By Sam Stone
A grave SPOILER ALERT for the events in Spawn #289, out today.
Todd McFarlane has been hinting at seismic shifts for his benchmark comic, Spawn, as it approaches its 300th issue. The latest chapter, released today, teases the bombast to come. At the end of Spawn #289, McFarlane, artist Jason Shawn Alexander, cover artist Francesco Mattina, letterer Tom Orzechowski, and colorists McFarlane, Brian Haberlin, and Lee Loughridge drop an infernal bombshell: classic villains Overt-Kill, Cy-Gor, The Curse, and The Freak are making their grand return—not as villains, but as allies
The reveal punctuates a long-running storyline in which Spawn infiltrates a prison holding the remains of his dismembered foes. The titular antihero has long been at war with the forces of heaven and hell ever since Malebolgia—a devastatingly powerful king of hell—resurrected ex-CIA soldier Al Simmons as a captain of hell in the coming apocalypse. Since then, Simmons, now a Hellspawn, has struggled to free himself from the machinations of both the divine and damned.
As revealed in #289’s final page, Simmons is recruiting for his own war. Taking the corpses of his foes—all cybernetic in nature save The Freak—Spawn has repaired and converted his adversaries to his cause. The development also poses some cutting philosophical questions for the character: for a pawn of hell manipulated by despotic rulers, what’s it mean for Simmons to resurrect and program his former foes against their wills? In the following list, we take a deep look at the future soldiers in Spawn’s never-ending vendetta.
First Appearance: Spawn #6 by Todd McFarlane
Powers: Cybernetically enhanced strength and speed, technologically advanced armor and weaponry including an eye laser
After Spawn’s former trainer, the malicious, demonic Vindicator, goes on a murder spree killing mob leaders, NYC-based mafia boss Tony Twist hires cybernetic hitman Overt-Kill to track down and kill Spawn, the suspected murderer. The deranged cyborg once identified as Italian mafia enforcer Nicholas Rocca, who was killed in an assassination attempt gone awry. Rebuilt by his former boss, Luciano Bartino, the newly minted machine/human hybrid embarks on a rampage and kills those responsible for his resurrection. Upon his arrival in New York, Overt-Kill baits Spawn with innocent civilians before ambushing Simmons with explosives and his superior weaponry. Lacking control of his new necroplasmic abilities, Spawn raids a CIA storehouse to obtain high-tech weapons and stages his own ambush on the cyborg, defeating Overt-Kill.
Twist eventually reacquires Overt-Kill and rebuilds him once more. The increasingly unstable Overt-Kill targets Terry Fitzgerald, the husband of Al Simmons’ ex-wife Wanda and father of their daughter, Cyan. Overt-Kill pursues Fitzgerald as a hit from Jason Wynn, and Spawn rushes to his defense. After subduing Simmons, a well-placed shot by Detective Twitch Williams incapacitates the cybernetic assassin.
Since then, Overt-Kill has been rebuilt by longtime foe Jason Wynn to kill Spawn, only for the hero to handily—and definitively—defeat his mechanical nemesis. In the pages of Curse of the Spawn, Rocca’s half-brother and Overt-Kill’s original architect, Dr. Eylan Hessman, rebuilds the character, naming him Overt-War, only for the cyborg to crush his sibling upon awakening.
First Appearance: Spawn #38 by Todd McFarlane, Julia Simmons, and Tony Daniel
Powers: Cybernetically enhanced strength, speed, senses, and healing factor
Michael Konieczni was a friend and former squadmate of Al Simmons during the pair’s time in the CIA. After learning of Simmons’ assassination, Konieczni attempts to bring Jason Wynn to justice, only for the military industrialist to kidnap him and subject him to cybernetic experiments—Cybernetic Simian or Project Sim, led under scientist Frederick Willheim—that transfer his mind into a hulking cybernetic gorilla, dubbed Cy-Gor.
