Steel (comics)

From Academic Kids

Steel is a name used by several fictional characters owned and published by DC Comics in their universe. There have been four characters, all superheroes, to use the name.

Commander Steel

Steel I (Henry "Hank" Heywood), better known as Commander Steel, first appeared in Steel #1, published in March, 1978, though his active superhero career was set during World War II. He apparently died battling the supervillain Eclipso in issue #13.

Steel II (Henry "Hank" Heywood III) is the grandson of Commander Steel. He was a member of the "Justice League Detroit" team, and was killed in action against one of the team's classic foes, Professor Ivo.

Missing image

The Man of Steel

Steel III, or The Man of Steel was created by Louise Simonson and artist Jon Bogdanove in Superman: Man of Steel #19 in 1991. Aspects of the character are clearly inspired by the African-American folk hero John Henry, as well as Superman.

Steel is weapons engineer John Henry Irons, whose life was saved by Superman after he fell off a building while working in construction. He was buried in rubble during Superman's fatal battle against Doomsday, and later created and donned a suit of powered armor in Superman's memory in order to stop a gang war that was escalating due to the distribution of powerful weapons he had designed.

During the "Reign of the Supermen", he was often called the Man of Steel to identify him in contrast to the other Supermen, which was shortened to Steel by Superman himself. (His family, who saw right through his disguise, referred to him as "the black Superman"). He had a solo series (written by co-creator Louise Simonson and later by Christopher Priest), and also has been a supporting character in Superman comics. He has also been a member of the Justice League. Steel runs a technological facility called Amertek Industries.

Steel modified his suit many times through his career. The initial "Man of Steel" design was armed with a wrist-mounted rivet gun, and the sledgehammer (such as used by his namesake John Henry) that was ubiquitous for most of his designs. The original design featured a metal version of Superman's "S" insignia in tribute to the (temporarily) deceased hero, which he removed after the return of the "real" Man of Steel. A later design incorporated a similar, but different "S" symbol (this time for "Steel").

John Henry Irons has also appeared in Superman: The Animated Series (voiced by Michael Dorn), and subsequently in Justice League Unlimited. In the animated series, Irons worked to create a suit of powered armor for the Metropolis SCU, but the suit had adverse psycological effects on its user. Encouraged by Superman, Irons worked to perfect the suit with the help of his niece Natasha, becoming the superhero Steel just in time to help Superman in a battle against Metallo. Steel is also missing the trademarked cape he adpated from Superman after Superman saved his life in Superman Man of Steel #19.

In 1997 a motion picture was produced based on this version of the character called Steel, starring Shaquille O'Neal in the title role.

Steel IV is Natasha Irons, John Henry's niece and apprentice. Following the events of the Our Worlds At War storyline, internal injuries meant John Henry was no longer able to utilise his armour. He redesigned the armour so that Natasha could use it.

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