Publisher: Marvel Comics
First Appearance: Daredevil (vol. 2) #9 (1999)
Created By: David Mack & Joe Quesada
As Maya’s father, a Cheyenne mob enforcer nicknamed Crazy Horse, lay dying, he did two things that changed the course of his young daughter’s life: he touched her face, leaving a bloody handprint on her skin, and asked his boss to raise her. This was readily agreed to, despite the fact that the boss, Wilson Fisk, aka Kingpin, was the one who killed Crazy Horse in the first place.
Deaf from birth, Maya was initially placed in special education classes, but it soon became obvious that she was, in fact, a prodigy; she had a talent for music, art, and dance, and thanks to Kingpin, she also the benefit of the best education money could buy. She never forgot her roots, though, and when she was a young woman, she asked her foster father how Crazy Horse had died. The answer: he’d been murdered by Daredevil.
From there, she made it her mission to avenge her father’s death. Painting a memorial handprint on her face, she made the most of her powers (the ability to mimic whatever motion she sees) and sought to destroy Daredevil. She almost succeeded too, only stopped by the discovery that Daredevil was Matt Murdock, the man she was dating. (Kingpin had actually kind of set them up to exploit Matt’s weaknesses. What a matchmaker!) Once she figured out what the hell was actually going on, she was understandably furious and ended up shooting Kingpin in the face, blinding him. Poetic justice?
One ended relationship and a vision quest later, Maya reformed completely and joined the New Avengers as Ronin, a ninja whose costume completely concealed her identity and gender; later, she ditched the persona and went back to Echo. This was a pretty unawesome time for her, considering she got murdered and resurrected, and also because she basically had no friends on the team, other than Wolverine (sort of). But at least she got to bang her hottie bad boy teammate, Hawkeye.
Since leaving the team, she’s been working undercover as a stripper, because this is comics.
So What’s So Great About Her?
In the late ‘90s and early 2000s, Daredevil went through a renaissance of sorts, becoming a top-shelf book (not the porno kind) with both high quality art and writing. I read it avidly for several years, but when it comes down to it, the things I remember best about the era were the amazing Kevin Smith/Joe Quesada run…and Maya.
More than anything else, this was because of her design, which is incredibly striking, and the arty splash pages that mark her time in the book. But the more I think of it, the more I realize that Maya has the potential to be an absolutely amazing character, if she were just given a little more face time and room to grow.
I mean, look what she’s got going for her. She has a beautiful, memorable design (honestly, I remembered her costume details but not the fact that she can’t hear, which is actually not a good thing). She’s brilliant in a fairly unusual way for comics, but it’s still a huge asset to her crime-fighting. She’s a woman of color who is usually depicted as being such, instead of a white girl with a great tan; as an added bonus, her Native American heritage doesn’t tend to get very stereotypical, the occasional vision quest aside. She’s also a hero with a disability, which is very, very rare in comics, though Marvel’s not depicting that as well as they should.
So Maya has all the marks of becoming a strong, progressive, thoroughly kick-ass hero. And yet she gets ignored; she only pops up occasionally in the Marvel Universe, despite a stint on an A-list superhero team. There are so many places where she could shine—I just wish she were given more of a chance.
Daredevil (vol. 2) #9-15; 51-55
New Avengers (vol. 1) #11-13; 27-39; annual 2
Secret Invasion #1-8
New Avengers (vol. 2) #7
Moon Knight (vol. 4) #2