Spawn is not in Marvel or DC. Technically speaking, ol’ Spawny is not a Marvel- or DC-owned comics character, but a popular one from Image Comics.
Sure, Spawn is an Image Comics superhero through and through. But that hasn’t stopped the guy from making a few appearances on the pages of the Big Two comics publishers. In this post, we’ll go into those crossovers and answer some questions along the way.
What is Spawn’s Origins?
The superhero we now know as Spawn was once Albert Francis Simmons. He was a former Marine who became a Secret Service agent, then later recruited by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to become an assassin.
He is betrayed and burned to death by his friend (Bruce Stinson, aka Chapel). After taking a trip to hell, he strikes a deal with the demon Malebolgia to serve as a Hellspawn (a supernatural soldier from hell) so that he can see his widowed wife, Wanda, again.
He does go back to Earth but with a badly burned body. However, he gains loads of superpowers (on account of becoming a demon), plus a guardian demon called the Violator (who later becomes his archenemy).
Spawn is an original character created by Todd McFarlane when he was just 16 years old. Of course, it would take several more years for the superhero to make its publication debut.
McFarlane was already a superstar comics artist by the early 1990s, mainly due to his stellar pencil work for The Amazing Spider-Man comics around that time.
But in a move that would soon shake up the comics industry, the Canadian illustrator left Marvel, along with other popular artists like Jim Lee, Erik Larsen, Whilce Portacio, Rob Liefeld, and Marc Silvestri, to found Image Comics in 1992.
That same year would see the publication of the first Spawn issue, which would eventually sell 1.7 million copies. Still going strong with more than 300 issues, Spawn is now the longest-running independent comics in history.
No doubt, Spawn will go down as the most recognizable Image Comics character of all time. Because of his popularity, it’s not surprising that the superhero would feature in various crossover stories released by other comics publishers.
Has Spawn Appeared in Marvel?
Officially, Spawn has not appeared in any Marvel crossover. But that doesn’t mean he hasn’t appeared with a Marvel character in the comics.
It happened in Spawn #10, and the circumstances are a little bit strange, to say the least. In the previous issue (Spawn#9, written by Neil Gaiman), Spawn touches a lance owned by Angela, a bad-ass warrior superhero-slash-angel who, interestingly enough, became part of Marvel Comics (thanks to Gaiman, who co-created the character with McFarlane, selling the rights to Marvel in 2013).
The next issue would show him being transported to a realm that serves as a prison for comics characters and the comics creators who gave them up. It really doesn’t get any more meta than that.
And the issue gets extra playful with the imagery. An epic panel shows Spawn standing in a prison hallway and there’s a huge jail cell with several arms reaching out through the prison bars, all of them owned by various Marvel and DC characters (there’s Spidey, Hulk, Bats, Shazam – you get the picture).
Yes, Spawn hasn’t had an official Marvel crossover yet. But this unofficial crossover is already one for the ages.
Has Spawn Appeared in DC?
Yes, Spawn has appeared in DC comics. In fact, the anti-hero has had more than one partnership with Batman.
The first time it happened was in 1994. McFarlane (art) teamed up with comics legend Frank Miller (script) for Spawn/Batman (published under Image Comics).
The plot sees Gotham’s Caped Crusader visit the Big Apple to investigate robots powered by the brains of decapitated people. At first, Spawn isn’t too happy with the idea of another masked guy operating on his turf.
They fight each other before eventually realizing they need to join forces to defeat the same bad guy.
Although 1994’s Batman/Spawn was only a one-issue release, it did inspire a sequel, Batman/Spawn: War Devil, which came out within the same year.
This time around, Klaus Janson is doing the art, while Chuck Dixon, Alan Grant, and Doug Moench make up the writing team.
Whereas the original crossover’s setting was in New York City, the sequel happens in Gotham, with Batman playing host to the visiting Spawn.
The story involves Gotham’s dead rising from their graves, thanks to some dark magic from the demon Croatoan (disguised as Simon Vesper).
But the two heroes arrive in time to set things right, i.e., close a portal to hell and prevent the city’s dead from becoming Satan’s army.
Nearly three decades later, Spawn and Batman would work together for a third time in 2022’s Batman/Spawn.
For this latest one-issue crossover, McFarlane handles the writing while another Spawn comics alum, Greg Capullo, returns to do the art.
But Spawn fans will be delighted to know that this release comes with variant covers done by McFarlane, Jim Lee, J. Scott Campbell, Gabriel Dell’Otto, Francesco Mattina, and Sean Murphy.
In this third outing, Spawn and Batman battle the Court of Owls. For those not familiar with this group, know that they’re a secret society whose aim is to hold the most power in Gotham, even if it means eliminating the Dark Knight and his allies.
Has Spawn Appeared in Other Comics Outside Image, Marvel, and DC?
Yes, Spawn has made appearances in other comics publishers not named Image, Marvel, or DC.
For instance, the character (or a Japanese version of him) had a manga run from 1998 to 1999 by way of Shadows of Spawn. The series was released via the monthly manga publication Dengeki Comic Gao! published by MediaWorks.
A few years later in 2003, Spawn featured in Spawn: Simony, which was published by Semic Comics.
This is one of the rare instances wherein McFarlane permitted other creators to release an original Spawn story.
By 2003, Semic Comics was already publishing French versions of Image’s Spawn comics. Through Spawn: Simony, they got an opportunity to tell their own one-shot tale, courtesy of writers Jean-Francois Porcherot and Alex Nikolavitch collaborating with illustrator Aleksi Briclot.
Does Spawn Have A Movie?
Yes! Back in 1997, a live-action movie version was released in theaters.
The film starred martial artist action star Michael Jai White as the titular character. By portraying Spawn, White holds the honor of being the first black actor to play a major comic book superhero in the history of cinema. He did it a year before Wesley Snipes’ turn in 1998’s Blade.
Does Spawn Have A Show?
Yes, Spawn has a TV show, but in animated form. Spawn: The Animated Series (aka Todd McFarlane’s Spawn) debuted on HBO in 1997 and went on to last three seasons.
The animated series was geared toward mature audiences and garnered critical acclaim, bagging a couple of Emmy awards and a pair of Golden Reel awards.
Its voice cast included stars like Keith David (as Spawn), Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Eric Roberts.
Will There Be A New Spawn Movie or Show?
Considering that the 1997 movie is more than two decades old, it’s not that surprising to expect a reboot soon.
Well, there are reports in recent years that a new film is currently in development. In 2018, it was reported that Oscar-winner Jamie Foxx (who's no stranger to comic book movie adaptations) will be playing Spawn.
As for the possibility of a new show, McFarlane did say in 2019 that he’s looking to release two animated shows. One will be for adults (like the 90s HBO show) and the other will be for kids.
Also, the comics legend revealed in 2021 that he’s working on a live-action Sam & Twitch series. Sam and Twitch are a pair of detectives who first appeared in Spawn comics.