by Alan Kistler
Professor Gill was the guardian of Johnny Chambers. Working from clues he found on a piece of papyrus from the tomb of king Amen, he developed the formula "3x2(9yz)4a". This formula was a third-dimensional approximation of a fourth dimensional construct. When one pictured the construct in his mind and then cemented the image by verbally speaking the formula, they opened up a portion of their mind to access an unknown energy field.
Gill believed such power should be used in the pursuit of justice. Knowing he did not have long to live, he imparted the "magic formula" to Johnny. Johnny tested out the formula and found that the energy his mind now accessed allowed him to move at superhuman speeds. The world was ushering in the golden age of heroes at the time, and so Johnny decided to join their ranks as "Johnny Quick."
The first night Johnny used his superhuman speed, he felt a connection towards something higher than himself. It was also the night of the worst electrical storm the city had seen in years.
When America entered the war, Johnny Quick joined the newly formed All-Star Squadron. There he met the adventurer Liberty Belle. The two eventually fell in love and began a relationship.
At about the same time, Johnny met the speedster Max Mercury, then operating under the alias of "Quicksilver." Max and Johnny shared a number of adventures. Several times, Max tried to explain to Johnny that his power, and indeed the power of all speedsters, was drawn from an energy field he called "the speed force." Johnny however was a man very rooted in science and this talk of a speed force sounded like magical hogwash to him.
Years later, when most of the super-heroes were forced to retire during the McCarthy era, Johnny maintained a semi-active heroic career. He eventually married Liberty Belle, who'd retired. Years later, they had a child named Jesse.
By this time, Johnny had moved out of the world of photojournalism and began his own company. Quickstart Enterprises used infomercials that boosted positive thinking. After some years, his company grew and he gained a small fortune.
Several years later, heroes began to re-emerge. Although Johnny would occasionally re-don his costume during great cosmic battles (such as the Appellaxian invasion), neither he nor his wife resumed active heroic careers.
When the villainous Prof. Zoom impersonated the dead hero Barry Allen, Johnny was among those Jay Garrick recruited to thwart the villain. After that, Johnny would occasionally resume his costumed role whenever Wally West, the current Flash, needed his help. He also resumed semi-active status with the JSA.
During the crisis known as Zero Hour, Johnny and the JSA all attacked the villain Extant. Using his temporal powers, Extant aged the JSA members. By sheer luck (and possibly due to their connection with the speed force), Johnny and Jay Garrick were only aged by about ten more years.
Soon after that, Jesse decided to become a hero herself, under the alias Jesse Quick. Using her father's speed formula, she was also able to achieve superhuman speed and flight. She also found that she sometimes utilized the superhuman strength of her mother.
When the villain Savitar re-emerged to kill all speedsters, Johnny was among those who fought against him. During the battle, Savitar's henchman Christina Alexandrova rushed at super-speed in an attempt to kill Jesse. Reacting on reflex, Johnny Quick raced to save his daughter. For the first time, he didn't speak his formula, trusting the speed to simply come to him. It did, with more power than he'd ever felt before. In a flash, Johnny rocketed towards his daughter, causing a huge surge of speed force energy that did two things. First, the shockwave knocked Christina down. Second, Johnny was now racing on the edge of the speed force itself.
Acting as quickly as he could, Max raced to the edge of lightspeed so as to stop Johnny. But Johnny felt a calling and now realized Max had been right all along. He felt a longing to join with the force, believing his time had come. As he vanished into the speedster Valhalla, he assured Max that he had been an excellent teacher.
About a year later, when the sorcerer Felix Faust ended up weakening the boundaries between reality and the spiritual realms, ghosts began appearing. Johnny Quick appeared to Wally and through him, he was able to do something he'd never had the chance to do in life. He told his daughter he was proud and said his good-byes.
Normally, Johnny Quick possessed no superhuman abilities whatsoever. Upon speaking the formula "3x2(9yz)4a" however, and picturing the formula in his mind, he opened his brain to access speed force energy. To cut off his connection to the speed force, he had to counteract the formula by saying "z2 5y(2ab)6." Upon saying this, he would return to his state of a normal human being.
With his speed abilities, Johnny Quick could attain superhuman speed just under that of the Flash. As the years went on, his age caused a slight reduction in his speed. But due to his connection with the speed force, Johnny still maintained greater vitality than most men his physical age.
When accessing his speed abilities, Johnny reflexively projected an electro-chemical aura over his body to protect him from friction at high speed.
