Who the Clix? is a series of articles featuring information on comic book characters that have been made into figures for the popular tabletop game Heroclix. These articles are meant to help Heroclix players learn more about the characters behind their favorite pieces.
Today we look at former JLI member turned uber baddie: Maxwell Lord
Appearances in Heroclix: Superman
First Appearance: Justice League #1 (1987)
Team Affiliations: Checkmate, Extremists, Justice League, Illuminati, Black Lantern Corps
Created By: Keith Giffen, J. M. DeMatteis, Kevin Maguire
Maxwell Lord has a very sheltered childhood under the care of his father, Albert Lord, head of Chimtech. When Maxwell was 16, his father learned that poor research had resulted in Chimtech mass-producing a highly carcinogenic product and committed suicide out of shame and guilt. Maxwell’s mother never believed in this and is convinced that Albert’s “suicide” was part of a massive conspiracy. This bitter paranoia led her to instill in her son an incredible hatred of all authority.
This leads to Maxwell spending years training to be more ruthless than his father ever was. He is able to exact revenge against the board members of Chimtech but unable to stop Lex Luthor from acquiring the company and adding it to LexCorp. Maxwell sees how successful Lex is at using villainous metahumans and endeavors to use heroic metahumans to increase his own success, leading to Maxell’s executive control of the Justice League.
While Maxwell pursues the control of the League, he is influenced by a New Gods created computer program Kilg%re to seemingly behave more ruthlessly. For example, Lord set up a would be terrorist as a foe for the League to defeat, convincing the terrorist he had a bomb on his heart though Lord had already disconnected it. Lord seemingly rebelled and defeated the computer housing Kilg%re. Once free of the New God influence, Maxwell seemed to return to a more amoral con-man personality. However, after years around the Justice League he does seem to begin to pick up more heroic qualities.
When a Gene Bomb is detonated over the earth by alien invaders, Maxwell Lord is among those humans whose latent metagene is activated. Lord gains limited mind control but it takes great exertion for him to use. Due to the influence of his mother, Maxell never embraces his new metahuman status and instead starts to feel his rage at a generic authority figure begin to shift to the metahuman community.
After being shot and placed in a coma, Lord’s body is taken over by Dreamslayer and his power to control minds is supercharged. As a result, Lord is able to control thousands of minds at once. Under the influence of Dreamslayer, the JLI loses it charter and is almost forced to disband. Dreamslayer even forces the JLI to fight among themselves leading to Silver Sorceress being mortally wounded. In desperation, she removes Dreamslayer from Lord’s body and contains it within herself as she dies, removing its threat. Though Lord regains his senses, his powers appear to be burned out.
Lord is diagnosed with a brain tumor and seemingly dies. Kilg%re, however, has merely been waiting for the right moment to regain control of Maxwell. Kilg%re downloads Maxwell’s consciousness into a New Genesis-built robot. Lord takes control of the secret organization of Arcana before his robotic body changes to resemble his original human form. Lord loses his mother when Mongul invades and destroys Coast City, as she had continued to live in their Coast City home. This seems to be a significant tipping point in Lord’s hatred and distrust of the metahuman community.
During the Infinite Crisis, Lord’s plans for the elimination of the world’s superheroes is discovered by Blue Beetle. After offering Ted Kord, another normal human like himself, a chance to join him, Lord feels forced to kill his former ally when he refuses. Soon after, Alexander Luthor, Jr. gives Lord control over Batman’s Brother Eye satellite system. Through Brother Eye, Lord activates an army of OMACs and sends them out to kill all superhumans. Lord then takes control of Superman’s mind and uses him to viciously beat Batman before sending him out to battle Wonder Woman as proof that metahumans are too dangerous to be allowed to continue acting on their own. Wonder Woman realizes that she cannot defeat Superman without first freeing him from Lord’s control and distracts the Kryptonian long enough to reach Lord’s location. She uses her lasso of truth on Lord and asks him how to free Superman from Lord’s control. He replies simply, “kill me.” Wonder Woman snaps his neck, unaware that Brother Eye is broadcasting the events over the world. This creates a temporary rift between Batman, Wonder Woman and Superman.
Maxwell Lord is resurrected as a Black Lantern and pursues Wonder Woman during the Blackest Night, being repeatedly defeated by the heroine. Lord is eventually brought back to life by the White Lantern entity. Guy Gardner tries to restrain Lord but Maxwell is able to use his mind control powers to force Gardner to let him go.
Lord continues pushing his powers to their limit, even creating a device to amplify them to unknown levels and erase all memory of his existence from the world’s population in order to stop the international manhunt for him. The only ones that remember him are his former JLI teammates and Deadman. Free from most scrutiny, Lord goes about destroying the lives of his former teammates and even convinces the metahuman community that Ted Kord committed suicide. Lord also sends OMACs after Jaime Reyes, the new Blue Beetle, before discovering that his mind control power now has the unintended effect of turning some of his targets into cadavers wearing Black Lantern uniforms. While warning his teammates away, Lord receives a vision from the Entity instructing him to stop Magog from plunging the world into war. Lord pursues this goal through various means, including cloning Power Girl, having the Metal Men reprogrammed, and recruiting Magog to kill Captain Atom (hoping to stop Parasite from absorbing the hero and causing a massive explosion in the future).
Captain Atom and Magog face each other in the heart of Chicago where Atom is able to convince Magog he is being used. Once Magog accepts this, he remember Lord. Not about to let his plans unravel, Lord takes control of Magog’s mind and forces him to kill himself while making the other heroes think that Captain Atom killed him. The Entity proclaims that Lord’s task is complete and restores his life to him. Lord also soon discovers that, aside from his teammates, no one in the world remembers Wonder Woman.
Lord is able to capture Jamie Reyes and tortures him before shooting him in the head and escaping from the surviving JLI-ers. Though Reyes survives this attack, it buys Lord enough time to activate a new army of OMACs that he sends after Wonder Woman and the JLI. Captain Atom absorbs quantum energy from OMAC Prime and tackles Lord, threatening to throw him through the time stream if Lord does not undo the global memory wipe. Lord complies as Captain Atom is pulled through the time stream and Lord teleports away. Lord goes on to post a video blaming Professor Ivo for Magog’s rampage and claims to only want to protect the world from the metahuman threat.
Max continues to run Checkmate as its Black King while also having seniority over Cadmus. He eventually is able to absorb the Brother Eye system into his organization as well. Lord originally decides to take down Amanda Waller with a team of Doctor Polaris, Emerald Empress, Johnny Sorrow, Rustam from Prime Earth and Lobo. Waller recruits the Justice League to fight Lord’s team and most present do not remember Maxwell.
Lord’s team is ultimately defeated by the combined forces of the Suicide Squad and Justice League but not before he can recover the Heart of Darkness. He uses the Heart to boost his powers and infect the Justice League, except Batman, bringing peace to America and Waller brought before him. Waller is able to reach Maxwell and make him realize that Heart is corrupting him. Though he tries to free himself, the Heart consumes him and transforms him in Eclipso. Killer Frost and Superman are able to combine their powers to free Lord from Eclipso and take him into custody.