This Underrated Spawn Comic Is Overdue For A Comeback

Summary

  • The Spawn Universe is currently thriving and expanding, with new titles and projects lined up, making it the biggest shared universe in indie comics.
  • Despite Spawn’s success, some underrated titles like The Adventures of Spawn were left behind.
  • Spawn could benefit from a lighter touch and a kid-friendly comic to explore alternate takes on the character and give the franchise some genre diversity. The Adventures of Spawn, a webcomic that offered a brighter and more fun Spawn, could be a great option for this.


Ever since Todd McFarlane’s Spawn triumphantly hit his record-breaking 300th issue, the anti-hero and his universe have ballooned into the biggest shared universe in indie comics. The 2020s have become something of a revival and renaissance for the Hellspawn, and the future has a variety of projects lined up. However, one underrated title that began as a humble web comic has been left behind: Adventures of Spawn.

Spawn has been one of the comic book industry’s most important characters ever since he first appeared in 1992. As a heavyweight in the sales charts of the ’90s, Spawn became the face of the so-called “Image Revolution,” which saw a slew of major artists form their own company after leaving Marvel Comics. While Spawn has had his ups and downs, there’s little debate that he’s reclaimed his title as the most important character in indie comics as of 2023. This return to glory allowed McFarlane to use Spawn as a vehicle for new ideas, as well as revisiting some classic stories and characters. However, some of Spawn’s more interesting and unique ideas have been left by the wayside. Few titles are as deserving of a comeback as the short-lived Adventures of Spawn.

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The Spawn Universe Is Currently at Its Peak

Title

Written By

Illustrated By

Release Date

Spawn’s Universe #1

Todd McFarlane

Brett Booth, Jim Cheung, Stephen Segovia, and Marcio Takara

June 2021

Gunslinger Spawn

Todd McFarlane

Brett Booth

October 2021-ongoing

King Spawn

Sean Lewis

Javi Fernandez

August 2021-ongoing

The Scorched

Sean Lewis

Stephen Segovia and Paulo Siqueira

January 2022-ongoing

McFarlane personally oversaw one of the most impressive expansions and success stories in modern indie comics. After Spawn experienced a slump recently and even struggled to sell 15,000 copies, his universe has been on a winning streak after crossing its 300th issue. Barely a year after breaking the record for being the longest-running independent series, McFarlane released the Spawn’s Universe one-shot, which set the stage for an expanded universe. The first wave came with the release of the books Gunslinger Spawn, King Spawn, and the Jessica Priest solo comic The Scorched. Fueled by the excitement and momentum from Spawn’s recent world record, these books took the universe to new heights, and reached out to both old Spawn fans and created new ones.

Recently, the Spawn Universe expanded even further, with titles like Deadly Tales of the Gunslinger, Medieval Spawn, and Spawn Kills Every Spawn on the way. These books promise to shed light on some new characters, return to older ones, and give fan-favorites even more room to have their stories told. Simply put, the Spawn Universe has never been bigger or more exciting. With the stellar success and hype around the property, there’s now more than enough momentum and reason to try out even more ideas, including dusting off some old ones. This has certainly been seen in the upcoming return of Sam and Twitch Case Files, a series that already has two volumes behind it. This return shows that McFarlane is open to revisiting older ideas for a new generation.

Title

Written By

Illustrated By

Release Date

Deadly Tales of the Gunslinger

Jimmy Palmiotti

Patric Reynolds

TBA

Medieval Spawn

TBA

TBA

TBA

Spawn Kills Every Spawn

John Layman

Rob Duenes

TBA

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The expansion of the Spawn Universe appears to suggest that there will be something for every type of Spawn fan to dive into, from Medieval adventures to Wild West fun. Even the main Spawn series is on arguably its best creative streak since the ’90s, with recent stories like “Cult of Omega” and “Chain Gang” providing some great, action-packed entertainment. All that said, there are still voids in the comic book market that could be filled by McFarlane revisiting some of his older ideas. One of the best places to look is The Adventures of Spawn, a short-lived comic book title starring a brighter version of Al Simmons. As great as it has been to see the expansion of the line of Spawn comics, this brilliant concept has been unfairly left behind, despite plenty of writers and artists who could do it justice.

