DC Comics continues to push Max Lord as their Big Bad of the moment, as the weekly Justice League vs. Suicide Squad shows the severity of the situation, while a tie-in issue of Justice League gives Lord his Rebirth origin.
Justice League vs. Suicide Squad 3
Written by Joshua Williamson
Pencils by Jesus Merino
Inks by Andy Owens
Thanks to a super-powered Killer Frost, who fed on Superman’s life force, Amanda Waller’s Suicide Squad captured the Justice League and The Wall managed to lock everyone up in Belle Reve prison. With most of the League in cells specific to countering their powers, we have Batman, chained to a gurney like Hannibal Lecter, breaking free (because Batman) and ending up in a conversation with Waller.
And thus, the “versus” part of this miniseries comes to an end.
Waller has the Justice League at the prison because she needs their help, because she knows Max Lord is on the hunt and that he has a team powerful enough to cause a lot of problems. She knows his team is powerful because she put them together as the first Suicide Squad, before they proved problematic and she had them imprisoned in a secret location. So, Waller wants the League to team up with the Suicide Squad to take down Lord’s crew.
As Waller tells the Justice League about the threat of Maxwell Lord, Superman – who I assume is the pre-Flashpoint Superman that’s in the rest of the comics – shows a flash of recognition and anger, hinting at the trouble Lord caused for Superman before Infinite Crisis. Other than Waller, he is and should be the only one who has any knowledge of Lord, but the book doesn’t address what Superman knows and how. It’s a minor complaint, sure, but it’s something I feel should be addressed at some point.
Justice League 12
Written by Tim Seeley
Art by Christian Duce
And in the companion piece, we take a break from Bryan Hitch writing the main Justice League title to get a Rebirth/New 52/whatever origin story for Max Lord, detailing his relationship with Checkmate and with Waller.
Max’s origin is a little more streamlined now, cutting out the JLI and focusing primarily on his rise through Checkmate – the worldwide spy organization where Lord was the Black King – and his apparent dysfunctional relationship with his mother. Her push for a lack of empathy seemed to drive Max to a life of ill-repute. And Amanda Waller’s bad attitude seems to have finalized the monster and driven him to want nothing more than to destroy her.
And she was always such a great people person, too. It’s a shame those two crazy kids couldn’t work something out…
There are a lot of ways that Lord’s return to the DC Universe here could prove interesting, but now that Lex Luthor seems to be on the straight and narrow, Max Lord should be positioned as the greatest human threat the Justice League has to deal with. Or even a great threat for Superman or Wonder Woman in their own books. Hopefully, Waller puts Lord into one of ARGUS’ secret holding cells instead of having someone snap his neck again.
The DC Universe needs more high-level villains like him.