Supergirl: Who is Maxwell Lord?

Peter Facinelli Max Lord

It only took a few minutes for tonight's episode of Supergirl to introduce Maxwell Lord.

To all appearances, he's a philanthropist -- albeit one who isn't crazy about aliens, even the ones that call themselves superheroes.

Expressing the opinion that Superman has turned Metropolis into a war zone beset by villain after villain since his first appearance in town, Lord has serious reservations about Supergirl.

Comic book fans recognize the name of Maxwell Lord, though -- and we're all wondering, which version will we meet?

First introduced in Justice League #1 in 1987, Maxwell Lord was created by Keith Giffen, J.M. DeMatteis and Kevin Maguire. After the Justice League disbanded, it was Lord who reassembled a group of heroes under that banner -- this time with U.N. sanction. His version of the Justice League had a frequently-changing lineup, although the core of it -- Martian Manhunter, Blue Beetle, Booster Gold, Fire and Ice -- remained not only throughout Giffen and DeMatteis's run but after they left as well.

Lord was at first depicted as a crass, greedy opporutnist -- but one who had genuinely good intentions. When he was briefly taken over by a villainous alter ego, Martian Manhunter scanned his mind and determined that he still deserved to remain with the League.

Not so much a Lord supporter? Superman, who wrested control of the League from Lord following the events of the "Breakdowns" storyline which broke up the Justice League teams in place at the time and the "Panic in the Sky" storyline, in which Superman stepped up to lead the superhero community. Superman and Lord butted heads immediately, with Superman thinking that Lord exerted too much control over the League, and suspecting Lord's motives.

Following Superman's death at the hands of Doomsday, Lord remained on with the League for a while, but fell away. It was later revealed that his mother had died during the destruction of Coast City at the hands of Hank Henshaw, then posing as the a revived Superman.

Lord's next major appearance was in Countdown to Infinite Crisis, when it was revealed that he had been playing the superhero community for years. As Checkmate's Black King, he had been secretly manipulating the Justice League to be less effective because he despised superheroes and wanted to make the public at large less reliant on them.

When he was discovered, he murdered Ted Kord -- the second Blue Beetle -- and hid the evidence. When the superhero community as a whole eventually got wise to him, he used mind control powers that had been revealed during his time with the League to take over Superman's body and attempt to prove that superheroes were dangerous by making the Man of Steel into a murderous puppet. In order to stop him, Wonder Woman killed Lord, snapping his neck on live television, and leading to a distrust of superheroes in general and Wonder Woman in specific.

After the events of the Blackest Night crossover, Lord returned from the dead -- and menaced his former Justice League members, erasing any memory of Maxwell Lord from the rest of the world's memory and sending them on essentially a wild goose chase to find and stop him.

"I don't think he's evil," actor Peter Facinelli, who plays Lord on Supergirl, told at New York Comic Con last month. "It's just that there's very clear good and bad and what Maxwell brings is a kind of a gray area. Don't always be too sure what is good or bad. I think his perspective is that humanity should save themselves and that these outside sources -- aliens, aka superheroes and -villains -- are just interfering with the problems that we need to face, and the problems that we're facing as humanity are way bigger than two superheroes battling it out."

In the New 52, Lord hasn't been seen much. He appeared during Giffen and DC co-publisher Dan DiDio's short-lived O.M.A.C. series, again as the head of Checkmate but this time not evil. In both the pre- and post-Flashpoint DC Universes, Lord's Checkmate had ties to Brother Eye and the O.M.A.C. Project.


The character -- again in his capacity as Black King of Checkmate -- appeared on Smallville.