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Commander Steel (also Steel or Citizen Steel) is the name of three fictional characters, superheroes published by DC Comics, all members of the same family. The first Steel appeared in Steel, The Indestructible Man #1 (1978), published by DC Comics and was created by Gerry Conway and Don Heck. His stories were set in World War II. The two later characters called Steel are his grandsons.


Publishing history

Steel first appeared in his series set in 1939, Steel: The Indestructible Man, written by Captain America writer Gerry Conway. However the series was canceled after only 5 issues and Steel later made a guest-appearance in Justice League of America.[1]


Henry Heywood

Commander Steel
Steelindestructman1 1978.jpg
Steel, The Indestructible Man # 1, artist Don Heck
Publication information
Publisher DC Comics
First appearance Steel, The Indestructible Man # 1 (March 1978)
Created by Gerry Conway (writer)
Don Heck (artist)
In-story information
Alter ego Henry "Hank" Heywood
Team affiliations All-Star Squadron
Shadow Fighters
Notable aliases Steel
Abilities Cyborg, great strength, limited invulnerability, limited superspeed

The World War II version of the character, Henry Heywood, enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps prior to their involvement in the war, but was injured when saboteurs attacked his base spearheaded by the man who would become Baron Blitzkrieg. Heywood had been a biology student under the tutelage of Doctor Gilbert Giles, and his former professor performed extensive surgery on him, enhancing his damaged body with mechanized steel devices that gave him superhuman strength, speed and durability. At the request of Doctor Giles, Heywood kept his newfound gifts a secret, and was returned to service in a desk position.[2] Frustrated at his inability to help more directly, Heywood adopted the masked-hero persona "Steel", and was attempting to steal armaments from the military base where the worked -- to send to those more directly in the war's fray -- when worked when some fifth columnist saboteurs broke into the base. Heywood defeated the saboteurs,[3] and embarked on a career fighting foreign threats and other criminals before America went to war.

Heywood entered more directly into World War II as a secret weapon before he allied himself with the All-Star Squadron. In that time he was commissioned Commander Steel by British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. His membership in the Squadron was only for a brief period as Crisis on Infinite Earths caused him to shift from his native Earth-Two to the Post-Crisis Earth, wherein he retired from his superhero career as there were no active costumed heroes at that time on his new home.

Years later, as a wealthy industrialist, he incorporated the same mechanized components into his grandson Hank Heywood III.

After his grandson's death, Heywood resumed the mantle of Commander Steel and died battling the supervillain Eclipso, while a member of the Shadow Fighters. He did come to a heroic end - detonating the Sunburst 300 (a device meant to destroy Eclipso) as his teammate Nemesis escaped.[2]

Hank Heywood III

Art by Tom Derenick.
Publication information
Publisher DC Comics
First appearance Justice League of America Annual # 2 (1984)
Created by Gerry Conway
In-story information
Alter ego Henry "Hank" Heywood III
Team affiliations Justice League
Black Lantern Corps
Abilities Superhuman strength, limited invulnerability, limited superspeed

The second Steel was the late Henry "Hank" Heywood III, grandson to Commander Steel who, as a wealthy industrialist, incorporated the same mechanized components into his grandson much to his grandson's disapproval. Heywood III was a "Justice League Detroit" team member, and was mortally wounded in battle against an android belonging to one of the team's classic foes, Professor Ivo.[4] His body remained preserved in the JLA Bunker until it was discovered and destroyed by Despero.

Although it was originally stated that Heywood performed unnecessary surgeries on his grandson, it was later stated in Justice League of America #260 that if he hadn't made his grandson into Steel, "Hank would have been dead... years ago."[5]

In an Justice League of America tie-in to the Blackest Night crossover, Steel was reanimated as a member of the Black Lantern Corps in the Hall of Justice.[6] Alongside the Black Lantern Vibe, Steel attacked his former teammates, Gypsy and Vixen, until Doctor Light destroyed him.[7]

Nathan Heywood

Citizen Steel
Art by Alex Ross.
Publication information
Publisher DC Comics
First appearance Justice Society of America (vol. 3) # 1 (February 2007)
Created by Geoff Johns
Alex Ross
In-story information
Alter ego Nathan Heywood
Team affiliations Justice Society of America
Abilities Superhuman strength, invulnerability, organic metal skin

The relaunched Justice Society of America features another member of the Heywood family. During an interview to Newsarama, new series writer Geoff Johns announced him as a brand new character with new powers.[8] He debuted in Justice Society of America #2 with the name of Nathan "Buckeye" Heywood.

Nathan is the grandson of Henry Heywood and cousin of Henry Heywood III. Formerly a football star at The Ohio State University, Nathan retired after shattering his kneecap and having his leg amputated due to an undiagnosed infection. The incident left Nathan addicted to painkillers.

While attending a Heywood family reunion, he is attacked by the Fourth Reich, a team of metahuman Neo-Nazis ordered by Vandal Savage to wipe out the bloodlines of Golden Age heroes. Despite the Fourth Reich's effort, they fail to completely destroy the Heywood bloodline, as both Nathan and a few children manage to survive. Both Nathan's brother and mother are turned to metal statues by the villain Reichsmark. Nathan jams his crutch into Reichsmark's mouth, causing him to spit liquid metal blood onto Nathan. Hawkman takes him to Dr. Mid-Nite, who notes that the metal is being absorbed by Nathan's skin.

