Sunday, February 25, 2007

John Henry Irons/Steel

Steel aka John Henry Irons was created by Louise Simonson and Jon Bogdanove in 1993 in Adventures of Superman #500. He was one of the heroes who rose up during the death of Superman and it was thought he was in reality possessed by Superman’s spirit. He was a brilliant engineer and inventor whose power came from a suit of armor that he created. In that way he became like DC Comics version of Iron Man.
John Henry was an engineer who invented an energy cannon and was upset when he found out it fell into evil hands and had killed innocent people. He decided to fake his own death and moved to Metropolis to live a more simple life. While living there he got a job as a steel worker on a construction site. One day he fell while trying to save a friend from falling. Superman was flying by and saved John Henry from falling to his death. When Superman died battling Doomsday John Henry was buried for days in the rubble. When he finally was able to crawl out he heard of Superman’s death and how a new version of his energy cannon was being used by street gangs. In honor of Superman he created his Steel armor to stop the use of the weapon. Steel had his own series that ran for 31 issues. He was a member of the JLA. His niece, Natasha Irons, took over the Steel name when John Henry retired. Eventually he came out of retirement. While he started his superhero career with no superpowers unless he was wearing the armor that changed for awhile. During an adventure he Lex Luthor messes with John Henry’s DNA. His whole body changes to stainless steel and gives him superhuman strength. He has since been helping during the mini-series 52. During that time his steel skin peeled off leaving only his human skin and leaving him powerless.
Steel was popular enough in the 1990’s to get a movie made on him. The star of the film was basketball player Shaquille O’Neal. Superman was left out of the origin story but the film stayed close to the comic book otherwise. However, the movie didn’t make its money back and was considered a flop. The presence of Steel has since been seen on TV where his animated version has been seen on Superman: The Animated Series and Justice League Unlimited.

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