Thursday, December 21, 2017

A Human Secret Weapon

Steel, the Indestructible Man #2 (DC, April 1978, 35 cents)
"The Monster Who Mined Miracles" Written and created: Gerry Conway, Designed and drawn: Don Heck, Inker: Vinnie Colletta, Letterer: Ben Oda, Colorist: Adriene Roy, Editor: Allen Milgrom.

This is a strange little comic series; it only ran five issues before cancellation. In the late 1930s, Hank Heywood is injured while preventing an act of sabotage, and is reconstructed "using the miraculous bio-retardant formula." Think Captain America meets the Six Million Dollar Man. Yet somehow, Dr. Gilbert Giles doesn't quite make the connection between the rebuilt Heywood and the emergence of the "costumed vigilante" Steel.

A Doctor Moag demonstrates his transmutation machine to Baron Toten, an industrialist with an allegiance to the motherland. Tumbling into the Omega Field, Moag is reborn as Mineral Master.

During a demonstration of his capabilities "for the Army brass," Steel hopes to convince the war department "of my usefulness as a human 'secret weapon.'" He encounters Mineral Master, "like something out of a Gernsback science fiction magazine!" They fight—"worse'n that 'War of the Worlds' radio show!"

A one-page article "Steel Filings" details how Steel was created and why. It's a little too similar to Captain America or Fighting American for me. At times, Heck's artwork gets a little Ditko-esque (p. 6, panel 4; p. 15 in its entirety), but otherwise, there's little to recommend this title.

Availability: Steel has not been reprinted or collected. Back issues are available from Lone Star and Mile High. The original Fighting American has been collected.

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