Todd McFarlane’s Spawn is an animated television series which aired on HBO from 1997 through 1999. It is based on the Spawn comic series from Image Comics, and was nominated for and won an Emmy in 1999 for Outstanding Animation Program (longer than one hour). An unrelated series titled Spawn: The Animation is in production since 2009, with Keith David reprising his role as the titular character. Like the comic book, the series features graphic violence, sexual scenes, and extensive use of profanity. Todd McFarlane’s Spawn was ranked 5th on IGN’s list of The Greatest Comic Book Cartoons Of All Time.
The series centered around the story of an ex-serviceman named Al Simmons, who fought in the Vietnam war as a commando . He was betrayed and killed by a man whom he believed to be his close friend (the man, Chapel, burned him alive with a flamethrower). Upon his death, Simmons vowed revenge on Chapel and hoped that he would one day return to his beloved wife Wanda.
In order to accomplish his vow, he makes a pact with the Malebolgia (who was the over lord on the eighth plane of hell). The pact was a simple one: Simmons would become a Soldier in Malebolgia’s army (known as the “Hellspawn” or “Spawn” for short) in return for the ability to walk the earth once again in order to see Wanda. Simmons was tricked however and his body was not returned to him. Simmons had instead been given a different body which was a festering, pungently cadaverous, maggot-ridden walking corpse that had a massive living red cape attached to it. The head of this new body had been rotten for some time and was in an advanced state of decay, which led to Simmons donning a mask in order to cover its grotesque appearance.
Upon his return to “life”, Spawn seeks out Wanda, who had apparently got over the grief of having lost Al and married another man, Al’s best friend Terry Fitzgerald with whom she seemingly had a daughter. Terry, a respectable man, works for a man named Jason Wynn. Wynn is a black-market arms dealer, amongst other things (such as the head of certain government organizations, one of which dispatched Al and his team to Vietnam), and is revealed to be the man responsible for ordering the death of Al Simmons due to a disagreement the two had between each other. Jason’s actions would also prove dangerous to the lives of Terry, Wanda and their daughter as well.
Al, realizing that he is no longer the man in Wanda’s life, swears to protect her and her new family.
The series depicts Spawn nesting in the dark alley ways, killing any who invade his new-found territory. Rejecting these actions as unworthy of Spawn’s time and power, Malebolgia then dispatches another of his minions (a demonic creature known as Violator that assumes the form of an obese clown) to try to sway Spawn into committing acts of violence and savagery in the name of Hell.
Spawn struggles to fight the lure of evil as well as seeking to escape being hunted by not only the forces of Hell but also must defend himself from assailants from Heaven, who have a need to destroy the Hellspawn in order to cripple the forces of Hell so they do not gain an edge in the escalating war between the two spiritual hosts. As the war intensifies the line between the forces of good and evil become increasingly blurry. Spawn finds help along the way in the form of a dishevelled old man named Cogliostro who was once a Hellspawn that overcame the demonic powers resting within, amongst a number of other characters. In the last episodes of the series Spawn learns how to shape shift, and appearing as Terry makes love to Wanda, impregnating her. It is revealed that there is a prophecy that the child of a Hellspawn will play the deciding factor in Armageddon, and may be the real reason Spawn was allowed to return to Earth.
Learn more about the concepts, principles and symbolism behind the subliminals found in this television series: