This page is for the current Steel, John Henry Irons
John Henry Irons is a hero forged from his own making. When Superman saved Irons from a fatal fall off a Metropolis skyscraper, he challenged the construction worker to make his life count for something. A former weapons engineer for the ruthless AmerTek Company, Irons longed to atone for the deaths his designs had caused. For that purpose, he built a suit of exoskeleton armor for himself and assumed the primary alias of Steel.
Steel was created Louise Simonson and Jon Bogdanove as one of the four contenders for the Superman title during the Reign of the Supermen storyline. (The third chapter of the death of Superman saga in the 90s). Inspired not only in the Superman mythos but with elements of american folkclore (the John Henry legend), Steel became a permanent presence in the Superman titles since his debut.
Modern Age: New Earth
As Steel, he crusaded to dismantle AmerTek's weapons programs, including the destruction of every last production model of the BG-60 " Toastmaster", the deadly assault rifle he had designed. Steel is a proud partnr of Superman. Irons even helped Superman rebuild his Fortress of Solitude and gave it a computer linkage to Irons' headquarters, called "The Steelworks", an abandoned arms factory in Suicide Slums. After the Death of Superman by Doomsday, Steel took his place, soaring over Metropolis in high-tech armor and smashing crime with a sledgehammer.
In Superman's absence, or if the Man of Steel needs assistance, Steel often coordinates and leads "Team Superman", a cadre of S-shield-wearing heroes including himself, Supergirl, and Superboy. Steel provided this Super-Squad with stealthy combat-garb meant to protect them from the necrotic touch of Kancer as they aided Superman in battle with General Zod and the armies of Pokolistan.
John Henry Irons has debuted his new armor which is a cybernetic looking suit rather than the classic metallic look. The armor does not have a head piece, but a cybernetic lens to look through. More recently and as consecuence of his fight against a toxic Doomsday, Steel added a film of liquid steel to protect his body from further damage.
Steel has upgraded his armor once more, this time he created a organic armor which covers his entire body. Steel can extend this armor to coat others with a simple touch. The individual can then move independent of Steel, however, Steel retains complete control over the effects of the armor. The armor also allows him and whomever he encases to survive in the vacuum of outer space.
DC Rebirth: Earth-0
As of DC Rebirth, Steel has donned an armor similar to his New Earth Armor, using it to fight crime in Metropolis alongside his niece Natasha Irons and his girlfriend Lana Lang.
Major Story Arcs
Modern Age: New Earth:
Reign of the Supermen
After the death of Superman, Metropolis was without a protector watching over it. After several weeks without a Superman, new heroes appeared and declared themselves to be Superman. One was Eradicator, dubbed "the Last Son of Krypton," who looked the most like Superman but was merciless in his approach to crimefighting. Also, Superboy tried to take up the mantle by getting the media on his side, but his youth and arrogance prevented him from being a true successor. Also, Cyborg Superman claimed to be the real deal, and got the federal government to back his claims. After realizing the the weapons he used to design for a living were being manufactured and sold to street gangs and inspired by the example Superman set, John created a suit of armor to help him fight crime and stop the sale of his weapons.
Due to all of the new Supermen running around, the media focused on all of them, with the press giving John the title the "Man of Steel." Also, a local psychic told the media that he was the real Superman reincarnated in a robotic body. During his adventures, the Man of Steel ran into Superboy, and explained to him how a Superman should act. He also encountered Lex Luthor, who tried to get hire him. However, he turned Lex's offer down. He later ran into Lois Lane, who wanted to know if he really was Superman. He set her straight by telling him that he never claimed to be Superman. Though she realized he was not actually Superman, Lois believed he was most like the original.
Eventually, Steel found the location of the one distributing his weapons. When he went to confront them, he discovered that his ex-girlfriend and development partner, Angora Lapin a.k.a. White Rabbit was the distributor. Having pieced together the Man of Steel's identity, she offered him a chance to join her in her pursuits, but he promptly turned her down. To escape, she shot him with a Toastmaster and fled as he recovered. While trying to track White rabbit down, he had a run-in with the Eradicator. After watching him kill a criminal he had apprehended, John told Eradicator that he could not be the real Superman. Upset at the notion, Eradicator attacked John until Lois arrived and stopped the two. However, Eradicator got upset again and flew Steel into orbit. The two landed in California and fight to a standstill. When Steel tells Eradicator that a Superman needs to have compassion, he calms down and leaves.
Unable to fly back to Metropolis, Steel hitches a ride on an airplane. When they land, White Rabbit and her men ambush him at the airport. He manages to fight them off, grab Angora, and force her to take him to the plant where she is producing the Toastmasters. However, the plant was rigged with traps that John manages to escape. He manages to get clear of the plant as it explodes, but Angora is still inside and is presumed dead. Despite the death of the supplier, John knows that there will still be Toastmasters may resurface on day.
