Monday, May 19, 2003

Looking To The Stars: There's Something About Typhoid Mary

Many is the number of comics fans who were brought into the hobby by Kevin Smith’s now legendary run on Daredevil. Kicking off a new volume beginning at issue number one, Smith would usher in a line of writers better known for working in independent comics or film than big name superhero comics, David Mack and Brian Michael Bendis among them. And with the blockbuster hit Daredevil movie, even more people are picking up the adventures of The Man Without Fear each month.

Small wonder then that, over the last month at my comic shop, many of these people came up to me and said, “Hey Matt? Who’s the chick with the white face and the leather?” Oddly enough, many of these recent fans haven’t tried to catch up with the past issues of Daredevil before the works of Kevin Smith and the first volume of Daredevil.. so none of them have been introduced to one of the most interesting villains to plague Matt Murdock’s life; Typhoid Mary.

Typhoid Mary first appeared in Daredevil #254. It was shortly after the events of Frank Miller’s “Born Again”, and Matt was slowly rebuilding his life with long-time girlfriend, (and direct cause of his life falling apart) Karen Page. Still without a law license, he was acting as an advisor to other lawyers and running a free legal advice clinic with Karen in addition to his life as Daredevil. Of course the Kingpin was looking for revenge and decided that since Matt had grown dependent on the love of a good woman to pull himself up, that he would use the love of a bad girl to kick Matt back down.

Enter Mary Walker; a sad case, a young woman with a multiple-personality disorder that had created Typhoid. Typhoid was, in short, a man-hater with psychotic tendencies. More frighteningly, Typhoid had weak telekinetic and pyrokinetic powers that Mary was unable to duplicate. Indeed, Mary was totally unaware of Typhoid’s existence and was a meek and quiet woman with a talent for acting. When Mary switched personalities, her heartbeat, voice… and even smell would change. This anomaly to her illness made her the perfect weapon for the Kingpin to use on the blind Matt Murdock. This also allows him to hire Typhoid and distract her from her current occupation: smashing up various rackets and becoming a folk hero in the city as a vigilante who cuts down the criminals while secretly taking them over for herself.

Typhoid romances Matt in both his guises, in both her guises. Typhoid subconsciously influences Mary Walker into the life of Matt, masquerading as a volunteer worker for the blind. She goes after Daredevil, taunting him with innuendo as she fights him at night. Her condition masking her as two different people to Matt, he is thrown off balance in his already topsy-turvy world as he falls for both women.

I won’t say too much about this first appearance of Typhoid Mary, as it is detailed in a brand new trade paperback collection: Daredevil Legends 4: Typhoid Mary, which is well worth the time and money of a Daredevil fan or any discriminating comics fan. What I will discuss is the lesser-told tale of what happened to Mary afterwards and her secret origin, which leads into the “Hardcore” story in the current title.

After Mary’s eventual capture, she was committed seemingly to undergo psychiatric treatment and eventually be released back into society. What happened, however, was that Mary was abused both mentally and sexually by the doctors who were supposed to help her. Her psychosis became worse and she developed more personalities in addition to that of Typhoid Mary.

She somehow managed to, as Mary Walker, recruit Deadpool to kill her and end her suffering. Deadpool refused, having made a promise not to kill anymore, but he did agree to help her escape. During the break out of the asylum Typhoid was able to take full control of Mary’s body. She then swore revenge on all the men who took advantage of her, including “The Redman”, whom she remembered after Deadpool accidentally knocked her from a window.

Daredevil and Typhoid would fight again, with Typhoid making a startling revelation: her psychosis started after a young Daredevil knocked her out of a window. It seems that Mary was the young prostitute that Matt knocked through a window by accident while chasing after his father’s killers in Frank Miller’s “The Man Without Fear”. Matt had always feared that he had killed that young woman, but she survived her fall… and the physical and emotional trauma created Typhoid, the poison by which Mary could fight back at all the men who hurt her. The final fight with Daredevil ended as Mary had an emotional breakdown and she was taken away by Deadpool, who told Daredevil that he would take care of her.

As far as I know, Mary made no more appearances in the Deadpool series after the Deadpool 97 Annual where Daredevil and Mary had their confrontation nor has Mary made any appearances since then. The current evidence suggests that Deadpool got Mary the help that she needed and that she was able to function on her own independently until the Kingpin stepped in and forced the Typhoid personality back into dominance.

One thing is for certain: as Matt Murdock said as Deadpool carried Mary out of his life at their last meeting; “This is far from over.”

Tune in next week. Same Matt Time. Same Matt Website.

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