“When I’m finished, the people are clapping. Of course, I don’t hear this. I just see all the hands hitting each other. I feel the echo. The vibration on my body. Like war drums. I realize this play was just practice. Tomorrow, I will again wrap myself in the echoes of the past. But the gun will be taped to my bosom…cold against my skin…heavy against my heart…I’m just a part…of a lost art. Tomorrow I will kill Daredevil.”
—Maya Lopez (Mack #10 22)
“I watch other tapes too. Most of them are about revenge and the righting of wrongs. I don’t really pay attention to the story. I soak in the actions—the mechanics of movement—the body’s geometry of motion. I have a knack for this. I absorb an arsenal of actions…so when I need to…I can duplicate them…with the same accuracy.”
—Maya Lopez (Mack #11 3)
“The little brave learns the devil’s medicine…she also becomes a shadow.”
—Maya Lopez, (Mack #10 20)
Maya Lopez, who has gone by the handles “Echo” and “Ronin”, was created by David Mack and Joe Quesada and first appeared in Daredevil Vol. 2, Issue 9 in 1999 (Comic Vine), and in creating Maya, Mack spent a lot of time reading books about people who were deaf (O’Luanaigh).
Because Maya is deaf.
Which is probably the least interesting thing about her despite being an extremely important part of Maya.
Maya is also Cheyenne and Latina, which means that Maya is one of the most intersectional characters that has ever appeared in comics.
She’s also an amazingly-realized, complete person with virtues and flaws and strength and weakness, a person of great ability and perseverance (because justice) and a person with a hugely myopic need for vengeance.
I so adore when characters have that level of complication. They feel real and rounded and like someone that you want to know.
(And, I have no idea how I managed to incidentally schedule this BAMF piece during our coverage of Daredevil, but I did.)
Maya doesn’t have an extensive history in the Marvel continuity—mostly appearing in Daredevil as Echo and later as Ronin in conjunction with the Avengers and Wolverine (Comic Vine)—and her storylines outside of Daredevil are largely minor and group-oriented; while her background is, at once fraught and blessed because of the murder of her father Willie “Crazy Horse” Lincoln by her guardian Wilson Fisk, aka The Kingpin, who deposited her into a school for special needs kids because Maya was born deaf and, when it proved that Maya had photographic reflexes, Fish transferred Maya to a school for prodigies and savants (Wikipedia).
Yet Maya’s presence in Marvel continuity is incredibly important because, in a lot of ways, Maya fights the stereotypes with which the deaf community are often portrayed—particularly helplessness—yet at the same time (and much like Matt Murdock/Daredevil himself) Maya’s “photographic reflexes”—the ability to remember and replicate and repeat ad nauseum someone else’s physical motions from playing the piano to acrobatics to dance to speaking without slurred speech—also place Maya firmly into the tropes of Disability Superpower and Deaf Composer.
(Although, I would argue that Maya really subverts the Deaf Composer in a lot of ways but those ways often go back to the Disability Superpower. *hands*)
Because the only way—The Movement excepted—we ever really seem to be able to have characters with disabilities is if their superpowers essentially negate that they have a disability: Maya’s photographic reflexes and Murdock’s heightened senses.
Yet Maya’s photographic reflexes aren’t quite as eidetic as the name implies; rather, as David Mack explain to The Guardian, Maya is a world class cryptographer able to recognize and decipher complex patterns and translate them through herself like a Rosetta Stone (O’Luanaigh).
Honestly, that actually makes what Maya can do so much cooler and less superpower-y.
(It’s still superpower-y but not in a superpower superpower-y way if that makes sense.)
It means that Maya is using her brain and abilities to their best advantage and, if that combination of brains and ability helps Maya to manage her world more effectively, mores the better.
And, really, my favorite thing that I discovered in researching Maya is that her voice is so singularly her own and is like poetry.
Maya thinks in elegantly tailored stories that are the foreground to a ground that is comprised of rough, angry children’s crayon drawings that meet and meld and merge into a real world conflation of crayon-graffiti-ed photographs on a (fairly literal) murder wall and a modern dance-cum-performance art production named Echo that subordinates and allegorizes her own story of loss and vengeance into a story that her father told Maya when she was little about a devil who kills a shaman for his shadow and the “little brave” who took on the devil and won but, in winning, became a shadow herself.
A physical echo of Maya’s internal voice rendered in dance and art, sign and shadow.
A physical echo of all the things that Maya feels so deeply.
Yet—although, she appeared a bit later, alive and well, in Daredevil: End of Days (Comic Vine)—Maya died.
Maya was killed by a third-string super-villain (Illidge)—completely mundane and unremarkable in the epic deaths and rebirths and deaths again in comic books—and Maya’s death took a sorely needed character of intersectional representation from the world.
But, just as important, Maya’s death (and, so far, lack of resurrection) took Maya from us: a woman of extraordinary ability and gifted not just with talent but with creativity and inspiration.
A woman who was talented, gifted, inspired, tenacious, and fierce in her convictions.
A woman who wasn’t just the intersectional representation of Latina and Cheyenne but also intersecting with the deaf community.
A woman of color. A woman of excellence. A deaf woman.
A deaf woman of color who excelled, who fought, who was poetry in motion and had music in her hands.
Comic Vine contributors. “Echo (Character).” Comic Vine. Comic Vine Wiki. 19 Jun. 2014. Web. 26 Apr. 2015.
Illidge, Joseph Phillip. “The Mission: Marvel’s Daredevil, Girlfriends of Color and the Fighting Spirit of Maya Lopez.” Comic Book Resources. Comic Book Resources, 13 Apr. 2015. Web. 26 Apr. 2015.
Mack, David (w) and Joe Quesada (a). “Parts of a Hole, Part Two: Echoes!” #10 Daredevil. (May 2001), Marvel. Digital Comic.
Mack, David (w) and Joe Quesada (a). “Parts of a Hole, Part Two: Dinner & a Movie.” #11 Daredevil. (May 2001), Marvel. Digital Comic.
O’Luanaigh, Cian. “Comic Superhero Echo Fights Stereotypes of Deaf People.” The Guardian. The Guardian, 20 Jul. 2010. Web. 26 Apr. 2015.
Wikipedia contributors. “Echo (Marvel Comics).” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 26 Apr. 2015. Web. 26 Apr. 2015.