The current season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is not exactly the best one yet, but it’s still in time to deliver a good finale… hopefully. Anyway, the real big bad has been revealed, and she’s a mysterious woman named Izel, portrayed by Karolina Wydra, the mother of the Shrike and conqueror of worlds. Not long after her first appearance in Toldja, Daisy was able to identify her as the Mayan goddess Ixchel, who’s actually a well known entity in the Marvel Universe, and a body-jumper just like Izel proved to be in the shocking post-credits scene of Collision Course Part Two. Of course, in the comics it wasn’t May the one possessed by Ixchel, but rather a very powerful and familiar Inhuman. Let’s take a look.
Ixchel was a Ahau, and like her peers, her true origins are lost in myth and legends. According to the stories, she was one of the many daughters of Hunab Ku, god of the sky, and Coatlique, goddess of the earth. Worshiped by the Mayans in the area now known as Mexico (and some other part of Central America), Ixchel made to mortals the gift of medicine, and she was worshiped as a goddess of fertility and midwifery, but also as a powerful warrior, a jaguar goddess with connections to earth, moon and rain. She married her brother Itzamna, another god of creation and of rain, and she had from him thirteen children. She lived with him in the Upperworld, the Ahau’s home, a pocket dimension close to Earth, surrounded by the bodies of giant iguanas, accessible from Earth in Tulan-Ziuva (the “Place of the Seven Caves“), a nexus of realities in the Yucatan Peninsula. Along with her brothers and sisters, she entered in conflict with another pantheon, the Tēteoh, protectors of the Aztecs, and when the two peoples clashed, their gods clashed as well: Ixchel found her counterpart and personal rival in Chalchiuhtlique, but her conflict with her over the centuries brought the mortals to often confuse the two of them, attributing the acts of one to the other and vice versa. There came a time, however, in which even the two rivals had to join their forces to face a superior threat: in this case, the mighty Celestials, who in 1000 AD came to Earth for their evolutionary experiments, warning they would have come back one thousand years later to decide whether the planet was worthy of existence or not. While most pantheons prepared for war, the elder goddess Gaea, who the Ahau knew as Coatlique, gathered a small army of goddesses to find a peaceful solution to the crisis: Ixchel, Chalchiuhtlique and many others were tasked with gathering mortals representing the greatest virtues of mankind, to be presented to the Celestials when they returned as sign of Earth’s worth.
Waiting for the ultimate judgement of the Celestials to come, Ixchel collected her champions and put them on suspended animation as she had been instructed, and in the meanwhile she was involved in the lives of mortals as usual, especially of her worshipers. She saw the Mayan Empire fall under the superior war technology of the Spanish Conquistadores, her people enslaved, her temples burnt, her cult replaced with Christianity. Still, she and the Ahau survived, buried deep in the subconscious of humanity, still ruling their portion of the universe from Upperworld. She made her presence known on Earth once again in Terra Verde, where the Inhuman Crystal was brainwashed by the alchemist Diablo and made his powerful enforcer: Crystal unconsciously tapped on to the energies of the temple she had been ambushed in, and she became an avatar of Ixchel, who lent a fraction of her power to the already powerful Inhuman. The intervention of Lockjaw and the Human Torch, and of the rest of the Fantastic Four soon after, broke Diablo’s control over Crystal, and most of all destroyed the ruins of Ixchel’s temple, freeing Crystal of the goddess’ influence. This was the first (recorded) encounter between the ancient Mayan goddess and the superhuman community, but definitely not the last one: when the mad pharaoh Akhenaten obtained omnipotence from the Heart of the Infinite, only the Council of Godheads tried to stop him, and failed miserably; when Thanos the Mad Titan killed Akhenaten and stole omnipotence from him, all gods and goddesses from all pantheons intervened, and tried to stop the madman with an impressive demonstration of power… that failed nevertheless, as Thanos effortlessly annihilated them, as well as all the other living beings of the universe. Adam Warlock later convinced Thanos to sacrifice himself and restore the universe to its previous state, and thus Ixchel came back to life with all the other Ahau… just in time, as the return of the Celestials was drawing near.
Ixchel is an ancient and wise entity, cruel and belligerent with her enemies, but kind and compassionate with her followers and with women in general. As the jaguar goddess, she’s immortal, she possesses superhuman strength, speed, stamina, durability, reflexes, agility and senses, she’s almost invulnerable and she can change her shape however she wants, she can possess mortals or turn them into her avatars, she can open dimensional gateways and she can manipulate natural energies, mostly controlling weather, tides and fertility; she’s also a fierce warrior, who can even devour her slaughtered enemies. Fierce and caring, terrible and motherly, Ixchel reunites in herself the contradictions of nature, mother and killer at once, a formidable deity who will make the world remember her, one way or the other.