Taking her name from the paddy wagon nicknamed "Black Mariah," she led a gang of criminals, using fake ambulances and paddy wagons to pick up people without being questioned. They would cart off the bodies of rich people who died in public places, as well as collecting criminals. After taking the valuables from their victims they would take the victim's home and office keys and rob them before they could be closed up.
After Black Mariah's agents did their work on the recently murdered Frank Jenks, Mariah physically punished one of her men who had complained about her eating up their profits. Luke Cage tried to find Jenks' body for his widow, and his informant Flea directed him to the property next to Mariah's where he was spotted and ambushed by her men. Cage feigned defeat and then overpowered the men, eventually confronting Mariah herself. He was initially reluctant to strike a woman, resulting in him taking a lot of punishment as she slammed him into the walls and floors, but she fled after he braced himself to resist her attacks. She tried to escape in her motor boat, but he capsized the boat and left her floating in the bay.
Black Mariah was created by Steve Englehart and George Tuska in 1972 and first appeared in Hero For Hire #5.
Major Story Arcs
First encounter with the Heroes for Hire
Black Mariah moved to Chinatown and got involved in the drug business, employing Scimitar. Black Mariah got a bad shipment of drugs, known as Acid Z, which drove those who took it into a frenzy before killing them within hours.
Iron Fist followed a lead to Mariah's base after she sent some of her agents to
cut his heart out. Iron Fist overpowered the men and made his way into Mariah's room, defeating Scimitar after some struggle. He didn't see Mariah as a threat, and was surprised when she suddenly stabbed him with her sewing needles. Weakened by the drugs on the needles, Iron Fist struggled to maintain consciousness, but was then knocked out by Mariah. She took him up to the roof and threw him off, but Luke Cage caught him. She and Scimitar attempted to flee in her van, but Cage stopped the van by throwing a lamp post through it. Cage easily beat Scimitar, then knocked out Mariah when she attacked him.
The Supersoul Stone
Many years later, while being in prison, she met Jennie Royce, former secretary of the Heroes for Hire, and the two women formed a strong friendship. Jennie, being bullied all her life, believed that she was too weak to help her friend with her vision of "showing them all". Despite Black Mariah argued that Jenny wasn't weak, she didn't listen, until their cellmate Nekra Sinclair offered her strength by telling them of “street magic”, specifically the Supersoul Stone.
After they were released, Jennie met with Luke and Iron Fist and asked them to get the Supersoul Stone for her, claiming it to be an old possession of the family. Luke and Iron Fist believed her and got the stone from Tombstone, who wasn't aware of the stone's powers. Jennie showed the stone to Black Mariah, who was overjoyed that they now had the power to overthrow Tombstone. Jennie used the stone to first attack the people in a casino while Black Mariah stole their money, and later they went to attack Tombstone, who ordered Luke and Iron Fist, who had realized the truth in the meantime, to help him against her.
However, Mariah soon realized that the stone had some side effects: it granted Jennie super strength and the power to throw people through the air with black energy, but her rage became uncontrollable and finally turned her into a monster. Mariah tried to calm her down, but Jennie attacked her. When Mariah told Jennie about how all her strength and power would never help against the abuse she suffered in the past, Jennie started to have second thoughts as Luke and Iron Fist attacked her. Jennie realized that she would hurt her friend and that she didn't want to hurt anymore, which caused her to turn back into a human. Black Mariah hugged her friend and comforted her while handing the stone over to Luke and Iron Fist. The two went to prison afterwards, but Mariah still comforted her friend.
Powers And Abilities
- Black Mariah was a human female with no known superhuman abilities. She was exceptionally strong considering her weight, and was proficient at unarmed combat. Black Mariah was also knowledgeable in the use of firearms, and also possessed a pair of poison knitting needles.