In an era where frequent relaunches have made high numbers a rare thing in mainstream comics, original Image Comics series "Spawn" is very near issue #250 -- and franchise creator Todd McFarlane is ready to commemorate the occasion.
"Spawn" #250 -- targeted for release in December of this year -- will feature the return of the original Spawn, Al Simmons. For the past six years, the lead character of "Spawn" has been a man named Jim Downing, a new Hellspawn. But with "Spawn" #250, Simmons is set to return, and McFarlane said it will be a "new, improved Al Simmons."
"He's going to come back and be the aggressor," McFarlane told CBR News, calling the returned Simmons a "badass," who's no longer trying to figure out his powers or his place.
RELATED: Al Simmons Goes Bad in "Image United
With the return of an old character comes a new creative team. McFarlane said the team isn't yet nailed down, but a new writer and a new artist will be coming to the series, and he's talking to "heavy hitters" and hoping to finalize things soon, perhaps as soon as the end of this week's Comic-Con International in San Diego.
"I picture myself as a solid writer, but I'm looking for someone to be way sexier than me," McFarlane said, looking for a writer that won't "regurgitate" what McFarlane did for 20 years -- a task including the addition of new villains to the "Spawn" rogues gallery. Other writers have joined McFarlane on "Spawn" over the years, but McFarlane told CBR his instructions to the new writer will be, "Assume I just handed you the copyright: What would be the first thing you'd do?"
McFarlane -- who in the past year has disclosed his work on a new "Spawn" film in interviews -- will still have a role in the "Spawn" creative process, though on more of a big-picture level. "It's tougher and tougher when I'm doing the work myself," he said. "If I can get somebody I'm simpatico with, I can get way more done, and arguably in a more exciting way."
Part of the motivation for the changes, McFarlane said, is to make "Spawn" more accessible for new readers, following the series running for 22 years. The new creative team will start with the epilogue of #250, before taking over fully with #251.
Along with the return of Al Simmons and the new creative team, "Spawn" is also coming to digital for the first time, in what McFarlane describes as a "bit of an experiment." As a latecomer to digital distribution, McFarlane said there's a part of him that says "still hold out," but he's discussing with comiXology about how best to roll out 250 issues worth of material.
Originally, McFarlane said, he was hoping to build his own comics app (comparing it to what he's done with his toy line over the years), to take advantage of the digital canvas, and he's still talking to comiXology about unique digital extras that may be possible. "Almost from the time digital started to today, there hasn't been a lot of evolution with it, per se," the creator said.
McFarlane said he has a "sense of pride" with hitting issue #250, despite the aversion most mainstream comics have for high numbers -- although he did discuss the possibility of a new #1. "Spawn" #248, written by McFarlane and with art by Syzmon Kudranski, is solicited for October, positioning these changes scheduled for the end of the year.
The landmark "Spawn" #250 is expected in December.