Red? Check. Dead? Double check! Redemption? ...eh, working on it.
Jeremy Winslow, a landowner in the town of Bane, was pursued by the wealthy businessman of the town, Ed Kemper, who wished
to take Jeremy's land. After not being able to get the land by traditional means, Ed Kemper slaughtered Jeremy's family and framed Jeremy for their murders. Jeremy was hanged for the crime without a trial, but Mammon, demon of wealth and greed and one of the seven princes of hell, came to him when he was close to death and promised him the power to enact his revenge on Ed Kemper. Jeremy agreed and was transformed into a Hellspawn and killed everyone in town except for one individual asked by Mamon to spare. This individual would be the ancestor of Al Simmons. When Jeremy's job was complete he descended to hell.
Interesting, I had no idea that was Gunslinger Spawn's backstory. Or that he even had a backstory. Like everyone else, I knew him best from his old action figure, and that one had no information at all. He was just a cowboy Spawn, and that was enough. 16 years later, we get a new version.
Gunslinger Spawn has been slightly redesigned for this release. His iconic red cape is still reimagined here as a duster,
though it no longer has the big flap on the shoulders. The Spawn skulls are moved from the lapels to a necklace he wears beneath the coat. Spiked pads cover the forearms now, and the crossed gun belts are adorned with extra bullets instead of chains and spikes. In fact, this Spawn doesn't have chains at all - quite the departure! There are pouches around his thighs, bands around the biceps, and rings of spikes around the top of his boots and more over the top of the foot. And of course, spurs!
The defining feature of Gunslinger Spawn in the original art
and the old toy was his ridiculously tall hat. Since Gunslinger Spawn was just a background design in Angel Medina's artwork, the hat was designed to stand out in a crowd and accentuate the character's rigidly upright posture - in a different pose, a typically flat hat would have worked. But now "tall hat" is associated with the character, so a tall hat is what he wears. It isn't as tall as the old toy's, but it still has the skull-laden hat band. The white eye spots on his mask are the more a smoother style, as well.
One difference you may not notice is the paint: the 2005 figure was wearing blue jeans, faded from wear and looking generally old and weathered; the 2021 figure is still in jeans, but they're black. It may be more "Spawn-y," having an all-black costume, but it means there's less contrast overall. Bring back a modicum of color, Gunslinger! Put in a strong enough light, you'll notice that Spawn's costume (covering his hands, chest, and face) is black with a slightly bluish tint, while his pants are black with a yellow/tan tint. So it's not one solid color all the way up and down, but it's not as visually diverse as it could have been, especially under normal lighting.
The major flaw with the old toy was the same flaw every McFarlane toy had back then: lack of articulation. Sure, there
were a few joints, but they didn't actually change his pose at all; they were just to help get the plastic out of its steel molds. These days things are a lot better! Gunslinger Spawn moves at the toes, ankles, knees, thighs, hips, waist, chest, wrists, elbows, biceps, shoulders, and neck. Until now, Gunslinger Spawn was stuck in his "slap leather" stance; now he can do that, he can stand like the comic art, he can do whatever you want. So much potential! So much time wasted on old figures that had awesome designs but moved like junk, all because Todd was too stubborn to listen to fans telling him what they wanted to buy.
The figure is called Gunslinger Spawn, not Nothingslinger Spawn, so clearly he's going to come with some guns. A pair of pistols fits in the holsters on his hips, and a simple rifle fits in the sling on
his back. He holds the handguns well enough, but the finger guard on the rifle is too small for you to actually fit his claws through, meaning he'll never really grip it properly. It alo gets pretty bent by its time in the tray, and then gets bent again by being in the rifle holster. Not ideal. He's gotta stop using such soft PVC for his accessories!
When Todd took Spawn to Kickstarter, it was because he couldn't get stores interested in carrying Spawn toys. Well, apparently earning three and a half million dollars is a good way to get attention, because now there's a full series available on the pegs at mass retail. Gunslinger Spawn is a Target exclusive in Series 1 (because "guns," I guess? Like, aiming at targets with your guns?), but if you can't find him now, he'll be available everywhere in Series 2, with a Gatling gun instead of the rifle. Having a version of this fan-favorite design that's an actual toy instead of a statue is long overdue, and gets us thinking about what other classics we might one day see be good enough.