Later, it is revealed that the metal has grown out from where Nathan's amputated leg once was, forming metallic bone, muscles, and flesh. Waking in his hospital room, Nathan is shown to have superhuman strength. Dr. Mid-Nite informs Nathan that he is now a being of living steel, due to an unknown reaction to Reichsmark's blood. However, the steel tissues do not give Nathan tactile response, meaning he cannot feel textures or temperatures, nor gauge exerted pressures, and his weight has greatly increased causing his footsteps to crack the ground. He is given a costume, a "second skin" of a stainless steel alloy developed by Dr. Mid-Nite and Mr. Terrific specifically to restrict his movements and reduce his strength to a more manageable level. They chose the costume's colors because of Heywood's heritage. He then joins the Justice Society to defeat the Fourth Reich.[2] Afterwards, the press asks if he is the new Commander Steel but Nathan denies it saying that he is just an ordinary citizen, and so he is christened "Citizen Steel" by Power Girl.[9]

When the Third World survivor Gog appears, Nathan is one of the JSA members who sides with him, hoping that Gog can restore his sense of touch.[10] It is later revealed that Gog is rooting himself into the Earth, which would cause its destruction if he ever left, and when the unconverted JSAers battle him, they are blown away by winds created by Gog. Nathan alone is able to withstand the winds. Gog offers Nathan his greatest wishes fulfilled if he sides with him, but Nathan refuses, and joins the fight against him. For this act, Gog induces in Nathan excruciating pain.[11] Nathan then tears off his suit, and unleashes his full strength against Gog, actually managing to topple the giant, which gives Gog's former herald Magog the chance to cut off his head and send him to the Source Wall. Following the defeat of Gog, Nathan realizes he feels a sense of satisfaction.[12]

Following Gog's defeat, Nathan takes time off from the JSA to be with his family. This consists of survivors of the attack on the reunion, various children, most of whom call him 'Uncle Nathan',[13] or 'Uncle Nate'[14].

During the events of Blackest Night, Nathan helps fight off the hordes of Black Lanterns attacking Manhattan. He tries to help Power Girl during her battle with the newly reanimated Kal-L, but is knocked aside by the hero, who mockingly refers to him as a "paperweight" compared to him.[15]


Originally Commander Steel could only lift 1000 pounds but when he appeared in the pages of the All Star Squadron he was attributed 'super human' strength without an exact limit. He was by no means as strong as Superman or Wonder Woman but he was able to hold his own with Robotman and Baron Blitzkrieg.

Citizen Steel's metallic body grants him superhuman strength, and allows him to take direct blows from opponents as powerful as Gog, and remain standing, and in turn knocking him to the ground - the only one in the JSA able to do so. His alloy suit limits his strength to controllable levels but a cost of slowing him down. Upon removing his suit, he is able to unleash his full strength without a speed penalty. [16].

Other media

Commander Steel in Justice League Unlimited in the series finale episode "Destroyer"; as he notices Shayera about to be attacked.
  • Hank Heywood appeared several times as Commander Steel during Justice League Unlimited's three seasons, most notably during the series finale, "Destroyer". He was seen in "Initiation" and "Panic In The Sky", where he, Hawk and Wildcat fought off several Ultimen clones, including a Longshadow clone. In "Destroyer", he, Shayera and Atomic Skull were sent to help defeat Darkseid's forces that were spread around the world. Shayera gets a spear stabbed into her wing, causing her weaken and collapse. As he is fighting, Commander Steel notices a parademon getting ready to attack the wounded Shayera. He grabs a shield and throws it Captain America style at the parademon, implying that it was possibly decapitated. Also in "Destroyer", he is seen running down the Metro Tower stairs with Vibe, Vixen and Gypsy, the four characters created by Gerry Conway. [17]


  1. ^ DeMatteis, J. M. (w), McDonnell, Luke (p), Montano, Steve (i). "Flesh!" Justice League of America 1 (260): 22-23 (March, 1987), DC Comics
  2. ^ a b c Wallace, Dan (2008), "Commander Steele", in Dougall, Alastair, The DC Comics Encyclopedia, New York: Dorling Kindersley, pp. 86, ISBN 0-7566-4119-5, OCLC 213309017 
  3. ^ Conway, Gerry (w), McDonnell, Luke (p), Heck, Don (i). "From Hell is Forged ...A Hero!" Steel: The Indestructible Man 1 (1): 18/4 (March, 1978), DC Comics
  4. ^ DeMatteis, J. M. (w), McDonnell, Luke (p), Montano, Steve (i). "Flesh!" Justice League of America 1 (260): 16-20 (March, 1987), DC Comics
  5. ^ DeMatteis, J. M. (w), McDonnell, Luke (p), Montano, Steve (i). "Flesh!" Justice League of America 1 (260): 22 (March, 1987), DC Comics
  6. ^ Justice League of America (vol. 2) #39 (November 2009)
  7. ^ Justice League of America (Vol. 2) #40 (December 2009)
  8. ^ "Newsarama". 
  9. ^ Justice Society of America (7) (), DC Comics
  10. ^ Justice Society of America (vol. 3) #19
  11. ^ Justice Society of America (vol. 3) #21
  12. ^ Justice Society of America (vol. 3) #22
  13. ^ Justice Society of America (vol. 3) #23
  14. ^ Justice Society of America (vol. 3) #9
  15. ^ Blackest Night: JSA #3
  16. ^ Justice Society of America (15) (), DC Comics
  17. ^ Commander Steel in "Destroyer."

External links

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