For decades, Typhoid Mary has been one of the most twisted, dangerous, and darkly fascinating women in the Marvel Universe. Typhoid Mary is a sometimes villain, sometimes hero, sometimes sympathetic victim, but wherever this powerful and deadly killer goes, great stories follow. But despite her introduction on Iron Fist Season 2, Typhoid Mary has long been considered one of the top stars of Daredevil’s rogues’ gallery, not Danny Rand’s. One can speculate that Alive Eve’s Mary will move from Iron Fist to Daredevil and become a threat to the entire pantheon of Marvel Netflix heroes. If so, there is certainly a great deal of comic book history for Marvel to mine.
Typhoid Mary made her debut in Daredevil #254 (1988) where she was created by Ann Nocenti and John Romita Jr. Before we go any further, let’s take a moment to appreciate writer Ann Nocenti. Nocenti not only crafted groundbreaking classic tales in all the comics she worked on, she also had to follow Frank Miller on Daredevil. That would be daunting for any writer much less a woman writer at a time when the industry was even less balanced than it is today. But Nocenti kicked ass and dropped Typhoid Mary on an unsuspecting world, making her mark as one of the all-time great Daredevil writers. You can read her incredible Typhoid Mary stories here.
Typhoid Mary was part of a tradition of ill-advised Daredevil romances. Comic fans have known for years that dating Matt Murdock was a one way ticket to the grave, insanity, villainy, or something worse. Just a few years after Daredevil lost Elektra, he was hooking up with Typhoid Mary, a paid assassin. Needless to say, things got heated. Actually, in sparking a romance with Typhoid Mary, Murdock actually entered into three romantic relationships. Or is it four? Let’s explain…
Mary has dissociative identity disorder, but she’s also a mutant (don’t expect that latter part to show up on TV any time soon, as the Fox/Disney merger is still in progress). Mary’s primary personality does not present with powers, but her other two identities, Typhoid and Bloody Mary, possess telekinesis and pyrokinesis, respectively. Mary is a shy and timid religious woman, Typhoid is a bold adventurer, and Bloody Mary is a spiteful murderer who lives to kill men. And if all this wasn’t confusing enough, Mary has also developed a personality known as Mary Walker who is basically an amalgamation of all three.
So how did Mary become this twisted mass of anguish, pain, and death? Well (as usual), it’s all Daredevil’s fault.
Daredevil first met Typhoid Mary when the disturbed killer replaced Bullseye as Kingpin’s head assassin. Later, Matt Murdock met timid Mary and the two struck up a quick romance. Meanwhile, the Typhoid personality began a romantic entanglement with Wilson Fisk. Umm, wow. If Typhoid Mary arrives on the Daredevil TV series, that season just kinda writes itself, doesn’t it?
Mary came to Kingpin’s attention when she began murdering low level drug dealers in Fisk’s territory. Seeing an opportunity, Wilson Fisk hired Mary to play a deadly game with Daredevil. As Mary, Kingpin’s new assassin seduced Murdock, but as Typhoid, she annoyed Daredevil. And Typhoid Mary was the perfect assassin to foil Daredevil both as a man and as a superhero. Her telekinetic ability allowed Typhoid Mary to befuddle DD’s hyper-senses, and her dissociative identity disorder allowed her to change her appearance, voice, and even her scent.
Mary was born into an abusive home. As a small child, she lashed out at her father, severely burning and injuring him. She was sent away to an institution where she was further abused and experimented on. There, both Mary and Typhoid personas fully emerged. Mary was compliant, but Typhoid was brutal and rebellious, and also ran a constant fever.
So how is Typhoid Mary Matt Murdock’s fault?
Mary ended up as a prostitute (it gets darker, kids) and was present when Daredevil busted into a house of ill repute looking for a mobster known as the Fixer. For those not in the know, the Fixer was responsible for the death of Matt Murdock’s boxer father after the elder Murdock refused to throw a fight. So DD was fighting mad and the fearful ladies of the evening attacked the neophyte superhero to prevent a police raid. During the struggle, Daredevil accidentally punched poor Mary through a window, severely injuring her. This allows Typhoid to take over, as she swore no man would ever harm her again.
Back in the present, Typhoid manipulates a weakened Daredevil and with the help of other members of Daredevil’s rogues (sadly, no Stilt-Man), she tosses him off a bridge. What Typhoid didn’t expect was that Mary truly had fallen for Murdock, finds his broken prostitute punching carcass, and nurses him back to health. From there, Mary slowly begins to suppress Typhoid and briefly was able to thwart the dominance of the evil persona.
Whew, how dark was that?
Sadly, the dominance of Mary did not last and Typhoid Mary returned again and again to bedevil the heroes of the Marvel Universe. One of the earliest non-Daredevil appearances of Typhoid Mary was in Power Pack #53 (1990) because nothing goes together like a superhero team made up of tweens and little kids and an abused ex-prostitute who gets off on burning men. Wheeee!
One particularly fascinating appearance of Typhoid Mary was when creator Ann Nocenti brought her twisted creation into the pages of Spider-Man. In The Spectacular Spider-Man #214 (1994), Nocenti and artist James Fry had Mary befriend Mary Jane Watson when the rarely seen Bloody Mary persona came out. Bloody Mary began murdering domestic abusers, but Mary Jane helped Mary gain control and suppress Bloody Mary. And that’s the most Marys you’ll ever see in a comic at one time.
Typhoid Mary also frequently pals around with Deadpool, and yes, it’s disturbing, although ‘ol Wade is very accepting of her mental issues, more so than that jerk Murdock. But for now, let’s talk about when Typhoid Mary was associated with the Avengers.
In Avengers: The Initiative #4 (2007), writer Dan Slott and artist Stefano Caselli introduced a masked killer by the name of Mutant Zero. This deadly but unstable mutant works for all around government dickbag Henry Peter Gyrich. She is unleashed only for the deadliest of missions and is not at all trusted by her Avengers: Initiative teammates. For newer fans, the Initiative were a bunch of heroes in training, so we’re not talking classic Avengers like Captain America, Iron Man, or Black Widow here, but a bunch of green recruits trained by the US government as a byproduct of Civil War. Gyrich holds Mutant Zero in a bare white chamber called the Zero Room and basically only unleashes her during the direst missions. You probably guessed by now that Mutant Zero was indeed Typhoid Mary. Sadly, the time spent alone in the sparse confines of the Zero Room undid all the progress that Mary made as she began to lose control of her more deadly personas. Typhoid Mary abandoned the Initiative the first chance she got and ended up a powerful force in the Marvel underworld as a troubled killer for hire and a woman you just really want to avoid.
So there you have it, the really dark history of Typhoid Mary, a killer woman with a horrific past that is now coming to spread chaos on Iron Fist Season 2. Hopefully Alice Eve’s Mary will eventually make appearances on the other Netflix shows like Daredevil or Jessica Jones, as she’d be a perfect fit. In truth, Mary would be equally perfect in a Blumhouse film as she would in the MCU, and that’s one of the reasons the character has endured for as long as she has.
Marc Buxton is an English teacher/private tutor by day and a former comic retailer who reads way too many comics, often choosing his Wednesday haul over groceries. Read more of his work here.