Tag Archives: Black superman

Steel #1 (1994) Review

Steel1 cover


Fresh from Metropolis after substituting for Superman when he was thought dead, John Henry Irons has arrived home to Washington, D.C. to regroup and spend time with his family. Upon his arrival he and the other passengers are attacked by a rival neighborhood gang. John Henry reacts and is able to cause the car the gang members were in to crash. The members exit the car and come out firing. John Henry realizes that the guns the gangs are using are ones he designed while working for his old company, Amertek. While confronting the gang, others members from the neighborhood gang join the fray to protect their “hood”. The other members ingest this drug called tar, which causes them to become massive, super strong, and near invulnerable. One of the “tarred up” gang members knocks John Henry out and when he comes to, everyone has fled the scene. John Henry makes it home and is enjoying a meal his family, when suddenly men in gear he designed while working at Amertek. With the help of his grandmother’s skillet, John Henry defeats the intruders. He realizes that both they and the gang members were using inventions he had a hand in creating. This spurs him on to forge a new set of armor. His grandmother enters and ask him where his “shield”; the superman emblem, was. He responded that he didn’t think he should wear it because he may have to operate outside the law. She tells him no matter what he WILL wear the cape because he is the Black Superman as far as she and anybody else there is concerned, even if the rest of the world comes to know him as the man called Steel.

Creators Louise Simonson and John Bogdanove bring you the premier issue of the other “Man of Steel”, John Henry Irons; a mortal man who has proven himself capable of filling Superman’s shoes.

The Good

Story- Superman has long been held as the premier superhero in the DC universe. During his “death” a number of people stepped up to fill the void. John Henry Irons was one of them. He proved he could carry the lead during his tenure as the replacement Man of Steel, and is given the opportunity to show off more of his stuff in this his first solo effort. This first issue sets up the initial story arc, and introduces the reader to John Henry’s family, who are all very proud of what he accomplished as Superman’s stand-in. the story gives a realistic glimpse of the gang violence and drug problems that existed in Washington D.C. during this time. Although Steel had his share of cosmic adventures, having him come home and take on the problems of his city/neighborhood gives him a “folk hero” feel, and makes him a hero of the people.

Art- Chris Batista is on art duty for this issue and provides the reader with a very nice looking book. The faces show a lot of detail and emotion, and the coloring is bright and compliments the overall mood of the book.

The Bad

No complaints from me!


The Ugly

This was an excellent first issue for the Black Man of Steel. He faces the kinds of challenges one would expect a hero like Steel to face, and does it handily with style! As urban heroes go, Steel will definitely leave his mark!


President Superman

President Superman

Real Name: Kalel

Alias: Calvin Ellis

Publisher: DC Comics

Created by:  Grant Morisson

1st appearance: Final Crisis #7(March, 2009)

Nationality: Born on Vathlo Island, US Citizen

Team Affiliations: Unknown

Legal Status: Diplomatic immunity as the president of the United States

Height:   Unknown            Weight: Unknown

Eyes: Brown                           Hair: Black

Relatives: Unknown

Skills and abilities: Unknown

Powers: Same as superman


On a parallel world (Earth 23) the last survivor of Krypton came from Vathlo Island on which dark skinned kyptonians dwell. His parents were scientists named Jorel and Lara. After arriving on earth he was taken in by a kindly black couple who instilled the morals of peace love and the American way into him; his father also taught him the art of boxing. As Calvin Ellis he eventually ascended to the presidency of the United States [Action Comics #9]. He is allies with Nubia the black wonder woman and still finds time to fit heroics into his busy schedule. He was a part of the “Supermen of the Multiverse” during Final Crisis where he met “Sunshine Superman”.

New 52

He reappears in the new DC Multiverse to defeat an alternate Superman. Calvin also reveals he’s the leader of the Justice League; made up of a young black green lantern, Nubia, Vixen, Steel and Batman; he  also has control of a brainiac computer and life model decoys to deal with his job as president if he can’ be their physically. Strangely he also has access to lazarus pits to revive those who have died in battle. He also has the same relationship normal superman has with Lex Luthor with a racist undertone [Action Comics #9].

Steel-John Henry Irons


Created by:  Louise Simonson and Jon Bogdanove

1st appearance:  Adventures of Superman #500, 1993

Alias: Man of Steel, Henry Johnson, Doctor Irons

Nationality: American

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.


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