The 50 greatest comic-book characters

Batman? Superman? Groot, even? The greatest comic-book characters in the canon have been debated and argued over for decades. The creations of Bon Kane, Bill Finger, Jerry Siegel, Joe Shuster, Stan Lee and co. undoubtedly form a might canon – in every sense. Empire has delved into it and picked 50 super-powered specimens we believe stand are the greatest in the pantheon.

50. SPAWN (Spawn)

AKA: AL SIMMONS

In 1992 a group of Marvel’s top artists, frustrated with having their work exploited, walked out to form Image Comics, a place where creators would retain the rights to the characters they created. Among their numerous launch titles, Spawn would prove to be by far the most popular. Created by Spider-Man legend Todd MacFarlane, Spawn was a murdered CIA operative who makes a deal with the demon Malebolgia, returning to Earth as an immortal, Hellspawn. While he began as a traditional – if unorthodox – vigilante hero, Spawn grew increasingly dark over time, slipping further into an anti-hero role as the theology-heavy storylines became increasingly twisted. His popularity has since waned, but Spawn remains an iconic crusader, both for the characters in his stories and creator-owned comic books.

Trademarks: A Billowing, semi-sentient cape, trailing chains, glowing green eyes and hell-derived magical powers.
On Screen: An award-winning HBO animated series ran in the late ’90s, as well as a markedly less successful live action movie starring Michael Jai White. A sequel is currently in development and has been since 1998.
Did You Know?: The scope of Spawn’s hell magic is limited only by his imagination. The energy fuelling it, however, is not and if Spawn ever exhausts his reserves it’s a one-way ticket back to hell.

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