Maxwell Lord

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Maxwell Lord
Maxwell Lord
Kevin Maguire, artist
Publication information
Publisher DC Comics
First appearance Justice League #1 (May 1987)
Created by Keith Giffen
J. M. DeMatteis
Kevin Maguire
In-story information
Alter ego Maxwell Lord IV
Team affiliations Checkmate
Justice League
Black Lantern Corps
Notable aliases Black King, Lord Havok
Abilities Mind control,
Superhuman physical attributes derived from cyborg body

Maxwell Lord IV is a fictional character appearing in comic books published by DC Comics. He is a shrewd and powerful businessman who was very influential in the formation of the Justice League International in DC Comics.

Publication history[edit]

Before the League[edit]

As a youngster, Maxwell Lord had a fairly sheltered life. His father, Albert Lord, used to be a successful business man, head of the Chimtech consortium until he discovered that poor research led his company to mass-produce a highly carcinogenic product. So, when Maxwell was only sixteen, his father committed suicide out of shame and guilt.[1]

Maxwell Lord's mother was never truly convinced of this turn of events, instilling into her son the hatred against every figure of higher authority that eventually led him to his fall from grace, convinced that even Albert's suicide was a conspiracy from the higher ups in his company who were unwilling to let his regrets tamper with their power.[1]

Maxwell Lord spent the next years training to be more ruthless and powerful than his father was, methodically enacting his revenge against the Chimtech administration board members, but was unable to prevent Lex Luthor from acquiring his former property and adding it to the already immense LexCorp. By observing how Lex earned profits by arming and employing hostile metahumans, Maxwell and his mother decided to bend the rules for themselves, cajoling instead heroic metahumans to give Maxwell Lord a better edge. Thus, he sparked the plans to bring the Justice League, leaderless and broken after the Crisis on Infinite Earths event, under his exclusive control.[1]

Giffen and DeMatteis years[edit]

Maxwell Lord IV initially worked behind the scenes to establish the League while under the control of a villainous computer created by Metron (a later retcon would say that this was actually the villainous computer program Kilg%re (pron. Kilgiear[2]), which had taken over Metron's machine. The much later, post-Infinite Crisis retcon mitigated the Kilg%re and the New Gods' influence, stating that Maxwell Lord already had plans for taking over the League, and he would have pursued them on his own volition regardless).[1] The computer wanted Max to set up a worldwide peacekeeping organization as part of its plan to dominate the world.[3]

Lord talks with the Martian Manhunter on the need for a strong League.

Lord's ruthlessness at this time was illustrated when he set up a disturbed would-be terrorist as a villain for the League to defeat, resulting in the man's death (the would-be terrorist believed he had a bomb connected to his heartbeat, but in fact Max had disconnected it). Later, however, he rebelled against the computer and (seemingly) destroyed it.

Once free of the computer's influence, Lord was portrayed as an amoral businessman, but not a real villain. During the time that Giffen and DeMatteis were writing the Justice League, the character was shown struggling with his conscience and developing heroic qualities, though he would remain a con-artist.


Originally a normal human, Lord was one of many on Earth gifted with super powers during the Invasion crossover when a Gene Bomb was exploded by alien invaders. This bomb activated the latent metagene present in a small percentage of Earthlings. Lord gained the ability to control the minds of others, albeit at great difficulty.[4] Despite now being a metahuman himself, Lord never felt like one; instead his omnipresent mother pressured him to act for the benefit of non-powered individuals, thus again shifting his never-ending hatred from the generic "authority figures" that caused his father's death to the metahuman community.[1]

After he was shot and placed in a coma at the start of the 15-part JLAmerica/JLEurope crossover Breakdowns, Dreamslayer, a supervillain who, with the aid of the Extremists, a team of robotic servants, had once destroyed all life on their planet, took over Lord's body and supercharged this power, allowing him to control thousands of minds at once. Using Lord's body and power, he caused the JLI to lose its charter and almost forced them to disband. Finally, however, while the possessed Lord forced the JLI to battle itself, the mortally wounded Silver Sorceress managed to contain Dreamslayer and held it within her mind as she died, taking it with her, and while Lord was freed, his power was burnt out.

Lord reflects on his time with the League.

