I reviewed the main story of Action Comics #4 just a couple of days ago. I figured that the back-up feature deserved its own coverage as it impacts not only this story arc but also the Superman Family and the DCnU. Because it is here that we get an in-depth look at the DCU's second super-hero Steel.
Writer Sholly Fisch does a good job of giving us some great tidbits about John Henry Irons background, enough for us to get a decent sense of who this man is and why he would slip into a metal suit and battle injustice.
And Brad Walker's art is slick here. It is detailed and has a sort of 'penciled only' appearance in some places. The bulk of the story is a brawl between Steel and 'Metallo' and Walker art has the punch to make it work.
I posted this page before but I'll say it again, this Steel suit looks sufficiently low-tech enough to be a first suit. In particular, the use of cables in the arms and legs make sense as the limbs need to be able to bend and move.
And I love that opening line. 'Superman, I'll take care of this.' Short and sweet.
There is an interesting little internal dialogue where Irons discusses his name, John Henry. Named after the American folk hero, he was teased growing up. But he took the name to heart ... never back down from a challenge.
It works doubly well here. Remember, *the* John Henry battled a machine. Here Irons is battling his own technology.
Now why he would make a big hammer for this suit I don't understand yet.
Irons might be outgunned but he is shrewder. He designed Metal Zero with a secret external USB port, a shut down device. With a flash drive, he infects Metallo with a kill-virus and shut him down. Always wise to leave a back door into your experimental tech. Maybe a bit too easy of a win?
In some ways it reminded me of Batman defeating Prometheus by downloading the fighting skill of Steven Hawking into the villain's helmet.
And this was my favorite moment when Fisch returns to the John Henry tale having Irons be a 'steel driving man' and wallop Metallo. Fantastic.
The story ends with Irons realizing that something big has happened here. He saved people. He was a hero. And maybe there is room for more heroes than just Superman in this world. Great iconic pose here but the subtle contemplative expression makes the image. Will he become Steel?
After a couple of month's of promo material, I was glad my extra buck was spent on more story. And I also am glad that this Steel fight was both showcased but also removed from the main story. Superman still needs to shine here. He needs to star in his own book. We don't know enough of Superman here to lose pages to a 'guest star'.
But this fight needed to be told in depth. We got to learn more about Irons. And we have the next hero of the DCnU. That was a win.