With the upcoming Black Adam movie set to introduce DC’s original superhero team, the Justice Society of America, to mainstream audiences, we’ll soon see classic Golden Age characters like Hawkman and Doctor Fate brought to the big screen for the first time. Both were founding members of the JSA when it first debuted back in 1941, but the Justice Society has continued to operate and evolve in the decades since. Today, let’s look at one of the newer and younger members of the crimefighting collective. Manifesting powers derived from an evil experiment, and yet operating as one of the JSA’s cheeriest heroes, this is everything you need to know about Cyclone.
Cyclone’s real name is Maxine Hunkel, and although she wasn’t born with her abilities to manipulate and control heavy winds, she was nevertheless granddaughtered into the role of a hero by familial legacy. “Ma” Hunkel, a.k.a. the original Red Tornado, is Maxine’s grandmother. Back in the 1940s, Hunkel was one of the very first female superheroes and even an honorary member of the first incarnation of the Justice Society. However, Maxine’s relation to her grandmother isn’t where her powers derive. Kidnapped when she was six years old and experimented on with nanites by the evil scientist T.O. Morrow (the creator of the second Red Tornado), Maxine would grow to manifest superhuman abilities that enabled her to summon powerful winds by the time she was a freshman at Harvard University.
Learning to use these powers was a process for the young hero, and it wasn’t without its perils and mishaps. One day, she inadvertently destroyed her grandmother’s garage with a sneeze. The next morning, she awoke to find herself hovering at the top of a tornado.
Still, Maxine took to these powers relatively well. Highly intelligent with a perky and excited personality, Maxine would eagerly attend classes at Harvard and tried to make friends with her classmates and teachers. Unfortunately, not everyone took to her bubbly zest for life, and so she often found herself alone. It’s at this time when, at age 19, Maxine was approached by Mr. Terrific and Power Girl to join the latest incarnation of the Justice Society, with some of her grandmother’s acquaintances still remaining on the team as founding members.
Maxine was thrilled to find Grandma Hunkel at the JSA headquarters working as a caretaker and was especially excited when she learned she would be meeting Stargirl, of whom she was a big fan. But her first day as a JSA member would turn out to be far more traumatic than she anticipated. Right as she was about to meet the rest of the team, the body of JSA member Mr. America crashed through the ceiling skylight.
Immediately traumatized, Maxine exclaimed that she had no business risking her life fighting evildoers with superpowers. Stargirl, her hero, took her aside and assured her that catching the bad guys made all the darker moments of a superhero’s life worthwhile. She also helped her in creating her costume. The pair even collaborated on potential codenames to honor the legacy that existed within Maxine’s family, and—as a nod to her aunt and uncle who served as the Cyclone Kids—settled on the moniker Cyclone to begin Maxine’s own crimefighting career.
Cyclone’s time with the JSA would prove to be more exciting and dangerous than she initially believed possible. Alongside the team, she battled Gog, the godlike superbeing from the alternate Earth where the events of the classic Elseworlds comic Kingdom Come took place. She would gain a pet monkey named Frankie, which was the perfect companion for a self-proclaimed Wizard of Oz fanatic (the witch motif in her costume is also an homage). Over her time with the Justice Society, Maxine would come to harbor numerous crushes on teammates, from the hardnosed and anti-social Damage to the magical character King Chimera. Super-villains battled during her time as a included the Fourth-Reich, Vandal Savage and the Strike Force, led by the nephew of the original Star-Spangled Kid.
In Black Adam, Maxine will be played by Quintessa Swindell, and will fight alongside Atom Smasher, Hawkman and Doctor Fate. Seemingly the youngest member of the team, how will her largely untested abilities and quirky personality mesh with the all-powerful and short-tempered Black Adam? You’ll have to catch the movie when it opens this weekend to find out!
Black Adam, starring Dwayne Johnson and featuring Quintessa Swindell as Cyclone, hits theaters Friday, October 21. For all the latest news, features and trailers from the film, visit our official Black Adam hub.
Donovan Morgan Grant writes about comics, graphic novels and superhero history for DC.com. Follow him on Twitter at @donoDMG1.