Monday, October 29, 2012
Wikipedia reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malebolgia; http://spawn.wikia.com/wiki/Malebolgia
Malebolgia is a fictional character in the Spawn universe, a series of comic books, video games, and movies. In Spawn, Malebolgia is a demon and one of the rulers of Hell, "a being from the Eighth Circle of Hell". His name is taken from the term Dante himself invented for his Eight Circle of Hell: malebolge, plural- malebolgia.
In Dante's malebolgia, the sins of fraud are punished throughout ten different subdivisions of the circle. These circles include: flatterers, panderers, thieves, and hypocrites along with several others whose sins are based in fraud.
Though not expressly stated by it's creators, the Malebolgia is a representation of fraud in a similar way that the beast Geryon is a symbol of fraud: through its physical appearance and actions. The Malebolgia is a hybrid creature mixing elements of reptilian tail and spikes with falcon-like talons and dinosaur-like horns scattered along its arms and protruding from the sides of its skull. This mismatching of animal parts is similar to Dante's beast of Fraud, Geryon, who possesses a serpent body, bear-like arms, and a spotted hide like a leopard that is leathery like a reptile. Both creatures physically represent fraud in that they are not what they appear to be at first glance.
The representation of fraud is even more evident in the powerful abilities that the Malebolgia possesses including the powers to manipulate matter, cause hallucinations, morph and revive. These are all traits that could be considered fraudulent. Manipulation of matter can be fraudulent because the act of changing something in this way masks its true identity and gives it a different appearance than that of its true self. Hallucinations are a misinformed representation of reality that have the ability to appear real and trick the senses into believing falsehoods in the same way that the fraudulent may make convincing lies to cover the truth. Both manipulation of matter and creation of hallucinations thus represent forms of lying and misrepresentation, which is central to the idea of fraud. Morph ability is perhaps that which most closely resembles Dante's idea of fraud. The ability to change one's features not only manipulates reality and truth like fraudulent lies, but also represents a form of metamorphosis, which is one of the ideas Dante uses in his Seventh Bolge. The morph ability of Malebolgia brings to mind the thieves of Dante's Inferno who undergo morphing of their own from human to snake. Thus, the ability of morph captures not only the sin of fraud, but the metaphorical message which Dante creates here about metamorphosis and the loss of identity through manipulation of the body. Finally, the ability to revive oneself evokes the image of phoenix-like sinners of thievery who when poisoned by the snakebites, burst into flames and then reform from the ashes. The ability to revive here is not seen as a special power, but is part of the punishment of the bolge. Thus, the revival ability of Malebolgia is representative of fraud in a more metaphorical way in its likeness to the punishment of thievery.