Albert Francis "Al" Simmons is the main protagonist – or rather the sub-protagonist in the Spawn series.
Malebolgia returns Al Simmons, now a Hellspawn, to the world, but with little memory, a badly disfigured body, limited yet seemingly boundless magical powers, and a monitor, the Clown, AKA Violator. Simmons slowly realizes that five years have passed. When he decides to visit his former wife, Wanda Blake for his "one final visit", he shapeshifts his body, but discovers his transformation ability cannot give him his former appearance. He discovers that his wife, Wanda Blake, has since married his best friend, Terry Fitzgerald, and the two have a daughter, Cyan.
Now known as Spawn, Al's first few adventures are anti-hero in nature: he takes down street gangs and organized crime (including their enforcer Overtkill), and he kills a child molester/murderer named Billy Kincaid. Most notable of all in his early adventures, Spawn would encounter Dave Sim's Cerebus the Aardvark. Spawn encounters Anti-Spawn, who is actually Jason Wynn (unknown to Al), and the Redeemer (a God-fearing man transformed in a similar fashion as Wynn). He survives an assault by Angela, an angel whose mission in Heaven is to hunt Hellspawns for sport and claims the Medieval Spawn as one of her trophies. As this occurs, he takes over the alleys that comprise "Rat City" and befriends the homeless within it, becoming their champion. In particular, an old bum named Cogliostro seems to know a lot about him. Cogliostro and the Clown act as polar guides for Al, trying to convince him to use his powers for good and evil respectively. The Clown shows that he can transform into his real form, a demon known as the Violator. In his earliest adventures, he also encounters Harry Houdini, who teaches Spawn some new tricks, saves Terry from being murdered by the mob. Spawn also brings his friend Bobby back to life after he's been killed by Chapel. In a spin-off issue, Spawn encounters Batman who subsequently throws a bat shuriken at him, slicing Al's face in two. Even though Spawn could use his limited energy to heal, he turns to his loyal friend Bobby, who instead ties it shut with a shoe lace. This shoe lace would eventually be removed by Terry Fitzgerald, and later worn as a necklace by Terry's daughter, Cyan Fitzgerald. "Shoestring face" Spawn would remain one of the iconic visuals of the character.