DCAU #178: Heavy Metal

IN THIS ONE... John Henry Irons becomes Steel to fight Metallo.

CREDITS: Written by Hilary Bader; directed by Curt Geda.

REVIEW: This episode strangely starts out as a comedy, with John Henry Irons trading jolly barbs with his niece Natasha as he works on his Steel armor, and Angela Chen making a complete fool of herself in a news report. Intergang is reintroduced, and we're suddenly following a group of their thugs robbing a bank, one of which has super-strength. And then I recognize Malcolm McDowell's voice, which is Metallo's, and I want to tune off. Frankly, they could have left that bucket of bolts in his last appearance's lava flow. He has one of the weakest designs in the entire series (and nonsensically reset by Intergang here), and his episodes invariably become long, boring punch-ups. Oh sure, he has a couple of new tricks to show off, and the fight choreography's pretty good, but he fights Superman, then he fights Steel, then he fights Superman again, and so it goes.

All because introducing Steel seemed to thematically require another "metal" character. That's not a great reason to bring back Metallo.

At least Steel does well, and Natasha perhaps does even better, saving Superman's butt from Metallo's kryptonite heart in the first act (using a car, so it's part of the theme). They TRY to give a similar supporting role to the community, perhaps making Steel a more overt "popular" hero - and that's something I respond very well to, see the first Spider-Man film for an example - but their plan to help is unclear. Did they move the van a block over, is that it? Anyway. In the end, Metropolis gets a second hero, and in only a few episodes, will get yet another, so looking back, while I'm happy to see the Superman Family grow, there's just not a whole lot to this one, y'know?

IN THE COMICS: Before becoming Steel, Irons was known as the Man of Steel, and sported a red cap and a "S" emblem (the 5 on his football shirt is likely a reference to this). Instead of laser beams, the suit shot large nails, such as those used on railroad tracks. His niece Natasha premiered in the first issue of Steel, soon after his own in the pages Adventures of Superman #500, and would eventually become a superhero herself, going by names like Steel, Starlight and Vaporlock. This is the first instance of Bibbo calling Superman his fav'rit on the show, which was his whole shtick in the comics; the Titano adventure seems to be behind it.

SOUNDS LIKE: Natasha Irons is voiced by Cree Summer (A Different World, Batman Beyond), who we just heard as the Wiccan girl in The Hand of Fate.

- It's watchable, but the details just aren't memorable. I'm blaming Metallo.



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