Max is a genetically-enhanced human prototype hunted by her former military handlers through the edgy, underground street life version of 21st century America. Max is aided in her quest - both to avoid capture and reunite with her "siblings" scattered in the aftermath of their escape - by Logan Cale
Max was genetically engineered, and carried to term by a human woman, some time around the turn of the 21st century. She was created for a secret government supersoldier program called "Manticore", then located in Gillette, Wyoming. As with almost all Manticore's soldiers, Max has a barcode on the back of her neck, with her identifying number sequence (332960073452). She is an X5 model and is thus referred to as X5-452.
Max Guevara is the name that she gave to herself. Max and her X5 "brothers and sisters" were raised and trained by Colonel Donald Michael Lydecker who also had a role in the components of their creation. He trained them to be soldiers using harsh and brutal techniques, described by Max later as torture. During their training, Max was the subject of at least one brutal medical experiment involving the re-healing of deliberately shattered limbs. Max also was required to take part in an exercise involving the hunting down and killing of a prisoner, her reaction to which haunts her later.
The brutality of the X5s' lives eventually led to escape. In February 2009, led by Zack (X5-599) and pursued by Manticore, twelve of the X5s escaped through a snow-filled forest. Max fell into a frozen pond, and having learned how to hold her breath underwater for long periods of time, managed to outwit the men looking for her. She was eventually found by Hannah, a sympathetic Manticore nurse who took Max to her house, a move which eventually allowed Max to escape to the world outside. Max eventually made her way to Casper, Wyoming, where she met Lucy Barrett, a little girl who helped Max stow away in her mother‘s SUV. Later, after arriving in Los Angeles, California, Lucy’s mother, Joann, agreed to let Max live with them. Max and Lucy endured much abuse from Lucy’s alcoholic father, Jack.On June 1, 2009, terrorists detonated an electromagnetic pulse weapon in the atmosphere over the U.S. which destroyed the vast majority of computer and communication systems. As a result, the United States fell into chaos and violence. Over time this chaos was replaced with a combination of martial law, corruption, and crime. On the same day, after defending herself from Jack, she ran away from the Barrett’s home. She eventually joined up with Moody and the Chinese Clan, a group of thieves taking refuge in the remains of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre.
In 2019, Max left Los Angeles to search for one of her Manticore siblings in Seattle, Washington. While stopping in Eureka, California, Max met “Original Cindy” McEachin and the two of them traveled to Seattle together. By the year 2019, Max is living in Seattle, Washington. She works as a bicycle messenger for Jam Pony, giving her freedom to travel around the city, and resides as a squatter in an abandoned building, first with Kendra and later with Original Cindy. Other friends from work include Herbal Thought and Sketchy.
Max also lives a secret life as a cat burglar, in order to fund the expensive search for her missing brothers and sisters.It is during one of these attempts that she meets Logan Cale, the cyber-journalist "Eyes Only". Cale allows her to escape from his apartment, however, since he is interested in learning more about her. Through the use of security footage he discovers who she is and invites Max to his apartment. It is there that he identifies her as one of the escaped X-5s. Max and Logan make a pact: he will help her find her missing siblings if she will help him solve mysteries. Logan also helps to protect Max from Lydecker, who is searching for her and the other escaped X-5s. Through their work together, Max and Logan eventually fall in love. Their feelings for each other, however, become complicated when Max finds Zach, who is concerned with her loyalty to Logan as it may compromise her safety.
Eventually, as more siblings are discovered, and after Manticore betrays the escaped X-5's and murders one of them, Tinga, a plan is developed to attack Manticore, destroying its genetic engineering facility, one which eventually involves Lydecker who defects after he is betrayed and targeted for execution by Manticore's director Dr. Elizabeth Renfro/Madame X. While the mission is successful, both Max and Zach are caught, with Max being critically injured (actually shot by a younger clone). Zach sacrifices himself to save Max. With Max last seen having apparently fatal injuries, and now a secret prisoner of Manticore, she is assumed to be dead by Logan. Max is at Manticore, relocated to an hour south of Seattle. After receiving medical treatment for her injuries, Max is re-integrated with her fellow X5s and then required to take part in a breeding program, intended to replace Manticore's destroyed genetics laboratory, and is paired with a clone of Ben, whom she promptly names, Alec, because he was a "smart alec".