The Return of Superman
After Coast City is destroyed, he investigates the destruction personally and runs into Cyborg Superman. He tells John that Eradicator was responsible, but Steel does not fully trust his account. After running into Lois Lane, also suspicious of the story, the notice a disturbance near the harbor, meeting Luthor and Supergirl on the scene. As Steel attacks the suit, Superboy arrives to to warn everyone that Cyborg Superman was truly responsible for the events in Coast City, and that he's coming for Metropolis next. At that moment, the real Superman comes from inside of the warsuit. Despite being powerless, he vows to stop Cyborg Superman's plans.
No one present, including John, believes he is the real Superman, but he nonetheless goes to the ruins of Coast City with Superman and Superboy. Once there, the group sees Engine City where Coast City used to be and manage to force their way inside, but Superboy leaves to stop a missile fired at Metropolis. Once inside, Supergirl appears, having been secretly tailing them at Superman's suggestion. While talking, Superman abbreviates his title from Mon of Steel to simply Steel. The three encounter Mongul, who had just activated the jets inside the city in a bid to knock the Earth out of orbit. While Superman and Supergirl fend off Mongul, Steel heads off to shut down the reactors powering the jets. Once there, Cyborg Superman uses his connection to the machinery to control and morph the room to stop him. Eventually, he takes over his armor, but before he can kill him, John flies the armor into the gear system, jamming it with his armor and disabling the jets.
Though John survives with minimal injuries, his armor is destroyed, leaving him defenseless when Cyborg Superman uses the landscape to try to kill him again. This time, Superboy arrives just in time to save him.After Superman regains his powers and defeats his Cyborg counterpart, everyone returns to Metropolis. With no armor, he continues trying to get toastmasters off the street with little success. After a talk with Superman, Steel decides to leave Metropolis and retire as Steel.
Steel: Returning Home
After his adventures in Metropolis, Steel decides to return to his hometown: Washington D.C. Having originally stayed away to avoid being pursued by his old bosses at Amertek, he decides to take the chance that they have lost interest in him and move back in with his family. Present to greet him at the bus station is his niece Natasha, who greets him by her childhood nickname "Uncle Hunk." While the two talk, a fight breaks out between the Central Avenue Sharks, who are using Toastmasters, and the East Streeters who rely on the strength enhancing drug Tar. Though John tries to intervene, he is distracted by the sight of his nephew Jehmal in the fray, giving a Tar-Freak an opening to knock him out. When he recovers, he and Natasha head home, where John is greeted by the rest of the family; his grandparents Butter and Bess, his sister-in-law Blondell, her second son Paco, and her foster kids Tyke and Darlene.
While the Irons family is having dinner Jehmal arrives home late. John, remembering what happened that afternoon, asks Bess how he has been, but while they talk, and group of armored thugs working for Amertek appear and attack the family. John manages to take them out, but Butter takes a stray shot. Feeling guilty about bringing danger to his family, John uses his old armor and parts he salvaged from the thugs' armor to improve the suit and become Steel once again. Knowing that his mission would require him to operate outside the law, John keeps the "S" shield off his new armor to avoid dishonoring Superman.
Steel begins balancing investigating Amertek with stopping the constant gang skirmishes plaguing the neighborhood. During on fight, Steel sees Jehmal fighting, confirming his suspicions that he was in a gang. In response, he forces him to tell the rest of the family about it and quit the gang (he actually did not quit). Steel then scares the location of the place where the Toastmasters are sold out of a member named Spiral. Steel interrupts the sale and manages to get a lead on the source of the weapons. However, Spiral, afraid of being considered as a snitch, tricks the gang leader Cowboy into thinking Jehmal sold them out to Steel. The group then captures Jehmal and turns him over to the supplier of the weapons, Amalgam. Before Jehmal is killed, Steel arrives, having tracked Spiral again. As he battles Amalgam, Steel tells Amalgam that Jehmal was innocent. Steel manages to pin Amalgam down, but he assumes Spiral was his informant and kills him. Once the police arrive, Steel leaves, but thanks to something Amalgam said, John gets the idea to use the media to fight Amertek.
Later, John confront his former boss, Col. Weston about dealing the Toastmasters, but he feigns innocence, and john trusts him enough to leave. After breaking into Amertek to find incriminating evidence, a fight involving armored guards lead to the building being destroyed, but he manages to escape with a CD-ROM with the evidence he needed to take down Amertek. Weston uses the incident to paint Steel as a criminal in the eyes of the public. To further add to his troubles, he begins orchestrating on John directly and members of his family. In a short period, John is attacked by a Tar-Freak at a funeral, Tyke loses the use of his legs after he and Jehmal are caught in a drive-by shooting, Natasha is hit by a car, and Blondell is mugged. Realizing he can't beat Amertek alone, he enlists Detective Shauna Beryl to use the a hard disk full of evidence he broke into Amertek for to take down Amertek. While she gets the information decrypted, John learns that Jehmal found out his gang was responsible for hurting his family. Seeking revenge, Jehmal steals a more powerful, potentially lethal version of Tar and uses it to confront Cowboy. Steel find them and pins Jehmal down until the S-Tar wears off.
