|First appearance||Spawn #9 (March 1993)|
|Created by||Todd McFarlane, Neil Gaiman|
|Alter ego||Cain Thomson|
|Notable aliases||Nicholas Cogliostro, Cog, The Count, Vlad, Father Nicholas, Black Dark Hood, Abramelin/Merlin|
Cogliostro (//; also Cog) is a fictional character in Todd McFarlane's Spawn comic series. Cogliostro was created in 1993 by author Neil Gaiman and artist Todd McFarlane and introduced in Spawn issue #9.
Fictional character biography
Cogliostro first appears as a homeless man, but he seems to know more about Spawn's situation than Spawn himself. Cog informs Spawn that his powers draw on a limited energy source, and that using it up will condemn him to eternal torment in Hell. He is the angel on Spawn's right shoulder, opposite the Violator, who exhorts Spawn to revel in death and destruction for its own sake.
Eventually, Cogliostro reveals that he is also a Hellspawn, having forsaken Malebolgia long ago, and refuses to use his powers; he has one "tick" of necroplasmic power left, and any use of any of his Hell-granted powers will end his Earthly existence. Still, that single bit of power has extended his lifespan to centuries, and he does not want the newest Spawn to fall to the darkness that created both of them.
After an absence in the Spawn comics after #100, Cogliostro returned to Spawn and is revealed that he is dying and that he's terrified of Hell's status ever since Spawn abandoned the throne after defeating Malebolgia. It is then after this that Spawn reveals to Cog his plan to turn Earth into a new paradise, or Utopia.
Spawn and Cog then travel to the deserts of Tunisia for permission from the Greenworld to transform Earth into Spawn's ideal world until he is attacked by the third Redeemer as an act of vengeance. After the battle, Spawn is abducted by a pair of giant scorpions as they drag him to Hell, where he is being awaited by demons.
Redeemer, now aware of what he did wrong, travels to Hell to help Spawn battle the demons whose ideas were to battle for the throne of Hell. After a frustrating battle against Violator, Spawn summons all the past Hellspawn before him to help him with the other demons and takes back the throne of Hell.
Cog then runs to Spawn with the mysterious box given to him and tells Spawn that this is what he needs to help him turn Earth into a paradise. Spawn opens the box which turns Hell into an Eden-like world and sees his widow, Wanda, and runs to her, only to be caught in a trap laid by Cog.
It is revealed that Cogliostro was born as Cain, the first murderer, and since the beginning he wanted to rule Hell rather than serve it. It was now clear that the only reason Cogliostro helped Spawn was to enable him to gain the throne of Hell, making him the new ruler.
After this act of betrayal, Cog decided to give Spawn "what he always wanted" and sent him to Earth back as Al Simmons without the Hellspawn symbiote attached to him. Cain has not been seen since but has been briefly mentioned, such as his plans of building a tower in Hell to pierce Heaven.
The Redeemer tells Nyx while in Hell that the demons say that Cog has locked himself away in the Black Tower and given control over the 8th Sphere to the greater demons. It is later revealed that he was hard at work building the tower higher and higher so that it can reach Heaven. Once the tower penetrates into the realm of Heaven, the forces of Hell will be free to invade Heaven's gates directly.
In 1993 McFarlane contracted Neil Gaiman (as well as other recognized authors like Frank Miller and Dave Sim) to write one issue of his Spawn series. While doing so, Gaiman introduced the characters Cogliostro, Angela, and Medieval Spawn. All three characters were based on characters created by Todd McFarlane and were co-created with Todd McFarlane who designed them and all continued to be featured in the series after Gaiman's involvement, and had many tie-ins with McFarlane's toy company. Cogliostro had a prominent role in the live-action movie in 1997. McFarlane had initially agreed that Gaiman retained co-creator rights on the characters but later claimed that Gaiman's work had been work-for-hire and that McFarlane owned all of Gaiman's creations entirely, pointing to the legal indicia in Spawn #9, and the lack of legal contract stating otherwise. McFarlane had also refused to pay Gaiman for the volumes of Gaiman's work he republished and kept in print. In 2002, Gaiman filed suit and won a sizeable judgement against McFarlane and Image Comics and the rights due any creator. Gaiman v. McFarlane, 360 F.3d 644 (7th Cir. 2004). All 3 characters are currently co-owned 50/50 by both men.
In other media
Nicol Williamson portrayed Cogliostro in the 1997 film adaptation, where he was the black knight (Sir John Of York) from the fifteenth century who became a Hellspawn after his death; but at some point successfully freed his soul from the demons' control and now fights on the side of Heaven. He becomes Al's teacher and instructs him in how to use his necroplasm armor. This version lacks his symbiotic armor, but appears to possess some supernatural abilities, such as a sharp blade that automatically extends from his right arm.
Richard Dysart provided his voice in the animated series, where he has a different background than in the comic, becoming more like the character of Lord Covenant. Cogliostro was a knight during the age of chivalry, becoming a hellspawn known as the Black Knight. Ultimately however, he found his servitude to Malebolgia to be in violation of his honor, leading him to take up black magic to free himself, thereby becoming Merlin of the Arthurian legend. From then on, he sought to save at least one hellspawn in order to redeem himself, a goal he seems to be approaching towards the end of Spawn 3: The Ultimate Battle with Al Simmons pledging himself to his teachings.
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