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  1. #1
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    Default Malcolm Duncan Pro/Con Workshop

    Wherein DCU/CBR folks can post creative, constructive solutions and thoughtful analysis of the seemingly difficult character of Malcolm Duncan, at various times called The Guardian, Hornblower, Vox, and The Herald.

    First appearing in a 1970 issue of Teen Titans, Mal is a human superhero character introduced before the first appearance of Black Lightning(1977), Vixen(1981), and Green Lantern Jon Stewart(1971). His longtime girlfriend, Karen Beecher “Bumblebee”, followed him in a 1976 issue of Teen Titans, and has since achieved relative notoriety from portrayals in animated Young Justice, DC Super Hero Girls, and now Titans.

    Despite being the first black superhero in the DCU, Mal has never had a superhero identity “stick”, much less prominence in a main superhero team. His relationship with Bumblebee eventually became marriage, and they retired from heroic adventures. While Karen pursued a career with STAR Labs, Duncan’s professional career is largely unexplored.

    As a human, Mal’s powers come from external sources. At various times, he’s employed an exoskeleton super suit, a trumpet of divine origins, an alien interdimensional horn, and eventually cybernetic enhancements that combined the alien horn with his human physiology.

    Given druthers and a blank check, what would YOU do with Malcolm Duncan?

  2. #2
    Ultimate Member MajorHoy's Avatar
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    Does he usually go by the full-name "Malcolm" these days?

    I remember when he was normally called "Mal". (Then again, it's been a looooooooooooooooooong time since I've read a story where he's appeared.)

  3. #3
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    I went with the full name.

    Malcolm Arnold "Mal" Duncan

  4. #4
    Incredible Member Jovan2013's Avatar
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    His Gabriel's Horn could be a mother box disguised as a horn.

  5. #5

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    pretty much I'd just use what YJ did and make him the normal boyfriend of Karen who feels inadequete because his gf is moving up in the world and expanding past their highschool years.

    So him taking over the Guardian is a way for him to keep up with her even if it doesn't work that much at first.

    I'd pitch a romantic comedy set in Ivy Town where Mal and Karen try to work as a superhero couple/crime fighting team. He focuses more on street level threats and she's sci-fi. Ivy Town is because of Karen's connection with the Atom (why is this not canon?) and Lady Cop could be Mal's mentor.
    Last edited by the illustrious mr. kenway; 02-11-2018 at 06:05 PM.

  6. #6
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    I always like getting holistic with these things. I would pay respect to his Guardian schtick with a story that linked up with Cadmus and Kirby concepts. Then I would play up the Horn of Gabriel thing with a connection to Zauriel and the Pax Dei of the Silver City. Maybe even use those influences to tell a story with themes of science and clones versus religion.

    And play up the cute wordplay - Guardian Angel after all. Herald could also link to heraldry, often depicted on shields, like that of the Guardian. So some kind of Kirby-techno Knight Templar thing would be fantastic.

    Characters to play him off of could be Zauriel, Jean-Paul Valley, Dubbilex, Jake Jordan, Jimmy Olsen.
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  7. #7
    Ultimate Member MajorHoy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by K. Jones View Post
    I always like getting holistic with these things. I would pay respect to his Guardian schtick with a story that linked up with Cadmus and Kirby concepts. Then I would play up the Horn of Gabriel thing with a connection to Zauriel and the Pax Dei of the Silver City. Maybe even use those influences to tell a story with themes of science and clones versus religion.

    And play up the cute wordplay - Guardian Angel after all. Herald could also link to heraldry, often depicted on shields, like that of the Guardian. So some kind of Kirby-techno Knight Templar thing would be fantastic.

    Characters to play him off of could be Zauriel, Jean-Paul Valley, Dubbilex, Jake Jordan, Jimmy Olsen.
    And don't forget the connection that started it all when it came to Mal becoming The Guardian: Roy "Speedy" Harper.

  8. #8
    Incredible Member DragonsChi's Avatar
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    Always thought Mal would be cooler if they combined his Guardian persona with his Herald persona.

    Keep him in a version of this costume with maybe a silver helmet instead:


    Have him display the physical prow-less you would expect from Guardian but instead of the Horn of Herald giving him his teleportation ability he would use the shield as a means of flight and teleportation. Sorta like the all but forgotten character Slipstream:


  9. #9
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    I agree with K. Jones that a holistic approach that acknowledges Mal's powerless mope, redundant Guardian, Gabriel's Hornblower, Herald, and Vox phases would be best.

    One Con I'd add at this point is the notion of a cyborg Vox powers. Not only is it somewhat redundant with Cyborg being a cybernetic young black male superheroic Titan, but it removes the most unique brand kit element from his character: the "magical" horn. Another super-screamer character might be fine, but I think it's adding an unnecessary layer and taking a nuanced layer away.

  10. #10
    Incredible Member DragonsChi's Avatar
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    My only thing about the horn is that it always seemed like a lame concept. I'm not sure he could ever be a mainstream superhero with "horn blowing" powers.
    Last edited by DragonsChi; 02-11-2018 at 08:43 PM.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by DragonsChi View Post
    My only thing about the horn is that it always seemed like a lame concept. I'm sure he could ever be a mainstream superhero with "horn blowing" powers.
    Oh I totally agree. It's terribly inelegant, and very awkward. But it's also very unique. Most superheroes with item-derived abilities get powers from merely wearing the item, ie GL ring, Blue Beetle scarab. It's very unusual for a hero to use an item that requires concentration and skill. There's characters like Pied Piper who has a musical item, but he's a villain.

    I've my own ideas of what I'd like the horn to do... but what are your thoughts?

  12. #12
    Incredible Member DragonsChi's Avatar
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    My thoughts are to get rid of it altogether. He could still be called "Herald" without it. I think the flying shield that allows him to teleport along with peak human abilities is the best route for him.

    From there I would place him back on the Titians or Teen Titians as the teams transporter while also giving his own story line throughout the arch to lift his profile.

    The horn would be a skill he was good with outside of superheroing. Maybe he would be a professional Jazz player or something. But he would never have it in combat.

  13. #13
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    In the early 1970s, Mal didn't have any super-hero identity. He was a non-powered everyman who was good with his fists. Then in 1976, during the short-lived revival of TEEN TITANS, Mal went from having no schtick to being twice blessed. Paul Levitz and Bob Rozakis gave him the Guardian's old costume (and Frank Reynold's exoskeleton)--in an issue edited by Joe Orlando. Then immediately after that Rozakis gave him Gabriel's Horn--in an issue edited by Julius Schwartz. With the scientific vs mystical nature of these gimmicks, one would have expected each to come from the other editor. It was rather screwy that they doubled-down on the super-hero act for Mal.

    Even though I like the Guardian, there are so many Guardians, it's probably better to leave that in the past. However, Hornblower strikes me as a dumb code-name and Herald isn't much of an improvement.

    I would turn the various gimmicks into a virtue rather than a problem with the character. He would be like Merry, the Girl of a Thousand Gimmicks. Mal would catalogue and store all the gimmicks that he and the other Titans encountered over the years--and, like Hawkman and his arsenal of ancient weapons, Mal would select a gimmick whenever he was called into action.

    I think Mal Duncan is a good enough name for him. And I'd rather he was a non-costumed hero like Jack Knight or Constantine.
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  14. #14

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    I guess you could have him be like Flynt from RWBY (the dude with the trumpet).

  15. #15
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    I guess you could have him be like Flynt from RWBY (the dude with the trumpet).
    That use of sound as projection weapon is far more palatable than an electricity “gun”. I’ve seen images where Herald is blowing into a trumpet and lightning pours out.

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