Once a lieutenant colonel in the Marines Corps, as well as an ex-CIA operative, Al Simmons was a human with a dangerous set of skills. He traveled the world far from his wife Wanda on missions for Jason Wynn, who commanded the top secret US Security Group. As part of this covert operation, Simmons was an elite soldier responsible for a large hit list. While on a mission to Botswana, Simmons was betrayed and terminated by his employer, and sent to Hell as punishment for his life of violence. Once there, he made a deal with the demon Malebolgia so that he might see his wife one last time. In exchange for his services as a Hellspawn for eternity, he could return to Earth, but only as a battered body. Horrified at his appearance, he took the shape of his wife’s new husband so that she wouldn’t recoil at his presence. Ultimately, he knew he didn’t belong among the living anymore, and assumed the role of Spawn.
Spawn’s story of vengeance and one man’s desperate quest for humanity amidst the flames of Hellfire has captured comic book readers’ imagination for decades. His near infinite powers may derive from Hell, but he uses them with a Divine sense of justice as he lurks in the alleys of Rat City. While most may know he can shoot necroplasm beams out of his eyes and shapeshift, they may not be aware that he has the power of telepathy, can resurrect those who have passed, and even stop time!
20 HE CAN ALTER HIS DENSITY
Most of the time, Spawn is sitting pretty at 450 pounds, which seems like a lot even for a creature from Hell. Necroplasm (which his body is made of) is heavy stuff, and it uses up a lot of energy. But it also gives Spawn the ability to alter his density, manipulating his 450 pounds into ten times as much.
Why might that be advantageous? Aside from making his left hook feel like the blow from a sledge hammer, or his side kick feel like a hit from a mack truck, it helps him become immovable. Spawn has been known to stop moving vehicles by simply firmly planting his feet and letting them crash into him.
19 HE’S MADE ENTIRELY FROM NECROPLASM
Necroplasm is the magic goo that binds Spawn and the Hellsphere together. A phosphorescent green glue, it originated from psychoplasm, the material which Hell is composed of in the Spawn Universe. The Grand-Mal Demon of the 8th Dimension of Hell created it, and the demon minion he created in his own image killed him for its reserves.
All Hellspawn are composed of it, and it is the only way that a being from the Hell dimension can manifest themselves in the mortal world. Spawn’s suit is necroplasmic based and works with the necroplasm of his body, creating a powerful symbiotic relationship that allows him to manipulate himself into all sorts of deadly weapons.
18 HIS INTERNAL ORGANS CAN BE DESTROYED
Spawn, like his once human self Al Simmons, has internal organs. In a very close encounter with the demon Violator, he famously had his heart ripped taken out in a scene right out of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Yet even after having his life force torn from his chest, he treated it like a crumb had been brushed off his shoulder.
Every one of his internal organs could be destroyed, and yet Spawn would live. So what exactly is the point of having internal organs if you’re a Hellspawn? They are a salient reminder of his humanity. He regenerates his heart even if he doesn’t need to so that he’s always reminded of his purpose.
17 HE CAN CHANGE HIS APPEARANCE
Spawn has nearly infinite powers of physical manipulation thanks to his reserves of necroplasm and the magical properties it possesses. However, in his early days, he wasn’t the best at the ability to change his appearance. When he desperately wanted to return to Earth and see his wife Wanda again, he used a hefty amount of his reserves to change his appearance into... an average white guy.
This is quite a feat, considering he was a black man before he passed and was reborn as Spawn. As the series went on, he got more adept at changing his looks, and could eventually, with great concentration, make himself appear as he did while Al Simmons.
16 HE IS AN EXPERT MARTIAL ARTIST
Prior to his passing, Al Simmons was a part of the United States Marine Corps Special Reconnaissance. He learned a variety of martial arts and many forms of hand to hand combat, as well as increased his athletic prowess. During his elite training regime, he became well versed in a variety of weaponry, from sniper rifles to rocket launchers.
When he became Spawn, all of that training was amplified by the necroplasm. Since necroplasm has magical properties, it made the skills he already had hypertrophied, and his speed, accuracy, and agility were better than when he was human. Until his powers as a Hellspawn were fully revealed, his skills while human served him well as he learned to master his powers.