Later, Lord was diagnosed with a brain tumor and seemingly died. Kilg%re, however, had been waiting patiently for the right moment to reactivate its control of Lord and downloads his consciousness into a duplicate of one of the Extremist robots, Lord Havok (in a further retcon the body is said to be a New Genesis-built automaton, which later fell into Checkmate's possession). In this form, he spends some time testing the League for unknown reasons. He also takes control of the secret organization known as the Arcana.[5]

His cyborg body later comes to resemble his original human form. Lord then pulls together several former JLI members, including L-Ron, Captain Atom, Blue Beetle, Booster Gold and Fire as the "Super Buddies", advertised as "Heroes the common man could call." These stories are told in the six-issue miniseries Formerly Known as the Justice League in 2003, and its 2005 sequel, I Can't Believe It's Not the Justice League.[6]

During the JLI-era, when Doomsday causes the death of Superman as well as several people, and by the end result, Mongul's invasion and destruction of Coast City, Maxwell loses his mother, still residing in their Coast City home. This event fuels his hatred and paranoia against the metahumans and leads him to believe that not only can metahumans not be trusted but that their personal battles and scuffles are enough to shatter world safety.[1]

In Brad Meltzer's Identity Crisis (2004), Lord attends Sue Dibny's funeral and speaks to Booster Gold, further denting his already dwindling faith in superheroes.

Infinite Crisis[edit]

Main article: Infinite Crisis
Lord shoots Ted Kord, the second Blue Beetle. Art by Phil Jimenez.

The 2005 80-page one-shot Countdown to Infinite Crisis reveals that Lord is no longer a cyborg and is apparently a criminal mastermind who spent years running the JLI while gathering sensitive information about the world's superheroes, whom he considered a threat to the planet. At the same time, he sabotaged JLI efforts in order to render the superhero team as ineffectual as possible. At the end of the prologue special issue, he shoots and kills one-time JLI member, Ted Kord, the second Blue Beetle, when the hero discovers Lord's secret and refuses his offer to join him.

During this time, Alexander Luthor, Jr., the god-like son of Lex Luthor from an alternate Earth, gives Lord control over Batman's Brother Eye, a satellite system Batman created to monitor all superhuman contact after the masked detective had grown paranoid following the discovery in Identity Crisis that the JLA had altered his memories years earlier when he objected to a similar resolution regarding Doctor Light. Lord uses Brother Eye to create an army of OMACs (humans infected with a nano-virus that transformed them into cyborgs) programmed to hunt down and kill all superhumans.[volume & issue needed]

Lord is killed by Wonder Woman. Art by Phil Jimenez.

Lord also uses his powers to influence Superman's mind, causing him to brutally beat Batman in the belief that he is Brainiac. Lord subsequently sends Superman to attack Wonder Woman after making him believe that she is his old enemy Doomsday trying to find Lois Lane to kill her. Lord justifies the resulting destruction as proof of his argument about the dangers of superhumans, pointing out the devastation that Wonder Woman and Superman could cause if they fought in a crowded area, and arguing that the fact that Superman can be brought under another's control is evidence that they cannot be relied upon. In the midst of her battle with Superman, Diana realizes that even if she defeats him, he would still remain under Lord's absolute mental control. She creates a diversion lasting long enough for her to race back to Lord's location and demand that he tell her how to free Superman from his control. Bound by her lasso of truth, Lord replies, "Kill me." Wonder Woman then snaps his neck (The OMAC Project, 2005). In response, Brother Eye broadcasts the footage of Wonder Woman killing Lord all over the world, destroying her reputation and her friendship with Batman and Superman who reject her despite the fact that she saved their lives.[7] As the crisis unfolds, the three eventually reconcile as Diana helps Superman talk down his other self and prevents Batman from shooting Alexander Luthor, Jr., accepting that Diana did what she had to do and acknowledging that, for all their differences, they all still want justice.

