“The Man Behind the Curtain”
Writer: Judd Winick
Penciller: Joe Bennett
Inker: Jack Jadson & Ruy José
Editor: Rex Ogle & Brian Cunningham
Maxwell Lord IV overcame the suicide of his father to become a powerful businessman, but the death haunts him. His mother encourages him to use his power and resources to do more than just make money and play by a different set of rules. He manipulates events to form the Justice League International, but even developing metahuman abilities of his own can’t save his mother from the destruction of Coast City. Max resolves to work behind the scenes and work towards his own mysterious agenda…
Max Lord just shot Blue Beetle, and the J.L.I. fights their way to get their hands on him. He jettisons the group from the Checkmate headquarters and disappears. Rocket Red and Skeets attempt to save Blue Beetle, but they soon give up, admitting to their teammates that the teen hero is dead…
Page 1: “Arthur Lord was a good guy.” I imagine that he was. However, given that Max’s full name is Maxwell Lord IV, I always assumed that his father was Maxwell Lord III, so I have no idea who this good-guy Arthur Lord is in the first place. Perhaps Arthur was his nickname?
This scene is the earliest chronological appearance of Maxwell Lord IV.
Page 2: So Arthur Lord blew out the right side of his head…with a gun in his left hand? Wouldn’t that be a really, really, really difficult and awkward shot? I’m no suicide expert by any means, but would it not have just been easier for Arthur to shoot himself in the left side of the head?
Page 3: That’s Rebecca Lord, Max’s mother. She first appeared in Booster Gold (second series) #38. In that issue, which takes place in September of 1943, it is established that Rebecca is set to marry Maxwell Lord III “in another few months.”
By that estimation, Max would be about sixty years old. During his tenure with the J.L.I., he would have been somewhere in his fifties. While he doesn’t look that old nowadays, the Entity of the White Light did resurrect the twelve so that they are in their prime, so perhaps Max is now, biologically, in his forties?
Who is the young woman in the room with Max and his mother? Does he have a heretofore as yet unmentioned sister? Is that – dum dum dum – Maxima Lord?
Page 4: Maxwell Lord IV, Blue Beetle, Ice, Booster Gold, Skeets, Rocket Red, Captain Atom and Fire last appeared in Justice League: Generation Lost #19.
“Max Lord kidnapped Blue Beetle.” This took place in Justice League: Generation Lost #16.
“Beetle tried to escape.” In Justice League: Generation Lost #19.
“Meu dues” is Portuguese for “My God.”
Page 6: “It began with the creation of his own corporate empire.” As revealed in Justice League #1, Max was the head on Innovative Concepts. What Innovative Concepts actually did was, to my knowledge, never revealed.
Page 7: This flashback takes place sometime after Lord has made his mark on the business world. It occurs after Lord’s appearance in JLA: Year One #7, and before Justice League #1.
“Lexcorp Acquires Chemtech.” Ah, remember back in the late 1980s? When Lex Luthor was a business mogul who just bought and crushed other corporations with the wave of a hand? And no one, not even Superman, could do anything about it? Every so often, I miss that Luthor…
Page 8: “Luthor…Luthor doesn’t play by the rules.” No. No he does not.
For one of the single greatest “Luthor doesn’t play by the rules” stories of all time, check out Superman (second series) #9. It has a short story in it called “Metropolis 9000 Mi.” It’s brilliant, and shows just how twisted and evil Luthor can be without lifting a hand to anyone.
Page 9: “More than Bruce Wayne!” Wayne, of course, is the Batman. And he’s pretty philanthropic, if you ask me.
“More than Oliver Queen before he -- ” Ollie, better known as the Green Arrow, was also quite generous wit his money. He funded the Justice League of America early in its history, until he lost his fortune. These events were touched upon in Legends of the DC Universe #7-9 and 12-13.
Max actually makes a blink-and-you’ll-miss-him appearance in Legends of the DC Universe #12, at a party thrown by Queen. Given that Ollie still had some money at this point, that issue would take place before this scene.