After getting Jehmal to the hospital, he then goes to Amertek intent on taking down Weston. The armored guards aren't enough to stop Steel from getting to Weston. He considers killing him, but Detective Beryl arrives to arrest him, and talks Steel down. John forces Weston to tell him who has Amertek selling weapons to gangs. Weston tells about a group in Metropolis led by a man named Hazard, before John hads him over to the police. He then heads to Metropolis to track down Black Ops. When he arrives he find the city is still recovering from recent events. While searching for Amertek, he encounters Superboy, Rocket, and Hardware, the latter two having been transported from their universe into the DC Universe. Steel put his search for Black Ops on hold to help stop their two universes from merging together.
War with Black Ops
When John continues investigating Black Ops, Hazards begins sending his team to attack Steel and further his agenda in Washington. Along the way, he deals with a super-powered serial killer and helps Maxima avoid being captured by an alien warlord. At the same time, his armor begins mysteriously teleporting on and off his body seemingly at random. His fight with Black Ops is interrupted again by the return of White Rabbit, who survived her last encounter with Steel and now plans to brainwash several Congressmen to help her monopolize gun sales in the country. She sends one of her super-powered thugs to distract Steel and a visiting Superman while her plan came into fruition. However, Natasha was interning for a Congresswoman who was brainwashed, and tipped Steel off that something was wrong. While investigating, he met and befriended actor/British spy Double, and the two team up to stop Angora. While they shut down her plan and capture her crew, Angora herself escapes.
When he returns from fighting White rabbit, he finds out that Tyke has been kidnapped. He begins searching for him to no avail. At the same time, a hi-tech bounty hunter begins targeting Steel, and he finds out that someone is offering a money reward for his armor. He then gets a lead from Detective Beryl that leads him to a child-experimentation operation. When Steel goes to shut the operation, the bounty hunter from before arrives for another round. After John shows him that his employer is exploiting children, he decides to help Steel free them instead of continue fighting, and tells Steel that Hazard was the one who put up the bounty and that he knows where Hazard's base is.
The two head out to take down Black Ops. They storm the base and take down most of the team, but Hazard and Split escape. However, he finds Tyke inside, but it turns out Tyke went with Hazard willingly because he had promised Tyke the use of his legs again. Though he is returned home safely, he now harbors a deep hatred for his uncle.
A few days after Tyke is returned homel, Steel is helping contain a protest that evolved into a riot when a bomb goes off at a nearby mosque. While rescuing people trapped inside the building, he is attacked from behind. He turn around to find Metallo was the culprit. Remembering Metallo's weakness from his time in Metropolis, Steel manages to knock Metallo's head off. However, when Neron was supercharging the powers of supervillians around the world, he gave Metallo the power to survive having his head knocked off and control any nearby metal to create a new body, which he does. Steel tries again, knocking his head into the Potomac. With no metal nearby, Steel is satisfied and returns to helping people in the mosque. However, the junk at the bottom of the river and a nearby partol cruiser provide enoung metal to create a bigger and better body. He then tries to absorb Steel's armor,but he can't. The distraction gives Steel an opening to knock Metallo's head off again, and it conveniently lands at the feet of Lieutenant (formerly detective) Beryl. She then warns Steel about another bomb threat at a local hospital. Steel instructs her to take Metallo's head to S.T.A.R. Labs and races to find the bomb. After capturing the thugs who planted the bomb, they reveal that it is wired to blow if it is tampered with. With less than a minute on the timer, Steel flies as fast as he can to get the bomb to a less populated area. On the way, he is stopped by Metallo, who managed to reform himself before he could be taken to Star. Steel tries to keep moving, but Metallo equipped himself with rockets, allowing him to follow. With no time to move the bomb, John tosses the bomb at Metallo, but he absorbs it instead. However, while the bomb casing was metal, the explosive was actually plastique, which he couldn't absorb. The bomb then goes off, destroying Metallo entirely. Steel survives the blast, but he passes out in midair.
The Superman Rescue
Before Steel can fall, Alpha Centurion catches him. He tells Steel that Superman has been kidnapped and he is assembling a rescue team to find him before the world realizes he is missing. Steel agrees to help, but wants to get this done as soon as possible before Washington falls apart.
Steel joins Supergirl, Superboy and the Eradicator on the Centurion's ship and head out into space. Superboy tells the others he does not trust the Centurion. These fears are realized when the Centurion abandons the rest to battle an alien platoon on an asteroid. Out-manned and stranded, Steel manages create a makeshift transport. Arriving on a nearby planet, the team is confronted by the Cyborg Superman, who takes them all down. He turns them over as prisoner of the Tribunal he is allied with.
