|First Appearance:||National Comics (Vol 1) #5|
|Created by:|| Jack Cole|
Max Mercury was born in the early 19th century. By 1838, he had been assigned as a messenger at a fort . He made friends with the local Blackfoot clan. Unfortunately his fort commander, who did not trust any of them, leveled a bounty on the clan and ordered a full-scale massacre. The shaman of the clan, with his dying breaths, told Max that many tribesman were returning from the hunt, and that they would be ambushed if not warned quickly. With a pinkish substance, the shaman drew a lightning bolt on Max's chest, gave a prayer to the god of the storm and the wind, and died. Max ran faster and faster and faster still. As swift as the wind, he took the soldiers' weapons and caught the Blackfoot arrows in midair. He devoted the next few years of his life to protecting the natives and the settlers from one another as Ahwehota, or as he was better known, Windrunner. However, one night during a thunderstorm, Max felt drawn to the lightning from deep within his heart. He ran as he had ever run before, breaking all barriers, and he began to be drawn into the speed force, the energy field that gives speedsters their power. He finally had met his glorious destiny, but fear stopped him, sending him ricocheting through time to New York of July 14, 1891. Again and again, he tried to get to the speed force and failed. He continued his super-hero career as Lightning, Blue Streak, and Quicksilver between each jump in time.
By 1947, Max had established the his current name, Max Mercury. He was sometimes called "The Whirlwind of the West." He often would team up with other speedsters, including the original Flash, Jay Garrick, and Johnny Quick, who would never believe that there was a speed force. Somewhere along the line, he got to know Zatara, the great magician who is father of Zatanna. In 1949, Jay Garrick saved him from the Screaming Skull, a debt which Max vowed only to pay in a life or death situation.
In late 1947, Max saved the small town of Manchester, Alabama from Dr. Morlo and his toxic bombs at great cost to himself. Max's lungs were burned and his blood was tainted when he breathed in Morlo's mustard gas. Fortunately, the local physician, Dr. David Claiborne, found him lying in a culvert. David and his wife, Laura, cared for Max, who was out for nine weeks. He awoke to a new year and a new home. With David, he found a best friend with whom he shared a love of fishing, tennis, and the "Shadow" radio show. Laura, however, was special. She was lonely because David was always so busy, being one of the few doctors in the area. Max stayed with the Claibornes for quite some time. One lonely night, Max and Laura sat on the rooftop, looking at the stars. Laura felt so lonely with David always gone, and she and Max had grown to love each other. The inevitable happened. When David returned home, Max just ran. He jumped in time again, this time to New Year's Day, 1957.
By the sixties, Max again showed up, teaming with Johnny Quick as they fought the villain Savitar. Max chased after Savitar, a sprint that sent him flying into the seventies. He began to keep a journal in Korean, and he would often probe the speed force, trying to sense the presence of Savitar. Eventually, Max gave up on his superspeed. Living in the Central/Keystone area, he got a job selling subway tokens for MTA.
However, when Professor Zoom was in town, pretending to be the late Barry Allen (the second Flash), Jay Garrick and Johnny Quick enlisted his aid, recalling the Screaming Skull incident. Jay had kept Max's old, forties costume. Max joined Jay, Johnny, and the current Flash (Wally West), in fighting Professor Zoom. He began to teach Wally to find the Zen of speed, thus gaining the nickname, "The Zen Guru of Speed." After Zoom was defeated, Max disappeared for awhile. When Wally was trapped in time after adding Johnny's speed formula (3x2(9yz)4a) to his own speed, Max appeared. He could only remain at that high speed for a short time, but he taught Wally a valuable lesson about making decisions. Later, Max would occasionally keep an eye on Wally, peering into his house through the window or watching from a nearby alley.
Mentor to Impulse
Max again showed up after Bart Allen had arrived from the 30th century, to teach Wally about the Speed Force, help train Bart, and lend a hand in defeating Kobra, who had unleashed Project Morpheus on Keystone City. After trying to locate Laura Claiborne, only to find that she had died a while ago, Max learned that he had a daughter, Helen, who still lived in Manchester. Wanting to keep an eye on her, he decided to move there. Wanting Bart to be taught the finer secrets of speed, Wally sent him with Max to Manchester. Max, known to the average citizens as Max Crandall, Bart Allen's uncle, always stressed keeping a secret identity. He would put Bart through challenging drills, such as solving jigsaw puzzles in midair; dodging knives, axes, maces, swords, etc; and running obstacle courses while dodging knives, axes, maces, swords, etc.
One day, Max met his daughter, Helen, in the library. She took an instant liking to him. Not knowing that he was her father, she would always flirt with him, but he obviously never returned those feelings. He often would help her around the house. Bart, also not knowing the secret, would urge their relationship on. One night, after Bart had returned from fighting Blockbuster, Max disappeared. He had been kidnaped by Savitar's ninjas and taken to his fortress, where he was tortured. Fortunately, just before he was to be killed, he escaped. He ran to his home, where he was met by Wally, who took him to the hospital. Using a map carved on Max's chest, he and Jesse Quick (Johnny's daughter) went off to fight Savitar. When Jesse destroyed Savitar's speed battery, Max felt a surge of speed energy , and was able to help the others fight Savitar. During this adventure, Johnny finally accepted Max's lessons about the Speed Force, and perished saving his daughter. After Savitar was defeated, Max and Bart returned to Manchester. One day, Max and Bart showed up at Helen's to find her being beaten up by her ex-husband. Max's scream "Take your hands off my daughter!" revealed to Bart and Helen Max's secret. Max had to tell Helen the whole story, including his and Bart's identities. However, they now shared even closer bond.
