Genre: Animation | Crime | Fantasy | Action | Drama | Horror
Rating: 8.5/10 886 votes
Todd McFarlane's Spawn
Adult, stylish, and more than a little mean, this full-length animated tale has one very strong thing going for it--it knows how to milk "cool." The animation is superior to anything recently devoted to a superhero...or super-antihero, in this case. Al Simmons was a government assassin before he was burned to death and sent to hell (plot summary's starting out nicely, isn't it?). After making a particularly bad deal with the devil--to lead Satan's dark armies in exchange for seeing his wife again--Spawn is let loose upon the world. He immediately whacks three mob hit men, making his presence known and getting himself into all sorts of trouble. Spawn is also visited by the Clown, an obese, disgusting Beatrice, guiding our third-degree-burned Dante through this hellish, topside world. There are other nasty characters, but in this first segment a very gratuitous inclusion of a child murderer goes too far for even this mature fare. Spawn isn't fun; there's very little joy in any of this. But the point isn't fun--it's brutal, adult-comic style. And there's plenty of it.
Todd McFarlane's Spawn 2
From the mind of comic-book maestro Todd McFarlane comes the second season of episodes of the animated Spawn. Highly stylized animation and provocative story lines make Spawn a sophisticated cartoon sometimes more appropriate for older audiences. Murder victim Al Simmons has returned from hell to earth as a "hellspawn," a soldier for the army of darkness sent to collect more souls for hell. In these episodes, Spawn meets the man who assassinated him and becomes suspicious of the organization that ordered him killed. Jason Wynn, the leader of the group, plans to sell weapons of mass destruction stolen from the military. Spawn's former wife, Wanda, has since remarried Terry Fitzgerald, with whom Spawn must reconcile. Terry is hot on the trail of the missing arms, and Wynn and his assassins, including the highly trained Merrick, set out to kill Terry, Wanda, and their daughter, Cyan. Spawn foils the plot while realizing the hard truth that Wanda has a new life.
Spawn 3: The Ultimate Battle
The third chapter of this compelling HBO miniseries answers a number of questions--namely, who is the omnipotent old man who hides in the shadows and why is the mysterious Asian reporter (Jade) investigating the alley murders? Spawn has reached a crossroads, and he must choose between the forces of darkness and light. But it's not clear-cut: Al (Spawn) must deliberate over the seemingly minor differences that separate heaven and hell in his world. As a former assassin for the NSA, he "opened the eyes of hell" with his iniquitous deeds of depravity; therefore, his journey to hell was preordained. But this particular section of the series intriguingly asks, What if you had no choice, and killing was not just the only way out of a squeeze but was also your fate? Intellectual stuff, indeed. But as with the rest of the series, a profound metaphysical puzzle is brought to the fore without justifying it with an answer. It's frustrating, but also keeps you firmly planted in your chair, pondering conundrum after conundrum.