While in custody, Steel discovers the Alpha Centurion is also a prisoner. Steel manages to teleport his armor to him an escape along with Supergirl and Eradicator. While Steel and Supergirl, both in disguise, go to a local bar to try and find information, Eradicator stays behind to try and rescue Superboy. Unfortunately, Steel and Supergirl are discovered and a bar fight breaks out. It ends quickly when the Cyborg turns up and recaptures them. For escaping, they are both sentenced to death.
Fortunately, the group is taken the same place as Superman. Together they manage to escape and rally behind Superman. Thanks to the Cyborg turning on the Tribunal. Superman leads them to confront the Tribunal itself, which ultimately decides to drop the charges against them rather than keep fighting. The group then returns to Earth. On the way back, Superman thanks Steel for going so far for his sake, John believes that they did little to help, while he saved them and an entire planet. Superman disagrees, and asks him to hang out with him when they reach Metropolis home. Though grateful, John declines in order to get home in time for thanksgiving.
Ending Black Ops
When John returns from space, he parts ways with the squad and return to Washington. However, Tyke, still bitter over having been denied a chance to walk again, was searching for a way for it to be so. Thinking he had found an operation that could restore his legs in a local tabloid, Tyke sought a way to pay for such an operation. When he learned that federal agents were offering a reward for information on Steel's secret identity, Tyke tracked them down and told that Steel was John Henry Irons. However, they only gave him a measly $20 for the information, meaning he sold out his uncle for nothing. Also, the agents were working with Hazard, meaning his enemy now know who he is. In response, Hazard sics a cyborg named Hardwire (who, ironically, was transformed by the same process Tyke thought would cure his paralysis) on Steel. When he gets there, he guns down the Irons family as they sit down for dinner. No one is killed, but a seriously wounded John is captured..
Hardwire takes John to the agents, but before they can take him, Hardwire turns on them. He grabs them all and flies them to the Washington Monument and blows the top off. When John recovers, his armor appears around him and the two fight. During the fight, Hardwire attaches explosives on himself, Steel, and the two agents, planning to kill himself and them. As they fight, the two agentss are killed before the countdown even finishes. Unable to get Hardwire to disarm the devices, Steel teleports his armor off to save his life, so the bombs only kill Hardwire. When the police and the media arrive, John had no choice but to reveal his secret identity to the public.
After his declaration, John is blaimed by the police for the destruction of the Monument and is arrested. However, Hazard sends Split to bring John to Hazard's base. Angered at all Hazard has done, he rushes him, but is suspended in the air by his telekinesis. When he asks him why he broke him out of holding, he responds that he is using the "breakout" to distract everyone with a manhunt and masks his agenda. That said, he prepares to kill John. In a desperate gambit, John tries to summon his armor. He succeeds and fights off the Black Ops members. They reach a standstill when Steel takes Shellshock's twin sister Shellgame hostage. He manages to get her to reveal Hazard's plan; he is hacking into the Pentagon's computers to gain control of America's nuclear arsenal. Once he learns the truth, Hazard nearly kills him with his telekinesis, but Steel manages to teleport himself away along with his armor.
Steel reappears in the "White Zone" his armor goes to when it teleports. However, both he cannot remain there with his armor on, so he teleports back to Washington. However, he winds up in the air with a military chopper that immediately attacks him. As he recovers, Black Ops teleports in to renew their attack, and Steel retreats with the intent to expose Hazard's plan. Steel fends them off, but realizes he still needs to warn someone about Hazard's plan. He then teleports back to the White Zone to come up with a new plan. When he does, he teleports to his old laboratory to find something he hid there long ago, hoping never to use it but keeping it just in case. The object he finds is the Annihilator, the most powerful weapon he ever designed. Deciding to wait before using it, he begins his plan to stop Hazard.
First, he posts the details of Hazard's plan on the internet, knowing the government would have to investigate. Shortly after, part of the Black Ops team arrives to fight at the same time the FBI arrives to arrest Steel. While Black Ops defeats the agents, Steel flies off again, but they quickly catch up again. They quickly overpower him. The tides tun when Natasha, haven ingested a vial of Tar, helps him out. Together they fend Black Ops off, but the military arrives to stop them all. Black Ops teleports away, but the grab Natasha and offer her safety for his surrender. Unable to see a better option, Steel takes the Annihilator from it's hiding place and arms it, ready to take the fight to Hazard. After a quick test, he teleports to Black Ops base, ready to take them all down.
