Titania (Marvel Comics)
Art by Alex Saviuk.
|First appearance||Secret Wars #3 (July 1984)|
|Alter ego||Mary MacPherran|
Masters of Evil|
|Notable aliases||"Skeeter", Skirn: Breaker of Men|
Expert street fighter|
Immense superhuman strength
High-level resistance to physical injury
Titania (Mary MacPherran), is a supervillainess appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. She is notable for being one of Marvel's strongest human female characters, and the wife of the Absorbing Man. Created by then-Editor-in-Chief Jim Shooter and introduced in the 1984 crossover limited series Secret Wars, Titania has since then become a rival of the She-Hulk, and has also been a member of several incarnations of the Masters of Evil and the Frightful Four.
MacPherran is the second Marvel supervillainess to use the name. The first Titania (Davida DaVito) was a female wrestler and member of The Grapplers who was murdered by the Scourge of the Underworld. Upon DaVito's resurrection, her powers were expanded and she took the name Lascivious, as MacPherran had become much more strongly identified with the name Titania.
Titania was introduced in Secret Wars #3, and has appeared in many Marvel comics since then.
Mary MacPherran is the name of a real-life Marvel production assistant who was asked by Jim Shooter if it was permissible to name a character after her. In 2011, Shooter posted a photo on his blog of a group of Marvel staffers, with a caption identifying the real MacPherran. In a comment, Shooter said of MacPherran,
Wonderful, gentle, sweet Mary Mac was indeed a smidgen of the basis for Titania, who was a willowy young woman who became uber-robust and Hulk-level strong. If MM minded that I had a tough bad-girl inspired by her, and made the nod in her direction, she never mentioned it. And wicked-smart Volcana had a bit of Mary Jo Duffy at her core. It was a thing we did back when. Now, I suppose the creators would be sued.
Fictional character biography
Born prematurely in a suburb of Denver, Colorado, Mary MacPherran grew up scrawny and short-statured, inspiring a popular girl at school, Vanessa Ashwood, to nickname her "Skeeter" (a slang word for mosquito). As a high school senior, to help support her struggling family, Mary works as a salesclerk alongside her only other friend, Marsha Rosenberg. Consistently bullied since childhood by the wealthy and cruel Vanessa and her friends, Mary grows resentful and bitter, and fantasizes about gaining superpowers to become admired, and exact retribution on her tormentors.
After the second Spider-Woman (Julia Carpenter) makes one of her early appearances in their town, Marsha remarks that the new superheroine's reddish-blonde hair color matches Mary's. Mary then falsely confides to her friend that she is secretly Spider-Woman. Shortly afterward, Mary is invited to a fancy party at Vanessa's house, where she is surprised to find that her newfound popularity is due to Marsha spreading around the false Spider-Woman rumor.
However, in the middle of the party, their section of Denver is torn from Earth and becomes part of the composite planet Battleworld, created by the Beyonder as a stage for a selected group of superheroes and supervillains to battle each other. When the real Spider-Woman arrives on the scene to save the guests from a collapsing structure, the now-enraged Vanessa and her guests turn on Mary and Marsha, chasing them into the forests of Battleworld.
Scared and exhausted, the two girls are found by Doctor Doom, who was in need of further metahuman operatives to further his ambitions. Mary and Marsha both agree to Doom's offer of power in exchange for serving in his army of supervillains.
Using the highly advanced alien technologies found in Doombase, the villain headquarters, powered by immense energies from the ferocious alien storm outside, Doom recreates both women, inducing high-level metahuman abilities of specific and particular design. While Rosenberg (now known as Volcana) receives a fiery form composed of ionized plasma, MacPherran gains powers diametrically opposed to her previous self – where once she had been "the scrawny one who got her face rubbed in the dirt", she becomes far more tall, muscular, and buxom than average.
Titania's physical changes bring a new personality to the fore. Where Mary MacPherran had been small and timid, the newly named Titania, so called because of strength like a titan, is brash and seemingly confident. No sooner does Volcana melted machinery into a large pile of red-hot slag, than Titania picks it up, boldly ignoring the slight possibility of injury, and hurls it through the wall; soon after, she challenges Carl "Crusher" Creel, the Absorbing Man, to a fight which he refuses, stating that he had "nothing to prove...to a dame."
