Quicksilver
aka Max Mercury

Created by Nick Cardy
quicksilver

NAME + ALIASES:
Real name unrevealed, a.k.a. Max Crandall, Ahwehota/Windrunner, Whip Whirlwind, Lightning, Blue Streak, Max Mercury

KNOWN RELATIVES:
Dr. Helen Claiborne (daughter)

GROUP AFFILIATIONS:
Freedom Fighters

FIRST APPEARANCE:
National Comics #5 (Nov. 1940)
As Max Mercury:
Flash v.2 #76 (May 1993)

APPEARANCES: 

  • Flash vol. 2 #76-79, 91,96-101, 108-112, 130-132, 138-142, 145-150, 152-154,157-159, Annual #11-12
  • Flash Secret Files #1
  • Flash 80-Page Giant #1
  • Impulse, 90 issues (1995–2002)
  • Impulse Annual #2
  • National Comics #5-71 (Nov. 1940–April 1949)
  • Speed Force Special #1
  • Uncle Sam Quarterly #2

SEE ALSO:

+ History

Cardy’s drawing style is evident in Quicksilver’s adventures from National #1–9. The first appearance wasn’t signed but you find the same flat profile, wonky anatomy and slender legs as in later tales.
Quicksilver
Classic madcap antics, courtesy of Jack Cole, from National Comics #13 (July 1941).

Although Quicksilver’s feature began in National Comics #5, his actual first appearance was in issue #4, where a small blurb at the end of the “Windy Breeze” cartoon heralded him with text and picture: “Tell your friends about it!” He was one of Quality’s longest-running super-heroes, outlasting most until National #71 (April 1949). Unlike his speedy contemporaries, Quicksilver used his powers more as an acrobat (which was his former profession), seen bouncing, leaping and tumbling through the city streets. These were feats never performed by the likes of DC’s Flash. It’s no surprise that “Quicksilver” became popular—it was a thrill to read, and early stories were sparse on words. Though the first Quicksilver adventure was unsigned, the art matches the successive tales, which were signed by his creator, the young Nick Cardy (then Viscardi), starting with National #10.

DC’s Flash was the first speedster on the scene, by a few months (Flash Comics #1, Jan. 1940). DC’s Johnny Quick came after both, in More Fun Comics #71 (Sept. 1941).

In Quicksilver’s Quality Comics adventures, he was a madcap adventurer with no origin story or alter ego. Today the character is known as Max Mercury, and he’s a frequent presence in DC’s Flash family. Writer Mark Waid cast Max as a major figure in the life of the young speedster, Bart Allen (a.k.a. Impulse, the grandson of the Silver Age Flash). His appearances in Flash and Impulse revealed a rich backstory concerning his life before and after the 1940s. (Flash: Secret Files #1) Since so much has been added to Quicksilver’s backstory, the following profile weaves both DC and Quality continuities together. Although much has been revealed about this hero’s past in the DC Universe, his given name remains a mystery. When Bart Allen inquired about his alias, Max Crandall, Max responded, “How do you know that’s not my real name?” But he never confirmed it. (Impulse #1) In this profile, the name “Max” will generally suffice. Some information below was originally provided by Kyle Wellington and Benjamin Hall.

Secret Origins: Windrunner (DC)

Max’s story began in 1838. As a young fort messenger, he became friends with the local Blackfoot clan. His commander didn’t share his affections for the tribe, and ordered them to be massacred. By the time Max discovered this, the only Indian left alive was their shaman. As he died, the shaman warned Max of another impending ambush and said a prayer to his wind and storm god. Max wept for his friend but did not believe in magic; he despaired that he could not prevent the ambush. But as he ran, he found himself travelling faster than humanly possible! When he came upon the violence, he quickly stripped the army of its weapons and easily caught every arrow. Soon, the battle was finished—with no loss of life. From that day forward, Max vowed to prevent war between Americans. The Blackfoot dubbed him Ahwehota, “he who runs beyond the wind.” (Flash v.2 #97)


[ Read the full profile in the Quality Companion ]

Golden Years: Quicksilver (Quality)

Many times during his adventures as Quicksilver, Max mentioned having worked in a circus as an acrobat. (National #28, 45)Those days remain a mystery, as do the motivations for becoming Quicksilver. “The laughing Robin Hood” as he was called, Quicksilver was an enigma of the Golden Age. He first burst onto the scene like a whirlwind in New York City, battling the diminutive and vengeful Von Lohfer, who had a vendetta against one J.B. Rockland. Quicksilver wasted no time—in a matter of minutes he dismantled Von Lohfer’s plans and captured the villain before he even knew what was upon him. (National #5)

[ Q C. ]

Max and Laura Claiborne, at the moment of their indiscretion, from Impulse #16 (1996); art by Humberto Ramos.
Jay Garrick (the Flash) and Johnny Quick fetch Max from his retirement, from Flash #76 (1993); art by Greg LaRocque.
Below: Helen Claiborne unwittingly meets… her father! From Impulse #3 (1995); art by Humberto Ramos.

Max Mercury—Zen Master of Speed (DC)

Max Mercury—DC’s Zen Master of Speed Quicksilver lay in limbo for many years, most likely because DC had plenty of its own popular speedsters. The character made cameo appearances in the pages of Roy Thomas’ All-Star Squadron, set during wartime. When the DC universe still had infinite Earths, Quicksilver heeded a call by Uncle Sam and joined a group called the Freedom Fighters to fight the Axis powers on a parallel world dubbed “Earth-X.” (All-Star Squadron #50, Crisis #1, Who's Who Update '87 #5) This group included all heroes originally published by Quality Comics. It is still possible that Quicksilver fought with the Freedom Fighters, but when the multiverse was collapsed by the “Crisis,” Earth-X was no more. Quicksilver also joined the All-Star Squadron in 1942, but never came out of the background. (Young All-Stars #27) Max’s story picked up from the pages of The Flash…

[ Q C. ]

+ Powers

Quicksilver (Max Mercury) possesses super-speed, derived from tapping into the Speed Force. He used his ability in a more acrobatic way than other speedsters. He would often combine his speed with gymnastic maneuvers. He could also use his speed to fly (or perhaps to effect the result of flying by building sufficient momentum).

In comparison to other speedsters, Max is faster than Johnny Quick but perhaps not as swift as the Flashes. However, his mastery of the Speed Force allowed him a degree of cleverness which gave him advantages.