© Todd MacFarlane
Spawn is a fictional character, an anti-hero that appears in a monthly comic book of the same name published by Image Comics. Spawn enjoyed considerable popularity upon its initial release in the 1990s. Comic book collecting was enjoying a marked upswing at the time, fueled by the speculator boom looking for the next hot book that would jump in value after its release. The popularity of the franchise peaked with the 1997 Spawn feature film, the pre-release publicity for which helped make Spawn the top selling comic book for May 1997.
Spawn's origin begins with Lt. Colonel Albert Francis "Al" Simmons, USMC (Ret.), was a highly trained Marine who was at his most successful point when he saved the President from an attempted assassination. He was promoted to a high level within the CIA devoted to black ops. Once there, he began to question the morality of what his agency was doing. Jason Wynn hired Bruce Stinson (codenamed Chapel), Simmons' friend and partner, to kill him. In a blazing inferno, Simmons was killed and his soul sent to Hell, because he had knowingly killed innocents while working for the CIA. Simmons made a deal with an evil being known as Malebolgia: in exchange for his soul, he would get to see once again his wife, Wanda. However, when Simmons returned to the human world, five years had passed, and he had been transformed into a demonic creature with little memory of his former life. After regaining his memories, he sought out his wife, only to find she had moved on and married his best friend, Terry Fitzgerald, and that they now had a daughter named Cyan. After this event, the Violator appeared, and revealed to Simmons the purpose of his resurrection.