Once upon a time, there was a tremendously talented and intelligent little girl. She was also a princess. In fact, her mother was the Queen of Atlantis, an underwater kingdom. Like her mother before her, this little girl had a remarkable talent for magic. Unlike her mother, she was also extremely emotionally fragile. High-strung and easily hurt, she didn’t understand why her mother ignored her in favor of her older brother. He was not so talented in magic as she. He was not so intelligent as she. He was older, but so far as she could tell that’s all he had going for him.
That princess grew up to become Stingray, a notorious supervillainess. However, if just a few things had happened differently when she was a child, her life would have been completely different. She might even have become a superhero instead.
When Princess Thalassa – for that was her name before surface dwellers renamed her Stingray – was very young, her father died. If not for that, her mother, Queen Mara, might have been more aware. Instead, Queen Mara retreated into grief and became obsessed with preparing Thalassa’s older brother for the day he would become King.
The only person who paid any attention to the little princess was Ikthos, the elderly court librarian. He acted as her tutor and parented her more than her mother ever did. But Thalassa never understood why her mother would praise her brother for managing the slightest little spell, and not care at all when Thalassa would successfully cast a much more advanced spell, even though she was younger. Thalassa became absolutely determined to prove that she was better than her brother. One day, when she was twelve years old, she found her chance.
Hidden in the depths of her mother’s Crystal Palace, Thalassa found a trove of magical texts. They contained spells unlike any she had ever seen before; very powerful spells that would let her use bioelectric shocks, like those of electrical eels, or allow her to hide herself within sudden dark inky clouds, like an octopus. She practiced those spells, determined to master them all and prove herself. What she didn’t fully understand was where those spells came from. They were the lost notes of a traitorous mage who had, a generation ago, helped to kill her grandfather and drive her mother out of the kingdom in a civil war.
Ikthos, however, knew exactly what they were when he found her studying those forbidden books one day. Horrified, he ordered her to tell her mother what she’d been doing. In a panic, suddenly understanding that her mother would not be proud, but instead furious, Thalassa struck out at her tutor with one of the spells she’d learned. It killed the old man instantly.
Never particularly stable or happy, Thalassa was thrown over the edge into madness by Ikthos’ death. She refused to accept the blame for it. Instead, she fled the castle, blaming her mother and brother for Ikthos’ death. All of her unhappiness, all the time she spent resenting her brother and ignored by her mother got tied together in her head with Ikthos’ death. If she could only depose her mother and take over the kingdom, somehow that would prove that she’d been the best all along. That she should have been heir. Somehow, that would make Ikthos’ death all right.
Since then, she’s allied herself with all sorts of infamous villains in the hopes of taking over Atlantis. It’s not so much that she’s evil or wants to hurt people, it’s that she always feels persecuted and needs to lash out. She might even ally herself with a hero, if it would help her get any closer to her goal.
The truly sad thing is that, if she didn’t have all this painful history, she might well have been a wonderful superhero. A few years ago, during a battle against the Sentinels, Stingray was injured severely enough that she lost her memory. During that time when she didn’t remember any of her own history, she was actually a very kind and honorable person. She was still temperamental and high-strung, but she was much happier. She even met and fell in love with the aquatic superhero, Amphibian.
Unfortunately, she regained her memory, and with it all of the anger and fury she’d felt before. Enraged at Amphibian for taking advantage of her vulnerable state, as she saw it, she completely rejected him and became his enemy. Her own lingering affection for him infuriates her and makes her rage against him all the more. He now tops her list of people who have wronged her, along with her family.
Stingray today is a very conflicted young woman. She hates those she once loved, but mostly because she thinks they took advantage of her or didn’t return her regard. She desperately needs to prove herself, and the one thing she believes will do that is taking over Atlantis. All of her magic, all of her wiliness and intellect, is directed at that one goal. If she thinks allying with someone will help her achieve it, she’ll do that regardless of who they are or what their goals are. Underneath it all, though, she still cares about her brother and she still cares about Amphibian. It’s possible those nearly hidden emotions might give her pause at a key point. Of course, it’s also possible that she’ll gladly kill the both of them. With Stingray, it’s hard to know.