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The devil behind Spawn's creation, Malebolgia, is the conniving ruler of the 8th Circle of Hell, as recounted in both Dante and the canon of Todd McFarlane's long-running Spawn comic. Hell-bent on destroying heaven, Malebolgia assembles an army of Hellspawn to aid him in the battle. Malebolgia created Spawn by making a bargain with the dead spirit of Al Simmons: a chance for Simmons to see his beloved wife Wanda once more in exchange for his fealty as a Hellspawn. In the way of all such bargains with the devil, Malebolgia tricked Spawn by sending him to Earth five years after his death, by which time Wanda had remarried and had a daughter. In the first Spawn story (issues #1–#4, 1992), Malebolgia sends the Violator, a minor demon, to watch over Spawn as his “chaperone,” but when the Violator fails, Malebolgia reveals himself to them both. Spawn is able to break free of his master, while Malebolgia returns to hell. In issues #51–#53 (1996), drawn by Greg Capullo, Malebolgia returns when Spawn journeys into hell to try to save the life of Terry Fitzgerald, Wanda's new husband. Beset by all manner of hellish threats, Spawn manages to pass all of Malebolgia's tests, and they strike a new bargain: Wanda and Terry will be left alone, but Spawn will once again swear allegiance to his creator. Malebolgia's third major appearance is in issue #100 (2000). Once again, Wanda's life is in jeopardy, and Spawn goes back to hell for the final battle. This time, Spawn and his devil-fighting ally Angela manage to kill Malebolgia. Like most McFarlane villains, Malebolgia's central feature is a teeth-filled maw. In the 1997 Spawn movie, he was voiced by Frank Welker, and has also appeared as a number of increasingly alarming toys.
The Supervillain Book: The Evil Side of Comics and Hollywood © 2006 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.