At the "Crisis Counseling" panel at Wizard World Chicago, Dan DiDio explained DC's reasoning in using Lord's character in Infinite Crisis. After going through several possible characters who could be the "new leader for the offshoot of Checkmate", Maxwell Lord was suggested. Many of the editors thought that the idea made sense, as Lord had been shown to have a mean streak and to have killed previously. The idea was dropped due to the continuity errors, such as him being a cyborg, but they went back to it later after deciding none of the other possible characters were suitable. "We thought about that aspect of the story [where Maxwell was turned into a cyborg] some more," DiDio explained. "And then asked, 'Did anyone read it?' No. 'Did anyone like the idea?' No. So we moved ahead with Max as being a human, and having been a human, and not letting that small part of the past stand in the way of this story. We wanted what was best for Countdown [to Infinite Crisis], and for us, that meant that Max had to be a human."[8]

One Year Later[edit]

Main article: One Year Later

Lord reappeared in 2007 in the first two story arcs of the new Booster Gold series by Geoff Johns and Dan Jurgens. At the end of the 52 Pick-Up story arc, Booster Gold and Blue Beetles from the past, present and future, go back in time to Countdown to Infinite Crisis and prevent Lord from killing Ted Kord. In the subsequent Blue and Gold story arc, Blue Beetle and Booster Gold discover that in saving Ted Kord they have created a new timeline where Lord was never killed by Wonder Woman and his OMAC's and a mind-controlled Superman have turned the entire planet into a police state. Lord reveals that he had been returned to human form after dozens of clandestine operations and that he learned the importance of control during that time. When Booster Gold and Blue Beetle, having assembled their old JLI teammates, storm Brother Eye, Lord is killed by Dr. Light when she blasts a hole through his chest. Ted Kord realizes that his death is the only way to fix the timestream and leaves the battle, seemingly to return to the past and accept his death. Next, Max makes an appearance in the Trinity maxi-series (2008-9). Lord's skull is stolen by a group called the Dreambound and brought to Morgaine Le Fey for use in a spell, which requires an item connected to Wonder Woman.[9]

Blackest Night[edit]

Main article: Blackest Night

During the Blackest Night (2009–10) storyline, Maxwell Lord is identified as one of the deceased entombed below the Hall of Justice.[10] Lord's corpse is revived as a Black Lantern during the event.[11] Targeting Wonder Woman, he lures her to Arlington National Cemetery with a trail of slaughtered bodies. When Wonder Woman arrives, he springs a trap, using black rings to revive the bodies of fallen soldiers. Wonder Woman uses her lasso to reduce Lord and the soldiers to dust. However, as she leaves, the dust begins to regenerate.[12] Some time later, Lord resumes his attack on Wonder Woman, who has recently been deputized into the Star Sapphires. Wonder Woman encases Lord's body in a violet crystal, then shatters it to pieces. However, Lord still continues to taunt her, his mouth talking out of a piece of crystal.[13] He is later brought back to life by the power of the White Light. Though Guy Gardner attempts to restrain him, Lord uses his mind control abilities to "convince" Guy to let him leave.[14]

Brightest Day[edit]

Lord is among the other resurrected heroes/villains featured in the Brightest Day (2010) series. He is first seen attempting to push his mind control powers further than ever, but severely injures himself in the attempt, despite his meticulous preparations which include a constant blood supply and an ice pool.[15] Later, Deadman's white power ring shows a vision where Lord is shown shaking hands with Jaime Reyes, the third Blue Beetle, but Lord is hiding a gun behind his back, implying that he is planning to kill him just as he killed Jaime's predecessor, Ted Kord.[15]

In the first issue of Justice League: Generation Lost, Lord is the subject of an unprecedented international manhunt. He is found hiding in the old Justice League International embassy by Booster Gold, whom Lord is able to defeat. Lord then uses a device to amplify his mind control powers to unprecedented levels. With this he erases the world's memory of his existence. Initially it appears that only his former Justice League colleagues Booster Gold, Ice, Fire, and Captain Atom remember Max.[16] It is later revealed in Brightest Day #8 that Deadman also remembers his existence. Lord uses his powers to disgrace the team, having Fire ousted from Checkmate, Captain Atom turned in as a fugitive for betraying the U.S. Army, and Ice isolated from Guy Gardner, who Lord causes to believe she tried to kill him. He also influences the superhero community into believing Ted Kord committed suicide, which enrages Booster Gold. He then sends OMACs after the current Blue Beetle, Jaime Reyes, who calls Booster Gold and the others for help.[17] In the meantime, Lord discovers that his resurrection has come with a side effect: some of his efforts to control others' minds transform his targets into cadavers wearing Black Lantern uniforms.[18] Contacting his former colleagues through a fallen Rocket Red's armor, Lord reveals that he intentionally exempted them from the worldwide mindwipe and that he wants them to protect the world as they did in the old days. He then warns the group not to come looking for him, unaware that Blue Beetle had located his transmission signal.[19]

