Mal Duncan as Vox in Teen Titans vol. 3 #36 (July 2006)
Art by Tony Daniel
|First appearance||Teen Titans #26
|Created by||Robert Kanigher|
|Alter ego||Malcolm Arnold "Mal" Duncan|
|Team affiliations||Doom Patrol
|Notable aliases||Guardian, Hornblower, Herald|
Malcolm "Mal" Arnold Duncan, currently known as Vox (also known as the Guardian, Hornblower, and the Herald), is a fictional character, existing in DC Comics' main shared universe. He made his first appearance in Teen Titans #26 (March–April 1970), and is one of DC's first black superheroes.
Fictional character biography
Malcolm "Mal" Duncan saves the Teen Titans from a street gang called the Hell Hawks by beating their leader in a boxing match. Recruited by the Teen Titans, Mal feels unworthy due to his lack of abilities, and stows away on a rocket flight, which nearly costs him his life. After a time, Mal discovers a strength-enhancing exoskeleton and the costume of the Guardian. Using these, he becomes the second Guardian.
After assuming the Guardian mantle, Mal fights Azrael - The Angel of Death. Believing it to be a hallucination, Mal is surprised to awaken with the mystical Gabriel's Horn. Having defeated Azrael, Mal is permitted to live, provided he never loses another fight. The horn grants Mal unspecified powers, whenever the odds are against him in battle. Armed with the horn, Mal assumes the name Hornblower.
Mal soon returns to his Guardian identity, claiming that too many people knew he was Hornblower. In truth, the Horn had been stolen. He marries Karen Beecher (Bumblebee), before moving to California. He is an accomplished jazz musician and owns a nightclub named "Gabriel's Horn".
Following the Crisis on Infinite Earths, Mal's uncostumed adventures are unchanged. However, in post-Crisis canon, he never took the identity of Guardian, and the Gabriel's Horn is given a very different origin. While the other Titans are on a mission, Mal inadvertently releases an old villain, the Gargoyle (formerly Mr. Twister), from Limbo. He recaptures the villain, but finds the plans for a high-tech horn that would create spatial warps. With the help of Karen, he builds the horn and takes the identity of Herald. However, the Gargoyle implanted a computer virus into the horn that weakens the boundaries between the mortal world and Limbo, so he and his master, the Antithesis, will eventually escape. When Mal discovers this, he destroys the horn. He and Karen retire from super heroics, and move to California.
While it seemed first that the introduction of the Herald identity retconned away the Hornblower name, later issues of Dan Jurgens' Teen Titans run confirmed that Mal had used the name Hornblower as well.
During the JLA/Titans event, Mal acquires a new Gabriel's Horn, and later, he and Bumblebee join the short-lived Titans LA. In the Titans Tomorrow storyline, the Mal of the alternate future becomes president of the Eastern United States.
When Doctor Light captures Green Arrow, taking him as a hostage and demanding to see the Titans (a plot to take revenge on the team that had often humiliated him), Mal, Bumblebee, and about two dozen other former Titans are assembled to fight him. He and Bumblebee then join a team of heroes gathered by Troia to embark on an ominous mission into deep space during Infinite Crisis. The group eventually encounters a rift in the universe caused by Alexander Luthor, who is re-creating the multiverse and restructuring it to create the "perfect" universe—a plan that would lead to the deaths of billions of people, and the entire post-crisis DC Universe. The team of heroes in space is able to temporarily stop Luthor, but in the resulting chaos they are scattered; some are killed, while others go missing for varying lengths of time, including Mal and Karen.
Four weeks after disappearing in space, Mal is rescued from a Zeta Beam transport accident. His lungs and vocal cords were damaged after the Gabriel's Horn blew up in his face. Mal's body rejected the cybernetic grafting of parts from the Red Tornado until Steel used his Pseudocyte technology to permanently graft the parts into Mal's body.
One Year Later
A year after the events in Infinite Crisis, Mal has joined the Doom Patrol alongside his wife Bumblebee. Now going by the codename Vox, Mal speaks with a synthesized voice box which can create sonic blasts and open dimensional portals similar to the Gabriel Horn. Later, in an issue of the newest Doom Patrol series, Mal and Karen are now divorced.
