Summary: A-6 agent Al Simmons is betrayed by his boss Jason Wynn and his bodyguard, Jessica Priest. The murdered Simmons awakens five years later as Spawn, discovering his wife is now married to his best friend Terry. Hell’s agent, Violator, plays both sides, manipulating Spawn into pursuing Wynn while convincing Wynn to implant a pacemaker that connects his heart to the release of “Heat-16” bombs. Unbeknownst to Wynn, the release of Heat-16 will exterminate life on Earth and begin Armageddon. All sides convene at Terry’s home, where Spawn joins with Cogliostro and turns on Violator. After briefly chasing Violator back to Hell, Spawn returns to Earth. Wynn is arrested after Terry releases info on his activities to the press.
Spawntinuity: For unknown reasons, the movie doesn’t use the name of Jason Wynn’s fictional United States Security Group, or refer to Al Simmons as a CIA agent. Now, they're "A-6." Another deviation from the comic has Malebolgia promising to give Wanda to Spawn if he leads the army, as opposed to simply getting to see her again.
Not Approved By The Comics Code Authority: Violator proudly shows off his “skidmarked” underwear to Spawn. He also asks Wanda for “a little head” after getting decapitated.
I Love the ‘90s: Violator tells Spawn that the cast of ER wouldn’t be able to fix his face.
Production Note: This is a forty-eight page bookshelf format special, priced at $4.95.
Review: Here’s another modern classic that I had to discover through a commenter. If you followed the monthly Spawn comic during the promotion for the movie, you were bombarded with an endless series of merchandise you could purchase to commemorate the film’s release. Who wouldn’t want a keychain as a constant reminder of House of Buggin’ star John Leguizamo’s turn as Violator? No mention of a movie adaptation in comic form was ever made, but considering that the animated series was never adapted as a comic, this wasn’t a shock. I am stunned, over thirteen years later, to learn that a comic adaptation does exist, and it was produced by Jim Lee’s Wildstorm imprint. What? I guess it’s not as unusual as Archie or Gladstone doing the adaptation, and it’s still an Image comic, but it’s hard to believe Todd McFarlane wouldn’t publish the tie-in to his own movie. As far as the Spawn comic was concerned, it didn’t even exist!
I’m sure this will come as a shock to anyone who hasn’t seen it, but the Spawn movie is terrible. Although I can’t fault the casting of Michael Jai White as Spawn, and some of the special effects are great, the film is a collection of ‘90s “comic book movie” clichés wrapped around a sanitized retelling of the early issues of the comic. No mystery is involved with Spawn’s introduction; we’re bluntly introduced to Al Simmons, Wynn,
Chapel Priest, Wanda, and Terry in the film’s opening sequence, watch Simmons die, then see him travel to Hell and make a deal with Malebolgia. Spawn isn’t given amnesia in the movie, so he promptly goes about spying on Wanda, killing Priest, and targeting Wynn. While the comic took forever to get past the setup, the movie rushes through the origin so fast it’s impossible to care about any of the major characters or events. There’s still plenty of room for fart jokes, though.
Essentially every comic book movie in the ‘90s required a villainous plan that would destroy either the city or the entire planet, so of course that’s Jason Wynn’s plot. Before Spawn saves the day, he’s given a kid sidekick (who appears for maybe one panel in the comic adaptation), a motorcycle to ride, and an endless series of painfully unfunny scenes with John Leguizamo. The producers deserve credit for radically altering Leguizamo’s appearance with makeup to match his character, but the end result still looks ridiculous. Movie Violator is inhumanly obese, his head’s too small for his body, and for some reason he has a poofy cowlick. Even more embarrassing is the CGI rendition of Malebolgia and the depths of Hell, which were apparently thrown in at the last minute when New Line expanded the budget. Robot Chicken did a better job on Malebolgia using only stop motion and the McFarlane Toys action figure.
No comic adaptation could save this mess. Like virtually all adaptations, it’s a rushed Cliff’s Notes version of the film that moves too quickly to engage the reader. All of the tired action movie dialogue from the movie is preserved, along with a decent amount of dry exposition that tries really hard to explain every plot point in excruciating detail. The art is a pleasant surprise, though. Carlos D’Anda merges the actors’ likenesses with an early Bart Sears style, which manages to avoid the sheer blandness you often see in movie adaptations. The layouts are also fairly imaginative, working in as many as eight panels a page without looking cramped.