Spawn is what you would call an anti-hero meaning he is a hero who is willing to kill his enemies to protect the people who need it. His enemies in the series range from thugs, the mafia, serial killers, and even angels and demons. But who owns Spawn? Is Spawn from DC or Marvel universe?
Spawn was created by Image Comics, which is regarded as the third most popular comic book franchise of today.
I will explain further details on who actually made Spawn, as well as its publisher, as we progress further through the article. The details that you will get out of it will also portray a little bit of history about the humble beginnings of Spawn, and how the anti-hero became one of the most iconic comic book characters in history.
Who Created Spawn?
Spawn was created by Todd McFarlane, and published by American company Image Comics. Although Spawn first appeared in Spawn #1 in May 1992, the character was created by McFarlane when he was 16 years old. He is also one of the founders of Image Comics. The founding of Image Comics was good for the comic industry in the ’90s because the ownership of characters would remain for the writers not for the company unlike big companies like Marvel and DC.
Is Spawn DC Comics or Marvel?
The funny thing though, Spawn is under Image Comics until now. Todd McFarlane made a name for himself while working under Marvel Comics as an artist for The Amazing Spider-Man. He is also the first artist to draw the full appearance of Venom. On the DC side, he worked on Infinity Inc. for two years and illustrated the last three issues of Detective Comics’ four-issue Batman: Year Two storyline.
How It All Started
To give you a clearer picture of the fact that Image Comics is the real publisher of the ever-popular anti-hero, I will provide a little bit of history about how McFarlane created Spawn and found Image Comics at the same time.
When Todd McFarlane was at an early age, he already found drawing as a hobby. He was so passionate about this hobby, that he was reported to spend countless hours focusing on developing his own set of superheroes, as well as perfect every one of them. One of them was Spawn, though Spawn looked was different when he first made its “prototype” version.
Based on the initial appearance of Spawn, it seemed that McFarlane based his mask off of Spiderman, as he was an avid fan of the iconic superhero and even worked with drawing Spiderman before he founded his comic book franchise. Through his years of experience, as well as his passion to create more characters of his own, he decided to leave Marvel and started focusing on building what Image Comics is as of today.
In the 1990s, he was successful in founding Image Comics, where he can now publish his very own comic book story along with the characters that he has been drawing since his youth. When Spawn #1 was released in the 1990s, it suddenly became a hit among several comic book fans and superhero fans alike.
Who owns Spawn?
Since Spawn was created while working in Image Comics, Spawn belongs to Todd McFarlane. This gives him free rein on where the character or storyline will go, or even what collaboration works he can appear.
What Is Image Comics?
Nowadays, Image Comics is the 3rd largest comic book and graphic novel publisher in the industry in both unit and market share. It was founded by 7 big-name illustrators that worked for both Marvel and DC comics.
The 7 founders: Erik Larsen (Spider-Man), Jim Lee (X-Men), Rob Liefeld (X-Force), Todd McFarlane (Spider-Man), Whilce Portacio (X-Men), Marc Silvestri (Wolverine), and Jim Valentino (Guardians of the Galaxy) created Image Comics so comics creators could publish material of their creation without giving up the copyrights to those properties.
Before Image Comics, when a creator creates a character while working under either Marvel or DC, the character is automatically owned by the company. Image comics’ best-known publications include Spawn, Savage Dragon, Witchblade, The Walking Dead, Invincible, Saga, Jupiter’s Legacy, and Kick-Ass.
How Image Comics Made Spawn Successful
The founding of Image Comics and Spawn at the same time during the 1990s was also great timing for McFarlane because it was also the era where the “Speculator Boom” occurred. The Speculator Boom was the era during the 90s when comic book collecting was a craze. The very first issue of Spawn gathered a total of 1.7 million worth of sold copies, instantly earning McFarlane stardom at the time.
Image Comics made Spawn so good that it won two Emmys (one in 1998 and one in 1999) and two Golden Reel Awards (1998/1999). In 2019, there was an announcement that there will be 2 upcoming animated series of Spawn, one for children and one for Adults. As of today, the current issue of Spawn is #318 with #319 releasing on June 30, 2021. It also has many spin-offs. The most commonly known spin-off character is Angela whose rights have been sold by Neil Gaiman to Marvel Comics and has appeared as a lost sister of Thor Odinson.
There was also a time when Spawn (Al Simmons) killed himself in issue #181 Spawn Endgame. Jim Downing wears the same suit of necroplasm that Al wore during his time as Spawn. The main difference between the two was that Jim had very little control over the abilities of the symbiotic suit and would never always recall what events he had done as Spawn.
His counter is also different wherein when he would use his necroplasm abilities, his counter increases instead of decreasing. As of issue #292, Al Simmons returns and takes the suit back turning Jim Downing back to a normal person.
Spawn is also considered a household name when it comes to the topic of comics. The Spawn series also holds a Guinness world record for longest-running creator-owned superhero comic book series thanks to its 301st issue. It also had an animated series in 1998, where the titular character was voiced by Keith David.
Is There a Spawn/Batman crossover?
As of today, there have only been 2 instances wherein Batman and Spawn ever had a crossover. The first one was in 1994 the one-shot comic book Spawn/Batman published by Image Comics. The story revolves around Batman coming to New York in search of high-tech weapons and robots that use decapitated human heads as their brains. Initially wary of each other, Spawn and Batman engaged in violent battles before realizing they are searching for the same villain. With this in mind, they teamed up.
The second was a 1994 Graphic novel published by DC Comics titled Batman-Spawn: War Devil. The story revolves around Batman searching for a missing person named Virgil Dare. Dare goes to Gotham Tower, a building project led by Simon Vesper, a man murdered by Spawn.
Batman finds out that Dare intends to finish the Vespers project. A day before the opening ceremony of the Gotham Tower, Vesper reappears and kills Dare. Using Dare’s blood, he makes a pentagram and spells out Croatoan above it. Batman and Spawn fight with Batman the victor.
On the day of the opening ceremony, Gotham Tower lights up and a pentagram of burning buildings starts while the rest of Gotham goes dark along with the dead rising. Batman confronts Vesper who in turn discloses that he is the demon Croatoan all along.
He planned to collect souls for Satan’s devil army. Spawn fights Croatoan and is overpowered. Batman intervenes just in time and Spawn defeats Croatoan. The dead return to their graves and the doorway to hell is closed.
There was a 3rd planned crossover between the two characters titled Spawn/Batman: Inner Demons where Spawn and Batman fight The Clown (Violator) and Joker but it was never made. There is also an Easter Egg referencing the meeting of Spawn and Batman in Mortal Kombat 11.
There was a notable dialogue before the fight between Spawn and Raiden wherein Raiden mentions that he reminds of another Dark Knight. Spawn answers “The billion-dollar crusader? He’s a friend” and Raiden answers back with “It seems that we are both well-traveled” referring to Raiden meeting Batman in Injustice 2. Spawn is also an exclusive guest character for the Xbox port of Soulcalibur II.
Spawn also had a Live action movie in 1997, featuring Michael Jai White. As a result of this, Michael Jae White is the first Black American to portray a major comic book superhero in a major motion picture. Aside from this, there was an announcement that there will be a new movie adaptation of Spawn starring Jamie Foxx as the titular character.
So All in All, Who Is Spawn?
Spawn is one of the images that can come up in a comic book fan’s mind when an anti-hero is being brought up. He is a very badass character who is also there to fight crime thanks to his superpowers, but you will never see him in iconic groups like The Avengers or the Justice League. It’s all because he is under a different comic book franchise like what others thought of.
This will surely be a reminder as well that there are many comic book franchises out there that have published amazing characters that we know and love, and Spawn from Image Comics is just one of them. It’s just that DC, Marvel, and Image have been around for a long time that they decided to collaborate from time to time to bring our favorite characters together for one epic crossover story.