Who is Echo, the latest Marvel comics hero to get her own TV show?


Echo made her first appearance in 1998’s Daredevil #9, and has been a mainstay in Marvel’s universe ever since. — Photos: Marvel Comics

If you haven’t watched the new Echo television series on Disney+ Hotstar yet, then I highly recommend you do so (Read our review here!) It may not feature a major superhero, but in Maya Lopez a.k.a Echo, you have arguably one of Marvel’s most interesting female characters.

Created in 1998 by David Mack, in the comics, Echo is a deaf superhero with strong ties with Daredevil, and has the power to “echo” any ability she witnesses.

In the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), however, the deaf and one-legged Maya Lopez (played by the excellent Alaqua Cox in the series) was first introduced in the 2021 Hawkeye Disney+ series as an enforcer for Wilson Fisk, a.k.a The Kingpin, and did not have any powers (yet).

Although Echo directly follows events in Hawkeye, and to some extent, the previous Daredevil series on Netflix, you don’t need to watch those shows to understand what goes on in Echo, as there is a handy recap in the first episode of the series.

Alaqua Cox plays Echo in the new Disney+ Hotstar series. — Photo: HandoutAlaqua Cox plays Echo in the new Disney+ Hotstar series. — Photo: Handout

Echo also holds the distinction of being the MCU’s first “mature content” show, as the violent nature of many of the fight scenes are reminiscent of Marvel’s early Netflix “street-level” shows. If this is anything to go by, we’re definitely looking forward to see more of not just Maya, but also the rest of Marvel’s street-level superheroes.

But for now, let’s take a look at who Echo is, and what makes her such a fascinating character.

(Disclaimer: The following article includes spoilers for the Echo TV show.)

Sins of the father

Maya made her comics debut in 1998’s Daredevil #9 in a story arc titled Parts Of A Hole, by Mack and artist Joe Quesada.

Unlike the TV version, where Maya is a descendant of the Choctaw tribe, in the comics, she is part of the Cheyenne tribe. She was born deaf and raised by Willie “Crazy Horse” Lincoln, a single father who worked for the Kingpin as an enforcer.

In the TV show, it was Clint Barton in his Ronin guise who kills her father after a tip from Kingpin, but in the comics, it was Fisk himself who orders Willie killed.

Willie is shot and killed in front of Maya, and before dying, he stroked her cheek with a bloody hand, leaving behind a handprint that she would later adopt as part of her costume in honour of him.

Maya Lopez made her first appearance in Daredevil #9 back in 1998.Maya Lopez made her first appearance in Daredevil #9 back in 1998.

The fist of Fisk

Maya has the unique ability to perfectly echo or mimic anything she sees thanks to a photographic memory – if she sees something being done, she can physically replicate it.

Recognising this talent and seeking to use it for his own gains, Kingpin raised Maya as his own daughter after her father’s death, even forking out to send her to a special school of kids with disabilities, where she mastered music and dance, despite her deafness.

Fisk also deceived Maya into thinking that Daredevil was the one who killed her father, which prompted her to seek revenge on the Man Without Fear.

What’s in a name?

In the comics, her reason for calling herself Echo is simple – it is a reference to her powers. She also painted her face with a white handprint in honour of her father’s final act.

In the TV show, however, this visual detail has been omitted, and Maya only gets her codename “Echo” towards the end, in reference to how she is the descendant of Chafa, the first Choctaw, and how her ancestors “echo” through her and give her their abilities.

These powers include super strength, expert marksmanship, a healing factor, enhanced agility, and even the ability to imbue other Choctaw women with the same powers, as seen in the season finale, where she gives her best friend Bonnie and grandmother Chula powers to fight off Kingpin’s goons.

Echo actually beats Daredevil in their very first fight.Echo actually beats Daredevil in their very first fight.

Devil’s in the details

Echo’s story is closely entwined with Daredevil’s. They first met out of costume as part of a setup by Kingpin, and inevitably formed a romantic relationship. However, Kingpin subsequently tells Maya that Daredevil is the one responsible for her father’s death, which leads her to go after the hero, not knowing Daredevil and Matt Murdock are the same person.

To prepare for the fight, she studies old footage of Daredevil’s fights with Bullseye, and actually beats him in their first fight. During their next encounter, however, Matt reveals his secret identity to her, and manages to convince Maya that he wasn’t her father’s killer, and that she had been set up by Kingpin.

In a fit of rage, she confronts Fisk and shoots him in the face, a scene that is mirrored in the Hawkeye TV show as well, and is the jump-off point for the Echo series.

The scene in which Maya confronts Kingpin over her father’s death is also shown in the TV show.The scene in which Maya confronts Kingpin over her father’s death is also shown in the TV show.

Although her relationship with Daredevil is non-existent in the TV show, Maya does get into a fight with Charlie Cox’s Daredevil, in her first assignment as an enforcer for Fisk.

Afterwards, she is told that she was the first one amongst Kingpin’s men to go toe to toe with Daredevil, which cements her status as one of Marvel’s strongest fighters (and this is without her newfound powers!).

Rolling with Ronin

Ronin is another character that Maya is closely connected with. In fact, she is actually the first character to call herself Ronin, with others like Clint Barton, Alexei Shostakov, Eric Brooks, Bullseye and Blade later adopting the persona as well.

In 2005’s The New Avengers #11, Maya dons a suit that conceals her identity as well as her gender, and went by the code name Ronin. She did this as she feared that her true identity and past as Echo might tarnish the reputations of the Avengers.

Maya is the first ever character to take on the persona of Ronin.Maya is the first ever character to take on the persona of Ronin.

In the MCU, however, Clint Barton is the first and only Ronin, and though he was the one who killed her father, he did so after acting on a tip from Fisk himself. He is also responsible for turning Echo against her adopted father.

In the comics, Echo and Clint have a close relationship, and were even involved romantically at one point.

Team player

Besides Daredevil, Hawkeye and the New Avengers, Echo has had team-ups with other superheroes such as Doctor Strange, Wolverine, and Captain Marvel too.

She has also played major and minor parts in crossover events like Secret Invasion, Civil War and World War Hulk; and has even been killed (and resurrected) a couple of times before.

Recently, in the 2021 Enter The Phoenix story arc of The Avengers (Volume 8), Echo was chosen by the Phoenix Force to become its host, after a contest of champions involving almost all the heavy hitters of the Marvel universe.

In the 2021 'Enter The Phoenix' story arc, Echo was chosen as the host of the Phoenix Force.In the 2021 'Enter The Phoenix' story arc, Echo was chosen as the host of the Phoenix Force.

After that event, Echo finally got her first ever solo series – Phoenix Song: Echo, written by Rebecca Roanhorse with art by Luca Maresca, which explores her Native American ancestry as she copes with possessing the immense powers of the Phoenix Force.

With Daredevil: Born Again currently in production and Kingpin set to return in that series as well, you can bet that we haven’t seen the last of Maya Lopez yet. Heck, with the X-Men coming into the MCU soon, maybe we might even see her wield the Phoenix Force on screen as well? One can only hope!

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