Created by: Louise Simonson and Jon Bogdanove
1st appearance: Adventures of Superman #500, 1993
Alias: Man of Steel, Henry Johnson, Doctor Irons
Team Affiliations: Justice League of America
Legal Status: unknown
Height: 6’0″ Weight: 256
Eyes: Brown Hair: Black
Relatives: Mrs. Irons (mother, deceased), Mr. Irons (father, deceased), Maternal Grandmother (deceased), maternal grandfather (deceased), Butter (grandfather), Bess (grandmother, deceased), Clay Irons (brother), Jemahl Irons (nephew), Blondell Irons (sister-in-law), Natasha Irons (Starlight, niece), Paco (nephew), Tyke (former foster nephew)
Skills and abilities: Skilled engineer and inventor with a genius level intellect.
Powers: None. He wears a specialized suit of armor which grants him superhuman strength able to lift about 70 tons, near invulnerability, a wrist mounted rivet gun, jet boots for flight and propulsion, an inertia dampening field, an artificial intelligence unit, life support systems and various other weapons.
He also carries a smart hammer capable of independent flight, its own online computer. The Hammer has kinetic damage capabilities that rival superman when thrown because the farther it’s thrown the more power it builds up. The hammer also has vast electromagnetic powers beyond those of Static shock.
John Henry Irons parents were murdered when he was young. This left him and his siblings poor, to keep them safe and afford them a better life he took up sports in hopes of getting a scholarship. Luckily his football skills matched his vast intellect and he went to Yale on a scholarship before being hired by Amertek. In his new life his engineering and ballistics skills led to wealth and affluence which he in turn used to help his family. All seemed good until one of his prototype weapons were leaked to terrorists and many innocent people died. Horrified by what he had inadvertently caused he destroyed all records of his works and went into hiding in Metropolis.
Here he assumed the identity of Henry Johnson a simple steel worker. A chance encounter with Superman changed his life. Superman challenged him to make his life “count for something”. This was the catalyst which lead him to create his exo-suit armor. After Superman’s death he took to the protection of metropolis in his place as “the man of steel”. He even lead “team superman” a group of s-sheild wearing superheroes; Superboy, supergirl. When Superman returned they became allies and he even helped him battle general Zod and repair the fortress of solitude. During “worlds collide” he battled Hardware and was defeated by him. John went on to join the Justice League.
When imperil threatened to destroy all creation he released Doomsday from the JLA watchtower and was mortally wounded, the Black Racer claimed his soul and turned it over to Darkseid who restored him to life. He was cursed with a new armor made on Apokalips the “entropy Aegis”. After using it he was left injured and retired from the superhero business. During this time he made armor for his niece Natasha Irons who took up the mantle of Steel.
Later he returned to active duty and battled helped shut down Lex Luthor who had gained abilities similar to Superman. Then him and Natasha reestablished “Steel Works”. Doomsday who was even more powerful than before, he was defeated and captured. All the Supermen eventually defeated the Doomsdays and went back to heroics.
Facts: Aspects of the character are inspired by African American Folk hero/Mythology John Henry who worked as a “steel-driver”—a man tasked with hammering and chiseling rock in the construction of tunnels for railroad tracks. In the legend, John Henry’s prowess as a steel-driver was measured in a race against a steam powered hammer, which he won only to die in victory with his hammer in his hand.