Titania begins to work for Doom in earnest, and is one of the villains ordered by Doom to attack the superheroes. She battles Thor, Rogue and Wolverine., as well as the X-Men. But her most impressive conquest is Jennifer Walters, the She-Hulk, getting the best of her during a gang beating, beginning a long rivalry between the two.
Yet, when the heroes later storm Doombase to rescue She-Hulk, Titania tries to face up against veteran superhero Spider-Man. Initially extremely confident due to her massive strength and durability, she panics upon realizing that Spider-Man's vastly superior speed, agility, reflexes, intelligence and years of experience against more powerful foes allow him to not only easily avoid her, but also attack her with complete impunity. The fight ends when Spider-Man beats her into the ground, then picks her up and disdainfully tosses her through an exterior wall. During this fight, Titania's newfound arrogance quickly evaporates, giving way to what Spider-Man mockingly calls the "whining little wimp-ette" — it is clear that her arrogance masks an insecure, fragile personality. Mindful of this beating, Titania avoids coming into contact with Spider-Man while on Battleworld, and would harbor a fear of him for some time after returning to Earth.
After her run-in with Spider-Man, the Absorbing Man and Titania grow closer and begin a relationship. Once Owen Reece, the Molecule Man, manages to seal off the chunk of Denver, and begins to navigate it back to Earth, Creel and MacPherran reveal that they are done with Doom and his war, and simply want to go home.
During the return to Earth, Titania steals away from the group of villains. She beats up Vanessa Ashwood and destroys her house, but gets no satisfaction out of getting revenge on her childhood tormentor.
Back to Earth
Once back on Earth, Titania and Absorbing Man continue to work as professional criminals by joining Baron Helmut Zemo's latest incarnation of the Masters of Evil. Their first assignment is to recruit the powerful Moonstone, which also prevents them from joining the main group in the assault on Avengers Mansion. To kill time, Titania robs a jewelry store, only to come to the attention of Spider-Man. Too afraid to fight, she runs from combat, only to encounter him again at LaGuardia Airport. There, once more, Titania tries not to fight, having Creel do so on her behalf; yet the sight of his near-defeat at Spider-Man's hands was enough for Titania to temporarily overcome her 'arachnophobia', charging into combat to save her boyfriend. Creel then ends the fight by threatening to destroy a plane full of innocents if Spider-Man refuses to leave the scene, which he reluctantly does.
The villain couple receive another assignment from the Masters: to kill Hercules, who had been gravely injured previously by the Masters, and was in the hospital. Yet despite a guard of only Ant-Man (Scott Lang), and (the Wasp), Hercules survives; with Creel stung by insects in human form, and Titania shrunk to the size of Wasp, the villains are easily subdued, with Titania taken to the Vault, a superhuman penitentiary.
This stay in the Vault does not last long. When Iron Man, begins the Armor Wars, the battle to destroy or disable all enhanced armor types based on stolen Iron Man designs, this inevitably leads him to the Guardsmen, The Vault's wardens. The ensuing conflict creates a power failure, allowing Titania and Mister Hyde to escape. While Captain America manages to subdue and capture Mister Hyde, his colleague D-Man is unsuccessful in apprehending Titania; when allowed the opportunity for a rematch, D-Man simply lets her escape because she is far stronger than him.
Broken out yet again, Titania joins with the Wizard, Klaw, and Hydro-Man, to become the new Frightful Four. Battling the Fantastic Four, with Titania taking on the Thing and Ms. Marvel, the team only wins due to help from Professor Gregson Gilbert's creation Dragon Man, and Aron, the Renegade Watcher; in the rematch, the Fantastic Four prevails, only to have both teams imprisoned by Aron in suspended animation, using clones of the Fantastic Four to act out adventures he wished to witness. When both teams are freed, Aron chooses to witness the dreams of his clones instead, and transports the Frightful Four back to The Vault, as a service to the Fantastic Four.