Captain Atom then tells the others that an explosion, seen in the first issue, propelled him briefly into the 24th century where he saw a world reduced to a pre-industrial state by a metahuman war instigated by Lord. The team resolve to try to prevent Lord from bringing about this dystopia.[20] Maxwell Lord is at one point contacted by the Entity who tells him to stop Magog from plunging the world into war.[21] Lord then sees a vision of himself killing a distraught Magog, who begs for mercy, with Magog's own staff.[22] The Entity gives Lord a vision of a future when Magog's team attacks Parasite. Parasite's absorption of Captain Atom causes an explosion that destroys everything within a large radius and annihilates over a million people (similar to the Kingdom Come future).[23] Power Girl witnesses her new villain C.R.A.S.H. confronting Lord before heading towards the teleporter.[24] When the team next encounter Lord,[25] after mind-controlling first Fire and then Booster Gold to prevent them from stopping him, he teleports from the old JLI embassy back to Checkmate where he attempts to enlist Magog to kill Captain Atom.[26] Lord uses technology to upgrade Magog's staff into emitting energy blasts.[23] Meanwhile, Lord asks Professor Ivo to reprogram the Metal Men.[23] Then he asks Doctor Sivana to create a genetically engineered humanoid clone of Power Girl.[27]

When Captain Atom and Magog battle in the heart of Chicago, Captain Atom is able to convince Magog that he's being used and Magog remembers Lord. Watching, Lord uses his powers to force Magog to kill himself and then makes everyone believe they watched Captain Atom murder him. The Entity proclaims Lord has completed his task, and his life is restored to him.[28] After briefly receiving a White Ring, the recently returned Bruce Wayne seems to now be aware of Max Lord's resurrection.[29] When Captain Atom absorbs the energy from Magog's spear he is propelled forward through time 112 years in the future, where Lord, while long dead, has plunged humanity into a massive metahuman war ruled by OMACs. Captain Atom is eventually returned to the present but not before a dying Power Girl tells him that the catalyst for all this was Wonder Woman's death by Lord's hand and Batman (Damian Wayne) tells him how to stop Lord's ultimate plans.[30] However, Lord is struck with the ironic discovery that (with the exception of the original four ex-JLIers) no one in the world remembers Wonder Woman.[31]

Later, when the Creature Commandos attack the JLI embassy, Lord poses as a member and captures Jaime Reyes heading towards the teleporter with him, while the others are unable to stop him.[32] Lord regains his abilities to transform his targets into cadaver OMACs and he tortures the Blue Beetle while in captivity.[33] Lord's mindwipes feed off psychic energy so the more people who are around, the faster some will forget.[34] In issue 19, the rest of the team locate Lord's secret facility in a submersible below the Sea of Japan. Seconds before the team reach him, and as predicted by the White Ring, Lord shoots Jaime in the head (echoing his execution of Jaime's predecessor, Ted Kord).[35] The JLI arrives and attack Lord, but he then escapes from the JLI in one of his headquarters' escape pods and the headquarters vanishes.[1]

While the JLI learned Jaime is alive, the team also learned that Lord not only manipulated them, but also wanted the JLI to chase him to distract Checkmate. Later, Lord uses a device to enhance his mental powers, turning people around the world into OMACs to attack Wonder Woman and the JLI.[36] Before the device activates, Lord sends the OMAC Prime that he controls to attack the heroes. Booster Gold manages to locate Lord's flying headquarters, attacking it to confront him face-to-face.[37] Lord gains the upper hand with his mental powers but Captain Atom grabs him, after having become overloaded with quantum energy in the fight with OMAC Prime and about to be pulled into the timestream. He threatens to take Lord with him unless he undoes the global mindwipe and a desperate Lord complies. Captain Atom is pulled away and Lord teleports to escape the heroes. Later, he posts an online video where he blames Professor Ivo for Magog's rampage and says that he only wants to protect the world from the metahuman threat and he will continue to do so in secret.[38]


