This is Spawn. Spawn is a comic book character created by Todd McFarlane. The comic is published by Image Comics and the first issue was released in 1992. The 90s is often slagged as being the worst decade in comics history and in many ways it was. It’s hard to say who’s to blame for what became of the comic book industry in the 90s, everyone involved really. The publishers flooded the market with books, many of them total crap. Because of all the crappy writers and artists working at the time, the good ones really stood out. Artists like Todd McFarlane, Jim Lee, and Rob Liefeld became the rock starts of the comic book industry. Books drawn by these guys and a few others flew to the top of the sales charts. Sales records were being broken regularly as these artists were given the chance to pencil brand new books starring the characters that made them famous. A new book titled just “Spider-Man” (adjective free) which was drawn and written by McFarlane was a huge success. That was followed up by the launch of a new adjective-free “X-Men” book with art by Jim Lee which to this day remains the bestselling comic book of all time. One of the reasons books were selling in such high numbers was because of gimmick covers. Comics were increasingly being released with multiple variant covers, some packaged bagged with trading cards, some glowed in the dark, some were large fold outs and some had holograms. I was one of those suckers who bought multiple copies of Spider-Man 1, X-Men 1, X-Force 1, and every issue of the various Robin mini-series’. This is where the fans are to blame. The super-star artists suddenly had egos and decided to jump ship at Marvel and start their own comic book company which was unheard of at the time. They launched Image Comics which was a huge success right out of the gate. The artists wrote and drew the adventures of their original creations. That was the philosophy of Image that separated them from Marvel and DC, artists retained the rights to their own creations. That’s all well and good, it’s just unfortunate that most of their creations sucked. Fans quickly saw through the flashy splash pages and cover variants and realized most of these guys couldn’t write for s**t. I didn’t make it past the third issue of any Image book…except for Spawn.
It’s been 20 years since the launch of Image Comics and only two books have lasted since the beginning, Erik Larson’s The Savage Dragon and Todd McFarlane’s Spawn. Most of the other launch titles didn’t last 10 issues, Spawn just released its 220th issue. Todd had stepped away from writing and drawing the book for a while but he has returned as the writer in recent years and is taking the book in an exciting new direction. In his absence he put talented writers and artists on the book so that the title could maintain its monthly schedule as opposed to some of the other creators who just walked away from their books leaving stories unfinished indefinitely and screwing over fans who had invested in the books. I have mad respect for Todd McFarlane. When some of those other creators left Marvel in the early 90s, they were followers; Todd was a leader. He stuck to his guns and did what he set out to do. He published a quality book on a regular schedule and he made the public aware of his character. He got a live-action movie produced and a high quality adult oriented HBO animated series on the air that was ahead of its time. He was approached by a ton of companies wanting to license Spawn’s image and plaster him on bed sheets and what not but Todd decided to keep a tight rein on his character and retained control of how the world would experience “Spawn”.
One of his most notable decisions was when he turned down offers from Toy companies wanting to produce Spawn action figures. Todd wanted assurances that the Spawn toys would be done the way he wanted them done. When no toy company could agree to his terms he started his own toy company. Another unheard of move. And like his comic book, his toy company was successful right out of the gate. He made better toys. This figure is from the initial wave of Spawn figures. The early figures may not look like much now but at the time it was a real shift in the toy industry. These were some of the first action figures really geared towards adults. As the line progressed that became more evident. The first wave still had some attempts at child friendly peripherals such as the Spawn alley playset and the Violator Monster Rig. One thing i really like about the early figures is that they’re still figures that a child could play with. As the line became geared more towards the collectors articulation decreased. This figure while not loaded with articulation has all the basic movements you’d want in a figure: hips, knees, shoulders, head, etc. The paint job is nice and crisp. Later figures got much more detailed paint apps but I like the strong solid designs on this figure. The oversculpt is quite nice and the accessories were pretty cool. He came with a board to whack people with, various chains to attach to his costume, and a very cool articulated cape. Todd has gotten away from making Spawn toys the past few years and focused now on properties like sports, Halo and Walking Dead. It’s been a blessing on my wallet but I do hope he goes back to the Spawn well soon; this is a nice figure but I’m ready for an update. 6 out of 10.