The Bizarrely Tragic Backstory of Archie's Marvelous Maureen – CBR – Comic Book Resources

In the latest Comic Book Legends Revealed, discover the bizarrely tragic backstory of the Archie superhero, Marvelous Maureen
Welcome to the 880th installment of Comic Book Legends Revealed, a column where we examine comic book myths, rumors and legends and confirm or debunk them. This time, learn about the bizarrely tragic backstory of an obscure Archie Comics superhero, the Marvelous Maureen.
A while back (in this context, "a while" was almost FIFTEEN YEARS AGO), I wrote about a fascinating period in the history of Archie Comics in the late 1980s/early 1990s when the company dramatically expanded its comic book line, including some truly out there concepts, like an Archie series set in the future, a comic starring science nerd Dilton, a comic book starring the Riverdale High faculty, a comic book starring Jughead's dog, Hot Dog, a Time Police time travel series starring Jughead, ANOTHER Jughead series featuring an inter-dimensional diner, and heck, even in the pages of the "regular" Jughead series, Jughead started having multiple love interests at once (including his Time Police partner, who happened to be the descendent of Jughead's buddy, Archie). So yeah, this was a very experimental time for the Archie comics. A time that is NOT as well known as being experimental at Archie would be earlier in the decade, when the comic book line was pretty much the same as it had been during the mid-to-late 1970s. However, one notable exception (among some others, which I might talk about in the future) was a three and a half year run on a back-up feature called The Marvelous Maureen.
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Lori Walls was a staffer at Archie in the early 1980s when she managed to get a regular back-up feature in the pages of Archie's Pep Comics. Pep was originally a superhero anthology series until Archie Andrews (friends of his, like me, call him Chic, though) debuted in 1941's Pep Comics #22, and so I guess having a new superhero character was sort of a throwback to that era of Pep as an anthology (there was no real other reason for Pep to exist as a comic book, besides I guess just general nostalgia). Walls wrote and drew the series, starting in Pep Comics #383, which she based on her then-teenage sister, Maureen, the youngest of four Walls siblings…
After discovering the spaceship, Maureen then discovers a costume that she uses to become Marvelous Maureen…
She then rescues an alien, Mortimer, who would sort of become her sidekick over the years…
In an unusual decision for the direction of the feature, while Archie Comics routinely used fashion designs from readers for Betty, Veronica and Katy Keene, while crediting the kids who sent in the designs, Walls went a bit further with Marvelous Maureen, she just asked for ideas PERIOD…
For instance, her sort of love interest in the series was Wonder Blunder, a superhero based on a suggestion a reader named Keith Kaplan…
Pretty sure there are ALL sorts of legal liabilities for something like this, right?
In any event, the series continued in the bi-monthly series for over three years until it abruptly ended in Pep Comics #402 in the Summer of 1985, when Maureen and her friends escaped from the bad guys and that was just it, "The End"…
This would be an interesting story in and of itself, but you see, Maureen didn't just appear in a comic book series created by her oldest sister, she was also a major figure in her OTHER sister's best-selling memoir about how messed up their childhood was!
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Throughout the 1980s, the Walls siblings all slowly but surely joined their older sister, Lori, in New York City. The second oldest child, Jeanette Walls, attended Barnard College and become a successful journalist. Brian Walls, the only son in the family, became a cop (and later a detective). Maureen Walls eventually joined her siblings when she was 12, as she had to regularly sleep over at friends' homes while living with her parents in order to have enough food to get by.
In 2005, Jeanette Walls wrote a best-selling memoir called The Glass Castle
It remained on the New York Times' bestsellers list for YEARS. It told the story of the dysfunctional childhood that Rex and Rose Mary Walls provided for their children, which was mostly a nomadic existence filled with homelessness, and one where the children suffered emotional, physical and sexual abuse from the people in their parents' orbit (the title is a reference to a home Rex would always promise he would one day build for Rose Mary). One of the most shocking things about the book is the eventual revelation that their parents had inherited valuable land years earlier, but choosing not to sell it, instead just lived in squalor instead.
There was a film adaptation in 2017. See future Stranger Things star, Sadie Sink, as teenage Lori Walls…
and see post-Academy Award/pre-Captain Marvel Brie Larson as adult Jeanette, alongside pre-Succession Sarah Snook as adult Lori (and Josh Caras as adult Brian)…
Maureen eventually left her siblings to return to live with her parents after graduating from high school. However, the book alleges that around 1993, when they tried to kick her out, Maureen stabbed Rose Mary, and following a diagnosis of schizophrenia, Maureen was allegedly placed in a psychiatric hospital for a year. When she got out, she moved to California and apparently cut her mother out of her life. Rex passed away in 1994.
It's a sad story for Maureen's childhood, especially when contrasted with the joy of the Marvelous Maureen comic book stories, but hopefully Maureen has found some peace in her life in the last few decades.
In the latest Movie Legends Revealed – Was Some Kind of Wonderful written to "make up" for the altered ending of Pretty in Pink?
Be sure to check out my Entertainment Legends Revealed for more urban legends about the world of film and TV.
Feel free to send suggestions for future comic legends to me at either cronb01@aol.com or brianc@cbr.com
CBR Senior Writer Brian Cronin has been writing professionally about comic books for over fifteen years now at CBR (primarily with his “Comics Should Be Good” series of columns, including Comic Book Legends Revealed). He has written two books about comics for Penguin-Random House – Was Superman a Spy? And Other Comic Book Legends Revealed and Why Does Batman Carry Shark Repellent? And Other Amazing Comic Book Trivia! and one book, 100 Things X-Men Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die, from Triumph Books. His writing has been featured at ESPN.com, the Los Angeles Times, About.com, the Huffington Post and Gizmodo. He features legends about entertainment and sports at his website, Legends Revealed and other pop culture features at Pop Culture References. Follow him on Twitter at @Brian_Cronin and feel free to e-mail him suggestions for stories about comic books that you’d like to see featured at brianc@cbr.com!

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