Todd McFarlane's Spawn

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Todd McFarlane's Spawn
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"As far as I know I'm already dead, which means I'm waiting for your sorry ass in the afterlife."
Genre: Superhero
Action
Horror
Drama
Fantasy
Crime
Supernatural
Science fiction
Running Time: 30 minutes
Country: United States
Release Date: May 16, 1997 – May 28, 1999
Network(s): HBO
Created by: Todd McFarlane
Distributed by: Warner Bros. Television Distribution
Starring: Keith David
Christopher Daniel Barnes
James Hanes
Dominique Jennings
James Keane
John Rafter Lee
Victor Love
Michael McShane
Kath Soucie
Seasons: 3
Episodes: 18


Todd McFarlane's Spawn, also known as Spawn: The Animated Series or simply Spawn, is an American adult animated superhero television series that aired on HBO from 1997 through 1999 and reran on Cartoon Network's Toonami programming block in Japan. It has also been released on DVD as a film series. The show is based on the Spawn character from Image Comics, and won an Emmy in 1999 for Outstanding Animation Program (longer than one hour).

Why It Rocks

  1. Gorgeous animation.
  2. Great art style that still looks good for today.
  3. The background and character designs are nice and stylish.
    • The characters themselves manage to look exactly like their comic counterparts.
  4. Great voice acting, especially from Keith David, who is absolutely incredible as Spawn and would later reprise the role as a DLC character in Mortal Kombat 11.
  5. Interesting and likable characters like Spawn/Al Simmons, Cyan Fitzgerald, Terry, Wanda, Sam and Twitch and Cogliostro.
  6. Interesting action scenes.
  7. There are a lot of emotional scenes.
  8. The show does a good job at depicting Hell as a horrible place with dark imagery for people who died.
  9. Great villains such as Violator, who manages to be threatening and hilarious at the same time.
  10. It is very faithful to the comic series it’s based on, and wasn't afraid of being dark like the comics.
  11. Interesting story about a Hellspawn wanting to see his wife again after being killed by his "close" friend and hired assassin named Chapel, who was much sympathetic than the Youngblood comics, where he was a member of the team of the same name and was unheroic and remorsefully murderous.

Bad Qualities

  1. The graphic violence, gore and dark tone can be disturbing for some people.
  2. Villains like the Freak and Malebolgia (the demon who turned Al Simmons into a Hellspawn as Spawn) do not appear in the show. Malebolgia is only mentioned throughout.
  3. Angela does not encounter Spawn in the show and only appears for a few minutes.
  4. The show went on 2 hiatuses that happened after Season 1 and 2 ended that lasted almost a year.
  5. Spawn can be unlikable sometimes.
  6. The series finale went off on a cliffhanger in season 3 where Spawn wants his humanity back and his reunion with his wife Wanda is left unknown by then in the comics.

Reception

The series has achieved a small but loyal cult following who praise the animation, writing, voice acting, music and dark tone, whereas the graphic violence and intentional unresolved cliffhanger has attracted some criticism. Variety stated in 1997 that "It’s as dark and complex as anything HBO has attempted in the live-action arena. And visually, it’s quite the stunner. HBO wanted different, and it surely got it." A more mixed review at the time in 1997 came from The Dallas Morning News, they questioned why anyone would "want to subject themselves to such a relentlessly grim, gruesome dehumanizing experience."

Legacy

Todd McFarlane's Spawn was ranked 5th on IGN's list of "The Greatest Comic Book Cartoons of All Time", and 23rd on IGN's list of "Top 25 Primetime Animated Series of All Time" (despite the fact the show was aired at midnight on HBO).

Series producer Eric Radomski reflected in a retrospective interview that "Spawn TAS was a personal triumph for me. Very rarely do artists get the opportunity to have as much uncensored creative freedom as I did at HBO on Spawn."

John Leekley who served as the head writer and showrunner for the second and third season revealed that some of the ideas for the scrapped fourth season involved the return of Angela looking to avenge the death of Jade who was her previous lover, several one time characters would've returned and had larger roles, a gang war spiraling out of control led by the ruthless Barrabas, Spawn befriending a runaway teenage girl named Kristen with a case of pyrophobia, a now disfigured Wynn looking for redemption, Chapel breaking out of the asylum and winds up a pawn for Angela, Merrimack having to team up with Twitch to save her daughter and most of the characters coming to the realization of Spawn's identity.

A sequel series titled Spawn: The Animation was in development in 2004 and was set to be released in 2007 with Keith David reprising his role but due to McFarlane wanting to push the animation further, the project ended up in production limbo until it was quietly cancelled, seemingly.

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