Maxwell Lord later in life was confirmed as a metahuman with the ability to telepathically influence peoples' minds. The extent of his abilities range from simple suggestion to outright commandeering of another's mind as seen with his complete possession of Superman where he was able to make the Man of Steel perform acts far outside of the range of his normal sensibilities. Lord's power is not of the "zombie" mind control variety, but rather the kind where the people affected go about their daily lives and are unaware of his influence. He also has the ability to influence more than one mind at a time and, at one point, had many people under his control. While the subject's will does factor in on how difficult it is to initially possess and maintain his control, so far no one has been able to avoid his influence for long. Lord's power not only affects the actions and predispositions of the victim, but also their perceptions of the world around them, such as in "Generation Lost" where even though Lord's rap sheet is displayed in front of someone, they would see something else, like a list of random people named Maxwell Lord in the world. It is not at this time known how his power works after the fact, such as whether it works like a post-hypnotic suggestion or if he maintains some continuous, secondary hold on all his "possessions", but in "Generation Lost" #10 (2010) just as Batman, his butler, Alfred, and Power Girl were starting to become aware that something was wrong with their memories and perceptions (and of Lord's existence) and were about to start an investigation, the possession took hold again and they forgot everything they were talking about. Seeing as how, generally, the rule of thumb is that once someone becomes aware of being controlled, that control is usually broken, this should show just how powerful Lord actually is. The main drawback to using his power is that the bigger the "push", as he calls his possessions, the more strain and toll it takes on his body. The most common reaction to a big "push" is a nosebleed with other secondary effects including a rapid elevation of body temperature, weakness and possible unconsciousness (apparently, once the "push" has taken hold, he still holds possession even while unconscious). Also, with a big enough "push", there is the possibility of a fatal hemorrhage. In Brightest Day #1 (after being resurrected), he is seen in hiding, preparing for his "Biggest push yet" - a long-lasting alteration of the memories of everyone on Earth so that they think he never existed - and has equipped the room with bio-monitors, a large tub of ice to cool his body down and a transfusion machine stocked with his own blood to replace what he would lose from such a venture. This worldwide "push" was successful and, as a consequence, caused him to hemorrhage with blood flying out of his nose and ears and then pass out in the tub of ice showing just how powerful he is and the kind of toll it takes on his body. Lastly, it is not known if such strains on his body will have any lasting, long-term effects, but as of now he has learned to safeguard his body against such damage at least in the short term with such medical preparation. Like several others resurrected and featured in "Brightest Day", his powers are shown to be somehow tainted by the Black Lantern (in Justice League: Generation Lost #4, Lord attempts to use his power on a scientist but not only does it kill the man but his corpse becomes a Black Lantern). Lord suffers a black nosebleed as he moans about this happening again. This aspect has yet to resurface and since having his life fully restored by the White Lantern, it is possible it never will.

In other media[edit]


Maxwell Lord as seen in Justice League Unlimited.
  • Maxwell Lord appears in the Justice League Unlimited episode "Ultimatum" voiced by Tim Matheson. He is shown as a normal human with no special powers. He acts as the manager of the Ultimen, a superhero team that works independently of the Justice League. It turns out, however, that the Ultimen are a series of artificial life forms cloned and given false memories while interacting with actors portraying their parents. The team was developed with the assistance of Project Cadmus as part of an ongoing project to protect the Earth from the Justice League. As the clones (which are imperfect) die, they are replaced until one generation of the clones learns the truth and escapes. Maxwell is told by Amanda Waller to get them back or she will call in the "squad" to take them down. The Ultimen ended up attacking Maxwell Lord, demanding answers. He told them that they were created to be a better superhero team than the Justice League. When he offers to help them when their lifespan ends, they deny his plea and head back to the building to look for Amanda Waller and their as-yet-unactivated clones. After four of the Ultimen are subdued by the Justice League and apprehended by the authorities, Maxwell Lord and Amanda Waller arrived with some Cadmus soldiers and take them into their custody to be there for when their lifespan end.
  • Maxwell Lord appears in the Smallville Season 9 episode "Charade", portrayed by Gil Bellows.[39] In this incarnation, he's the Black King of the organization known as Checkmate and had the ability to extract memories from others which he used to try to reveal the identity of "The Blur" (a.k.a. Clark Kent). He was thwarted by Clark but managed to escape, only to be apprehended by the mysterious Red Queen. She then has him interrogate Tess in a mental illusion to try and find the Book of Rao. However, she purposely gives him incorrect information that causes Tess to see through the illusion and escape, knowing that the first thing she will then do is go and move the book to a new hiding place.
  • Maxwell Lord appears in Supergirl, portrayed by Peter Facinelli. In this series, Lord is the founder of Lord Technologies and is the son of scientists who were killed due to safety conditions, making him distrusting of government agencies. He also has an agenda to expose Supergirl's identity at any cost, making Kara suspicious.[40] He discovers that Agent Danvers and Supergirl are sisters in episode 11 "Strange vistor from another planet"[41] Maxwell Lord creates a female Bizarro Frankenstein style in the 12th episode of the season.[42] He is also captured by Alex Danvers and the DEO in the episode and is still held at the end of the episode.



