Beginning the ‘Reign of the Supermen,’ continued from Adventures of Superman (1939) #500. The Man of Steel returns to Metropolis to quell the latest crime wave in Suicide Slum led by a new, ruthless female crime lord, and Jeb is back in town to see Lois Lane in the wake of Clark Kent’s disappearance. Bound into the center of this issue is a double-page miniposter of Superman, printed on cover stock.
In an American ghetto Mr. Johnson is telling the local youth about the American myth of John Henry. While he does a drive by shooting occurs. He saves a few of the children but one is literally vaporized. Johnson ends up running down the car and is injured in the process. While in the hospital he reminisces about the time he met Superman, before his death. Back in the ghetto he crafts a suit of armor to atone for his past.
His building is bombed but thanks to the armor he saves not just himself but all those inside. He then tracks down the gang who killed the kid in the opening scene. Steel puts an end to them and realizes the very design which killed the kid was his own. In the process the press arrives and his image floods news channels everywhere. The Man of Steel is born!
Debut of Steel- Honesty back in the 90’s Steel was my favorite replacement for Superman. A distinctive design tied into American mythology of John Henry. Inspired by Superman all wrapped up in a new racialicious package? New 52 can tout being a sales boost but Classic Steel still trumps any and all Black Superheroes they have attempted at launching!
Art-Jon Bogdanove is on art duty and it’s pretty weak in the heat of all the action but when Steel is on panel the art literally sings!
As usual the black superhero makes his debut in the ghetto, more than seventeen years later this is still a very common trend.
A solid debut despite the ghetto stereotype 3/5