Spawn Could Use a Lighter Touch

Title

Written By

Illustrated and Inked By

Release Date

The Adventures of Spawn

Jon Goff

Khary Randolph

January 2007-November 2008

Despite having such a strong presence in the market, McFarlane’s heroic Hellspawn is still lacking in one department: A kid-friendly comic. While teenagers can find the main Spawn books more than accessible, there’s still something to be said for a series that presents the hero in a brighter light. In fact, the appeal of this doesn’t stop with younger readers, but also appeals to a segment of regular Spawn fans who would like to see a lighter Al Simmons from time to time. As much fun as the brutal ongoing war between Spawn, Heaven, and Hell has been, the franchise has also taken on an increasingly grim tone. This was perfectly on-brand for Spawn and what many fans expect, but it’s also left others wanting to see alternate takes on Spawn and his world. This was the entire hook of the upcoming Spawn Kills Every Spawn, but it’s a fun idea that can and should be explored more than once. More importantly, it could offer some genre diversity to Spawn.

In 2007, McFarlane released The Adventures of Spawn. The two-issue special began as an Image webcomic, which was later collected in physical print. The story followed a version of Spawn who downplayed his signature horror and tragedy. He and his world also leaned into a cartoonish cross between the science-fiction and supernatural genres. Here, Lord Mammon was reimagined from a Biblical Demon to a supervillain akin to Lex Luthor. The heroes were designed to resemble Bruce Timm’s character designs for the DC Animated Universe. Al Simmons himself was very different, as he was a happily married family man who led a double life as the dark superhero Spawn. Unlike similar comics such as Batman: The Adventures Continues, The Adventures of Spawn wasn’t based around a pre-existing superhero cartoon; it was created in the style of one. However, side-stepping the process of getting a fresh animated series made a great deal of sense, especially considering Spawn’s horror roots.

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The Adventures of Spawn didn’t just give kids a lighter take on one of comics’ darkest heroes; it also simplified the universe to provide an entry point. This even included a one-page breakdown of the updated versions of Spawn’s allies and foes, such as Cy-Gor, OvertKill, and Redeemer. Unfortunately, since it was only a webcomic, The Adventures of Spawn wasn’t given the same commitment as Spawn’s other spin-off books. The concept hasn’t been given another shot after the short comic ended. Instead, it’s gone down as perhaps the most obscure book in Spawn’s history. With so many comics that honor and emphasize Spawn’s inherent darkness, the more the need for something as accessible as The Adventures of Spawn becomes more apparent. It works as well as a love letter to classic fans as it does a way to reach out to younger newcomers.

The Adventures of Spawn Is Todd McFarlane’s Most Underrated Idea

A cover image from Todd McFarlane's kid-friendly The Adventures of Spawn.

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McFarlane is known for being perhaps the savviest comic book creator and business executive in the modern industry, and what he did with his ownership of Spawn was a testament to this. The veteran artist and writer has had no problem interpreting Spawn in multiple ways and using his understanding of comics in general to his advantage. This could be seen in the various crossovers Spawn starred in, Spawn’s myriad of spin-off comics, and McFarlane’s willingness to let other creators leave their mark on the hero. In fact, McFarlane himself believes the best Spawn artist is Greg Capullo rather than himself. This was an impressive moment of humility from McFarlane. The Adventures of Spawn was a great example of McFarlane trying something radically different with Spawn, but it remains Spawn’s most underused and under-explored venture.

Expanding Spawn’s universe and portfolio with a continuity inspired by the family-friendly superhero cartoons of the ’90s and 2000s could lead to renewed interest in Spawn’s ties to animation (i.e. his acclaimed HBO series), while also giving him something fresh. Spawn should never lose his core darkness, but just as the Cartoon Network era has been a boon to DC Comics and its characters, there’s no reason Spawn can’t benefit from the same basic concept. With the forthcoming Spawn Kills Every Spawn proving that there’s fan and creator openness to a comedic and cartoonish take on the typically dark and terrifying Spawn, a rebooted, ongoing The Adventures of Spawn could take this fun concept to new creative and entertaining heights.

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