Into the Speed Force
Max finally become one with the Speed Force after his body was taken over by Jay's nemesis, Rival. The Speed Force eventually sent Max, along with Barry, Wally, and Bart, to an alternate Earth. Here, they decided to allow Bart to absorb the power of the Speed Force so that he could be sent back home to defeat Superboy-Prime.
Powers and Abilities
Speed Force Connection: Speed Force is a vaguely defined extra-dimensional energy force from which most superspeed-powered heroes draw their powers. The Speed Force serves as the ultimate measure of velocity in the DCU. They are often referred to in terms of barriers: Sound barrier, Light barrier, Time Barrier, Dimensional Barrier, and finally the Speed Force Barrier.
- Sharing the Force: "Lending" velocity to objects or people already in motion. Since his interaction with the Speed Force, he may also lend his speed and angular momentum to another object or person. This may allow others to run alongside with Max. He may still allow his molecular structure to pass through object but now after he passes through an object, the object is now supercharged with a chaotic energy, and explodes seconds after his passing through it.
- Stealing Speed: He is able to "steal" speed and/or momentum from anyone, effectively turning them into living statues. Also can steal speed from bullets and other fast moving objects thrown at him or at others.
- Flight: Speed Force conduits can rotate their arms and spin their bodies like tops to achieve something of a kind of helicopter flight. However, with practice conduits can even achieve controllable flight if launched at high speeds. Despite their flight abilities they are always faster on their feet.
- Speed Force Aura: Max's body is surrounded by what he calls his "speed force aura". This aura protects him and anyone who is running with him or carried by him, from the effects of using his speed. This includes friction and airborne particulate matter. It may also protect him from injury from high speed impacts such as punches he delivers and receives from his opponents. With this aura he is able to absorb kinetic energy. He does seem to possess some level of superhuman resistance to injury but this does not extend far past normal physical interactions, as received from normal combat.
- Super Speed: It appears that Max may run at any speed that he thinks is possible, but there may be physical limits to his speed. Theoretically, speeds greater than Mach 10, are dangerous to the people and to the environment. This speed would still be the equivalent to approximately 128 miles per second; allowing him to cross the United States in about 23 seconds, or circle the world in about 3 minutes. Max rarely achieves such speed in populated areas due to the effects of sonic disruptions and air displacements. His cruising speeds are probably around 90-150 miles per hour (1.5 - 2.5 miles per second). This is fast enough to move through most cities and around people without causing too much disruption to the population and slow enough for him to register everything he sees clearly. If he choses, Max can approach the speed of light, and doing so, enters the Speed Force dimension. If he chooses to continue to run at light speed, he can use the Speed Force dimension for a form of haphazard Time Travel.
- Metabolize Wounds: Accelerating his healing factor while using the Force to sustain him, he could heal from grievous injury, without prematurely aging like his alternate version, Walter West.
- Time & Dimensional Travel: Max has shown to be able to traverse time and dimensions with his own powers.
- Molecular Control: Max has always possessed the ability to control his speed and angular momentum at the MOLECULAR level, and control his molecular interactions to allow his body to pass through any substance. There have been only a few superdense materials that Max has not been able to penetrate with this power. Certain forcefields also seem to negate this power. While in an intangible state, Max is immune to any airborn viruses and can breathe regularly.
- Increased Perceptions: Max possesses the ability to alter his perceptions so that falling objects can appear to be standing still and can be caught and moved back to their normal position. He can do this so quickly as to have it happen invisibly to the normal human eye.
- Supercharged Brain Activity: Max's mental abilities are also increased in speed, simple computations can be done at lightning speeds, and his ability to perform normal feats at increased speeds has allow him to build hundreds of force field generators in a matter of hours, move sandbags to cover a beach or search an entire area for something as small as a paper clip. Max can also read as super-speed, he often takes advantage of his ability to learn at increased speeds, although, Jay Garrick has done so and has become a jack of all trades in several disciplines and languages.
- Other Speed Feats: Max can also perform a variety of super-speed feats such as:
- He can strike a single opponent hundreds of times in a second or multiple opponents two or three times in a second.
- He can disarm, or jam any number of opponents weapons before they are even aware of his movement.
- Hurl small projectiles at hypersonic velocities.
- The creation of wind based vortices's that can act as barriers to movement, funnels for toxic gas's, or vacuum chambers.
- He can spin his arms to create directed funnels of hurricane speed air that can knock down barriers or reduce the speed of a falling object.
- He can run across bodies of water, up the sides of buildings, and by spinning like a helicopter, he can even perform a limited kind of flight. Since his power is a quantum/molecular phenomenon, it is theoretically possible for Max to be able to fly just as other metas do, (and there have been other flying speedsters in the past, such as the deceased Johnny Quick,) because he can control his absolute molecular energy and direction and force it in the direction he wished to move without running.
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