Unlike most speedsters, Johnny Quick was able to utilize his speed force energy so that he could also attain flight. However, his top-speed while flying is significantly less than his running top-speed. And usually, Johnny had to get a bit of a running start in order to access his flight.
Johnny Quick was a gifted spokesman and had very good knowledge in human nature. He was also skilled in business and journalism. Through decades of experience, Johnny Quick was also an expert in super-speed combat.
Johnny Quick kept in good physical shape for a man of his physical age.
A man named Max was born in the year 1819. In 1938, he became fort messenger for the American military force. During his time there, he made friends with the native Blackfoot clan.
Unfortunately, the fort commander was racist and believed "the only good Indian is a dead one." He finally ordered his soldiers to wipe out the clan. Max found out about it too late. He arrived to find his friends dead. The only one left alive was the clan shaman. The shaman told Max that several tribesmen had been away on a hunt and that the soldiers were moving to ambush them. He begged Max to warn them before they were massacred. Then, with his dying breaths, the shaman blessed Max on his journey by whispering a prayer to the gods of storm and wind. To finalize the blessing, he painted a lightning bolt across Max's chest. And then, he died.
True to his word, Max began making his way in the direction of the soldiers. But he believed his quest would be fruitless, for the soldiers had a head start and many were one horses. But to his amazement, with each footfall he was running faster and faster. Moving at superhuman speeds, he arrived just in time to prevent the ambush. But that was not enough. Preventing the Blackfoots from taking revenge, Max ensured that there was bloodshed on neither side.
After that night, Max decided to use his new gifts to protect Americans, native and colonist, from each other. He became a living legend. The Blackfoots knew him as "Awehotta" which meant "he who runs beyond the wind." The white man knew him simply as "Windrunner".
Some years later, during a terrible lightning storm, Windrunner felt a calling. He felt a connection to some outside force, the same force which fueled his speed. He ran as he never had before, breaking all his previous barriers. He left Earth's plane of existence and brushed against the source of his power. But then, he had a moment of fear and doubt. And suddenly, he was rocketed away from the power and back towards Earth. As he groggily looked up, he saw that the world had changed. He'd jumped forward through time. The year was now 1891.
Max adjusted and set up a new life as "Max Carter." He also continued his adventuring, under the new identity of Whip Whirlwind. He also began to first learn more about the source of his speed, which he came to dub the "speed force." Years later, Max brushed against the Speed Force again and again was too doubtful. He was rocketed several years further. Upon returning to Earth, he adopted the super-hero guise of "Lightning" and even met baseball legend Babe Ruth at one point.
Another time-jump later, Max used the aliases of Thunderpace and later Max Mercury, the "Whirlwind of the West". He had a shorter time-jump later and when he re-emerged from the timestream the world had just entered the Golden Age of heroes. Where once Max had been forced to be a mysterious figure whom few actually saw, he now saw the world populated by beings such a he who led far more public careers. Calling himself Quicksilver, he once joined the mystery-men of the 1940s. Combining super-speed with acrobatic skill, he gained a strong reputation among his peers. As he began to trust his fellow heroes, he let some of them know that he had once been Max Mercury, Lightning and Whip Whirlwind. While he revealed this however, he did not give the full story of who he had been and how he'd gained his powers.
Max met other speedsters. Johnny Chambers, also known as Johnny Quick, and Jay Garrick, the Golden Age Flash. Jay had used to read pulp stories about Max as Whip Whirlwind and thus already had great respect for Max. As such, he was far more receptive than Johnny when Max would hint to him the secrets of the speed force.
During the forties, Max again spent more time researching the speed force and its possibilities. He began to keep journals marking his discoveries. For security reasons, he wrote several of the journals in different languages he learned at super-speed. He also briefly joined the team known as the Freedom Fighters.
In 1949, Jay rescued Max from a villain called the Screaming Skull. In the process, Max had become somewhat energized by a field that enhanced his speed force connection and ended up phasing out of his Quicksilver costume. After the case, Jay attempted to give Max his costume back but was told he could keep it as a souvenir. Max then told Jay that he owed him a debt that he would only repay in a life or death situation. Jay agreed and Max retired from adventuring right after that, moving to Manchester, Alabama.
Sometime later, Dr. Morlo threatened the town with his toxic bombs. Max prevented the town's destruction, but at great personal cost. His lungs were burned and his blood had been tainted by mustard gas. The local physician Dr. David Claiborne found him. David and his wife Laura cared for Max, who was bed-ridden for nine weeks. When he recovered, he found David Claiborne to be a good friend who shared a love of fishing, tennis and "The Shadow" radio show.
