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The History of Max Mercury

DC Comics has had its fair share of characters with superspeed. There have been multiple Flashes, Johnny Quick and his Daughter, Impulse, multiple Kid Flashes, the Tornado Twins, and the entirety of the Flash Family. There is one more speedster though, that has not been touched on nearly as much as the others have. He has existed in a niche for the last 80 years and has had a multitude of decades in which he did not appear at all. His name is, or was, Quicksilver. 

This version of Quicksilver is not the Marvel X-Men that we know. This Quicksilver has been around since the 1940s  Quicksilver first appeared in 1940’s National Comics #5. Quicksilver was created by Jack Cole and Chuck Mazoujian. The character did not have much character development, with the only thing being known was that his first name is Max. He acted mostly as a knockoff of DC Comics’ Flash, which had recently started publication. Quicksilver was in National Comics until issue 73 (1949), which meant he was in comic books for 9 years. 

 

The Flash Vol 2 #154. Credit: Paul Pelletier

This is not the end of Quicksilver though. Because DC Comics purchased the characters of Quality Comics, they were able to use Quicksilver. Mark Waid recreated Quicksilver in the pages of his Wally West Flash series. The problem was that Marvel was already using the name of Quicksilver, so Mark Waid had to change the name of Quicksilver. He chose Max Mercury, partially because his name was revealed as Max in the pages of National Comics in the 1940s. 

 

This Max Mercury got his start in the 1830s as a US Cavalry scout, who was granted powers by a Native American Shaman. This was because Max Mercury was attempting to stop his commander from massacring a peaceful local tribe. After he had his powers, he operated for a few years with the name of Windrunner. Max Mercury did that in order to keep the settlers and the native tribes. One day, Max Mercury saw a  lightning bolt and felt a strong urge to run. He ran faster than he had ever run and felt the Speed Force, which is like nirvana for speedsters, but fear stopped him from entering it. Instead, Max Mercury was sent into the future to New York in July 1891. 

 

While Max Mercury was in New York, he created the superhero identity of Whip Whirlwind. Later on, Max Mercury traveled to the 1930s and 1940s where he operated as Quicksilver, and he acted as a mentor to Johnny Quick, who was one of two speedsters active during the 1940s, with the other one being Jay Garrick, the first Flash. 

 

The Flash Secret Files and Origins #1. Credit: Humberto Ramos and Wayne Faucher

 

In this period Max Mercury took up the name “Max Mercury” in 1947 and operated for about a year with this name. During this time, Jay Garrick saved Max Mercury’s life, and Max said he owed Jay his life. In late 1947, Max Mercury saved the town of Manchester, Alabama, but his lungs were severely damaged. Luckily though, a local doctor saved Max Mercury’s life. Max stayed with the doctor and his wife for a while, but Max Mercury and the doctor’s wife fell in love. The doctor found out, and Max Mercury had to flee, with him ending up in 1957, on New Year’s Day. Max Mercury next appeared in the 1960s, and he helped Jay Garrick fight Savitar. He would next jump to the 1970s, where he would study the Speed Force in order to track Savitar’s movements. Eventually, Max Mercury would give up his powers and settle in Keystone City, where he would get a job selling subway tokens

 

Years later, when Wally West became the Flash, Max Mercury was forced out of retirement. This was because Jay Garrick and Johnny Quick enlisted his help in taking down Eobard Thawne, the Reverse-Flash, after Thawne impersonated Wally’s dead mentor, Barry Allen, who was the second Flash. After they defeated the Reverse-Flash, Max Mercury trained Wally West in the knowledge of the Speed Force, which is what speedsters draw their power from. After teaching Wally West about the Speed Force, Max Mercury went back into retirement once again. He did not last long in retirement though.

Impulse #1. Credit: Humberto Ramos

After Barry Allen’s grandson, Bart Allen, was sent to the past, Wally West brought Max Mercury back out of retirement in order to train Bart. After teaching Bart about the Speed Force, Max tried to track down the woman he fell in love with years before, only to find out he actually had a daughter, Helen. Max moved to Manchester, where his daughter was, and Wally West sent Bart with Max because Wally thought Bart had a lot more to learn. 

 

For a long time, Bart would live with Max, and Max would become like a father to Bart. Max trained Bart for a long time, forcing him to train his body, his mind, and his powers. During this time, Max Mercury met his daughter Helen at the library, and they became fast friends. Max did not let anyone know about the fact that she was his daughter. 

 

Impulse #67. Credit: Ethan Van Sciver, Wayne Faucher

 

Sometime later, Max was kidnapped by Savitar’s ninjas and brought to Savitar’s fortress. Max Mercury was tortured and was about to be killed, but he luckily escaped. During this, Wally West, Johnny Quick, Jesse Quick, and Max Mercury went and fought Savitar. During the fight, Johnny Quick finally accepted Max Mercury’s teachings about the Speed Force and entered it during their fight with Savitar in order to save Jesse.

 

One day, Max and Bart went to Helen’s house, where her ex-husband had beaten her up. Max’s scream accidentally revealed his secret, with him yelling “Take your hands off my daughter!” Due to this, Max had to reveal everything to both Helen and Bart, and they became closer as a result. After that, they all ended up moving in together. 

 

A while later, Jay Garrick’s archenemy The Rival, who had entered the Speed Force during the 1940s, took over Max Mercury’s body. Because of this, Max Mercury was absorbed into the Speed Force. 

 

The Flash Vol 5 #75. Credit: Howard Porter.

 

A long while later, Max left the Speed Force after Barry Allen escaped from it. However, he was extremely unlucky because he was then trapped in the Speed Force again because the multiverse was remade into the New 52. Because of this reboot, Max, along with every other speedster, was trapped in the Speed Force unless Barry Allen freed them. When Barry was trapped in the Speed Force, Max and Jesse helped him out, which allowed Barry Allen to remember who they are and free them. 

 

Max Mercury is a character who has a publishing history that spans a long time, and then he disappears completely. He was around during the 1940s, but then he disappeared until the 1990s. Then, he was around until the early 2000s but then disappeared until the very late 2010s. Max Mercury has had a multitude of gaps in his publishing history, but retcons have made it so the many gaps in his publishing history do not mean that Max Mercury does not have a fleshed-out backstory and characterization. 

Written by Donovan Reed