15 HE CAN TELEPORT
As awesome as the powers that Spawn has are, they require a lot of energy and concentration to wield. Spawn has been known to use teleportation to get from place to place, but it’s a huge drain on his necroplasm reserves the more frequently he does it.
Spawn teleports in a few different ways. Sometimes, he manifests into a disembodied chunk of necroplasm that then shoots into space, reappearing as his humanoid form once he arrives. Other times, he uses shadows as doorways, stepping into on and reappearing from out of another. And still other times, he uses a dimensional portal to hop between Heaven and Hell.
14 HE USES MAGGOTS AND WORMS FOR POWER
In the early days of Spawn, the reserves of necroplasm he had were fixed at 9:9:9:9, with any use of his powers depleting the level. If he healed himself, blasted an enemy with a necroplasmic energy ray, or did any sort of magical maneuvers, he’d lose energy stores.
Spawn had to get resourceful if he was going to keep the peace between Heaven and Hell, so he enlisted the help of bugs associated with the end and decay. He could draw upon the dark powers of maggots and worms to restore his abilities incrementally. Many frames contained these creepy crawlers wriggling all over his face.
13 HE IS A PARTIAL TELEPATH
Part of how Spawn does his job of protecting innocent lives is by telepathically sensing their pain. He can’t always read their exact thoughts, but their misery and suffering is tangible to him from miles away. When he encounters these individuals, he pulls the misery from them and takes it into himself, freeing them from their mental torment.
This is of course at great cost to his own mental sanity, since it ensures he is filled with the misery of others. The gift, both a blessing and a curse, was given to him by The Keeper, of the Emerald Parliament of Greensworld.
12 HE HAS POWER OVER NATURE
Sometimes the strange and otherworldly powers that Spawn possesses aren’t enough to defeat all of his enemies. When he first encountered Urizen, a chaotic god older than Heaven or Hell, he had to travel to Greensworld, where The Keeper, an agent of the Emerald Parliament would grant him the ability to control nature.
Though it seemed paradoxical to give a Hellspawn the ability to create life rather than destroy it, Spawn’s ability to manipulate the natural world around him helped him to create a great forest that halted Urizen’s progress of destruction. Spawn was able to entrap him deep below the Earth’s crust forever.
11 HE CAN MANIPULATE FIRE
Being a creature from Hell, it makes sense that Spawn has the ability to manipulate fire. He can decide when Hellfire will ignite, and control how it surrounds him, or whether or not he’ll just spontaneously burst into flames himself. This has its advantages, from burning those directly around him if they come into his personal space, and effectively enacting barriers around those he wishes to protect.
His adversity to fire’s destructive components means he can naturally waltz into Hell whenever he pleases and not get burned. He can also shoot rays of necroplasm out of his eyes that resemble fire in many respects, and will burn anyone in their path.
10 HE HAS SPECIAL HEALING ABILITIES
As part of Spawn’s surprisingly heroic persona and compassionate nature, he occasionally expends energy to heal the sick or gravely injured. This is at great cost to himself, as it will drain him of his energy to do so. Spawn has been known to wander into hospitals from time to time, where he can heal the braindead with the touch his hand to their forehead.
When Al Simmons gave up the mantle of Spawn to Jim Downing, Downing traveled the world healing the sick with his divine powers. It was his dream to have hospitals where all who entered were instantly cured of their ailments by his hand.
9 HE’S A NECROMANCER
Leading a life of vengeance from the shadows, Spawn doesn’t exactly have a lot of friends. His closest associates are the bums that hang out in the alley he haunts. When one of them, Bobby, suddenly perishes, Spawn doesn’t waste any time. Using his incredible healing powers, he wills the life force back into Bobby, who wakes up as if from a deep sleep.
Spawn can’t go around resurrecting people all the time, however, as it drains him of the necroplasm that not only makes up his body but also his suit. When he’s completely drained of all his energy, he will return to Hell, his soul now forfeit.
8 HE CONTROLS HIS CHAINS WITH HIS MIND
The suit that Spawn wears is as powerful as he is, if not more so. An entity that almost seems to have a sentience of its own, it is known as Leetha of the 7th House of K, and feeds off of the necroplasm that comprises Spawn’s body. The suit is not parasitic; it gives Spawn the ability to manipulate it into chains, blades, and other deadly weaponry with which to enact vengeance.
