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Threaten away, you little maggot. It'll do you no good, because you've been locked into a deal I can't lose.
Malebolgia was originally considered an embodiment of The Devil within the Image produced series known as Spawn - however, after the entity was defeated by Spawn, his status as Lord Of Hell was passed onto Mammon, Malebolgia's position as Lord Of Hell fell even further into decline when the true Satan of Spawn's world revealed himself after centuries of banishment. He was the main antagonist of the Spawn series alongside Mammon and Satan as well as one of spawn's arch-enemies alongside his servant Violator, Jason Wynn, and The Redeemer.
Malebolgia acted as the chief antagonist of Spawn for over 100 issues until his ultimate downfall and held great power, though it was later revealed he was "but a flea" compared to beings such as Mammon who in turn is also a flea compared to Satan, yet for a long time such beings served him loyally (or at least acted loyal) - one of Malebolgia's most infamous henchmen was the Violator, who would become the archenemy of Spawn throughout the series. Malebolgia is also one of his Arch-Enemies alongside Jason Wynn.
Malebolgia was obsessed with creating an army of Hellspawn by which to spark the apocalypse and tear down the gates of Heaven and make Earth into a living Hell - the rebellion of Spawn proved to be a thorn in Malebolgia's side and ultimately his demise. However he returned to life recently possessing the freak's body for a while.
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 becomes 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 "roadblocks" 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.The Freak's body was destroyed by Jim Downing but it seems that Malebolgia is still technically around. Malebolgia appears in the History of Spawn recapping the history of the series up to the current issues. Malebolgia made a cameo in spawn 300 and also appears in a few Spawn spin-offs.
Malebolgia appears in the 1997 live action Spawn movie as the main antagonist. His right-hand man, the Violator, bargains a deal with the man named Jason Wynn to create a powerful man-made substance, a deadly virus to bring more deaths and collect more human souls in exchange for Wynn's control over the Earth. Malebolgia ordered his loyal servant to request Wynn to recruit an important soldier for them, for Malebolgia, has chosen a general to lead his dark army. That chosen candidate was the government assassin, Al Simmons.
Video game appearances
Malebolgia appeared in the Spawn video games including Spawn: Armageddon as a minor, yet pivotal antagonist in the game. He is also a boss in Spawn the Demon Hand and appeared in the other spawn games. Malebolgia appears in the SNES game of the same name as the main antagonist as well as the Gameboy game spawn and Spawn Eternal.
Spawn: The Animated Series
Malebolgia does not appear in the series. But is mentioned throughout the series, thus, making him the unseen overarching antagonist of the series.
Malebolgia's appearance in the Spawn: Armageddon.
Malebolgia from the comics.
Malebolgia in the Spawn film.
Malebolgia in the freak's body.
Malebolgia in issue 200 when he took over freak's body.
Malebolgia was the first primary antagonist of the Spawn series the second was Mammon and the third being Satan. Malebolgia would also reprise the role in some of the recent issues such as Jim Downing's time as Spawn after his resurrection.
Despite being one of the big bads of the series Malebolgia isn't seen as much as Violator and Jason Wynn.
Malebolgia is the third most recurring villain in the Spawn series behind the Violator and Jason Wynn.
Malebolgia is most likely based on Mephisto from Marvel comics due to making a deal with the protagonists Spawn and Ghost Rider being their former master and being the big bad of their respective series though Mephisto serves as the big bad to Silver Surfer and many others.
Another possible inspiration for Malebolgia could have been M, the main antagonist of the horror-erotic graphic novel Faust Love Of The Damned (written by David Quinn and designed by Tim Vigil) and of its cinematographic transposition. M is Mephistopheles in human form, and he bargained with John Jaspers - the protagonist of this comic - turning him into a monstrous vigilant with demonic powers. Since Faust - Love Of The Damned largely inspired Spawn's character and stories, it is not inconceivable that M inspired the Malebolgia character.
While Satan exists as a seperate character in the Spawn universe, Malebolgia was the Satanic archtype in that he acted as a subistie for him during his abesance.