Marlize DeVoe is one of my all-time favorite additions to The Flash. Along with the Thinker (who I wrote a column on earlier in season four that you can read here), she has presented a very real threat to Team Flash this season in the form of a non-speedster, which is a creative divergence to the big bads we have become accustomed to seeing on the show. In tonight’s episode—entitled “Therefore, She Is” in a very nice answer to the Thinker’s focal episode, “Therefore I Am”—we got a peek at the level of humanity that this version of the Mechanic can bring to the #DCTV Universe as well.
The Flash is at it again with this particular character. Marlize is a huge divergence from other characters that have born the Mechanic moniker in the past. As with a handful of other characters that have appeared on the show this season (I see you with your cute blue hair, Null!), they’ve bent the Mechanic’s gender. The very first Mechanic was a man. His given name was Milt Cohen and he debuted in SGT. ROCK #313 (February, 1978).
I’d like to go on the record right now and say that there are not enough Sgt. Rock characters being folded into any of the #DCTV shows and I could be down for seeing some more of them cropping up in future.
As with so many characters that come from either the Golden or Silver Age, Milt Cohen took on the name of the Mechanic because that was his occupation. As a civilian he worked on watches, while his real passion was cars. This is pretty much where the extent of his metahuman abilities end—he’s a good mechanic, good with his hands and he likes working on vehicles. After he joined the United States Army (this is pretty much a given in a Sgt. Rock comic), he was assigned to Easy Company. Easy Company is unique even within comic books for having appeared in every major action in the European Theatre of War during World War II. There is a very famous story that features the Mechanic repairing a Jeep that he had to later beg to be able to keep and continue using. Ultimately, that Jeep carried this version of the Mechanic to his death when he sacrificed himself to save his fellow soldiers of Easy Company.
The Mechanic is pretty much put to bed after that point and even gets lost in the fray over the course of a couple universe-wide reboots, until 1994’s SHADOW CABINET #0. Here he is still a man, but he does have metahuman abilities—so that’s almost like Marlize DeVoe, right? Except, not at all. His given name is Thomas Hague, and he has telekinetic powers that enhance his inherent mechanical abilities. This earns him a job with the Shadow Cabinet and earns him the name “The Mechanic.” Like with Milt Cohen, the name pretty much serves to demarcate what his functionality is to his organization.
For those who might not know, the Shadow Cabinet is an ancient secret group of superheroes that is dedicated to protecting the world and its inhabitants. They operate out of a base called the Shadowspire and the Mechanic is mostly tasked with looking after and maintaining all of the amazing technology that is housed in the Shadow Cabinet’s secret hideout. They are most famous for a teleportation device known as the Shadowslide that allows members of the team to move from place-to-place with great speed.
Think of it as a more machine-driven, less magic Boom Tube, if you like.
Despite being a powerful telekinetic, as previously mentioned, this second version of the Mechanic doesn’t do too much superheroing. Now, to be fair, Marlize doesn’t do a ton of super-villaining outside of assisting Clifford. She does operate in a very similar fashion to Thomas Hague, when you think about it. There is a part of her character that serves the purpose of preserving her husband’s public face, but the lion’s share of her duties and utility relegate her to the Thinker’s lair, where she makes updates to his tech.
The final significant character to bear the name the Mechanic actually has very little known about him. He first appeared in KNIGHT AND SQUIRE #1 back in December, 2010.
I'd like to take a sidebar here and encourage you to read Knight and Squire if it’s something that you’ve never taken the time to previously.
In the pages of Knight and Squire, the Mechanic is mostly a shady character who gets named a couple times, shows up at the pub and inexplicably wears an ancient knight’s helmet on their head. This Mechanic is really fun to look at, but Marlize’s slicked-back hair and lab coat combo is such a huge step up.
I think it’s pretty clear from these short breakdowns I’ve written that The Flash’s Mechanic is truly something special. Not only does “Therefore, She Is” serve to highlight her journey as a character and present a compelling turning point for her as we enter the final episodes of this season, but Marlize DeVoe has taken a longstanding DC Comics identity and given us the very best version of it on the small screen.
Ashley V. Robinson covers The Flash as a part of the #DCTV Couch Club. You can find her on Twitter at @AshleyVRobinson and on the Jawiin YouTube channel. The Flash airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. (7 p.m. CST) on The CW.