He gives the team one chance to free Natasha, but they refuse. He then begins fighting them, but avoids firing the Annihilator. The chaos gives Natasha time to free herself and the two fight Black Ops together. When the are cornered, Steel tries to teleport them both out, but he cannot teleport others with him. Backed into a corner again, Steel begins using the Annihilator to destroy Hazard's computers, stopping him from hacking into the Pentagon. Hazard tries to immobilize him, but Steel keeps firing into the base, so Hazard has Split teleport them back outside. The fight continues, but Hazard pulls his team back after Steel accidentally hit three of his people with the Annihilator. The two go at it, but when the military intervenes, Steel uses the opening to defeat Hazard. Once Hazard is detained, Steel learns of the consequences of his actions. While everyone is still alive Child Protective services reclaim Tyke and Darlene feeling that being around Steel is too dangerous. Later, John meets with the government, who claim that Hazard will be dealt with. However he was secretly allowed to go free and granted custody of Tyke. In order to keep the Annhilator out of the wrong hands, he leaves it in Hazard's base and triggers it's self-destruct.
Now that Steel's identity is out, his family has no peace. They are harassed by neighbors and mobs of people, who feel he is too dangerous to have near their homes. Later, Natasha is kidnapped by Plasmus, who is trying to blackmail Steel into creating a suit for himself. Steel rescues her by building a suit with a trap for Plasmus inside. Though Natasha is safe, John is still worried that he is endangering his family. Steel moves out (temporarily staying with his friend Dr. Amanda Quick) but the family is still harassed. His family is attacked by both Doctor Polaris and the Parasite, both arriving seeking the Annihilator. John Henry's beloved grandmother Bess is killed in the fight when she tries to attack Parasite. Deciding it is too dangerous for his family, he enlists Double to move them somewhere secret. After teleporting into White Zone, he sees a nightmarish looking version of his armor. He quickly teleports again, ending up at Hazard's old lair. He discovers the three Black Ops member he killed were actually still alive. They corner him, as he teleported without his armor, but the armor has followed him to the lair.
John Henry works with the other three to try and fight off the armor. They try to flee, but the armor keeps finding them. Natasha, having run away to avoid being relocated, took some Tar and followed him there and tries to help. John Henry realizes that the armor is his dark side given form. Realizing this, Steel banishes the armor to the White Zone, seemingly for good. Later, John realizes Natasha is handling Bess's death poorly. She spends several nights sleeping at the cemetery and then attacks John in a Tar fueled rage when he confronts here there. A blind gravedigger tells them that Bess's soul is not at rest because someone stole her wedding ring and she wants to be buried with it. Steel manages to track down the thief and the recover wedding ring. To return it, John and Natasha exhume Bess's body is exhumed and rebury her with the ring, letting her soul rest. John Henry and Natasha fix up their old home before leaving it and D.C. behind.
The Death of Steel
Irons suffered mortal wounds after releasing Doomsday from the JLA Watchtower to battle Imperiex. Superman was unable to turn away the Black Racer, a being that gathers souls and ushers them into the afterlife. This time, however, the Black Racer showed mercy and delivered Irons to Apokolips, where the evil Darkseid restored life to Iron's body. Darkseid placed Irons in the Entropy Aegis, a burned out Imperiex-probe altered by Apokoliptan science. This new armor was far superior to his old, but the upgrades made it more of a curse than a blessing. Darkseid was able to use the Entropy Aegis to control Steel and make him serve Apokolips.
Superman gathered the members of Team Superman and challenged Darkseid on the field of battle for the return of Steel. After his defeat Darkseid removed Steel from the armor only to reveal that he was returning him as he found him in a state of near death. Luckily Natasha Irons and a Multiverse displaced Supergirl were able to act quickly and save his life. Upon his return to Earth John allowed his niece, Natasha to take up the mantle of Steel while he recovered.
During the year where Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman disappear, Steel was the active hero of Metropolis. Using a new armor he had to deal with his rebellious niece, Natasha, who wants to be a superhero, the mystery of Supernova, and Lex Luthor's Everyman Project. When Natasha tries to join the Teen Titans, he stops her by destroying her armor, and tells her to build her own armor if she wants it badly enough. As part of Luthor's conspiracy, John Henry was unknowingly given new powers: a steel coated skin than he could heat at will. When Natasha found out, she was upset as he forbade her from participating. In response, she joins anyway and earns a spot on Lex's Infinity Inc. team. When Steel comes to get Natasha away from Lex, she attacks him and drives him away. However, when Natasha catches onto Luthor's plans, she tries relaying her findings but is caught. When John comes to help her, he finds Natasha's teammates opposing him. He easily tears through them, but the Teen Titans arrive to back him up. Steel dispatches Everyman at the cost of his armor, but he reaches Luthor. However, that Luthor used the meta-gene therapy to give him powers like those of Superman. Steel fights him anyway but is overpowered. Thanks to Luthor being overwhelmed by his super-senses and Natasha finding a way to disable his powers, Steel comes out on top. Before he knocks him out, Steel reveals that the meta-gene therapy was toxic to the human body, and he would have died in six months if they hadn't intervened.
