Welcome to Adventure(s) Time's seventy-fifth installment, a look at animated heroes of the past. This week, we're revisiting the third episode of Todd McFarlane's Spawn. It's a story that borrows liberally from the sixth and seventh issues of the comic, as well as a unique relic from the early 1990s -- Stan Lee's interview series with established comics pros.
"No Rest, No Peace" comes from the two figures not named Todd McFarlane most responsible for the series. It's written by Alan McElroy, who developed the show for HBO. (As mentioned earlier, McElroy's ability to pick and choose from the early comics and piece the material together into a coherent story is darned impressive.) The credited director is Eric Radomski, the Batman: The Animated Series co-creator hired away from Warner Bros. to get the show on the air. The episode opens with Overkill, a shadowy cyborg assassin, interrogating a resident of Spawn's alley.
A similar scene plays out in Spawn #6, although without the cyborg. And, in this case it's a junkie who's eager to sell Spawn out for a fix. In both cases, things don't turn out so well for the derelict. The comics have the junkie murdered by mobster Tony Twist's men just for fun.
In the HBO series, Overkill rips off the homeless man's arm and uses it as a paintbrush. He leaves a message in blood for Spawn to meet him. This ain't Fox Kids, people.
A few pages later in Spawn #6, we meet Overt-Kill, a mob assassin who's arrived from Italy as a favor to Tony Twist. Now, why the change in name? Perhaps vocalizing "Overt-Kill" just sounded too silly. We do know that "Overkill" was always the character's intended name, however.
Overkill made his actual debut in the realm of direct-to-video VHS releases. The firm Stabur graced the world with Comic Book Greats, an interview series starring Stan Lee. In one video, Stan joins comic book hotshots Rob Liefeld and Todd McFarlane as they create a new character. (It's archived on Youtube if you've never witnessed its majesty. Stan asks Todd and Rob to "tighten those feet" at one point.)
The name "Overkill" is actually Stan's idea. As he promises in the opening, he hasn't discussed it with Todd and Rob earlier. "On the spot," we see the artists develop the villain, just based on Stan's name. A year or so after the video's release, Overkill debuted as "Overt-Kill" in Spawn #6. Rob and Todd tended to trade the character off, with Overt-Kill appearing a few times in assorted Youngblood titles.