Call of Duty’s next season will summon Todd McFarlane’s Spawn as part of its battle pass — the series’ first to be headlined by a licensed character — and publisher Activision is going all-in on the undead hellspawn for Halloween. Call of Duty’s season 6 battle pass will include two Spawn-inspired Operators and six Spawn-themed skins when the new season launches later this month.
The games’ crossover with McFarlane’s 31-year-old comic book hero is timed to Call of Duty’s annual The Haunting event, which will run through spooky season.
In addition to Spawn as an Operator, his human form, Al Simmons, is also coming to Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, Warzone, and Modern Warfare 3 as a playable Operator. Spawn will be represented in his classic comic book form, accessorized with his oversized red cape, spiked armbands, bandoliers, and chains. Spawn will also get a “more tactical” skin, modeled after his “Commando Spawn” look from the comics and toys.
And if you prefer your Spawn well done, there’s a Burned Spawn skin for the Al Simmons Operator.
Spawn’s friends and foes are also coming to Call of Duty as skins for existing Operators. Here’s the full list, via Activision:
- Creepy Clown (Fender Skin) — A hell-born half-demon of considerable power and deviancy, the arch-villain Violator has taken the form of a rotund clown to anger Spawn.
- Violator (König Skin) — Closer to the true form, the cruel and arrogant Violator brings “death on two legs” in the form of a grotesquely headed Operator to further infuriate Spawn.
- Disruptor (Horangi Skin) — Masquerading as a businessman and responsible for the death and transformation of Al Simmons, Disruptor is known by many names and is feared as a crime lord.
- Soul Crusher (Vega Skin) — A mysterious rival of Spawn’s, Soul Crusher is an enigmatic figure, using noxious gasses to asphyxiate his victims into submission.
- Nikto Spawn (Nikto Skin) — Operator Nikto favors a similar tactical look and impressive mask getup and takes it to the next level with this Spawn homage.
Here’s a look at the full Spawn collaboration for Call of Duty season 6:
- Call of Duty’s Al Simmons Operator Image: Activision
- König’s Violator Skin Image: Activision
- Fender’s Creepy Clown skin Image: Activision
- Call of Duty’s Spawn Operator Image: Activision
- Al Simmons’ Burned Spawn skin Image: Activision
- Spawn’s Mil-Spawn skin Image: Activision
- Vega’s Soul Crusher skin Image: Activision
- Horangi’s Disruptor skin Image: Activision
- Image: Activision
Spawn creator Todd McFarlane told Polygon in an interview that he collaborated with Call of Duty thanks to an existing relationship with the company. McFarlane Toys has produced Call of Duty action figures stretching back to 2008. When Call of Duty’s developers reached out about taking their relationship in the other direction, McFarlane went all-in — as McFarlane tends to do.
“Originally, the ask was just for the OG Spawn,” McFarlane said. “And then very quickly, I said, ‘Well, Al Simmons, the guy underneath the mask, he’s lieutenant colonel Al Simmons. He was on a black ops team and got some of his skills based on his military training. So if you guys want to use that, so it’s not a guy running around in costume and a cape, [use him too].’ They went ‘Yeah, cool.’ And then I said, ‘I also have a version that I call Commando Spawn, [who] is essentially Spawn, saying, I don’t need to use any of my powers. I’m military.’
“Then they came back and asked if they could sort of pepper in a couple of other Spawn characters, just to expand the footprint of the mythology a little bit, as well as a couple other key players doing a little bit of cosplaying.”
McFarlane said he was probably more hands-off than other IP holders, adding that he’s “not corporate” and that he trusted the “geeks” working on Call of Duty to accurately bring his characters to the game.
“Because most of the people that are doing the developing are younger than me, and are already loyal [Spawn fans] they’re already going to pay homage to what I’m doing,” McFarlane said. “I don’t have to do that piece. What would I have to do, oddly, sometimes, is to get them away from their reverence and say, ‘OK, you’re a geek, you know about Spawn. Cool. Go do that version. What about the people who know nothing about Spawn? What can they play?’ And so that’s where the Al Simmons and a couple of the other [skins] came in.”
“As an artist myself, I always like to have as much freedom [as possible] to create and inspire and come up with things. So if they said, ‘Hey, Todd, we got this cool look, but we can’t have a cape.’ I would have gone, ‘Yeah, as long as you guys have done something cool.’ And if they said, ‘Hey, we’ve got this thing and the cape’s going to be 400-feet long. And here’s why.’ I would have gone, ‘Yeah, cool.’ I have to have trust that they know their game and their customer base.”
McFarlane is also keenly aware that the people who play Call of Duty — many of whom were born well after Spawn’s heyday — may not have any idea who Spawn is. And he’s not trying to get the tens of millions of Call of Duty players to become Spawn comic book readers. But he does hope players new to Spawn think he’s cool, and eventually see the long-promised new Spawn live-action movie.
“I don’t expect anybody to go out and start buying any of my [comics or toys],” he said. “That’s not the thing. Where I think there’s potentially a connecting point is when the movie comes out. Then all of a sudden, somebody who’s living in Spain, Portugal, Bosnia, or Czech Republic that was playing a lot of the character in Call of Duty goes, ‘What? Oh, my god. Spawn has a movie coming out? I’m gonna go see it, because I thought he was cool in that video game.’”