Powers and abilities
Formerly, his Gabriel Horn could open up multi-dimensional portals, and generate sonic blasts. He now relies on artificial lungs and voice box to achieve the same effects. He also has a background in boxing and is in good physical shape.
In other media
- Herald first appears in the Teen Titans episode "Calling All Titans" voiced by Khary Payton. Unlike in the comic books, Herald wears a mask. Blowing his horn allows him to open portals into other dimensions (or other places in his present dimension, including outer space). Herald is an honorary Titan, and fights off See-More and Warp. While doing so, his communicator is disabled. In "Titans Together," he teamed up with Jericho, Pantha, Más, and Beast Boy in a rescue mission to save the remaining Titans. They were overpowered, but reinforcements arrived. The Herald used his horn to get rid of Punk Rocket and the dragon Malchior. He also saved the Titans by teleporting the Brain's fusion bomb into outer space.
- Mal Duncan appears in the Young Justice episode "Targets" voiced by Kevin Michael Richardson. He is portrayed as a student at the high school that Conner and M'gann attend. He and Conner are shown to be at odds with each other, "facing him down" (as Marvin puts it) before class starts. He is again shown in "Secrets" at the school's Halloween dance where he has dressed up as "Superman, done right" (Superboy's costume from his original comic appearance). However, in this episode, he and Conner appear to be at peace with each other. In "Happy New Year", Mal is still with Karen who has officially become Bumblebee and joined the team at some point within the five-year gap between seasons one and two. Mal Duncan has also joined the team and serves as their mission coordinator. According to Greg Weisman, he will assume a superhero identity sometime in Season 2. In Season 2 in the episode "Cornered", when Despero locks down the Hall of Justice and disables most of the team, Mal dons the uniform of Guardian and engages the villain, distracting him long enough for Superboy, Miss Martian and Zatanna to come up with a plan to disable Despero. He later continues to use the Guardian identity for the rest of the series and is a full team member, presumably a superhero as well.
- Herald was also featured in an issue of Teen Titans Go! wherein he helped Raven find Pantha, Kole, Gnarrk, and Beast Boy. While he isn't married to Bumblebee in the animated continuity, their relationship is alluded to in #39 where Larry The Titan shoots them with Cupid's Love Arrows. In Teen Titans #48, he helps send Killowat back to his dimension in the Multiverse.
- Mal Duncan did not have any powers, devices or costume until Teen Titans #44 (November 1976). Vykin first appeared in Forever People #1 (February/March 1971). Legion of Super-Heroes member Tyroc was introduced in Superboy #216 (April 1976). John Stewart was introduced as a Green Lantern (and the designated substitute for Hal Jordan) in Green Lantern #87 (December 1971/January 1972)
- His surname "Duncan" is revealed in Teen Titans #44 (November 1976), and his formal first name "Malcolm" is revealed in Teen Titans #45 (December 1976). Prior to these issues, he is known simply as "Mal"
- Teen Titans #26 (March–April 1970)
- Teen Titans #27 (May–June 1970)
- Teen Titans #44 (November 1976)
- Teen Titans #45 (December 1976)
- Teen Titans #49 (August 1977)
- Tales of the Teen Titans #50 (February 1985)
- Secret Origins Annual #3 (1989)
- JLA/Titans #1-3 (December 1998-February 1999)
- Titans Secret Files #2 (October 2000)
- Teen Titans #22 & 23 (May & June 2005)
- Teen Titans #29 (October 2005)
- 52 #4 & 5 (May 31 & June 7, 2006)
- Teen Titans (vol. 3) #35 (June 2006)
- Beatty, Scott (2008), "Doom Patrol", in Dougall, Alastair, The DC Comics Encyclopedia, New York: Dorling Kindersley, p. 109, ISBN 0-7566-4119-5, OCLC 213309017
- Ratcliffe, Amy (March 17, 2012). "WonderCon: Young Justice Season 2's Alien Invasion". Retrieved August 23, 2012.