Titania permanently overcomes her fear of Spider-Man during the 1989-1990 "Acts of Vengeance" crossover, in which a conspiracy between Loki and the Wizard teams supervillains to fight enemies not usually their own. Titania is dismayed when Doctor Doom, her partner, tells her she would face not She-Hulk, but Spider-Man. With the help of a behavior modification device secretly affixed to Titania, Doom stokes her pride and anger, allowing her to engage Spider-Man at the Daily Bugle offices. After the Puma's claws tear Doom's device from her, she cowers from Spider-Man, but when he makes her realize that she had been fighting him the whole time, she finally overcomes her fear and resumes attacking. However, at this time, Spider-Man is temporarily bonded with the Uni-Power, making him Captain Universe. This grants him the power to render Titania unconscious in one massive energy discharge.
She is freed on the way to the Vault by Graviton, who also collects the Trapster and the Brothers Grimm. All had been humiliated by Spider-Man in the Captain Universe guise, and along with Chameleon and Goliath, they attempt to take revenge, only to fail. Titania, humiliatingly, is defeated by a collision with a speeding bus.
Escaping The Vault once again, Titania joins Superia's Femizons, as foes of Captain America and the Paladin. This does not work out, however, and so Titania resolves to track down her old flame – the Absorbing Man. Finding him battling the Eric Masterson Thor; when she appears injured by a blow from Mjolnir, Creel admits his love for her, which she gladly reciprocates. Seeing this, Thor allowed them to leave.
While Creel makes an attempt to live a normal life, Titania goes back to robbing jewelry stores; concerned, Creel attempts to "scare her straight", collaborating with Thor in a ploy involving an exhibit at the Guggenheim Museum. While the appearance of Spider-Man and special police unit Code: Blue complicates matters, ultimately Titania remembers her love for Creel.
Creel continues to get mad at Mary for not managing to stay legal and violating their parole. In order to alleviate her stress he arranges an official bout with the She-Hulk, but Titania nonetheless decides to cheat, and ends up losing the fight.
Titania and the Absorbing Man's wedding is attended by many supervillains; while the Avengers interrupt the ceremony, they ultimately leave the couple alone. Titania quickly grows bored with her law-abiding reform, and after Absorbing Man tries to buy her a Valentine's present but is nonetheless attacked by the police, they accept having to live a life on the run from the law.
In need of funds the pair assumes the guises of Thunder Girl and Lightning Bolt in order to hunt Spider-Man for the reward offered by Norman Osborn.
Illness and recuperation
Despite her enhanced durability, Titania contracts terminal cancer. Lacking both health insurance and money, Creel is quickly forced to move her from the hospital to an abandoned building. Creel kidnaps Dr. Jane Foster and brings her to the abandoned building to treat Titania, whose condition is rapidly deteriorating. Due to a battle between Creel and Thor, the building collapses upon the two women. Weakened and barely conscious, but still massively strong, Titania is nonetheless able to save Foster from being killed by holding up the falling debris. Foster subsequently helps treat Titania's cancer at the hospital.
In a "silent" story containing no word balloons, Captain America fights the Absorbing Man on Christmas Eve, then learns that Creel was trying to get enough money to buy a Christmas present for Titania. Cap then secretly delivers the present in Creel's place, and remains outside their apartment window long enough to watch Titania pick up the gift. In an accompanying script excerpt, writer Dan Jurgens explains that Titania's illness has been cured.
During Christopher Priest's run on Deadpool, Titania appears as a roommate of Deadpool and the supervillain Constrictor, but is later revealed to be the shapeshifter Copycat. She was originally intended to be the real Titania, but Marvel editors came up with the Copycat explanation in order to resolve the continuity conflict with Dan Jurgens' cancer storyline simultaneously occurring in Thor.
Wielding the Power Gem
Titania proves unable to stay away from She-Hulk, and undergoes an intense physical regimen to boost her abilities. However, She-Hulk had done so more efficiently, briefly reaching levels almost approaching those of the Hulk himself. Battered and inadvertently humiliated by her, Titania is offered the chance at revenge after obtaining the Power Gem, one of the legendary Infinity Gems, from its former owner, the former Champion of the Universe, now known as the Fallen One because of his own defeat at the She-Hulk's hands. The Fallen One had agreed to cease using the Power Gem as a condition of his defeat, but was free to gain his own revenge by proxy through Titania. After an initial defeat by the newly empowered Titania, She-Hulk tricks her into believing that she had killed the Jade Giantess in a second battle; Titania's initial rush of triumph suddenly melts into uncertainty, as she realized that her life now had no meaning or focus without the object of her obsessive hatred. She-Hulk (in her normal form as Jennifer Walters) then takes advantage of Titania's confusion to pluck the Power Gem from the criminal's forehead, and uses the Gem's power to knock Titania out with a single punch.
