Tag Archives: Max Mercury

This Week: Flash #19 & Justice League Dark plus Hell to Pay & Circle of Fire

Flash #19 Cover

New Flash comics this week include:

Flash #19: Trapped in Iron Heights without his powers (as a result of Dial H #11), Barry Allen has to fend off the attack of the Outlanders. All he has are his wits…and the Rogues’ confiscated weapons. Brian Buccellato and Marcio Takara, cover by Francdis Manapul. Preview at Uproxx.

Justice League Dark #19

Justice League Dark #19: The House of Mystery is under seige—can special guest star The Flash help Justice League Dark battle this unexpected threat? Jeff Lemire & Ray Fawkes, Mikel Janin. Preview at BuzzFeed.

Teen Titans #19: Which new member of the Teen Titans reveals his true colors? Scott Lobdell, Eddy Barrows, Eber Ferreira. Preview at CBR.

Meanwhile in digital back issues:

Flash #128-129: “Hell to Pay” parts 2-3. The dead Rogues have returned to earth — or rather, their reanimated bodies have, and without their souls to keep them in check, they’re laying waste to Keystone City! Only Wally West can stop them, but he’ll have to make a literal deal with the devil to do so.

Impulse #67

Impulse #67: After the events of “Mercury Falling,” heroes gather to celebrate the life of Max Mercury. Todd Dezago, Ethan Van Sciver & Andrew Hennessy.

Impulse #68: Impulse “rescues” Adam Strange from a Zeta beam and ends up on the alien world of Rann. Part one of a two-part “Green Lantern: Circle of Fire” epilogue. Todd Dezago, Battle & Buzz. (I meant to review this story for The Indigo Tribe’s Circle of Fire event, but didn’t have enough time after I reviewed the Green Lantern/Adam Strange issue.)

I’d like to add that Impulse #67 was the best fake-out I’ve ever seen in the era of online solicitations and spoilers everywhere. DC didn’t write a fake solicitation or block out parts of the cover art. All they did was post the artwork showing Max Mercury (I’m such a digital packrat that I still have it) and state that heroes gathered together to honor him. Then the next two issues put Bart off-planet on Rann for the Green Lantern/Adam Strange guest spot, so there was literally no way to know whether Max would survive “Mercury Falling” until the conclusion hit the shelves.

Max Mercury Changed My Life

Flash #78

Today’s guest post is by Tony Laplume.

I first encountered Max Mercury in 1993’s The Flash #78. This was part of Mark Waid’s “The Return of Barry Allen” arc, which did not actually feature Barry Allen, but rather Wally West’s first encounter with the Reverse Flash. Barry was the Silver Age Flash and Wally’s mentor, but he’d been gone since his death in Crisis on Infinite Earths. The arc was all about Wally finally moving past his feelings of inadequacy and embracing his own legacy. It was a seminal moment in Waid’s long run on the series, setting the stage for many other stories, including the introduction of the Speed Force, from which every DC speedster draws their ability.

Max Mercury was just another speedster in the arc. Along with Jay Garrick, the Golden Age Flash, and Johnny Quick, Max was representative of an earlier generation. He was a character Waid cobbled together from another Golden Age speedster, Quicksilver, renamed to avoid confusion with his Marvel counterpart. Memorably, Max was referred to as the Zen Master of Speed. I guess this was his first true mark of distinction for me, the fact that he was identified as an expert on the topic that defined the series. He was all but the Yoda of Flash lore.

Of course, Max fares poorly against Professor Zoom, the Reverse Flash, in the arc, although some solace can be found in the fact that he does little better than Jay Garrick or Johnny Quick. It’s Wally’s fight to win. Max is just there to inspire new confidence in him. By the end of the arc, Max disappears back to wherever he came from in the first place. Waid moves on as well, allowing Wally to enjoy being the Flash for a change, until the appearance of Bart Allen, whom Wally soon enough dubs Impulse, the new and future Kid Flash.

Bart quickly gains his own series, Impulse, also written by Waid, and resurfacing for the occasion is Max Mercury, who is given the unenviable task of helping the excitable youth discovery maturity. It’s Max in the role glimpsed during “The Return of Barry Allen,” the consummate mentor, who may be better instructing than actually doing. We discover Max’s true history, how he became a speedster in the nineteenth century and made several leaps through time, eventually depositing him in the present, an experienced and wise old man, allowed the white hair most superheroes never know. Bart’s own tenuous experience with time is something he can appreciate, if not Bart himself, who constantly exasperates Max, but this is fine, because he has a soft spot for family.

