Issue(s): Daredevil #254
...happens during a New York City garbage strike, with the fear of infection being a background concern. Typhoid's first act is almost heroic in a way similar to early Satana appearances, stopping a mugging by seducing the mugger, kissing him and scratching him and telling him that she's in control. She leads him to a crack house and has him kill all the armed drug dealers. After that he kind of pushes back on her, saying, "You treat me like you're the man and I'm some girl". She responds by pushing him to the ground to have sex with him, while the building burns down and the mugger begs to at least close the eyes of the people he's killed.
Very intense, with Ann Nocenti's surreal scripting style working perfectly.
Daredevil, meanwhile, is thinking about the case of Tyrone, the boy that was blinded thanks to the Kelco chemical plant's illegal dumping. He comes across some police trying to stop a Wall Street jumper, whose head is also jumbled up with Nocentisms.
Daredevil prevents the guy from killing himself while barely losing his train of thought on Tyrone. He arrives at Tyrone's hospital and tries to teach him to use his other senses to compensate for his blindness the way Stick used to train him, but it's not working. Matt, talking aloud in Nocenti stream-of-consciousness style, says, "the alternative is the dull stupid empty deadworld of helpless darkness! You'll be all alone there1 You'll die." Hearing that he'll die gets Tyrone's attention.
Meanwhile, the Kingpin plays racquetball.
He's alerted to Typhoid Mary's raids, and, maybe a little weirdly, asks what Mary looks like. His henchman responds, "Why... she's actually... quite alluring. Quite seductive, uh... beautiful, yes...". Kingpin immediate demands that a private screening be set up. That may sound like it is going to get gross, but it's really just an info dump on the character. She had a dual personality that was "first discovered in infancy". In her "Mary" persona, she is fragile, sickly, and prone to epilepsy and other disorders. As "Typhoid", she's a "murderous little girl. Pure poison." and without any of Mary's weaknesses. In her Typhoid personality, she's demonstrated telekinetic powers. The two personality have completely different heart rates and other biological indicators ("they even smell differently"), which will of course make things difficult for Daredevil. It's said that at one point she escaped her hospital and wound up with a successful acting career and, with JRJR's art, looks a lot like Mary Jane Watson.
The Kingpin thinks that she'll be "perfect" to deal with what he sees as the similarly dual-personality case of Matt Murdock and Daredevil. He puts out word that he wants to talk with her.
We also find out that the Kingpin is behind the garbage strike.
Mary, meanwhile, is taking over the Kingpin's businesses and demonstrating her telekinetic powers as well as a kind of mental influence.
Typhoid Mary's actions are making the papers, and Karen wants to know why Daredevil or any other super-hero doesn't go after her. Daredevil is oblivious to what she's asking and instead turns to her talking about Stick and Tyrone.
Typhoid gets the message from the Kingpin and makes her way through his base, bypassing his guards with her powers.
The Kingpin himself is more formidable, though.
Typhoid demonstrates a pyrokinetic ability as well, but the Kingpin handles that just as easily.
He wants Typhoid to break up Matt's relationship with Karen, since he himself is suffering the loss of his wife Vanessa. He gives her the info on Matt's secret ID, and she agrees to take the job.
She finds him the next day at the hospital and takes advantage of his obsession for helping Tyrone.
The historical Typhoid Mary spread typhoid fever because she was an asymptomatic carrier, meaning that she didn't experience the effects of the disease but she could spread it to others. She wasn't exactly a villain, but after being released from quarantine after promising to stop working as a cook, she went back to that profession and also didn't cooperate with health authorities and took steps to hide her identity. Very little of that has anything to do with this Typhoid Mary, except that she's introduced during this garbage strike where there's an undercurrent of talk about disease, and of course she infects men's minds with her powers. She's an interesting character, definitely very sexual and sexualized but in a deliberate way that fits the character, and she's really a perfect synergy of Ann Nocenti's writing style and John Romita's art. It's to their credit that in 1988 they were introducing a character that will stand the test of time and appear in a variety of books outside their original run. My one wish is that Nocenti could write characters more distinctly so that the fever-driven rantings of Mary didn't sound exactly the same as Daredevil and the Kingpin and the Kingpin's henchman, etc..
Quality Rating: B
Chronological Placement Considerations: N/A
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Well Nocenti is Nocenti but yeah we're definitely getting into the best part of this run now. I would assume her fans consider her Daredevil work the highlight of her career, right? It's what is usually brought up in her favor. I tried to read some of her DC work in the last few years and it was pretty much as dreadful as you would imagine. But, to be fair, even the best writers from the '80s are turning out mostly forgettable work these days.
Posted by: Robert | June 5, 2014 7:20 PM
Typhoid Mary is eventually retconned into the hooker that Matt thought he killed in Miller's Man Without Fear series.
Posted by: Michael | June 5, 2014 7:47 PM
From the cover. I mistakenly bought this thinking it was the debut of Blackheart.
Posted by: JSfan | June 6, 2014 5:27 AM
Nocenti does what few writers do to a character, indelibly add something to the character's mythos. Whatever her faults, this era with JRJR and Typhoid Mary specifically does that.
I find it funny Typhoid commands "Look at Me" to the blind Matt Murdock. OUCH! Editorial should have caught that.
Posted by: Chris | June 12, 2014 10:19 PM
Chris, I think the idea is supposed to be at this point the Kingpin hasn't explained how Matt's senses work to Typhoid, so she assumes he's faking his blindness.
Posted by: Michael | June 12, 2014 11:08 PM
Amazingly, I just learned that Nocenti is teaching a comics writing class in NYC these days at a university. I'd be curious what the course consisted of or what she recommended for study.
Posted by: Wis | December 27, 2016 8:43 AM
Michael: in my headcanon, this never happened and Typhoid Mary was never that hooker. It just feels stupid.
(Yeah I know I am replying to 3 years old comment)
Posted by: Karel | May 21, 2017 12:59 PM
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