Todd McFarlane, the iconic comic book artist and Image Comics co-founder, is hoping to make Spawn a chart-topper again, turning to Eisner Award-winning writer Paul Jenkins.
It's part of a complete overhaul of Spawn that launches with the February/March issue Spawn: Resurrection #1, then picks up in issue #251 of the regular Spawn series. Jenkins' launch of the new direction, which McFarlane announced at the Image Comics Expo, follows January's 250th anniversary, 64-page issue #250, which McFarlane wrote himself.
Spawn #250 will also coincide with the release of all 250 issues digitally at one time.
McFarlane said he challenged Jenkins to surprise him with new additions to the character's mythology. "The frustrating thing over 20 years has been writers regurgitating my own stuff back at me," said McFarlane. "If you make me look like a dumb-ass, and readers ask, why didn’t Todd do this years go? You’re doing your job. Show me stuff I haven’t seen before,” McFarlane told Newsarama about what he wants from Jenkins.
"Who are his parents, what’s his motivation, the origin of his costume?" McFarlane said. "Give me something new about his mythology. Surprise me and surprise the reader."
Spawn was a best-selling title when it launched in 1992, after McFarlane and a handful of top comics creators from Marvel formed their own independent publishing company, Image Comics. Spawn became such a hit that it was adapted into a 1997 film and late '90s HBO animated series.
The 2015 revamped Spawn is something McFarlane has been touting for the last few months, originally working with then-current Spawn writer Brian Wood, who left the project in December. According to interviews with Wood, the writer was removed from the title after objecting to rewrites.
Jenkins' new direction for Spawn, which is being drawn by incoming artist Jonboy Meyers, will bring back Al Simmons, the original Spawn, after the character died in issue #185. McFarlane said he challenged Jenkins to bring back Simmons as "a changed, more mature man."
This isn't Jenkins' first time working in the Spawn universe, having written the spin-off stories Spawn: The Undead and Spawn: Blood and Shadows. The British writer is well-known for his work at both DC and Marvel, and he won his Eisner for work on Inhumans, the property being featured in a Marvel Studios film in 2018.
McFarlane said Jenkins and Spawn are "like two brothers in the sandbox," and said Jenkins pitched a year's worth of stories, although he expects the pitch for year two "any day."
"I hope [Paul] hangs around 10 years," McFarlane said.
McFarlane also announced a new eight-issue limited-series starting in April he co-wrote with former Spawn writer Brian Holguin and drawn by Clayton Crain, which McFarlane reports is completely illustrated.
Savior asks the question: What if the most dangerous man on Earth was also the one trying to do the most good?
“The world is real. The people are normal. And then he appears” reads a press release description of the series.
“A man appears with no background, no memory and no place to call home. But he has powers. Powers that seem resemble those we learned about in Sunday School. Could it be?! Is it possible that this man is much, much more than that? Is it possible that he is our 'Savior' in the flesh? And if he is, then why doesn't he know who he is or how he got his powers.”
“Strip away the spandex and trappings of the traditional comic super hero and ask yourself the simple question of, ‘How would I react if God suddenly appeared in front of me, but everything we had been taught about him seem out of whack?’ What you would have left, beyond your own doubts, is the presence of a man who has to deal with the fact that his appearance in the world is seen as both a blessing and a curse.
“Some will see him as a hero; a messiah. Other will see him as an enemy because there isn't room for a person with god-like powers to disrupt the status quo of what we already believe. Some will rally behind him. Others will denounce him. But none of us will be able to ignore him.
“It’s an idea I’ve had for a while that if you strip away the spandex and trappings of the traditional American superheroes, what is left is the conflict of the individual having to deal with the powers and questioning where is his place in society,” added McFarlane, who compared Savior is a serious take on Monty Python’s Life of Brian.
“Does that make him a danger or someone others look to in order to get them through the day?
“It’s asking the question: what would happen if any one of us got hit by a bolt of lightening and what if we were gifted with powers we didn’t know how to control? What would that mean to us?”