Spawn the Animated Series

And now Spawn - so turn off your lights!

Reviewed by: Alicia Glass
Published on: March 3, 2022 (URL is not
Available on: Hulu, HBO Max
Content release date: 1997-05-16

Review Rating: 7.5

Al Simmons is a former government-trained assassin, gunned down in war and returned from Hell as Hellspawn, a ranking officer in the Devil’s army.

For it’s time, and even now, Spawn the Animated Series broke tons of barriers and made a great name for dark cartoons. The style of the cartoon, the violence and swearing, and even just the origin mythos of Spawn being made into an animated series on HBO of all things, combine to make an absolutely riveting show.

So Al (Keith David) loves his wife Wanda (Dominique Jennings) very much. Like, a little too much. He literally clawed his way out of Hell, by promising Malbolja (the Devil) to serve as Hellspawn, the bringer of the Devil’s will and work upon the earth, if only Spawn could see Wanda again. What he didn’t anticipate is that he would look like how he died, flash-fried government assassin, and that it would be a years after he died for his actual return. Nor could Spawn have anticipated that his former best friend would marry Wanda, and that they would have a child, Cyan. Or that the Devil would send the Mad Clown Violator to watch him, or that Cogliostro (Richard Dysart) himself would be haunting the alleyways Spawn decides to claim. Spawn comes equipped with flying chains, a semi-sentient red cloak, mystical powers and helpful amnesia, so when Cogliostro speaks to him in riddles, he lashes out in anger or determined ignorance.

The first season, which does happen to be my favorite, tells the origin story of Spawn, and what he chooses to do now that he’s back. Imagine, sacrificing your whole world, face and body and even potentially life and soul, for the person you love, only to come back to earth to find them moved on. You can’t wish her ill; what does Spawn do now? He takes to the mean streets and begins cleaning up the mafia and gang wars, protecting the alley mushrooms as they refer to the homeless that hole up there, and begins hunting the people who got him killed on assignment in the first place. Enemies are closing in all around him, and Spawn is running out of time to decide whom to serve – Malbolja the Devil, or his own agenda! The show is a wonderfully dark romp, and every show when it was on HBO began with an intro from creator McFarlane himself, saying, “And now Spawn – so turn off your lights.”