Who's Steelclaw?

Who's This? Turn to page 11 in your guide book (Who's Who vol.XXII). That guy.
The facts: Dedicated Star City mayor turned vigilante Steelclaw appeared in Detective Comics' Green Arrow back-up from 'Tec #560 to 565 (1986), only a few months before his Who's Who appearance, and even then, isn't necessarily always the focus of the episodes. His death at the end of that arc has proven to be permanent.
How you could have heard of him: You couldn't. Hey, you think Mayor Thomas Bolt would make a good character for Arrow? His story seems perfect for the show.
Example story: Detective Comics #560-565 (1986) by Joey Cavalieri (writer); Jerome K. Moore and Stan Woch (pencilers); and Dell Barras, Steve Montano and Rodin Rodriguez (inkers)
The whole point of Steelclaw is to answer the question "what is a hero?" and contrast his journey with Black Canary's. At this point in her toxic partnership with Green Arrow, she distances herself from Ollie to infiltrate the underworld, just like the Golden Age Canary once did. That's what Steelclaw is doing too, pulling a Green Hornet on Star City's drug trade, and taking financial chunks out of it and setting himself up to sabotage operations. GA is totally against this strategy, but he's distracted by another "superhero", Champion, who uses a supersuit basically for profit and insurance schemes. Each of the heroes "on the edge" (GA excepted) all utter the line above - "Does that make me a bad guy?" - which is also the title of the first chapter. But who is Steelclaw? The first clues come in the next issue when he does two peculiar things:
1) Defend the mayor's honor, and 2) call the mayor's son "Brucie". Black Canary hears all this, because she's been rampaging through the underworld setting herself up as a superhero gone bad who also wants protection money from the city's organized crime. When things get a little hot, Steelclaw gases everyone and Black Canary ends up in the river/ocean (depending on where Star City is). No worries, the cold drink wakes her up and she gives the thugs a bloody nose. Meanwhile, Green Arrow crashes the mayor's press conference to ask pointed questions about Champion and City Hall's stance on vigilantes. Well... does GA want HIMSELF arrested?
Not Ollie's best moment, on camera or off. This just throws the mayor into DEEP THOUGHT, and a walk to the Claw-Cave reveals HE'S the mysterious villain/vigilante!
Yes, it's his ELECTED RESPONSIBILITY to stop crime and corruption, apparently by any means necessary. 'Tec 563 doesn't then feature Steelclaw per se, but they do talk about him, and Black Canary figures out who he is from the clues above and GA's mention that the mayor had gotten a phone call about "Brucie". So the heroes converge on Costa the mobster's mansion where Brucie is being held. But when Canary and Steelclaw meet, they each think the other is a criminal. So it's lights out for Dinah, with just a scratch of the mayor's cyber-fingernail. He does bring up a good point while tying her up...
Yes, that struck me from the off as well. How believable is it for Black Canary, a JUSTICE LEAGUER, to turn to a life of crime? It's a little absurd of her to think she could pull the deception off, isn't it? Regardless, a couple thugs then show up, wanting to kill the prone, unconscious Canary who, in their eyes, is either kicking thug ass all over town, or skimming 25% off the their profits as a femme fatale criminal mastermind. Maybe both. (Looks like this was a very bad plan.) But Steelclaw doesn't want her dead, because he's really a good guy, see. He interferes...
Well, he was skimming 50% off the top. Those drug stooges had the right idea. And... that's it for Steelclaw. Canary is saved by Green Arrow, but the mayoral vigilante makes for a sober reminder of what can happen to a double agent. Brucie is rescued as well and asks who that hooded corpse is, but gets no answer before we cut away to some Onyx subplot. By the next issue, no more mention of his is made. Better not to think about it.

Seems like a pretty interesting idea for the TV series or even the rebooted GA series, no? They kept it so short, there seems to be some untapped potential left.

Who else? Other mineral heroes in Who's Who volume XX include Star Sapphire (well-known), Steel (soon dead and eventually replaced by someone cooler, but I think we know this guy well enough), Sterling Silversmith (thought about it, but not this round) and Stone Boy (the Legion of Substitute-Heroes is NOT obscure, I swear). No, next I think we're going to go the other direction... in time.


Craig Oxbrow said...

'Mayor' seems a bit of a high-profile gig for a double - or triple - life.

Siskoid said...

Didn't Green Arrow himself eventually become Mayor of Star City?

American Hawkman said...

Yes, and had ran for the position by this point. I really liked Steelclaw. He has an interesting gimmick, a pretty cool look, and a nice codename. If he'd appeared in the 1940s, he'd have had his own strip. As is, he's unjustly forgotten. I do hope he makes Arrow at some point.

Craig Oxbrow said...

Possibly - I'd guess there were some problems he had to deal with as a result.

(I always thought there was an Elseworlds idea in Bruce Wayne trying to save Gotham without putting on a mask.)


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