The Marauders, who I discussed a couple of weeks ago, are among the X-Men’s most lethal foes. But there are members of the group who stand head-and-shoulders above all others; and one is the powerful psionic being known as Malice!
To this day, it’s uncertain who started playing with the idea of Malice first. In 1968, Piers Anthony had published a novel called Chthon, which featured a beautiful but malevolent psychic being known as Malice. Malice is one of a legendary race known as the ‘minionettes’. Malice became the protagonist’s obsession, and we learn that Malice is of a race who derive their vitality, beauty and eternal youth from negative emotions; positive emotions, especially love, are lethal to them. You can learn a lot more about this background, and some fan theories on Malice, on the brilliant ‘How Would You Fix..?’ blog.
Well, John Byrne had his own spin on Malice (a twisted persona of the Invisible Woman, no less!), but for Claremont, Malice became a psychic entity that thrived on possession. When you’re possessed by Malice, a collar materialises around your neck – one with a skull at the centre.
The story really kicks off in Uncanny X-Men #214, in which the X-Men investigate the fact that Dazzler’s been acting kind of weird. Malice was using Dazzler as the ultimate host, with the sound of music and manipulative light-shows bringing the crowd to a frenzy.
Dazzler attacks the X-Men, with an old vendetta against Rogue manifesting, but the X-Men are able to neutralise her; however, Malice now jumps ship – first to Wolverine, and then to Rogue! As Rogue storms off, the X-Men put the pieces together.
Storm pegged Malice’s nature, and successfully resisted her control. However, Logan noted the lingering influence of Malice on her (and in fact attacked her). Those who have been influenced by Malice, are never quite the same.
Malice elected for a more ‘permanent’ host, and chose Lorna Dane – Polaris (Uncanny X-Men #219). However, for reasons barely explained, Lorna proved too good a host for her; something about Lorna’s electromagnetic powers bound Malice to her. Sinister admitted he’d been aware this could be the outcome:
Now, I hope, you can see why I’m doing a separate blog on Malice. To Sinister, Malice wasn’t simply another Marauder; she was his “unchanging pole star about which all the rest revolves”. I, for one, don’t buy that Sinister was just talking rubbish here. Of course, Polaris was eventually freed from Malice’s control – ironically by another threat, her possible-sister Zaladane.
Years later, Malice would return to plague Polaris again in X-Factor #105, but the love shared between Havok and Polaris prevented her possessing either of them. The match with the original concept is rather entertaining! Malice was apparently destroyed by Sinister.
Malice returned again in the build-up to Messiah CompleX as a digital entity, possessing Omega Sentinel and wreaking her usual havoc. Pixie’s Souldagger freed Omega Sentinel from Malice’s control.
Curiously enough, Malice was last seen in A+X #11, playing games with Cyclops’ reputation…
The Superior Spider-Man was able to neutralise Malice and lock her into a vial, which he apparently gave to Cyclops. Of course, who knows whether or not that’s genuine?
And so we’re left with a character who has tremendous potential; a manipulative woman who now seems unchained from Sinister, and is perhaps a prisoner of the X-Men – or perhaps is far more dangerous than that. Think about it: she went digital. Now imagine that somebody – perhaps Malice herself – simply copied the file. Who’s to say there’s only one Malice out there these days?
And in the Marvel Universe, fear and hatred run deep; these negative emotions are a fertile soil for Malice to flourish upon. You can imagine her having a whale of a time in Spider-Man’s ‘90s Maximum Carnage arc, for example; or revelling in Fear Itself. Even the cast of Avengers A.I. aren’t safe from Malice’s threat. Yes, I think Malice has the potential to step up from being an X-Men villain, and perhaps to become an iconic threat in the Marvel Universe.