Several months after the Everyman Project was shut down, John realized something was wrong with Natasha. Despite going to therapy to help with her state of mind, Natasha did not get better. When Natasha refused to continue therapy, he tried to talk to her about it. When he touched her though, Natasha turned into a cloud of mist that dissipated. Distraught, he asked Superman to search for her to no avail. After checking with other former Everyman project members Gerome and Erik, he is attacked by Kid Empty, another Everyman participant who feeds on the minds of others. Before he can kill him, Natasha regains her solid form and drives him away. John realizes that everyone involved in the project is gaining new powers and deduces that their powers reflect their mental state, with Natasha's power reflecting her fear of abandonment. At the same time, Mercy Graves, trying to avoid being found by Luthor, who is in hiding after the Everyman Project fell apart, asks to run with him to avoid being caught. Skeptical that she has changed, he gives her a chance to prove herself.
After Jerome, Erik, and Natasha use their new powers to take down an Kid Empty, John decides to have them and their new friend Lucia reform Infinity Inc. to help them round up the the participants who gain new powers and show the world that the Everyman members are not all dangerous. While the team was in the field, John remained in touch with them from Steelworks to lend support. After a few missions Steel answers a call from Superman who found a gruesome body of an Everyman teen in the Arctic. Eventually he and the team realizes that someone is capturing, experimenting on, and killing Everyman participants. When the teams gets a lead on the killer's location, Natasha opts not to tell Steel. Leaving alone, Natasha sent a voicemail telling John what they were up to. Rushing after them, Steel and Superman arrive to find a crater where the building the killer was hiding in used to be. Supermans asks if Steel is okay, and responds that he vows to find Natasha and the team again.
Reign of Doomsday
Steel resurfaces for a fight with Doomsday. With no other heroes around, Steel is left to fight Doomsday by himself. Natasha Irons tries to persuade her uncle not to fight Doomsday, but John insist and heads off into battle. John gave the fight all he had. John even managed to hit Doomsday with a direct hit from his hammer. Steel had hurled his hammer from a thousand feet away. During the fight Doomsday evolves growing armor out his body and also possess the ability to fly. John manages to break away a piece of Doomsday's chest armor which allowed John to introduce nanonytes into Doomsday's body. The nanonytes were suppose to paralyze Doomsday for an hour until help arrived, but the effects only lasted a few seconds. John then gets pounded by Doomsday until he is knocked unconscious. We last see John being carried off by a flying Doomsday.
John Henry Irons debuted as a scientist working for Gen. Sam Lane for Metal-0 Project, an initiative to developt an armored super-soldier designed to stop the recently debuted Superman. But he quitted when he saw how Luthor tortured the captured Superman, under Lane's license.
When Brainiac, calling himself the Collecter of Worlds, attacked Metropolis and take control of John Corben, Irons donned a Metal-0 suit prototype and stopped the controlled soldier with a PC virus of his own design.
Steel has been seen within the pages of Action Comics, during a back up storyline. In this story, Steel helps Superman to fight crime. Steel was then seen in Action Comics Annual helping Superman fend off the villain called Kryptonite Man. Steel defeats the villain and managed to make his powers defunct. He is later was seen in Australia, helping the poor and searching new ways to use his technologies in less aggressive scenarios.
He has joined The Reverse Suicide Squad with Power Girl, Unknown Soldier, and Warrant. The Thinker under the guise of Amanda Waller is leading them.
After Forever Evil, Steel joined the forces than were fighting against Doomsday, but he was affected by the toxic emanations from the monster. To stop the damage and prevent more infection, Steel added to his armor a film of liquid metal. He would join to Lana Lang in a search for Doomsday possessed Superman in space to help him but they discovered than in Superman absence, Brainiac attacked the earth again.
Currently he is in a relationship with Superwoman aka Lana Lang.
As things begin to change in the DC Universe, Steel began a new initiative in Metropolis. Having started up Steelworks with Natasha and letting Lana move in with him while she starts a new job in Metropolis while operating as Steel. Using new armors, he fights alongside Natasha and Lana, now operating as Superwoman. When Ultrawoman takes over the city in a bid to steal Superwoman's powers, Steel helps lead and coordinate the efforts take the city back and defend the people from her army of female Bizarro clones.
Once Ultrawoman is defeated, John Henry has to help Lana, whose powers have begun killing her. Desperate to save his girlfriend, he enlists Superman's help, and he stays with her while she recovers. When she does, they discover that Lana has lost all of her powers. John tries to support her while she copes, but she pushes him away instead, though they later reconcile.
John Henry and Natasha then give Lana a power suit to help her continue as Superwoman. However, they discover that the last time Lana donned it, the suit was able to permanently copy her now lost powers. With Lana's problem resolved, the three return to fighting crime and rounding up the escaped metahuman prisoners.
Powers and Abilities
John Henry Irons possess no superhuman powers. He is an exceptionally gifted intellect that specializes in various fields of engineering. A genius of the highest order, he built a bullet proof suit of armor whose computerized pneumatic exoskeletal joints gave him superhuman strength.