“Just like Thaddeus Sivana and his conglomerate that uses science to arm wars.” Sivana is, of course, the scientific genius that opposes Captain Marvel and the Marvel Family.
Page 10: “He paid terrorists to take over the United Nations.” In Justice League #1.
“He hired the Royal Flush Gang to attack the League’s headquarters.” In Justice League #4.
“He formed his own Justice League International.” In Justice League International #7.
Seen here is the line-up introduced in Justice League International #7 – Batman, Captain Atom, Booster Gold, Black Canary II, Blue Beetle II, Mister Miracle, Guy Gardner and the Martian Manhunter.
Page 11: “It’s part of the fallout from that alien Invasion.” As seen in Invasion! #1-3.
“I’ve been affected…I can make people do things just by willing them to do it.” Max first manifested his power in the first story in Justice League International #24. This scene takes place after that issue.
Page 12: “Coast City is dead.” Mongul and the Cyborg-Superman destroyed Coast City in Superman (second series) #80. This scene occurs shortly thereafter.
Booster Gold is wearing his original costume in this scene, which is pretty much impossible. It was destroyed in battle with Doomsday in Justice League America #69, thereby rendering Booster costume and power-less until Justice League America #80, when he began wearing a clunky suit of armor that Ted Kord designed. That issue was cover dated September, 1993, a month after the aforementioned Superman #80 appeared, meaning that Booster would be on permanent monitor duty if he was doing anything at all.
I know, I know, I’m being nitpicky again. I can’t help myself sometimes…
Page 13: “That battle is still ongoing, we’ve got more people on the ground putting up the fight.” If “The Return of Superman” were published today, there would be dozens of crossovers showing how Earth’s heroes converged on Coast City to battle Mongul and the Cyborg-Superman. As it was, the story was contained to the four Superman titles of the day, as well as a one-issue tie-in to Green Lantern. We can infer that some heroes helped in the effort, but this was never depicted in a story.
For the record, the story of Coast City’s destruction and Superman’s resurrection and battle with Mongul and the Cyborg-Superman appeared in Superman (second series) #80-82, The Adventures of Superman #503-504, Action Comics #690-691, Superman: The Man of Steel #25-26 and Green Lantern (third series) #46.
“Hell, when Doomsday ripped a scar across the country until Supes punched his ticket…” Doomsday’s rampage across the United States, which ended in Metropolis, was seen in Superman: The Man of Steel #18-19, Superman (second series) #74-75, Justice League America #69, The Adventures of Superman #497 and Action Comics #684.
Page 14: “But when Joker shot Barbara Gordon through the spine last year?” As seen in Batman: The Killing Joke.
“Or when John Stewart’s arrogance caused billions to die when Xanshi blew up?” This little mishap occurred in Cosmic Odyssey #2.
“You can forget that we ever had this conversation.” Makes you wonder how many times over the years that Max used his power in this manner to make his “friends” forget little details here and there.
Page 15: “He had seized the OMAC Project.” At an as-yet unrevealed point in time before Countdown to Infinite Crisis #1.
“Murdered Ted Kord to keep it a secret.” In Countdown to Infinite Crisis #1.
“Launched an attack against the world.” The OMACs began attacking metahumans in The OMAC Project #2.
“But he made a mistake when he went up against Wonder Woman. And he died.” Wonder Woman snapped Max’s neck in Wonder Woman (second series) #219.
“Only to come back as a Black Lantern monster.” Maxwell Lord returned as a Black Lantern in Blackest Night #3.
“Then – returned whole.” The Entity of the White Light resurrected Max in Blackest Night #8.
Page 17: “They will all forget.” Max mind wiped everyone on Earth in Brightest Day #0 and Justice League: Generation Lost #1.
Page 18: Anyone else think that’s a pretty goofy-looking headquarters for Checkmate? Or is it just me? (Probably just me. I mean, everyone likes a giant, flying, horse-shaped HQ…)
Page 19: “Shut up, woman! I doing what I can do!” Man, I just love Gavril sometimes…
Page 20: “He is dead.” Whoa. Bummer.