You thought it was dead, another corpse left to rot in the potter’s field of abandoned projects.
YOU WERE WRONG.
…has risen from the grave with a spooky season offering from the diabolic duo of Eric “Unpronounceable” Esquivel (words) and Jon “Calamity” Morris (art):
THE DAUGHTER OF THE ‘DEVIL
Real Name: Mary Margaret Murdock
Other Current Aliases: The Holy Mother, The Scarlet Woman, Daughter of The ‘Devil
Former Aliases: None
Dual (quadruple) Identity: Secret
Current Occupation: Student, social worker (as The Holy Mother), dominatrix (as The Scarlet Woman), superhero adventurer (as The Daughter of The ‘Devil)
Citizenship: Mary holds dual citizenship in The United States of America and New Babylon (the island formerly referred to as “Manhattan”).
Legal Status: Legally insane.
Place of Birth: Clinton Mission Shelter, in “Hell’s Kitchen” (Clinton and Midtown West) New York City.
Marital Status: Umarried, but dating Judah Spector
Known Relatives: Matt Murdock (father, deceased), Typhoid Mary (mother, deceased), Sister Margaret Grace Murdock (Grandmother, deceased), “Battlin’” Jack Murdock (grandfather, deceased), Frank “The Punisher” Castle (Godfather)
Known Confidants: Judah Spectre (boyfriend)
Known Allies: The White Knight (as The Holy Mother), The Dark Disciple (as The Scarlet Woman), Nurse Strange, Drax The Healer, iDeathlok, Westar, Lighthawk, The Golden Surfer (as The Daughter of The ‘Devil), The Punisher
Major Enemies: The Dark Disciple (as The Holy Mother), The White Knight (as The Scarlet Woman), Khonshu’s Fist (as The Daughter of The ‘Devil)
Usual Base of Operations: New York City (as The Daughter of The Devil and The Holy Mother), New Babalon (as The Scarlet Woman)
Current Group Membership: The Sisterhood of The Howling Commandments (as The Holy Mother), The New Nightstalkers (as The Scarlet Woman), The Secret Defenders (as the Daughter of The ‘Devil).
Extent of Education: Mary is currently enrolled in Saint George Academy. Prior to that she received home schooling (and basic survival training) from Frank Castle
Height: 5′ 6”
Weight: 115 lbs
Other Distinguishing Features: Mary wears thick black glasses with red lenses which belonged to her biological father and a small golden crucifix necklace initially worn by the late Lisa Castle.
Special skills and abilities: Having been home schooled for the majority of her life by Frank Castle—arguably the most lethal man on the planet—Mary is well versed in various survivalist and martial arts disciplines.
Superhuman Physical Powers: Super hearing
Superhuman mental powers: telepathy, matter/energy manipulation (most often manifested as pyrokinesis)
Special limitations: Mary’s complete power set includes Super hearing, telepathy, and psionic matter/energy manipulation—but her access to those talents is limited by her perception of self.
Essentially: her super hearing talent is reserved for her “Daughter of The ‘Devil” persona, her telepathy is wielded exclusive by “The Holy Mother”, and the psionic abilities are reserved solely for “Scarlet Woman” persona.
Source of superhuman powers: Voluntary exposure to dangerous chemicals
Being the product of a torrid affair between one of New York City’s most beloved heroes, and one of its most infamous villains, it’s no wonder that Mary Murdock has lead a uniquely charmed (some might say “cursed” life).
When the hero Daredevil sacrificed himself to save the world during the great Sentinel Singularity War, his dying wish was that his colleague, the controversial vigilante “The Punisher” assume the guardianship of his infant daughter (who—up until this point—he had raised as a single father, like his father before him).
“Why me?” Frank asked.
“I know you’ll do whatever it takes to protect her” Matt answered. And he was right.
A military man and a father himself, Castle honored the fallen warrior’s last wishes. He turned away from his life of violence and challenged himself to become as good at raising human beings as he was at murdering them.
That was 23 years ago. He hasn’t put on a black t-shirt since.
To say that Castle was an overprotective father would be an understatement. All of the energy he had previously directed towards snuffing violent offenders Frank now channeled into safeguarding his precious baby girl. His arsenal used to consist of guns, knives, hand grenades, flame throwers—now he was armed with parental control locks, internet filters, and very specific, archaic opinions about hem length.
