Maya Lopez was born in New York, the daughter of a Hispanic mother and a Cheyenne father. Nothing much is known about Maya’s mother – she left the family when Maya was very young after a series of arguments with Maya’s father. Maya was a gifted child, but it took some time for people to recognize her talents. Maya was born deaf, but also possessed an amazing talent for mimicry called photographic reflexes. She could perfectly recreate any action she observed someone perform. She was initially diagnosed as non-verbal, but she became a self-taught lip-reader able to understand and speak perfect English despite her challenges. Ironically, this talent delayed any diagnosis of her deafness and she was instead classified as mentally handicapped due to her “attention problems” when she ignored people who spoke when she wasn’t looking.
Willie “Crazyhorse” Lincoln was a loving father to Maya and patiently answered her questions about the “audible world” after learning she was deaf. Whenever his anger got the best of him, Willie often took Maya to the Reservation, an interzone community for native peoples. He often sought out the Rez’s elder for counsel. The elder was a shaman and a storyteller who impressed Maya with the value of stories as well. Maya often got Willie to share stories through shadow puppets as she went to sleep. Willie also secretly worked as a partner and enforcer for Wilson Fisk during the latter’s rise to become Kingpin of New York. Fisk genuinely valued Lincoln as a friend, but Crazyhorse’s violence reportedly became too difficult to manage and Fisk chose to eliminate his partner. Kingpin shot Crazyhorse with his own gun, but he also vowed to look after Maya out of respect for his friend. Maya never knew Fisk killed her father, but she arrived at the scene of the crime before her father was loaded into the ambulance in a vain attempt to save him. Willie Lincoln touched his daughter, leaving a bloody handprint on her face as he passed away.
Wilson Fisk initially enrolled Maya in a school for the developmentally disabled. One day, the school had a visit from a classically trained pianist. Maya watched the performance intently and climbed onto the stage afterwards. Ignoring her teachers, Maya sat at the piano and perfectly recreated the performance she had just witnessed. After that incident, her teachers and guardian realized how talented Maya was and brought her to a new school for prodigies to better cultivate her talents. As she grew into adulthood, Maya’s talent for mimicry helped her accumulate an amazing repertoire of skills. She took the gold in the Special Olympics three years in a row in every event she competed in and later became a gold medalist in the traditional Olympics too. She performed as a concert pianist, a prizefighter and a performance artist. In the ring they called her Maya “Crazyhorse” Lopez after her father but, when she delivered an interpretive dance act called “Echo” in memory of her father’s shadow puppets and stories, the name stuck and the media began calling her Echo as well.
Fisk had always kept Maya apart from his criminal dealings and she knew him only as a kind guardian and “humble dealer in spices” as he projected to the public. The Kingpin had a feud for years with the costumed crime-fighter Daredevil, which became even more heated after Fisk learned Daredevil was the blind lawyer, Matt Murdock. A former janitor in Fisk Tower named Lenny Cebulski entered the offices of Nelson & Murdock to offer testimony against Fisk before being assassinated. Daredevil caught the shooter and planned to make a case against the Kingpin for conspiracy to commit murder. In order to throw Murdock off balance, Fisk asked Maya to go to Nelson & Murdock and speak to Murdock on his behalf, to convince the “good but misguided lawyer” of his fine character. Coffee turned into an entire day spent together, as Maya and Matt both found each other utterly captivating.
Meanwhile, on a tip he got from Cebulski, Daredevil broke into Fisk Tower and found Wilson’s personal safe with private files on all his criminal dealings… and Crazyhorse’s gun. Daredevil took the evidence but left the gun, providing Fisk with an opportunity. Using photos taken by a hidden camera of Daredevil outside the safe with the gun, Wilson created a false narrative for Maya. He told her that Daredevil was responsible for killing her father twenty years ago, when Crazyhorse took a bullet meant for Fisk. The murder had been done with Crazyhorse’s own gun, which had never been recovered. Fisk claimed Daredevil left the gun in the safe that night so Wilson would know it was him. The Kingpin had always delicately encouraged Maya’s photographic reflexes in the area of fighting styles and martial arts and now he finally had the occasion to exploit her for his benefit.