Max is a perfect personification of the kind of family Waid brought to the Flash franchise. At a time when comics were beginning to appreciate the working benefits of legacy, famously within the pages of James Robinson’s Starman, Waid started to understand the interconnectedness of a family of loners. Aside from the famous “Flash of Two Worlds” story in The Flash #123 in which Jay Garrick and Barry Allen meet (thereby initiating the era of the multiverse), the generations of scarlet speedsters had about as much to do with each other as Alan Scott and Hal Jordan’s Green Lanterns. True, Wally was the original Kid Flash and as such had an extensive history working alongside Barry, but Barry was gone by the time Wally took on the full cowl for himself, and it wasn’t until Waid that a writer finally addressed what kind of impact that had on his life.

In fact, as “Return of Barry Allen” proves, he didn’t stop there. Waid brought Jay back into the fold, and then Johnny Quick with his unique formula and daughter Jesse, who was also Quick. Max was something different, representative of the lineage but a character without a print background, and thus a part of Waid’s own emerging narrative. Waid didn’t always concentrate on this part of his own emerging legacy, at least not at first, not even following “Terminal Velocity,” which completed Wally’s journey toward awareness of the Speed Force. Subsequent arcs like “Dead Heat,” “Race Against Time,” and “Chain Lightning” continued the tradition and united the speedsters as never before or since.

It wasn’t until Impulse that Max could truly shine, guiding Bart along and deepening the sense of family. In the course of this series, Max reunited with a daughter he never had a chance to know because of his time hops. Every speedster needs grounding, seemed to be Waid’s message. Wally found his in exploring the depths of the Speed Force, while Bart and Max found each other as unlikely equals, even if both were reluctant to admit it. Max could sometimes come off as gruff, but it was a front, much as Wally’s life prior to “Return of Barry Allen” hid his longing to move past his mentor’s shadow. The man who began as a mystery and pegged as the expert not only became exposed as one of the biggest victims of the previously unknown Speed Force but one of its biggest beneficiaries as well.

Max Mercury will always fascinate me. He’s the manifestation of everything that made Mark Waid’s Flash great, even if he remains a fairly obscure element of it. While everyone else clamors to see Wally West again, I wish Max could make a comeback. If there’s anyone in that strange family who still has a story to tell, it’s him.

Tony Laplume regularly writes about superheroes at Comics Reader. Cover via Comics.org

Flash #17 Preview and This Week’s Flash & Impulse

Flash #17 Final Cover

DC has released a preview of Flash #17, out this Wednesday, on The Source:

After the exciting events of last issue, The Flash has transported himself and Gorilla Grodd into the Speed Force for a final showdown! This month, Barry Allen’s battle with Grodd comes to its bone-crunching conclusion in the finale of “Gorilla Warfare”. Will The Flash be able to defeat Grodd, who now shares the power of the Speed Force? And can Central City survive without the help of the Scarlet Speedster? Find out in THE FLASH #17, which also features the introduction of one of The Flash’s greatest foes! In stores this Wednesday, THE FLASH #17 comes to you from the creative team of Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato. Click here for an exclusive preview of the issue.

The “greatest foe” being introduced is the new Reverse-Flash as announced back in November. We’ve speculated on the villain’s identity a few times, since the next storyline (beginning in Flash #20 after Francis Manapul takes a two-issue break) will focus on that question.

Justice League Beyond continues its “Flashdrive” storyline on Saturday while Smallville Season 11 takes a week off to focus on a side story.

Meanwhile, in digital re-releases at ComiXology….

Flash #115: Race Against Time!

The Flash #114-115: “Race Against Time” continues as Wally West bounces around the future, encountering the Tornado Twins Don and Dawn Allen, and later John Fox, guardian of the Time Museum. In the present day, Fox tries to take Wally West’s place (in more ways than one) as he investigates a missing Iris Allen and the threat of an impending ice age. Also: Speed Metal. Mark Waid with Anthony Castrillo, Jim Cheung & Anibal Rodriguez on the John Fox pages; Oscar Jimenez & Jose Marzan, Jr. on the Wally West pages.

Impulse #57

Impulse #57: A special Christmas issue with Impulse, Plastic Man, and Mr. Mxytzptlk. Do you really need to know anything else? Todd Dezago, Ethan van Sciver, Prentis Rollins.

Impulse #58: Max Mercury takes center stage as we learn of a tragic event from his past involving inventor Lucius Keller…an event that will one day impact the distant future, creating a “Dark Tomorrow.” Meanwhile, Bart gets a virus. Todd Dezago, Ethan van Sciver, Jamal Igle, Prentis Rollins.

This Week’s Digital Flash(back)s: Gold and Alchemy

Flash #72: Solid Gold

This week’s ComiXology back-issues include Flash #72-73 and Impulse #33-34.