Max also became very close with Laura, who was a lonelier soul. She was upset that David was constantly away as a result of being one of the few doctors in the area. As time passed, she found herself growing closer to Max and the inevitable happened. Unable to face his friend David when he returned, Max ran off that night and ended up doing another time-jump. When he returned to Earth, it was New Year's Day, 1957.
Max then adopted the costume identity of Blue Streak, though he was not as active as he had been before. In 1963, he found out about a new man who had gained super-speed and called himself Savitar. Savitar was a fanatic who worshiped his speed and believed that others who usurped it without the proper faith were insulting his god.
Knowing that Savitar would probably try to target others blessed with super-speed, Max tracked down Johnny Quick, who was the only other speedster hero currently active. Max found Johnny just in time, as Savitar attacked him. The two then tracked Savitar down to his lair where they found that he'd been recruiting many followers. Finally, Max decided that if they couldn't beat powerful Savitar, they could at least delay his plans. Max pushed himself to brush against he speed force, bringing Savitar along with him. Then, he threw Savitar into the timestream just before he slowed down his own time-jump. Thus, Max re-emerged on Earth several years before Savitar. Knowing that brushing against the speed force might make the man more powerful, Max decided he would have to prepare. He would need to gather allies and make sure they too were prepared.
Max decided to forego adopting yet another costumed identity and simply began leading a simple life working as a subway token handler in Central City, perhaps because it had been the sister city to Keystone, home of Jay Garrick, or perhaps because he sensed that the next speedster would emerge there. Whatever the case, police scientist Barry Allen gained super-speed soon afterwards and became the second man to be called the Flash. It is known that Max kept on eye on Barry, though the two never met.
Several years later, Barry Allen died during The Crisis and his sidekick/nephew Wally West took on the mantle as the third Flash. A few years afterwards, Prof. Zoom the Renegade Flash from the 25th century was on the rampage, impersonating his former foe Barry Allen. During the war against Zoom, Jay recruited all the help he could think of. He went to rouse Johnny Quick out of retirement and then found Max Mercury, whom he had evidently tracked down earlier for just such an occasion. Jay called in the debt Max owed him from 1949 and presented him with the old Quicksilver costume. Max agreed. Although he re-donned his Quicksilver costume, he called himself Max Mercury again.
During the battle with Zoom, he also attempted to educate Wally about the nature of his power. At one point, Max said "the true magic lies in the zen of speed." Since then, Wally has affectionately referred to him as the "Zen Guru of Speedsters."
After Zoom's defeat, Max returned to his place in the shadows but now spent more time keeping tabs on Wally. Watching him from afar, Max sensed the speed force gathering around Wally. Something was going to happen soon.
During the event known as Zero Hour, Wally was rocketed through the timestream for a brief period and lightly brushed against the speed force. As a result, he began to manifest small bursts of lightning behind him whenever he ran. But this was only the start. Wally found that the closer he approached lightspeed, the more he felt his body begin to fade out of physical existence. He found Max, who explained that occasionally the speed force calls out for speedsters to join them. This was the calling Max had felt when he was still Windrunner. Jay later revealed that he'd felt a similar calling once, but it was long after he'd retired and so he never acted on it. Wally's growing belief in Max's teachings exploded full force when a battle with Kobra ended in him actually entering and the speed force itself and then being the first person to actually re-emerge from it fully.
Several days previous to Wally's entering the speed force, Bart Allen (grandson of Barry Allen) had come onto the scene. Bart had been born in the 30th century, a mutant with superhuman speed. But it had accelerated his metabolism so that he aged at super-speed as well. Bart was raised in VR so that his brain could keep up and eventually his grandmother Iris Allen brought him to the 20th century so Wally could cure him. Wally did so, only to find he now had a thirteen-year-old with speed that equaled his own and the impulse control of a two-year-old. The vigilante known as Batman labeled young Bart "Impulse" and the name stuck.
After growing more powerful from his encounter with the speed force, Wally decided he wouldn't have time to mentor Impulse, as he now had to deal with learning about his own new abilities. Thus, Max was asked to take in the young speedster. Remembering the slow pace of Manchester, Alabama, Max bought a house there for him and Bart to live in. He adopted the identity of Max Crandall, Bart's fictitious uncle.
Since then, Max has been doing his best to temper Impulse's behavior and mold him into a true hero. He is also always at the ready whenever his fellow speedsters need help.
Max Mercury possesses superhuman speed and can achieve speeds up to half the speed of light. Once he was faster but his speed has decreased
This article is © 2000 Alan Kistler.
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