|First appearance||Spawn #1 (May 1992)|
|Created by||Todd McFarlane|
Malebolgia (also referred to at times as the Malebolgia) is a fictional demonic character, appearing as the original main antagonist in comic books featuring the superhero Spawn. Created by writer/artist Todd McFarlane, the character first appeared in Spawn #1 (May 1992). The name Malebolgia is derived from the term in Dante's Inferno used to describe Malebolge, the ditches (bolge) in the eighth circle of Hell, where humans who committed the sin Fraud are punished. He is Spawn's former master and archenemy who serves as one of the major Lords of Hell.
Thought to be the equivalent of Satan in the Bible, he is responsible for the creation of Spawn. It is eventually revealed that Malebolgia is one of Hell's many rulers, a being from the "Eighth Circle of Hell" who has been around for approximately 70,000 years, forming an army in his war against Heaven and God. It has been noted that Malebolgia is constantly at war with the rulers of the other spheres of Hell, as well as at odds with Mammon.
Malebolgia is one of the few characters from the Spawn universe who has made an appearance or a cameo in other Image books outside the core Spawn title and its spin-offs. He is notably absent, but is mentioned, during Chapel's rise to power in Hell when he usurps control of Hell away from Lucifer and becomes Lord Chapel as part of a large Image crossover including Prophet, Supreme, and the groups Youngblood, Brigade. Lucifer also appears in the Angela mini-series, quite different from the Lucifer in the Liefeld-laden crossover. That leaves Malebolgia and Mammon as the highest ranking devil-like characters in Spawn canon, until the actual appearance of Satan in the Spawn Comics.
Malebolgia is slain by Spawn in issue #100. Spawn is offered the crown of the Eighth Circle, and though he declines, Spawn still receives vastly enhanced powers and a command over Hell itself. It has become known that Mammon is a far more commanding presence in Hell than Malebolgia. Though Malebolgia is given self-determination and rule over a level of Hell, he is far from the most powerful being in The Pit.
As Spawn issue #199 ends, the now-returned "Freak" from early Spawn canon is attacked by Clown, who rips the Freak's arms off. The Freak laughs it off and lets Clown know that he is not scared of him or any other of the Spawns because they are all "his." Clown quickly shies away as the Freak begins to transform. After reattaching his arm, the Freak transports Violator to Hell. Upon returning to Hell, Violator regains his full strength, as well as his senses. Fear consumes Violator as he looks deep into the Freak's eye, which become all too familiar to him. Violator trembles in fear and astonishment. The Freak reveals his true identity to be Malebolgia. After being defeated by Al Simmons, the Lords of Hell cut off Malebolgia's power and set up "road blocks" to ensure that he never returned. Betrayed, Malebolgia swears to regain his true power and form and kill all those who tried to prevent his return, including the Violator who had sided with Malebolgia's greatest rival, Mammon, after Malebolgia's fall. Malebolgia orders Violator to tell of his return in order to spread fear. He then teleports, leaving a skeptical and terrified Violator alone in the wastelands of Hell. Malebolgia is seen approaching an asylum or prison inmate, demanding the prisoner return something of his.
Powers and abilities
Malebolgia is respected and feared as the most powerful of the rulers, and thus the de facto grand master of Hell. His powers include Necro Energys like raising the dead, matter manipulation, super strength, recuperative abilities, and abilities to morph and induce hallucinations. His standing in Hell's hierarchy gives him vast power while in the 8th Sphere. His mastery of necroplasm gives him the exclusive ability to create Hellspawn and during his rule, he creates an army larger and more powerful than anything Heaven or he himself could handle.
- Malebolgia does not appear in the Spawn TV series, but his presence is felt.
- Appears in the Robot Chicken episode "Celebutard Mountain" voiced by Tom Root. He and Spawn compete in a fiddle contest reminiscent of "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" by the Charlie Daniels Band.
- He appears in Soul Calibur II for the Xbox, sending Spawn after Soul Edge. Spawn also mentions Malebolgia in a victory pose by saying, "Malebolgia, just you wait!"
- He is the main subject in the song "The Last Laugh" from Iced Earth's The Dark Saga, a concept album based on Spawn.