The Gangs Are Out, And Here Comes Mary

Femmes Fatales of the Fantastic VarietytyphoidThis week I’m going to tell you all about one of the easily most dangerous women in comics. She’s smart, she’s sexy, she’s infectious (zing!), and you never know which part of her you’re going to get. Her name is Typhoid Mary and like Mary Mallon herself, she’s a force to be reckoned with.

Daredevil_Vol_1_254

Daredevil #254

So who is she? Eh, sometimes we don’t really know. She first graces us with her ill beauty (get it?!) in Daredevil #254, and was created by Ann Nocenti and John Romita Jr., and her early style is simply amazing. Hairstyle icon to the max.

Mary’s had a pretty hard life. She grew up in an abusive home, and received her telepathic, telekinetic, and pyrokinetic powers when she was very young, presumably from some traumatic event and three separate personalities manifested themselves. In another story, her powers manifested after Daredevil knocked her out of a window and she vowed to never let any man hurt her again. So what about those personalities? Her first being Mary, who is gentle yet very sickly. Her second, Typhoid, is exactly as dangerous as she sounds, and while this personality is in charge, she is murderous and violent. Her third is called Bloody Mary, and yes, this character just gets more and more amazing. Bloody Mary hates all men, is fueled by the deepest form of sadism, and her powers run rampant when this personality is running the show. I mean, for a lady who can set people on fire with her mind, getting her to that Bloody Mary phase is a pretty bad call.

Marvel Comics Presents #129 by Jae Lee

Marvel Comics Presents #129 by Jae Lee

Mary and Daredevil’s relationship isn’t exactly what you’d call healthy. She was first hired as an assassin by Kingpin to kill Daredevil while at the same time pursuing a romantic relationship with Matt Murdock. Of course, having that many personalities will make a romance complicated, and a series of love-hate adventures ensued from there.

... with Mechanical Straight Jacket!

… with Mechanical Straight Jacket!

That’s not the only trouble she’s gotten herself into. Having more than one person living in a single body is bound to have some complications. At one point, Mary had taken control over her other personalities and became a soap opera actress, though that was short lived. She was confined to a mental institution where each of her personalities hired a different mercenary to do her bidding. Mary and Typhoid both hired Deadpool, and Bloody Mary hired The Vamp. I don’t need to tell you that all personalities hired these mercenaries to carry out some very different tasks.

Perhaps her most shining yet underappreciated moment is when she was able to keep her personalities under control, albeit struggling to do so, but did so nonetheless. During this time, she befriended Mary-Jane Watson but succumbed to going on yet another killing spree. Not just any killing spree though: she only killed men who were domestic abusers as her Bloody Mary personality. Now, killing people is wrong and all that, but I mean, she was technically being a hero in this situation, am I right? She eventually turned herself into the police, blah blah blah, but how awesome would it have been if Bloody Mary had just kept on killing these horrible men? Too awesome!

Typhoid Mary hasn’t had near enough cool covers in my opinion. But one by Alex Maleev really stands out. Daredevil Vol. 2 #46 is easily her best cover, so I’d grab that puppy if you don’t already have it.

Daredevil vol.2 #46

Daredevil vol.2 #46

So Typhoid Mary isn’t exactly a heroine, that much is obvious. But she’s effortlessly one of the most interesting characters in comics. Though having personality disorders isn’t a new theme by any means, Mary does it in such a way that you feel for her, though she’s technically being portrayed as “bad”. But is she really bad? Nothing that happened to her was her fault, and though these are just funny books, it’s so clearly a reflection on how we treat the mentally ill today. Society treats mentally ill people like they’re negative, that they just need to “smile”, that they could get better if they tried. Nobody is mentally ill just because they feel like it. There is a reason people are triggered, just like Mary, coming from an abusive home. Cause an effect is a huge theme for people who have an illness that exists in the brain instead of a physical illness that can be seen on the body. Even in comics, Mary is portrayed as the bad person, where when we get right down to it, the men who mistreated her are the ones who should be taking the blame. Mary does her best to deal with the cards she’s dealt, but there is no black-and-white solution to a person who is sick. There is no one size fits all. Mary exists purely for entertainment reasons, but we often forget how powerful this medium can be. I encourage everyone to stop and think about this character and what it means to be mentally ill. Til then, catch the rebellious infection that is Typhoid Mary.

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2 comments

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    Hands down, one of my all-time favorite comics is Daredevil #260, “The Final Triumph of Typhoid Mary.” It’s a double-sized issue as I recall, and the ending is just wow! I loved this character, and Ann Nocenti’s entire first arc with John Romita, Jr. (250-260-ish) on Daredevil (which introduced and featured Typhoid) is excellent!

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