In specific situations Steel had temporarily developed superpowers:
- Teleportation: When under unexplained circumstances he was able to transport himself to a "white void zone".
- Organic steel skin: During 52 Steel was injected with the formula of the Everyman Project by Lex Luthor and developed an invulnerable organic steel skin than he could super heat at will and throw as a projectile.
Weapons and Equipment
Steel had used diferent armors since his first appearance:
- Man of Steel armor: Homemade armor created in homage to Superman.
- Shieldless armor: Used after the return of Superman and from the time Steel fought against Hazard and AmerTek.
- JLA armor: From the time he joined the JLA, and used a similar yet different "S" shield.
- Faceless armor: Similar to the previous one, but with a faceless helmet instead his steal coated face.
- Entropy Aegis armor: Forged in Apokolips, was instrumental to bring him back to life. However it was feeding of his soul, so he had to quit using it.
- 52 armor: Using after Infinity Crisis and during the year of absent of Superman, he used again the El house crest as his own symbol.
- Metal-0 Prototype armor: In the New 52 continuity, this was his first armor. He used it to fight Metallo and the Kyptonite Man.
- Shield Armor: Using against the Suicide Squad and Doomsday. He would later add a film of liquid steel.
- Helmet systems include broadband communications array, VDU readouts for environmental controls, and retractable one-way visor.
- Life-support systems which recycle oxygen supply, remove waste, and convert perspiration to potable water.
- Independent heating and freon-compressed air-conditioning units regulate internal temperatures.
- Hydraulic servomotors along his exoskeletal joints increase strength and speed tenfold
- Air-cooled cannons in his forearms gauntlet fire metal spikes and rubber projectiles. They function as the launching platform for concussive sonic grenades.
- Segmented breakaway boots that can be jettisoned if necessary.
- Micro-jet engine compressors controlled by Pressure sensitive toggles in his gloves.
- Thrusters proved a wide range of airborne manoeuvrability.
- Armor is composed of breathable fire-retardant nomex fabric.
- Embedded solar cells help keep his armor fully charged.
- His suit is made of a composite high-tensile steel alloy treated with micron-thick reflective sealant to shield against microwave and subatomic particle radiation.
- Trivia : According to JLA 1000000, his Armor is going to last all the way to the 118th Century and be worn by Steel 7 in the 51st Century, Steelman of New Centurions in the 100th Century and Lancelot Grail, the Cosmic Knight in 118th Century
- Can alter trajectory or stop mid-throw
- Polarizing inertial dampers within hammer increase inertia relative to distance hurled
- Magnetically attaches to back of armor.
- Segmented handle telescopes into locked position.
- Height: 6'7"
- Weight: 290 lbs
- Eye Color: Brown
- Hair Color: Bald
- Citizenship: American
- Place of Birth: Washington, D.C.
- Marital Status: Engaged
- Occupation: Scientist, engineer, adventurer
- Known Relatives: Clay Irons (brother), Natasha Irons (niece), Zeke Irons (nephew, deceased), Lana Lang (fiancée)
Justice League Unlimited
Steel has appeared in the comic series.
Steel appeared in Kingdom Come as a member of the Batman's Legion. In the KC universe, Steel changed his loyalty from Superman towards Batman, changing his armor to look closer to a Batman batsuit, including a riveted bat-insignia and using a bat-shaped axe instead a hammer.
Steel Annual 1: Crucible of Freedom
In the elseworld from 1994, Steel is a slave in a southern cotton plantation. He works as a smither and when the civil war is declared he forge an armor for his master (and tragically, former childhood friend), but he ends using the armor for freed his friends and fighting his former owners. As a final twist, in the elseworld story, he is the John Henry from folk tales.
DC: The New Frontier
In the Darwyn Cooke story, a New character John Henry appeared, holding a hammer as weapon and fighting back against the racist members of the Ku Klux Klan. A younger John Henry Irons also appeared, hinted than this other John Henry would inspire his path towards justice.
Supergirl/Batgirl: Elseworld Finest
In this elseworld tale, Steel is gifted with the power of Shazam. From the dialogue is hinted than the same as Billy Batson, John Henry in this continuity is also a kid.
In an alternate future, where the Rot began to take over the world, he built a war armor and transferred his consciousness into it, so that the Rot could not touch him. He banded with the Red and, alongside Black Orchid and Beast Boy, he saved Animal Man from the turned Hawkman and then brought him to the stronghold of the Red. On the trip there, he explained what had happened to the world since Animal Man's disappearance into the Red. It is also revealed the John Henry Irons body died and was taken over by the ROT and his soul is and mind is in the Steel costume. He can pick up sounds from far away when there is trouble coming to attack the team of heroes.
Several versions of Steel appear in Multiversity:
- Steel from Earth-23: member of the Justice League of his world and expert in several kinds of technology.