Titania is incarcerated in the Lang Memorial Penitentiary, a.k.a. the Pym Experimental Prison #2, a prison in which superhuman inmates are shrunk with Pym particles to less than an inch in height, to reduce both their chances of escape and their threat to guards and the public.
In Fantastic Four #547, Titania appears as a member of The Wizard's Frightful Four, battling the Fantastic Four on Saturn's moon, Titan. In She-Hulk (vol. 2) #21, she is shown having been returned to the Pym Experimental Prison. In the next issue, having escaped (though still shrunken to diminutive size), she is reunited with the Absorbing Man, and clashes again with She-Hulk. To save She-Hulk from the Absorbing Man, her friend, the Skrull Jazinda uses the shrunken Titania as a hostage and throws her into the mouth of a shark.
During the Fear Itself storyline, one of the seven Hammers of the Worthy lands near Titania after it was launched to Earth by Serpent. When she lifts it, her body becomes possessed by Skirn: Breaker of Men. Skirn then helps Creel find his own hammer in the capital of Hell. When they find his hammer, they come across a well known thief who has a personal history with Skirn. The thief tries to take the hammer as his own, but Skirn quickly defeats him. War Machine, Iron Fist, and their allies appear and try unsuccessfully to keep the hammer from Creel, who becomes the host body for Greithoth: Breaker of Wills when he grasps it.
When Absorbing Man and Titania rob an armored car, the female Thor appears to thwart their plans. Upon meeting the female Thor, Creel mocks her for being a woman and for having taken Thor's name for herself, which she answers by breaking his jaw. Titania then appears to confront her. But out of respect for what Thor was doing, she knocks out her husband with his own weapon and surrenders. Despite this surrender, and despite Titania having once saved her life, Thor hits her hard with Mjolnir, knocking her out.
Titania attempts to quit the supervillain lifestyle, and with She-Hulk's help, gets a security job at a pawn shop. Though she successfully stops a robbery by thugs armed with energy weapons, her powers attract the attention of Luke Cage and Iron Fist. Despite her innocence, the Heroes for Hire view her with suspicion and attempt to subdue her. In the middle of the fight, the Hood teleports Titania against her will back to his lair, where he invites her to join his incarnation of Illuminati, promising a way out of supervillainy. She reluctantly agrees to join. It is revealed to the reader that Hood engineered the robbery and is manipulating Titania.
During the Avengers: Standoff! storyline, Titania was with Hood when they infiltrate Pleasant Hill to retrieve Absorbing Man.
Powers and abilities
Thanks to cellular augmentation through radiation, Titania possesses immense superhuman strength that originally enabled her to match individuals such as the Thing, but later increased after performing rigorous prolonged weight-lifting training, and rivals her nemesis, She-Hulk.
Titania's muscles produce considerably less fatigue toxins than the muscles of an ordinary human, granting her superhuman levels of stamina.
Titania's body is also highly resistant to physical injury. She can withstand high caliber bullets, temperature extremes, falls from great heights, and severe blunt force trauma without sustaining injury.
Titania also possesses extensive experience in street-fighting techniques.
In Universe X, the sequel to Earth X (about a dystopic future Marvel Universe), the Absorbing Man has absorbed the knowledge of the evil artificial intelligence Ultron. It is explained in the Appendix that, prior to the events of the series, Creel killed one-third of Earth's population, and was only stopped when Titania begged him to change his mind. Titania is later put in a coma when struck in the head during a battle with the Avengers. In revenge, and possibly under the influence of Ultron, Creel kills many members of the team. In the climax of the series, Iron Maiden and Loki convince Creel to sacrifice himself to save the Earth by telling him that it would save Titania. Mar-Vell later brings Titania to a giant statue of her husband, and she tells him that there was a good man inside Creel.
House of M
In the House of M reality, Titania is a member of the Hood's team of supervillains that defies Magneto's House of M and establishes a safe haven for humans in the country of Santo Rico. When Magneto's forces threaten to attack them, she and the Absorbing Man are part of the group that elects to stay behind and fight until all the citizens can evacuate. Titania is the only survivor of the Red Guard's attack, and she is seen at the end as a member of the Human Resistance.
