The series centered around the story of an ex-serviceman who fought in the Vietnam war as a commando named Al Simmons. He was betrayed and killed by a man whom he believed to be his close friend (the man, Chapel, burned him alive with a flamethrower). Upon his death, Simmons vowed revenge on Chapel and hoped that he would one day return to his beloved wife Wanda.
In order to accomplish his vow, he makes a pact with the devil (referred to in the series as Malebolgia). The pact was a simple one: Simmons would become a general in Malebolgia's army (known as the “Hellspawn” or “Spawn” for short) in return for the ability to walk the earth once again in order to see Wanda. Simmons was tricked however and his body was not returned to him. Simmons had instead been given a different body which was a festering, pungently cadavourous, maggot-ridden walking corpse that had a massive living red cape attached to it. The head of this new body had been rotten for some time and was in an advanced state of decay, which led to Simmons donning a mask in order to cover its grotesque appearance.The series depicts Spawn nesting in the dark alley ways, killing any who invade his newfound territory. Rejecting these actions as unworthy of Spawn's time and power, Malebolgia then dispatches another of his minions (a demonic creature known as Violator that assumes the form of an obese clown) to try and sway Spawn into committing acts of violence and savagery in the name of Hell.
Spawn struggles to fight the lure of evil as well as seeking to escape being hunted by not only the forces of Hell but also must defend himself from assailants from Heaven, who have a need to destroy the Hellspawn in order to cripple the forces of Hell so they do not gain an edge in the escalating war between the two spiritual hosts. As the war intensifies the line between the forces of good and evil become increasingly blurry. Spawn finds help along the way in the form of a disheveled old man named Cogliostro who was once a Hellspawn that overcame the demonic powers resting within, amongst a number of other characters.
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