Having a disability can be a challenging time for anyone, which is why comics have done such a great job of representing people who have problems with their sight, hearing or mobility. Deafness affects people all over the world, and a character who symbolises that struggle is Echo, AKA Maya Lopez. But Echo has never let her disability define her and she’s been able to use it as a strength. She’s also one of the few Native American superheroes in comics, which makes her even more interesting. Here is a look into her history.
Maya’s father, Willie ‘Crazy Horse’ Lincoln, was killed by the Kingpin when she was a young girl. Crazy Horse left a bloody handprint on her face as he died. His dying wish was that as his partner in crime, the Kingpin should raise Maya as his own. The Kingpin treated her as his daughter and sent Maya off to a school for people with learning disabilities. While she was there she managed to completely replicate a song on the piano, demonstrating her unique skills.
Kingpin moulded Maya into an assassin, telling her that Daredevil was responsible for the death of her father. As Echo, she hunted Daredevil down, but ended up falling in love with Matt Murdock. Finding out they were the same person stopped her from killing him and Matt helped her to see through Kingpin’s lies. In revenge, Maya shot Kingpin and blinded him.
Maya left New York to do some soul searching and went on a Vision quest to calm her soul. She met and befriended Wolverine, who passed on his knowledge of Japanese culture and this helped her find inner peace. Later, Daredevil recommended Maya to Captain America and she took on the identity of Ronin as part of the Avengers.
She joined the Avengers on a mission to stop Elektra Natchios and The Hand, though she was killed during the struggle. The Hand resurrected her and turned her into a brainwashed assassin until Doctor Strange managed to free her from their influence. Echo gave the Ronin identity to Clint Barton, needing to find her place again after what The Hand had done to her.
Most recently, Echo has worked with Moon Knight in Los Angeles to put a stop to the West Coast Kingpin. Later, she returned to New York and reunited with Daredevil to stop a sonic virus created by Klaw.
Despite being deaf, Maya possesses ‘photographic reflexes,’ which allow her to copy someone else’s movements and learn at a rapid rate. This gives her similar abilities to Taskmaster. For example, by watching Daredevil fight she was able to become as acrobatic as he was. She also learned how to become a talented piano player and ballerina. But rather than being a superpower, it could be described as her brain recognising complex patterns and translating them through herself. It makes Echo a lot more realistic and empowered because she’s highly intelligent and able to decipher the world in a way most people can’t.
Her deafness also provides certain drawbacks, like being unable to function in complete darkness because of her need for visual cues. Maya is a gifted lip reader, but she’s found it difficult to read the lips of anyone wearing a mask that was too thick. This has made it hard for her to communicate with people like Iron Man. However, she can still read lips from a distance.
Maya’s deafness has been handled respectfully by Marvel and it makes her a great role model for anyone who has hearing problems. No one should ever be defined by their disability and Maya is proof of that.
Who is your favourite superhero with a disability? If you’d like to see them featured on The Comic Vault leave a comment below!