Malcolm "Mal" Arnold Duncan, currently known as Vox (also known as the Guardian, Hornblower, and the Herald), is a fictional character, existing in the DC Universe. He is one of DC's first black superheroes.[original research?]
Mal Duncan made his first appearance in Teen Titans #26 and was created by Robert Kanigher and Nick Cardy.
Fictional character biography
Malcolm "Mal" Duncan[note 1] 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
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
One whole 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 unusually strong hypersonic blasts and open dimensional portals, wormholes, and vortexes similar to the Gabriel Horn. Later, in an issue of the newest Doom Patrol series, Mal and Karen are now divorced.
Following the disbanding of the Doom Patrol, Bumblebee appears as one of the former Titans who arrives at Titans Tower to repel Superboy-Prime and the Legion of Doom.
The New 52
In The New 52 (a reboot of the DC Comics universe), Mal is introduced as an award-winning film composer. He is later kidnapped by Mister Twister, who reveals that as a teenager, Mal was a member of the original Teen Titans under the name Herald. The Titans had allowed their memories of each other to be erased in order to defeat Twister, but he now seeks to use Mal's sonic abilities to complete a ritual that will allow a powerful demonic entity to enter the human world. When Karen and the former Titans arrive, they are able to defeat Mister Twister once and for all.
Powers and abilities
Formerly, his Gabriel Horn could open up multi-dimensional portals, and generate unusually strong hypersonic blasts. He now relies more on his artificial lungs and voice box to achieve the same destructive, deafening sonic/audio effects. He also has a background in kickboxing, and hand-to-hand combat, and is in exceptional physical condition.
In the New 52 continuity, Mal possesses sonic and harmonic abilities that he projects by using his voice.