In other media
- Titania, voiced by Clare Grant, appears in several episodes of Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H.. In the episode "The Skaar Whisperer", she is seen with Absorbing Man and the Wrecking Crew escaping from the Vault, and is defeated by She-Hulk. In the episode "Monsters No More," Titania appears as a member of the Leader's 'Agents of C.R.A.S.H'. In the episode "The Big Green Mile," Titania is an inmate at the Abomination's section of the Vault. She receives She-Hulk as a cellmate, and the two foes end up bonding over the course of the episode. When Abomination "purges" his part of the Vault by launching it into space with a gamma bomb to destroy it, Titania convinces Absorbing Man to help the heroes disarm it. After S.H.I.E.L.D. finds out that the Leader and the Agents of C.R.A.S.H. masterminded the destruction of Vista Verde and framed the Agents of S.M.A.S.H., Titania, Absorbing Man, and the Wrecking Crew are transferred to another prison facility. As they are being led away, She-Hulk offers to help Titania with her appeal if she stays out of trouble.
- Titania appears in the Avengers Assemble episode "Small Time Heroes", voiced again by Clare Grant. She was being transferred in a S.H.I.E.L.D. convoy until Absorbing Man attacks to spring her out. She and Absorbing Man were defeated by Iron Man, Hawkeye, and Thor.
- Titania appears as a boss character in the 1996 video game, Iron Man and X-O Manowar in Heavy Metal.
- Captain America #319, July 1986
- Punisher vol. 7 #5, July 2009
- Jim Shooter's Blog, December 7, 2011
- Blog comment by Jim Shooter about the real Mary MacPherran
- Williamson & Crystal Shed Light on Marvel's Evil "Illuminati"
- Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars #1 (1984)
- She-Hulk (vol. 1) #10 (2004)
- Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars #3
- Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars #3
- Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars #4
- Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars #6
- Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars #7
- Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars #8
- Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars #11 (1985)
- Amazing Spider-Man (vol. 1) #283 (1986)
- Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars #11-12
- She-Hulk (vol. 1) #10 (2004)
- Avengers #273
- Amazing Spider-Man (vol. 1) #283 (1986)
- Avengers #275
- Captain America (vol. 1) #340 (1988)
- Solo Avengers #14
- Fantastic Four #326-328
- Fantastic Four #333 (1989)
- Web of Spider-Man #59
- Web of Spider-Man #64-65
- Captain America #389-392
- Thor #436
- Thor #447-448
- Thunderstrike #16
- Avengers Unplugged #4
- Marvel Valentine's Special
- Amazing Spider-Man #429
- Heroes for Hire #17; Thor vol. 2 #14; Fantastic Four vol. 3 #22
- Thor #26-27, August–September 2000
- Thor #28, October 2000
- Plot excerpt for Captain America #50 by Dan Jurgens, February 2002
- Deadpool 3rd series #38, March 2000
- Deadpool #44, October 2000
- Comixfan forum post by Christopher Priest explaining why Titania was written out of Deadpool.
- She-Hulk Volume 1, Issue 12, April 2005
- She-Hulk Volume 1, Issue 12, April 2005
- She-Hulk (volume 2) #23 (2008)
- Second Coming Revelations: X-Factor #204
- Thunderbolts #144 (2010)
- Matt Fraction (w), Stuart Immonen (p), Wade von Grawbadger (i). "The Worthy" Fear Itself 2 (July 2011), Marvel Comics
- Iron Man 2.0 #6 (2011)
- Fear Itself: The Fearless #5, December 2011
- Thor Vol. 4 #5
- Illuminati #1 (2015)
- Illuminati #6
- She-Hulk vol. 3, #10
- Bullets and Bracelets #1
- Universe X #11 (2001)
- Universe X #X (2001)
- House of M: Masters of Evil #1-4
- "The Big Green Mile". Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. Season 2. Episode 12. February 15, 2015. Disney XD.
- "Small Time Heroes". Avengers Assemble. Season 2. Episode 15. April 26, 2015. Disney XD.
- Titania at Marvel.com
- Titania's Profile at Women of Marvel Comics
- Summary of Titania's appearances, through Thor #55
- List of Titania's appearances at SpiderFan.org