Spawn (real name: Albert "Al" Simmons) is the titular hero of the long-running comic book series of the same name as well as the star of several cartoons, video games and a live-action movie based around these stories.
Originally human Spawn was cursed into the life of a Hellspawn (akin to a reverent) and became a costumed warrior fighting against the forces of Hell and Heaven in order to protect the human world from the apocalyptic wars they were planning - one of his most famous archenemies is the Violator and the Spawn series is reputed to have helped in popularize the anti-hero as a main character in comic-books since the comics came out in a period of time when darker heroes started to emerge and gained much more publicity in comic books.
Spawn began as a mercenary named Al Simmons, who was killed after attempting to quit the life of a hired gun when his conscience caught up with him.
Sent to hell for his past actions as a mercenary, he was offered a deal by one of hell's Demon Lords: if Simmons agreed to become captain of Hell's armies he would be allowed to see his wife again.
Simmons agreed to the deal, but little did he realize that the Demon Lord had other plans for him.
Upon returning to the land of the living Simmons found out that he had been cursed to be what was known as a Hellspawn and forced to serve Hell forever.
Not content to be one of hell's flunkies, Spawn instead rebelled and took to fighting against hell's legions, as well as a slew of other foes.
After realizing that Heaven under the false God was just as corrupt as hell he began fighting against them too, all the while keeping the war between Heaven and Hell from tearing the Earth apart and protecting humans caught in the crossfire.
After escaping Heaven and fighting a small sect of the KKK he made his way across the states back to New York where he had his first encounter with the second Redeemer who proceeded to kidnap a friend and defeat Spawn with ease.
Moments later his costume (which at this point was nothing more than a pile of rags) went crazy almost killing Bootsie and others around him, then suddenly went lifeless for hours.
Then in an explosion of necroplasm transformed into Black and White with his right leg and left arm now being very heavily armored. This version of his suit could shape-shift to a much further extent.
The costume shifted into a blade and cut off Redeemer's hand during their second encounter.
After his encounter with the Redeemer, Spawn encounters the Freak, and during the "Bloodfeud" storyline, nightmares began to torture the former military assassin, consisting of a first-person point of view.
A creature, seeming to have kind of the same appearance as Spawn, hunts down other beings and consumes them. When Spawn wakes up he finds himself in a mess of several killed persons.
He suggests that, after the metamorphosis of his suit, it feeds off blood like a Vampire, but after his first battle with John Sansker, aka Jean Sans-Coeur, "Heartless John" (a vampire and true reason behind the messes that Spawn finds himself in) and after he stripped himself of his suit, he argues with the Clown about the latter. He tells Spawn that his costume feeds on souls, and after Spawn made peace with his state, he re-bonded with his suit and, in a vicious battle, drove Jean out of Rat City.
Heaven and Hell
Spawn struggled to find a way to free himself from Hell's control and recapture his humanity. Attacks from both Heaven and Hell were coming faster and faster, and Spawn was on the verge of losing himself to the violence and the evil. Salvation arrived in the form of a mound of festering garbage - The Heap, an emissary of the Purgatory, a power equal to Heaven and Hell that Spawn had never encountered before. They endowed him with a host of new abilities that would enable him to overcome the worst both Heaven and Hell had to offer.
While these powers are not directly described, they appear to give Spawn control over all the elements and other aspects of the natural world. It was explained to him that the Purgatory did not care for the war of Heaven and Hell, but were growing increasingly agitated by the destruction it brought about. They inflicted on him the pains of the Gazer (the planet's name), and when he returned, Spawn became "aware" of the world. Spawn did not utilize his powers however, other than listening to the Gazer, until he was impaled on the pole of a large sign by the dark god Urizen (named after the tyrannical creator-figure in the personal mythology of Romantic poet/artist William Blake). Urizen was wreaking havoc on the world, and the Purgatory imbued him with a "gift" which, after recovering thanks to Angela, Spawn uses to contain Urizen. Spawn splits the ground open and imprisons Urizen within the Gazer.
After defeating Urizen, Spawn learns that the dark god's release was orchestrated by Malebolgia, as part of an elaborate scheme to take total control of all the kingdoms of Hell. Having failed spectacularly, Malebolgia's power is at its lowest ebb. With the help of Angela, Spawn is able to return to Hell and finally destroy his demon master, although Angela's life is lost in the process. Though offered Malebolgia's crown by the sinister Mammon, Spawn declines both it and an offer to enter the gates of Heaven. Spawn instead turns his efforts towards stemming the torment of humanity and defeating the evil that exists on Gazer.
Overwhelmed by the darkness on Gazer, Spawn turns to his old mentor, Cogliostro, with a new plan. He will accept the crown of Hell, and then remake it, turning it from a dark realm of evil into a new paradise that will sweep away all sorrow and sadness on the Gazer. Spawn and Cogliostro encounter Redeemer III, and in the subsequent battle, Spawn is dragged to Hell by some Scorpion demons. Mammon hands a box to Cogliostro, who kills himself and ends up in Hell, box in hand. He gives it to Spawn, who opens it and sees a fleeting glimpse of a utopia, along with his wife, and then Cogliostro reveals that he is the biblical Cain, the first murderer, and takes the crown of Hell for himself. Cain uses his newfound power to return Spawn to Gazer, alive and well, back in the body of Al Simmons, but separating him from the Hellspawns symbiote.
Todd McFarlane's Spawn
Spawn made his animated debut in the HBO miniseries Todd McFarlane's Spawn in which Spawn is voiced by Keith David.
Live Action Film
In 1997, a film adaptation had Michael Jai White as Spawn.
Soul Calibur II
Appeared as a special guest character in the Xbox version of Soul Calibur II (2003)
A video game released in 2003 for the PlayStation 2, Xbox and GameCube video game consoles. It is inspired by Spawn issues 1-99, and Todd McFarlane directed the game's production.