WANTED: Earth-Two's Most Dangerous Super-Villains
Name: Princess Maru
Residence: Usually Mobile
Occupation: Scientist, spy, Axis agent
First Appearance (Golden Age): Sensation Comics #2 (February 1942)
Nothing is known about the early life of Princess Maru, the Japanese agent who eventually became known as Dr. Poison. The first documented meeting of Dr. Poison with American agents occurred in February of 1942, tho they were aware of Poison’s existence at some point prior. This encounter occurred when Poison coordinated the kidnapping of Captain Steve Trevor and incidently Nurse Diana Prince. Poison’s goal was to interrogate Trevor with Truth Serum, getting him to reveal his known of other axis agents in DC and whatever knowledge the US military had of Poison’s plans. Her efforts were thwarted when Diana surreptitiously switch the Truth Serum for normal saline. Trevor bluffed his way through the interrogation but was soon imprisoned. Incarcerated elsewhere, Diana changes into her costume as Wonder Woman and breaks jail, leaving to plot Trevor’s rescue.
In their next encounter, Poison reveals to Trevor the
existed of Reverso, a chemical she had devised that causes those who ingest it
to do the opposite of whatever instructed. Her agents poison the water supply
about around a major army base and within hours, soldiers are charging when
told to halt, undressing when told to muster, and walking backwards when told
to march. While Poison entrenched her
forces, Diana goes to Holliday College and recruits Etta and her classmates as
a marching band that stages a march on Poison’s lair. The girls woo the soldiers into dropping
their weapons and dancing with them while Wonder Woman sought out Trevor. Rescuing the captain, the girls turned on the
Axis soldiers, subduing them in surprise.
As Dr. Poison turned to flee, Wonder Woman stripped away her disguise,
revealing that Dr. Poison, thought to be a man, was in fact in a Japanese
woman. She is tackled by Etta Candy and
forced to provide the antidote to Reverso before being carted off to a military
prison (Sensation Comics #2).
American prisons were no match for Maru, who quickly escaped
and fled to China. In December of 1943,
she was operating as undercover agent Mei Sing, a dancing girl and a gentleman’s
club near a Chinese air base. Steve
Trevor, on a mission in China, recognized “Mei Sing” but cannot place her until
she lures him to her dressing room and sedates him with special tea. From there, she and her girls head for air
force base and steal a plan to fly to a Japanese base nearby. As she takes off, a gas bomb left by her
girls explodes, flooding the engines of nearby planes and paralyzing them.
Regaining consciousness in Japanese custody, Trevor uses his access to Wonder Woman’s mental radio to alert him to his predictament, sending her flying in an Amazon plane to his rescue. She arrives and recognizes Poison as her old adversary but is overcome by Maru’s gas weapons. Before succumbing, she summons her remodeled Invisible Jet, that she can now control by telepathy. Maru leaves after taunting her captives that she will use her gas to disable the entire US military, allowing the base to be destroyed to cover their tracks. In the carnage, Wonder Woman escapes with the unconscious Trevor and battles her way through Japanese forces until her plane arrives to help her escape. Snatching Maru up with her lasso, she takes off for an American airfield. Under the influence of her lasso, Maru reveals that her plans had not been delivered to the Japanese as of yet and thus with her in custody, America’s planes were Safe (Sensation Comics #24).
The activities of Maru, either as Doctor Poison or otherwise, are unknown for several years. Whether she was taken back into military custody or delivered to the reform colony controlled by the Amazons is not clear. What is known is that by 1948, she was a prisoner on Transformation Island when the Saturnian military operative Evilless staged a mass escape, freeing her and several other adversaries of Wonder Woman. United, these women formed the criminal group Villainy Inc. They quickly capture Hippolyta and in short order, all of the Amazons. Hippolyta manages to alert Wonder Woman who rushes to her aid. Initially captured and held captive with Hippolyta, the escape of several for Amazon prisoners disrupts the operations and several of Villainy Inc., including Dr. Poison, are soon captured and presumable returned to the programs of reform (Wonder Woman #28).
The later activities of Doctor Poison are unrevealed.
Powers and Abilities
Dr. Poison is an extremely skilled biochemist with a specialty in toxins, hallucinogens and chemical weaponry. She has conceived and created a number of chemicals used in her role as an Axis agent against the US military including psychoactive compounds and anti-aircraft chemicals. She is also adept as disguise, passing herself off as a man to be effective in the military patriarchy of the Japanese military.
Weaknesses and Limitations
Dr. Poison has no inherent super-powers and appears to be a sub-par hand to hand combatant who is easily defeated when cornered.
The history of Doctor Poison in the post-Crisis timeline is thought to bear several similarities to the Earth-Two version, though in this timeline, the role of Wonder Woman during the second World War is occupied by Queen Hippolyta rather Princess Diana. Maru of Earth-0 is known to have had children leading to a grand-daughter who took up the legacy of Dr. Poison on her own. She revealed that the aging Princess Maru had experimented with rejuvenating chemicals but had inadvertently created one so powerful that she grew young quicker than she could react, devolving into an embryo and then a zygote before disappearing altogether, presumably being killed in the process (Wonder Woman vol. 2 #151).
1st Appearance, vs. Wonder Woman
Wonder Woman Archives #1, Wonder Woman: The Golden Age Omnibus Vol. 1
Does not appear as Doctor Poison, only Princess Maru, vs. Wonder Woman
Wonder Woman Archives #3, Wonder Woman: The Golden Age Omnibus Vol. 1
Wonder Woman #28
Joins Villainy Inc., vs. Wonder Woman
Adventure #416, Wonder Woman Annual #1 (1967) Replica, The Greatest Wonder Woman Stories Ever Told (2007), Wonder Woman: The Golden Age Omnibus Vol. 4