And so, the stage was set: Matt Murdock was falling for Maya, but Echo was prepared to kill Daredevil in revenge for her father’s murder. She spent days studying tapes of martial artists and fighters, including footage of Daredevil himself in battle with Bullseye, Elektra and others. Maya taped her father’s gun over her heart and stalked Daredevil on the rooftops of Hell’s Kitchen. Matt recognized Maya but could hardly make her stop her attacks long enough to read his lips as he denied her accusations. Daredevil was nearly killed by Echo, who cornered him in a playground and was prepared to shoot him with the same gun that killed her father. She only stopped when some kids on the playground took notice of them. Maya didn’t want to scar children the way she was scarred. Maya left Daredevil bleeding in the lot, confident she could kill him next time.
The indictment against Wilson Fisk did not go according to plan. At first, Nelson & Murdock hit a break when it was revealed Lenny was a twin and Larry Cebulski was the actual janitor with evidence against Fisk. He had sent his brother to Nelson & Murdock out of fear and now was guilt-ridden that he got his twin killed. Larry and the assassin Murphy were both willing to testify against Fisk. However, Larry didn’t show up at the hearing and Murphy was easily cast as an unstable serial killer of twins who couldn’t convincingly testify that Fisk hired him. The case against Fisk was dismissed. As the arrogant Fisk was driven away from the courthouse, however, Larry revealed he had taken the place of Fisk’s driver. The Kingpin fought back, but Larry shot Fisk a half dozen times and sent him plummeting off the side of the bridge. Daredevil’s presence on the scene in the news reports that followed only further twisted Maya’s view of the man, whom she now believed was responsible for Fisk’s death as well.
Echo took another shot at Daredevil, this time incapacitating his friend Black Widow with tranq darts first. Pressed to end the fight quickly so he could get Natasha to the hospital, Daredevil took advantage of what he knew about Maya and lured her into a darkened warehouse. Now deaf and blind, Maya’s skills were no match for Daredevil’s hearing and radar sense, which still worked perfectly. Although he got away, Daredevil’s maneuver taught Echo that he didn’t need his eyes to fight her and she correctly deduced his other senses must be superhuman. Maya lured Daredevil back to the playground they fought at before, using smoke and fire to clog his sense of smell and the excess background noise of the city to limit his hearing.
This final battle went in Echo’s favor, until Daredevil pulled her close enough to stop the fighting momentarily. She finally recognized Daredevil as Matt Murdock and read his lips denying having killed her father. Realizing Matt was her age and couldn’t have killed her father twenty years ago, Maya quickly came to the correct conclusion about her “guardian.” Echo retreated to her boxing gym to process and Fisk emerged from hiding to confront her about what she had learned. The weakened Kingpin refused to deny Maya’s accusations but tried to get her to work with him against Daredevil regardless. Instead, Echo fired her father’s gun in Fisk’s face, taking his eyes and leaving him as blind as Daredevil. [Daredevil (2nd series) #9-15]
Maya spent months away from New York to sort out her feelings. She returned to find much had changed in her absence. Wilson Fisk was behind bars, but Matt Murdock’s identity as Daredevil had been leaked to the press. Matt had started a relationship with a woman named Mila Donovan and declared himself the new Kingpin of New York to prevent others from claiming Wilson’s title. With Matt unavailable, Maya met with Wilson in prison. She accepted that he cared for her (in his own twisted way), but she could not forgive him for her father’s death. Instead, Maya left again and traveled back to the Rez she visited in her childhood. She felt lost and adrift from the life she once had in New York and asked the elder for guidance. The elder gave Maya the tools she needed to prepare for a vision quest and sort out her path.
Atop a nearby mountain, she spent three days without food and water, meditating on the animals and nature around her, looking for meaning. She saw a rabbit, an owl and two dogs fighting in the dark. On the fourth night, a mighty storm erupted and illuminated Wolverine, another guest of the Rez who came looking for peace. Maya lashed out at the surprise intruder at first, until she calmed down enough to realize he wasn’t an animal spirit. As they talked, Maya told Logan about what she had seen on her vision quest and Logan mentioned he had heard a Native tale about “two dogs fighting.” The elder told him once about a Cheyenne man who described his own turmoil as two dogs inside of him: one good, one bad. The two dogs were constantly fighting and, in the end, the man said that the dog who wins is the dog you feed the most. The story had resonated with Logan and it resonated with Maya as well, for she recognized the man who told the story was her father. Maya returned to New York with a new dedication to her performance art, telling the stories of her father and her people in her own medium. [Daredevil (2nd series) #51-55]