Flash #72 concludes the two-parter with The Alchemist, a short-lived successor to Dr. Alchemy, and is also the issue in which Wally West and Linda Park start dating. Flash #73 features the return of Jay Garrick to the title after the Justice Society’s years in limbo, and what was at the time a shocking last page that led directly in to “The Return of Barry Allen.”

The Return of Barry Allen itself is already available, launched during the Flash 101 sale last year, as is the following storyline, “Back on Track,” in which Wally teams up with Nightwing and Starfire. That means that as of this week, the first 83 issues of Wally West’s Flash series are all available online. No doubt next week ComiXology will jump ahead to #84.

Impulse #33: Thanksgiving

I don’t remember anything about Impulse #33, and as fun as the cover is, it doesn’t jog my memory of the contents. The title is “Time Out,” so it might be the one where Bart’s school’s new guidance counselor calls Max and Helen in to go over Bart Allen’s guardianship. (It’s funnier than it sounds.) ComiXology describes it as featuring the return of White Lightning, and the kids dealing with the missteps of the school’s new social worker.

Impulse #34 is the first half of “The Devonian Age,” a story in which Bart and Max Mercury get caught up in a time travel experiment gone wrong (don’t they always?) and have to try to repair history from the butterfly effect.

This Week: Origin of the Shade, Digital Flash(back) “Nobody Dies” & Impulse: Ghosts of the Past

The Shade #12The final issue of The Shade arrives in stores this week.

The Source has a preview and commentary from writer James Robinson, artist Gene Ha, and editor Wil Moss.

Once a normal family man with a wife and two children living in London, Richard Swift was forced against his will into a life of the supernatural. What mistake did he make that would be his undoing and send him down a path of no return? Don’t miss this special issue of the critically acclaimed series that explored The Shade’s mysterious origins!

I expect it’ll be a bit more sophisticated than the Golden-Age explanation of his powers…

Seriously, I’ve been enjoying this series. It’s the kind of thing that could have (more) easily been done without the New 52, and I’m glad that they went through with it anyway, even if it required a few changes.

In the digital realm, ComiXology is adding The Flash #54-55 and Impulse #15-16 to their back-issue catalog.

Flash #54: Free-Fall in Scarlet!Flash #54, “Nobody Dies” frequently shows up in lists of favorite single-issue stories from the Wally West series. It’s the one where Wally West watches a flight attendant get sucked out of an airplane and decides he’s going to jump out after her even though he can’t fly. CSBG featured the story in its “Almost Hidden” series, and Comics Bulletin has Messner-Loebs’ remarks on the story.

Flash #55 is a War of the Gods tie-in issue, and features the Flash racing against both Mercury and Hermes. (In the DCU at the time, the Greek and Roman pantheons were separate.) Also, IIRC, Wally and friends play Dungeons and Dragons.

Impulse #16: Ghosts of the PastImpulse #15 concludes the “Faith and Trust” two-parter in which Bart’s friend Carol finds her family caught in the middle of a double heist by the Trickster and White Lightning. Impulse #16 is one of the more powerful issues of the series. Max Mercury’s relationship to Helen Claiborne is revealed, along with a secret shame from Max’s past. These three issues together were among the most serious of the Mark Waid/Humberto Ramos run (though there’s always room for humor when the Trickster is around). Not surprisingly, the next few issues were all broad comedy.

Flash (1987-2009) on ComiXology
Impulse on ComiXology

This Week: Flash #12, Digital Dead Heat

This week it’s The Flash #12. The regular art team returns as all the individual stories of the Rogues come together, leading into next week’s Flash Annual #1.

  • Setting up The Rogues as a team as the next major storyline for the series begins!
  • Glider takes center stage!

Written by Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato
Art by Francis Manapul

In the digital realm, ComiXology is releasing four issues of “Dead Heat”, the Flash/Impulse crossover from 1995. Flash #108-109 (Mark Waid and Oscar Jimenez) and Impulse #10-11 (Mark Waid and Humberto Ramos) cover chapters 1-3 and 5 of the 6-part story, and I’m sure we’ll see chapters 4 and 6 next week. With any luck, they’ll jump back and release Flash #50 soon as well, since they left of with one heck of a cliffhanger in Flash #49 last week.

Savitar, an old enemy of Max Mercury’s, has returned. Obsessed with speed, he has found a way to divert all of the Speed Force’s energy to himself and his followers. But there’s one speedster still in the running, someone who recently connected himself more closely to the speed force than even Savitar: Wally West. Jay Garrick, Johnny Quick, Jesse Quick, Max Mercury, Impulse and XS team up to stop Savitar, but more than one speedster won’t make it out alive!

Flash (1987-2009) on ComiXology
Impulse on ComiXology