Spawn creator and comic book legend Todd McFarlane has been working for years to get a reboot of his creation going, and he has some news. According to CBR, they sat down with an interview with the Image Comics co-founder and he told them that progress on a revival of his creator-owned Spawn property had gotten “hot and heavy.” Admittedly, that is a little bit vague in terms of what progress has actually been made (and using unnervingly sensual language), but if there was ever a time to reboot Spawn, it would be now. Comic book movies have obviously been the dominant force at the cinematic box office for years, and now that the pendulum seems to be shifting to darker, grittier fare like Matt Reeves’ smash blockbuster hit The Batman, it feels right for a return of the protoplasmic hell-spawn who fights for good (kind of). And after all, if there are plans out there for as obscure a character as Madame Web, surely one of the biggest comic book characters of the 1990s deserves another shot, right?
Todd McFarlane originally created the character of Spawn while he was still a teen, as the sort of obsessive doodling that only a future genius of comic book art could do. After successful stints as a freelancer for both DC and Marvel in the 1980s, McFarlane became the primary artist for The Amazing Spider-Man. His highly detailed, expressionistic work was a massive hit in the industry, and he was eventually given his own Spider-Man comic to both write and draw. He has also been credited with co-creating the character of Spider-Man villain Venom along with writer David Michelinie, though that is a matter of much debate. In the same interview with CBR above, the ever-modest McFarlane also credited his own work for inspiring, well, most comic book movies success:
“I think that anytime any of those have success, I think it began a little bit with what Venom did…Because, he’s sort of an anti-hero and then really got turbocharged with Joker. Now, like you’re saying, the iteration of Batman and Moon Knight we’re seeing. That there is a hunger there.
In 1992, Todd McFarlane and a number of other comic book creators formed an independent, artist-owned company called Image Comics. Spawn was first published under the aegis of Image, and became one of the hottest comic books of the 1990s. Telling the story of a murdered government assassin revived as an amnesiac ghoul with infernal powers by unknown parties, it had an element of luridness, emotional storytelling, and dramatic art that struck a chord with audiences. It grew popular enough to merit a live-action film starring Michael Jai White, John Leguizamo, and Martin Sheen in 1997. While it did decently at the box office, it was savaged by critics and still has a dismal 17% at Rotten Tomatoes. HBO did also produce three seasons of an animated series called Todd McFarlane’s Spawn that was much more favorably reviewed, now being considered a highlight of adult animation of the time period. In an attempt at Stan Lee-like elder statesman status, Todd McFarlane himself introduced each episode in a melodramatic live-action sequence.
This is not the first time we have heard news of a Spawn reboot, and likely will not be the last. If anyone has the drive and industry clout to get a revival of their own property happening, it’s likely Todd McFarlane. So here’s hoping, Todd!