Using his superior cybernetically enhanced abilities, Cy-Gor manages to escape from Project Sim and seeks revenge for his tortured recreation. The shattered fragments of Konieczni’s psyche falsely blame Simmons for his transformation, and the beast tracks down Spawn in New York City.
The two former friends fight a brutal battle in the back alleys of the city, and Spawn eventually emerges victorious after releasing a torrent of bats and worms on his opponent. While the Hellspawn examines Konieczni’s cybernetics, the hero is called away to rescue Cyan. In the interim, the military captures Cy-Gor, who’s then subjected to further experimentation that makes the creature even more powerful and unpredictable. A power outage soon allows Cy-Gor to escape custody once again. With most of his humanity lost, Cy-Gor has gone on to become one of Al Simmons’ most personal enemies, a constant reminder of the life he left behind and the cost of his past sins.
First Appearance: Spawn #27 by Todd McFarlane and Greg Capullo
Powers: Technologically advanced armor, cybernetic arm laser cannon
Throughout his life, Phillip Krahn was consumed with an unhinged religious fervor, preparing to enter heaven by any means necessary. This led the troubled young man to remove his eye, scar his face, and amputate one of his hands as a twisted form of sacrifice, proving himself worthy of divine salvation. During his occult studies to discover a gateway into heaven, Krahn learns of the arrival of the new Spawn Al Simmons and decides to defeat the fledgling commander of hell to prove his worth to God.
Using a fortune he accumulated over the years, Krahn outfits himself with an advanced power suit and cybernetic arm cannon after dubbing himself The Curse. Tracking down Spawn through New York City’s homeless, which he converts to his overzealous cause, Krahn finds the hero weakened after resurrecting one his homeless neighbors and blows a hole through his torso with his energy cannon. While The Curse preaches to his gathered converts, Spawn recovers and destroys his new enemy’s bionic arm before defeating him—crucifying him on the wall of his alley.
After escaping and recuperating from his loss, The Curse commands his converts to ambush and bring Spawn to his remote home in West Virginia, where the villain dissects Spawn and separates him from his necroplasmic suit. His sentient costume seeps through a hairline fracture in its containment cell made by Simmons’ severed hand. The costume defeats Krahn and his acolytes. Krahn initiates a self-destruction protocol killing himself, while Simmons and the symbiote barely escape.
First Appearance: Spawn #33 by Todd McFarlane and Greg Capullo
Powers: Claws, supererior fighting skills
The mentally unstable Mr. Kulbiczi descended into full-blown insanity when his wife left him after refusing to have children with him. After escaping from an asylum, Kulbiczi builds an extensive hideout for himself in the sewers of New York City. Encountering a wounded Spawn recovering underground, Kulbiczi regales the hero with a story, claiming that his family was killed by a mad scientist named Doctor Delirium, who gave him superhuman abilities through tortuous experiments. Seeing parallels between his own tragic history and Kulbiczi’s, Spawn helps the deranged figure get revenge by killing his former psychiatrist. Soon thereafter, Spawn learns Kulbiczi’s story was fabricated—the figure is a dangerous villain known as The Freak, and he’d slaughtered an innocent doctor.
Later on, The Freak enlists a gang of the homeless to lure Spawn to the Dead Zone, an overlapping sliver of heaven and hell on Earth where Simmons is rendered completely powerless. While in the Dead Zone, Spawn’s former neighbors succeed in beheading and crucifying him. Despite his drastic injuries, Spawn is revived when NYPD detectives Sam Burke and Twitch Williams remove his body from the Dead Zone, and the trio tracks down The Freak; Spawn uses his powers to engulf The Freak in a wave of maggots, worms, and insects channeled from The Freak’s internal darkness.
The Freak’s body is later used by Malebolgia on Earth as the ruler of hell manipulates Spawn and Violator during the “Omega Spawn” story arc, climaxing in Spawn issue #200.