Spawn has become a comic book icon, and this is how Al Simmons was betrayed, killed, and resurrected as the Image antihero.

As one of the longest-running independent comics of all time, Todd McFarlane’s Spawn has always been a solid mold to follow for any antihero. Literally spawned from the depths of Hell, Spawn follows the titular character through his time on Earth, killing mob bosses, demons and angels all while trying to figure out his role in the bigger picture.

Despite his hellish origins, this hellspawn is still a hero because of the man underneath the mask, Al Simmons. While he has a past peppered in some pretty dark actions he seems to perceive this second chance and the powers he has as an opportunity for redemption in the Image Comics series.

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Al Simmons started his career as a Marine before joining the Secret Service, saving the President during an assassination attempt. Afterward, he started doing mercenary work for the US Security Group, an umbrella agency overseeing all of the branches of national security. He tended to butt heads with his superior, Director Jason Wynn, and participated in some less than noble operations. At the same time, he was newly married to the love of his life, Wanda. The two were trying to conceive a child but ran into complications. Out of frustration, Simmons physically assaulted her one night before he left on a mission to Bostwana. While he felt guilty about how he reacted, he would never have the chance to apologize to her and tell her how much he loved her. On that same mission, Director Wynn hired Bruce Stinson, codename Chapel to accompany his friend Simmons. Unknown to Simmons, Chapel was told by Wynn they suspected him of being a spy and to take him out.

Over the course of the first 12 issues of Spawn, the amnesiac vigilante was living on the streets, trying to put the pieces back together. He’s haunted by an image of a beautiful woman but has no idea who she is or what she means to him. Simmons begins to recall the deal he made with Malebogia, one of the rulers of Hell for one last chance to see his wife and agreed to become a hellspawn. While he uses his new suit and powers to protect the weak from the evil in the world he starts to regain more of his memories eventually realizing his friend Chapel was the trigger man to his demise.

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Chapel, a creation from Rob Liefeld was later retconned by McFarlane after Liefeld exited Image Comics. Around the same time as the Spawn movie’s release, issues of Spawn begin to explore whether or not Spawn was manipulated by false memories Malebogia or the Violator put into him during his resurrection. He begins to second guess whether Chapel was his killer, until his suit puts him into a trance that allows him to talk to the Violator. It’s during this conversation that we are introduced to Jessica Priest, an unstable assassin who was employed by Wynn to kill Simmons.

From there, McFarlane seemed satisfied with this adjustment and continued to explore other storylines, not dwelling too much on this new realization. Priest has since been a minor character throughout the series and the spin-off, Curse of Spawn, and recently became a hellspawn herself.

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