What follows is a submission to McFarlane’s call for alternate takes and untold tales of Spawn. It was the idea that the Spawn story might be less about Judeo-Christian good vs. evil and more about the wheels within wheels that get us all to where we’re trying to go. All art is by Ricardo Tercio, who is fantastic, and hopefully going to collaborate with me on a project in the near future.
I also prepped a pitch of a malevolent Spawn (aren’t they all supposed to be?) as Jack the Ripper to be drawn by Molly Crabapple, but that’s basically the concept. Oh, and guess why he stops terrorizing Whitechapel? If you guessed the woman he’s stalking is an angelic bounty hunter, congratulations on achieving sentience, Plot-O-Tron 9000!
CONCEPT: Spawn in ancient India
Tapasvin (Ancient India Spawn, the reincarnation of legendary warrior-prince Duryodhana)
Vritra (a manifestation of Violator)
Durga (a demon-hunting goddess)
Krishna (a Redeemer/Anti-Spawn)
Not everyone believes in Heaven and Hell, so why should an ancient Indian prince experience the cosmic browbeating that creates hellspawn in those terms? Our Spawn, Tapasvin, was originally the great warrior Duryodhana, slain in battle and cast onto the wheel of karma. At once noble and despicable, he finds himself reincarnated as the very embodiment of Tamas, a state of being in Hindu ontology that is dense, dark and deadly. His aim is to liberate his soul through actions that can redeem his past sins.
Treated as worse than an untouchable, we meet him as a back-alley beggar and leper, an ignored holy man who seeks to avoid his hellish mission. That doesn’t spare him from battle with the demon-hunting goddess Durga, but in the course of the fight, he recognizes the true nature of time and space, he uses his fading necrotic energies to travel back to the battle of Kurukshetra, where he died. There, he plants the seed in his own soul that will one day liberate him from the crushing wheel of karma.
He also seeks to reason with the men about to kill him, Prince Arjuna and his brother Bhima. Making that difficult is their charioteer, a Redeemer/Anti-Spawn as an aspect of Krishna. Arjuna questions whether it’s right do do battle against friends and family, and Krishna answers that dharma, or duty, demands we act a certain way regardless of personal cost. He unfolds his divine form, inadvertently revealing a final truth to Tapasvin/Spawn.
Spawn battles Krishna, abandoning his own reticence, reveling in his true nature as a Hellspawn as is his duty to the wheel of karma. He lets himself be struck down in battle because this confrontation with the divine purifies his sins and expurgates his negligence to dharma, and we see him escaping the wheel for a spot in Heaven.