Who's DC's Quicksilver?

Who's This? You might know him as Max Mercury. He's on page 5 of Who's Who vol. XIX.
The facts: Quicksilver appeared in a series of 6-pagers from Quality Comics' National Comics (yes, I know, confusing) from #5 (1940) through #73 (1949), missing but one issue during that run. He had superspeed and some acrobatic ability, his first name was Max, and he was friends with a Native American and a Chinese boy. That's about readers at the time would have found out, which makes for a rather mysterious Who's Who entry.
How you could have heard of him: In 1996's Flash #109, Mark Waid reintroduced Quicksilver as Max Mercury, avoiding the confusion with a now better-known Marvel character, and fleshed out his back story based on the few elements revealed in the original comics. Max became a principal player and mentor to both Wally and Bart (in Impulse) for the next 5 years.
Example story: National Comics #11 (1941) by Nick Cardy
If all Quicksilver stories are like this one, they're very slim indeed. But hey, it's Max Mercury vs. gangsters in race cars. That's gotta be worth something. AND we might just discover the things that inspired Mark Waid's version of the character. Lets set this up: There's a race car driver called Larry who squealed to the cops about fixed races, see. His girlfriend Betsy is horrified that he's just made himself a target. And she's right. The mobsters are also participating in today's big race and try to kill Larry on the course. Enter Quicksilver, at the right place at the right time, just interested in cars that go vroom. But sometimes, there's murder in the roar of a motor (Larry's turn of phrase, not mine). His first instinct when one car tries to diver another off the track? Take the wheel!
So Max has always had a MENTOR mentality. Teach a man to drive... But while he's at it, a third car blows a tire and really does get into an accident. No worries, Quicksilver is here!
He saves the pilot from getting "smashed into jellybeans", but can't save the English language or that panel's perspective. Then again, I don't mind wonky visuals in a superspeed story, because distortion is bound to happen when real physics are applied. On the track, two assassin cars try to pincer Larry, but Max has taken a second to get a soda. Well, so much for that.
Speaking of distortion, I like the primitive speed lines (streaking tail lights? Speed Force??!) in that second panel. Quicksilver jumps on the back of their cars, allowing Larry to get ahead, and one of the assassins veers off and crashes! But not the main assassin, who is FINALLY disqualified and heads off the track to try and run over Quicksilver! But his "racer is no match for his mercurial speed" (Waid didn't need a phrase like this to inspire Max's new name - Quicksilver is the element's nickname, after all - but it's nice to see it in here) and gets wrecked. Machine guns aren't very useful  against a super-speedster either.
Quicksilver makes short work of the assassin and runs back to the racetrack where Larry is being handed a trophy and the gangsters are trying to make themselves scarce. "Not so fast," says Max, and he means it as a put-down, I think.
My favorite is the guy in the lower left-hand corner - getting a panel border in the throat can't feel too good. And that's it, really. The crowd cheers our hero, but he quickly zips away, as if on an air current. And though they call him the Laughing Robin Hood, he neither laughs, takes anything from the rich, nor gives anything to the poor.

I've seen very few Quicksilver stories, but those I have seen look like a lot of punching in this vein. As Max Mercury, he may be one of the most improved comics characters ever.

Who else? Let's stay in the Golden Age, to another published outside DC.


American Hawkman said...

I actually think Quicksilver was a pretty strong 40s strip. He's a LOT more acrobatic and fluid than Jay or Johnny Quick, and it makes for pretty interesting artwork, despite some fairly thin stories.

Anonymous said...

Gotta love the little touches, like Quicksilver got a soda with two straws (was he hitting on a woman?), and the last panel where he's wearing one of the gangsters' hats. He's not laughing exactly, but he is having fun with saving the day.


Blog Archive


5 Things to Like Activities Advice Alien Nation Aliens Say the Darndest Things Alpha Flight Amalgam Ambush Bug Animal Man anime Aquaman Archetypes Archie Heroes Arrowed Asterix Atom Avengers Awards Babylon 5 Batman Battle Shovel Battlestar Galactica Black Canary BnB 2-in1 Books Booster Gold Buffy Canada Captain America Captain Marvel Cat CCGs Charlton Circles of Hell Class Comics Comics Code Approved Conan Contest Cooking Crisis Daredevil Dating Kara Zor-El Dating Lois Lane Dating Lucy Lane Dating Princess Diana DCAU Deadman Dial H Dice Dinosaur Island Dinosaurs Director Profiles Doctor Who Doom Patrol Down the Rabbit Hole Dr. Strange Encyclopedia Fantastic Four Fashion Nightmares Fiasco Films Within Films Flash Flushpoint Foldees French Friday Night Fights Fun with Covers FW Team-Up Galleries Game design Gaming Geekly roundup Geeks Anonymous Geekwear Gimme That Star Trek Godzilla Golden Age Grant Morrison Great Match-Ups of Science Fiction Green Arrow Green Lantern Hawkman Hero Points Podcast Holidays House of Mystery Hulk Human Target Improv Inspiration Intersect Invasion Podcast Iron Man Jack Kirby Jimmy Olsen JLA JSA Judge Dredd K9 the Series Kirby Motivationals Krypto Kung Fu Learning to Fly Legion Letters pages Liveblog Lonely Hearts Podcast Lord of the Rings Machine Man Motivationals Man-Thing Marquee Masters of the Universe Memes Memorable Moments Metal Men Metamorpho Micronauts Millennium Mini-Comics Monday Morning Macking Movies Mr. Terrific Music Nelvana of the Northern Lights Nightmare Fuel Number Ones Obituaries oHOTmu OR NOT? Old52 One Panel Outsiders Panels from Sheena Paper Dolls Play Podcast Polls Questionable Fridays Radio Rants Reaganocomics Recollected Red Bee Red Tornado Reign Retro-Comics Reviews Rom RPGs Sandman Sapphire & Steel Sarah Jane Adventures Saturday Morning Cartoons SBG for Girls Seasons of DWAITAS Secret Origins Podcast Secret Wars SF Shut Up Star Boy Silver Age Siskoid as Editor Siskoid's Mailbox Space 1999 Spectre Spider-Man Spring Cleaning ST non-fiction ST novels: DS9 ST novels: S.C.E. ST novels: The Shat ST novels: TNG ST novels: TOS Star Trek Streaky Suicide Squad Supergirl Superman Supershill Swamp Thing Tales from Earth-Prime Team Horrible Teen Titans That Franchise I Never Talk About The Orville The Prisoner The Thing Then and Now Theory Thor Thursdays of Two Worlds Time Capsule Timeslip Tintin Torchwood Tourist Traps of the Forgotten Realms Toys Turnarounds TV V Waking Life Warehouse 13 Websites What If? Who's This? Whoniverse-B Wikileaked Wonder Woman X-Files X-Men Zero Hour Strikes Zine