Max also secretly befriends an early creation of Manticore, part-human, part-canine, named Joshua. He was the first (viable) Manticore creation, and is the only one without a barcode.Max subsequently escapes, with Joshua and Alec's help, only to find Alec's help was a Manticore ploy, and that a genetically specific retrovirus designed to kill Eyes Only has been encoded to her DNA. In revenge, she broadcasts the location of Manticore, and returns for the antigen and to free the transgenics, eventually leading to public knowledge of their existence. Lydecker disappears, leaving mysterious clues to Manticore's origins. Max's problems are further compounded when her kind is suddenly being hunted, and exterminated by Ames White. He is both a government agent, and a member of a breeding cult which spans back centuries into humanity's past. He particularly targets Max, who is revealed to have been created for a special purpose by White's father, Sandeman, the designer of all the Manticore transgenics.
At the same time, Max tries to help Joshua, the gentle transhuman whose physical appearance makes him a target on the outside, avoid the increasing risk of exposure as a transgenic, and not re-infect Logan with the deadly virus while hoping for a long-shot at a cure. Max and Alec, despite their differences and rocky start, often worked together to help save their fellow escapees. Eventually, all the transgenics (in Seattle), make a stand in a joint effort to fight against the vicious prejudice trying to destroy them, and for a place to call their own. Feline DNA Being genetically augmented with Feline DNA, Max is a real "Catwoman". While outwardly indistinguishable from any normal human, (except for the bar code on her neck), Max possesses several physical and mental enhancements as a result of genetic engineering. This genetic makeup is often connected with images from classical mythology, (first indicated by the name of her original home, Manticore, a creature in Greek mythology).
It is further demonstrated through a conversation in the pilot episode: MAX: "I know they made me. Even got the designer label on the back of my neck to prove it." LOGAN: "Technical term for you is Chimera." MAX: "Yeah, made-up creature, like in mythology. Head of a lion, body of a goat. Your basic hot-as-hell hodge-podge. Of her genetic make-up, she notes in Season One, Episode 2, "Heat": "Kendra was right. I am in heat, or something like that...all because they spiced up that genetic cocktail called me with a dash of feline DNA. So I can jump fifteen feet of razor wire and take out a 250-pound linebacker with my thumb and index finger, which makes me an awesome killing machine and a hoot at parties. But it also means that three times a year I'm climbing the walls, looking for some action". Max also displays her affinity for cats in the pilot episode of the series, when she meets Logan for the first time while attempting to steal a statue in his apartment.
When Logan asks why she was interested in the statue, Max replies, "because it's the Egyptian goddess Bast. The goddess who comprehends all goddesses, eye of Ra, protector, avenger, destroyer...giver of life who lives forever".
As a result of her genetic makeup and training, Max has the following special abilities:
-Enhanced strength, speed, agility, reflexes, durability, stamina and coordination
-Enhanced eyesight, hearing, and night vision
-Enhanced immune system
-Very high I.Q.
-Expert martial artist and sharpshooter.
-Specialist in Close quarters combat, infiltration and tracking
-Peak athletic condition Max also has a design flaw which can leave her virtually helpless: the inability of her brain to create enough serotonin. This condition leads to uncontrollable seizures and complete powerlessness.
Of her condition, Max states, "I’m supposed to be a revved-up girl ... truth is, I’m a lemon." Max's powers can be revived through external means: either through the food supplement, tryptophan, or by drinking a glass of milk. In season 2 this no longer became an issue as the government captured her and repaired the faulty genes (this was never expressly stated in the show but it was implied in season 1 that design flaws in the genetic codes of the transgens could be repaired and in the second season after being captured by manticore her serotonin levels were never an issue).
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