  1. ^ a b c d e f g Justice League: Generation Lost #20 (February 2011)
  2. ^ Flash vol. 2 #51 (1991)
  3. ^ Kirk, Jason (2010-06-13). "Who is Maxwell Lord? – Part I: Origin | the Captain's JLA blog". Archived from the original on January 26, 2012. Retrieved 2011-04-25. 
  4. ^ Kirk, Jason (2010-06-15). "Who is Maxwell Lord? – Part II: The JLI | the Captain's JLA blog". Retrieved 2011-04-25. [dead link]
  5. ^ Kirk, Jason (2010-06-19). "Who is Maxwell Lord? – Part III: The Fall | the Captain's JLA blog". Archived from the original on January 26, 2012. Retrieved 2011-04-25. 
  6. ^ Kirk, Jason (2010-06-27). "Who is Maxwell Lord? – Part IV: The Super Buddies | the Captain's JLA blog". Retrieved 2011-04-25. [dead link]
  7. ^ Kirk, Jason (2010-07-06). "Who is Maxwell Lord? – Part V: Checkmate | the Captain's JLA blog". Retrieved 2011-04-25. [dead link]
  9. ^ Trinity #14 (September 2008)
  10. ^ Blackest Night #1 (September 2009)
  11. ^ Blackest Night #3 (November 2009)
  12. ^ Blackest Night: Wonder Woman #1 (February 2010)
  13. ^ Blackest Night: Wonder Woman#3 (April 2010)
  14. ^ Blackest Night #8 (May 2010)
  15. ^ a b Brightest Day #0 (April 2010)
  16. ^ Justice League: Generation Lost #1 (May 2010)
  17. ^ Justice League: Generation Lost #2 (May 2010)
  18. ^ Justice League: Generation Lost #4 (June 2010)
  19. ^ Justice League: Generation Lost #5 (July 2010)
  20. ^ Justice League: Generation Lost #6 (July 2010)
  21. ^ Brightest Day #7 (August 2010)
  22. ^ Justice League: Generation Lost #7 (August 2010)
  23. ^ a b c Justice League: Generation Lost #10 (September 2010)
  24. ^ Power Girl #15 (August 2010)
  25. ^ Justice League: Generation Lost #8 (August 2010)
  26. ^ Justice League: Generation Lost #9 (September 2010)
  27. ^ Power Girl #18 (November 2010)
  28. ^ Justice League: Generation Lost #13 (November 2010)
  29. ^ Brightest Day #14 (November 2010)
  30. ^ Justice League: Generation Lost #14 (November 2010)
  31. ^ Justice League: Generation Lost #15 (December 2010)
  32. ^ Justice League: Generation Lost #16 (December 2010)
  33. ^ Justice League: Generation Lost #17 (January 2011)
  34. ^ Justice League: Generation Lost #18 (January 2011)
  35. ^ Justice League: Generation Lost #19 (February 2011)
  36. ^ Justice League: Generation Lost #22 (March 2011)
  37. ^ Justice League: Generation Lost #23 (April 2011)
  38. ^ Justice League: Generation Lost #24 (April 2011)
  39. ^ "KryptonSite Scoop: Maxwell Lord Is Coming To Smallville!". Retrieved 2011-04-25. 
  40. ^ ‘Supergirl’ Finds Her Maxwell Lord: Peter Facinelli Joins Cast – Comic Con
  41. ^ Strange Vistor from another planet episode
  42. ^
  43. ^ EXCLUSIVE: Leaked 'Justice League: Mortal' Script Review