If Spawn has been rendered unconscious, it acts on its own instincts. It can draw on the energy sources of carrion bugs, the sins of human beings, and even the dark elements of the city itself. It has a ferocious will to survive and it will protect Spawn at all costs.
7 HE CAN REGENERATE ANY PART OF HIM
Much like Deadpool, Spawn has the ability to regenerate limbs. His body is made up of mostly necroplasm, and a few remaining internal organs. Necroplasm is based on the material that binds the dimensions of Hell itself, and gives Spawn the ability to manipulate his body in unnatural ways.
Over the years, Spawn has gone through many sever injuries. In every instance he simply acted annoyed, because he knew the energy reserves it would take to restore him. Even when Batman threw a Batarang and hit Spawn squarely in the face, he simply sewed himself up with a shoelace until he could regenerate and carried on.
6 HE CAN SUMMON A LEGION OF HELLSPAWN
One of the lesser realized powers that Spawn has, is the command of an entire group of 6,000 souls that perished at the exact hour that Al Simmons did. They inhabit his body to a degree, and he can call upon them at will when he needs backup. He can “deputize” them with Hellspawn powers and have allies to fight at his side.
Over the years and the battles with the forces of Good and Evil, Spawn has lost many of his “Legion”, at great cost to his physical well being. The remaining souls are Christopher, Hiroshi, Kumiko, Amal, and Shanti Surendra.
5 HE CAN FREEZE TIME
An interesting power that only appeared once in the comic series, is Spawn’s ability to freeze time. While meeting with his mentor and friend, Cogliostro, Spawn stopped time around them so that they might enjoy a private, peaceful conversation free from the petty distractions of the mortal realm.
It’s odd that Spawn chose to never display this power again, considering that it would be incredibly useful in a fight. Being able to stop time and do anything to his opponent that he wanted to, before instantly resuming time again seems like it would be helpful in turning the tide of victory.
4 HE’S IMMORTAL
Spawn could, in essence, live forever as a Hellspawn. The powers granted to him at the time of his resurrection by the demon Malebolgia grant him immortality. However, there are two ways that Spawn could “pass away”, in the sense of depart from Earth and forfeit his soul to Hell. He could draw upon so much of his powers that he depletes the totality of his necroplasm and therefore his energy source, or he could be have his head taken by a weapon of Heaven.
Only certain types of necroplasm use, such as necromancy en masse, would result in Spawn using it all. And so far, Spawn and his symbiotic suit have done a pretty good job of keeping his head on his shoulders.
3 HE CAN BECOME INVISIBLE
Perhaps one of the powers that Spawn is most often associated with is his ability to become invisible. With the help of his symbiotic suit, his control of the natural world around him, and his deep connection to the streets of Rat City, he is able to become invisible whenever it suits his needs.
Since his suit can take on any shape, he is perfectly capable of becoming a chameleon with the objects and terrain around him. In the 1997 film Spawn, when he's being chased by both the police and Jason Wynn's special agents, he's able to blend completely into the stone wall of a building to avoid detection.
2 HE CAN FLY
In one memorable storyline, Mother, the creator of the Universe, gives Spawn limitless power over her “children”, God and Satan. She has been displeased with them for a long time because of their incessant quarreling, and believes that Spawn is a better judge of the fate of humanity. Among his numerous abilities, Spawn is given the ability to fly.
Spawn has always been able to perform a flight of sorts with the power of his giant cape, which acted at times like a giant parachute. However, with the abilities given to him by Mother, he flies due to a pair of giant, breathtaking white wings that give him an almost celestial appearance.
1 HIS CAPE IS AN ORGANIC EXTENSION OF HIS BODY
In every iteration of Spawn, from the 1997 film, to the HBO animated series, to the numerous comic books, his cape has been a defining component of both his character and his costume. The cape extends from his suit, which has a symbiotic relationship with him and feeds off the necroplasm from which his body is comprised.
The cape can extend to enormous proportions, cover and conceal large objects, wrap around him to protect him from bullets and other weapons, and grant him flight. It is a part of Leetha, his suit, and therefore has an element of organic sentience that has both a will of its own, and also responds to Spawn’s command.