When Mary hit the ninth grade Frank enrolled her in Saint George Academy, a Catholic boarding school attended almost entirely by the children of parents serving in the armed forces (he knew a guy who knew a guy—or, more specifically, he had once taken a bullet for the Dean of Admissions). Castle didn’t have too many warm and fuzzy feelings about religion (the “eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth” thing sounded alright, but there was one particular commandment he just couldn’t wrap his head around…), but he knew that it was important to Matt, Mary’s father, and that made it important to him, too.
Mary, as most young girls in her situation would, took to rebellion. Growing up without any knowledge of who her mother was, living under the constant scrutiny of a man whose personal politics would make Colin Powell look like Jimmy Hendrix in comparison, being forced to wear a regulation uniform during the years when self-expression was became more vital than self-preservation…it was almost inevitable.
She was a good girl at heart, and didn’t get into too much trouble (a stolen tube of lipstick here, the occasional puff of a clove cigarette there). Nothing big.
…until the night she and her on-again, off-again boy toy Judah Spector were peer pressured by their friends to try ayahuasca—a primitive drug historically ingested by witch doctors in the jungles of Peru, but recently re-popularized as a recreational pass time by bored, privileged North American teenagers. Never one to do anything half mast, Mary ingested nearly three times the recommended dosage.
It nearly killed her.
Frank laid by his daughter’s hospital bed for six straight days. He never slept. He never got up to get a snack. Nobody ever saw him use the restroom. He allowed the nurses to bring him water, but when they suggested he rest his eyes, or gently reminded him that visiting hours were over, he just snarled. After the third consecutive night a young, strapping orderly attempted to physically remove him. Castle broke the young man’s arm in four places before laying him out flat on one well-placed punch to the face. Nobody tried again after that.
When Mary finally woke up she found that she wasn’t the only one who had.
The Peruvian poison had awakened three disparate, superhuman personalities who each felt entitled to an equal claim on her body and soul: a fanatically pious, telephatic entity who referred to itself as “The Holy Mother”, that being’s blasphemous, psionically gifted shadow-self “The Scarlet Woman”, and the square-jawed, stoic, classically heroic personality who would later come to be called “The Daughter of The ‘Devil” (who possessed a superhuman hearing ability).
Castle blamed himself for not warning Mary about her family’s history of mutation and mental illness. He attempted to rectify the situation by unloading everything he knew on her now: that her mother was the late, notorious villainess “Typhoid Mary”: a Carrie-like tragic figure who likewise suffered from dissociative disorder and was often manipulated by 20th century crime lord Wilson “The Kingpin” Fisk into acts of villainy—often against her biological father, the blind, gallant, superhuman-hearing-empowered “Guardian Devil” of New York, “Daredevil”.
The shocking revelation did more harm than good, causing Mary to retreat further into herself, giving her false identities more fodder with which to construct their personal mythologies, and estranging her from Castle—her only meaningful family member, confidant, and tether to the real world.
By a bizarre twist of fate, a similar situation befell Mary’s young suitor, Judah Spector. Himself an heir to a proud legacy of lycra and chlorpromazine—as the son of a polyamorous union between Marc “Moon Knight” Spector and the “Stepford Cuckoo” triplets/psychic hive mind of The Uncanny X-Men—he was likewise predisposed towards developing multiple personalities, and his resulting alter egos (“The Dark Disciple”, “The White Knight”, and “Khonshu’s Fist”) frequently find themselves drawn to those of Mary Murdock (as enemies, allies, and even lovers)— suggesting perhaps a cosmic interconnectedness between the two. This has yet to be fully explored.
The only “alters” the are aware of each other’s existence are Mary and The Daughter of The Devil—but even they are unaware of their connections to The Holy Mother and The Scarlet Woman.
(Wicked words by Eric Esquivel and unnatural art by Jon Morris, who just so happen to be involved — along with several other Jam participants and talented folks — with this spine-tingling anthology of sequential art. So what are you waiting for? UPJ logo provided by Dave Lartigue.)
Are you an artist, writer, or terrifying combination of the two who’d like to try your hand at the Ultimate Powers Jam? Then drop me a line at bitter(dot)andrew(at)gmail(dot)com and I’ll commence the dice to rolling!
Recommended listening: Paul Glass – To the Devil…a Daughter (from the Hammer Film Music Collection: Volume 2, 1999)
And so we travel from the weird world of the near future to the soundtracked terrors of the not-quite-distant past with as perfect a musical annotation as you will ever find here.