- Steel from Earth-16: Natasha Irons is the active Steel in an utopic world without the need of superchampions.
- Steel from Earth-42: A chibi version of Steel is one of the heroes recruited by Thunderer to help in the rescue of Nix Outan. This Lil' Steel could be original from earth-42 and member of the Lil' Leaguers. He was revealed an agent of the Empty Hand.
Shaquille O'Neal, best known for his athletics in NBA pro basketball, acted out the title role in the first film about the character to date, titled Steel. His castmates included Annabeth Gish and Judd Nelson. The former acted out Susan Sparks, one of Irons' Army compatriots, and the latter acted out Nathaniel Burke, the enemy Steel had to face off against.
According to the story of the film, John Henry Irons (O'Neal) was a former first lieutenant in the United States Army, one of whose weapons experts and designers he had been. Susan Sparks suffered paralysis as a direct result of ordnance tests that Irons and Nathaniel Burke were conducting, owing to Burke's sabotage of Irons' project to create weapons that would neutralize soldiers harmlessly, and Irons allowed himself to be mustered out in disgust. Burke became an arms dealer and a crime boss in civilian life, and after seeing gangs using his weapons on the street, Irons joined forces with Sparks using his intellect and the junkyard know-how of his his Uncle Joseph Irons (Richard Roundtree) to forge an exoskeleton power suit, becoming a real man of "steel". Making no effort to duplicate Superman's power to fly in the motion picture, Irons, using the alias of Steel, instead traveled by motorcycle. Moreover, Steel's hammer was primarily an energy rifle. Nor was the existence or non-existence of Superman even discussed in the film, which instead linked Irons to him through a tattoo of Superman's jacket emblem. O'Neal was forced, by dint of his sheer height, to perform all his own stunts; Kenneth Culver Johnson, who directed the film, could not find any stuntmen who could match O'Neal's height.
None of Steel's activities sat well with Burke, who framed Steel for a bank robbery. In reality, hoodlums who reported to Burke had committed the robbery. Steel's armor was supposed to be made from steel which he had forged himself, but the armor and helmet that O'Neal wore flexed, as if it had been made from painted rubber, throughout the movie. Steel was not a box-office success.
Justice League: The New Frontier
A very young John Henry Irons appeared on Justice League: the New Frontier.
Justice League: Throne of Atlantis
A young John Henry Irons appears as a construction worker in Justice League: Throne of Atlantis. While being attacked by the Atlanteans he defends one of his coworkers while more of them surround them, only to have Superman come and defeat all and salute John before he takes off. He was voiced by Khary Payton.
The Death of Superman
Steel is featured in the animated Death of Superman duology, voiced by Black Lightning star Cress Williams. John Henry Irons appears as a S.T.A.R. Labs scientist in the first movie, and is seen preparing a suit of armor at the end of the movie following Superman's death. He returns in the sequel, Reign of the Supermen, where he becomes the armored hero Steel to help fill the void left by Superman.
Justice League Dark: Apokolips War
Steel makes a brief cameo appearance in Justice League Dark: Apokolips War, where he is seen as one of the many heroes fighting back against the forces of Apokolips. He and his teammates apparently perish while trying to destroy one of the energy-draining devices Darkseid was using on the Earth.
Teen Titans Go! To the Movies
Steel is one of the numerous heroes who makes a cameo appearance in Teen Titans Go! To the Movies.
Superman: The Animated Series
Steel appears in Superman: The Animated Series as an ex- Lexcorp employee. He helped to design a prototype power suit for Metropolis police, but the suit's neural interface turned its wearer, Sgt. Corey Mills, into a dangerous power-hungry addict. Later Irons perfected the suit and helped Superman to defeat Metallo.
He was voiced by Star Trek: The Next Generation star Michael Dorn.
Justice League Unlimited
Steel also appears in Justice League Unlimited, voiced by Phil LaMarr. Steel makes his first speaking appearance in "The Return". He, along with Supergirl warns Lex Luthor that Amazo is returning to hunt down Lex. He appears later as part of the League's ground defense team to stop Amazo. After Amazo plows down both the space and sky levels of the league's defenses, he prepares to attack the ground. Without even one shot fired, Steel, along with Ice, Flash, and Wonder Woman are all blown away by Amazo. All of them, however, survived. Following this, Steel was among the Justice League present on the Watchtower while it was attacked. He attempted to defend the power core from Supergirl's clone, but was left incapacitated by her superior power.
Steel appears in Young Justice's third season, Young Justice: Outsiders, as a member of the Justice League. Not much is revealed about him, but he is presumably one of the new recruits who joined the JLA after the events of the second season, Invasion. He is seen conferring with Silas Stone about the Father Box in the latter's possession, and warns Silas that the device appears to be evil.
He is voiced by Zeno Robinson.
Death and Return of Superman
He appears in the Death and Return of Superman game for Super Nintendo and the Genesis.