A man of steel. No, not that one. Three heroes from one family who all carried the mantle of Commander Steel and also steel parts within them. So who is the Commander and how do you get steel body parts that make you capable of superhuman feats? Let’s find out!
Henry “Hank” Heywood was a marine during World War 2 when an attack be a soon-to-be super villain, left Hank severely injured. A skilled student of biology, Hank’s old biology professor performed life-saving surgery on Hank. Providing him with steel replacement parts and machinery, Hank was now extremely strong and durable. Keeping his new poems a secret, Hank would go about doing a desk job until his powers were needed to save the day.
Originally going by Steel, he would fight crime and soon join the All-Star Squadron to fight in the war effort over seas. It was meeting Winston Churchill that Hank was given the name Commander Steel, which he and his future grandchildren would use when they donned the mask. Eventually, Hank would retired from heroics until he was needed again much later in life to fight the threat of Eclipso. He would die in this fight helping to save the day one last time.
Henry “Hank” Heywood III was the grandson of the original Commander Steel. Hank would undergo the same surgeries his grandfather went through, by his grandfather. Hank believed his grandfather forced him into the superhero lifestyle but according to his grandfather, Hank would have died without the augmenting surgery. Either way, Hank begrudgingly took up heroics and even joined the Justice League before being gravely injured and had to be put into suspended animation in hopes to save him. Sadly, he’d be killed by the villain Despero when he broke into the medical wing. Hank would become a Black Lantern during the Blackest Night and was completely destroyed by the villainous Super Woman of Earth-3.
Nathan Heywood, grandson the Hank I and cousin to Hank III, was on his way to becoming a pro football player until an injury and following infection took his leg. The trauma and pain would have him struggling with painkiller addiction. While at a family reunion, he and his family were attacked by a group of Nazi supervillains. One villain had the power to turn people into metal statues, Nathan fought with him and got covered in the villain’s metallic blood. The Justice Society would take him in and discover that Nathan’s body had absorbed the metallic blood, transforming him into a man of living steel.
He would begin fighting crime and adventuring with the JSA. He’d eventually take on the name of Citizen Steel since he felt uncomfortable using the military ranking that his family members had earned through hard work. While Nathan had regained his leg from his teansformation, he had lost all sense of touch and needed a special suit to make sure his new strength with lack of sensitivity didn’t get out of control.
A being known as Gog would arrive and split heroes on their opinion of whether or not he was a threat. Nathan sided with him in hopes that he could feel again. As time went on and he learned that Gog was a danger to the entire Earth, Nathan would turn out to be one of the only people who could stand up to Gog. Unleashing his full strenght, he’d be able to defeat Gog and save the world. This would lead to Nathan taking time off to spend it with his family to the return during the Blackest Night and join Power Girl’s JSA All-Star team.
In the New 52 Hank Heywood Jr. is dying of a degenerative disease when his dad uses an experimental procedure to replace his bones with an unknown metal. Granting him powers but killing his emotions. The knowledge of this procedure is desperately desired by Darkseid.
There you have it! Commander Steel may be familiar to those of you who have seen the second season of Legends of Tomorrow as he is one of the stars of the show. Taking on more of a Colossus style version of the superpower set he takes his name from. Viewers get to seen Howe him interact with other heroes and villains of the CW DC live action shows. See you next time!
Steel, The Indestructable Man
Justice League of America Annual #2
Justice Society of America Vol. 3