birthed by Wanda, who are actually the embodiments of God and Satan. After a series of deaths, Simmons comes back again and, with power given to him by a figure called The Mother, essentially reboots the world. Though evil such as Mammon still exists in this new world, God and Satan are locked out from direct control of Earth.
Even in this seemingly restarted world, Al Simmons is still denied his happy ending with Wanda. This eventually leads to his shooting himself in the head in an empty alleyway. Meanwhile, an amnesiac man named Jim Downing awakens in a hospital, quickly becoming targeted by seemingly demonic entities. Jim becomes the new Spawn after Wanda reveals that he's the form that Al took when he first came back.
Downing becomes embroiled in conflicts with the mob and a group of vampires led by returning Spawn villain Bludd. Jim would also come into conflict with the K7-Leetha symbiote itself, which bit his arm off. Afterwards, both would be swallowed up into a void, signifying the end of Downing's time as the protagonist.
Resurrection and the Road to Spawn #300
Al Simmons would eventually be brought back in Spawn: Resurrection. Discovering that Wanda had died in a violent riot, Simmons attempts to save her soul from being trapped in hell. This series also retconned some of its more controversial elements, including Al Simmons' supposed physical abuse of Wanda in the past, and God/Satan being portrayed more in line with Biblical interpretations. After Wanda's soul was eventually taken to Heaven, Spawn continued to fight on Earth in her memory.
Recently, Spawn has revealed to the world at large that he is the supposedly dead Al Simmons. Reaching out to media outlets, Simmons aims to alert humanity of the human, angelic, and demonic forces manipulating them. Both Heaven and Hell conspire together against Simmons, who has removed their finances and anonymity on Earth. Spawn tries to find out more about how Wanda was killed, all the while protecting his new reporter ally Marc Rosen.
While Spawn #300 and Spawn #301 will contain the last two parts of this story, the second of those two issues will officially make Spawn the longest-running creator-owned comic book series will make it the longest running independent comic of all time.
Spawn #300 goes on sale Sept. 4 from Image Comics.