The new Metropolis is here. But what about the man who made it possible? Is John Henry Irons ready to give up being Steel? Your Major Spoilers review of Steelworks #1 from DC Comics awaits!
Writer: Michael Dorn
Artist: Sami Basri
Colorist: Andrew Dalhouse
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Editor: Paul Kaminski
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: June 6, 2023
Previously in Steelworks: The Metropolis of the future is here today, but can it survive a terrorist who’s out for revenge against its builder, John Henry Irons, and his company, Steelworks? Who possesses secrets that could undo everything John has worked so hard to build? While John’s professional life is firing on all cylinders, his personal life is even better, as his on-again, off-again relationship with Lana Lang might be back on, permanently. Now he must decide whether it’s time to give up being Steel once and for all.
But does John even know who he would be without his superhero identity?
A WORLD WITHOUT THE SUPERS
Steelworks #1 begins with a grand opening, as John Henry Irons officially announces the opening of Steelworks, his new facility to provide power and technology to the people of Metropolis. His speech works not only as an announcement, but as a recap of his origins and the events in the Superman titles that have led us here. Watching the pre-taped announcement, John and his niece Natasha, also known as Steel, discuss the idea of giving up their armor and forging a Metropolis that doesn’t rely on Superman and the Superman family to swoop in and save the day. She isn’t sure, but he insists that he’s retiring, all the while preparing his newest armor. Elsewhere in the city, an angry man named Kerry is trying to drink himself into the ground when he is approached by the mysterious Charles Walker III, who has an offer he can’t refuse: Help him destroy Steelworks and earn a fresh start.
And if he says no? Walker’s going to make him do it anyway.
I LIKE THIS ART A LOT
The biggest, and only real complaint that I have about the writing of Michael Dorn is that it, like so many scripts from writers outside of comics, has a genre-stretching premise. We know that Steel won’t be able to negate the need for Superman, because he’s a Superman character in a Superman book, and making that the centerpiece of his motivation puts the issue on difficult footing. Basri’s art is wonderful, though, and the interactions between John and Natasha, John and Lana Lang, and Walker’s final monologue are fun. The new designs for both Steels’ armors are good, and the brief action sequence with Natasha mobilizing her security staff is very well done, even if the cliffhanger comes in an odd place.
BOTTOM LINE: WORTH A LOOK
The big pluses of Steelworks #1 are the art and the interesting new status quo (though it is reminiscent of the Brainiac 13 upgrade to Metropolis about 20 years ago), and even with my questions about the premise, the issue holds together well and makes me want to dip my toe in another Super-book, earning 4 out of 5 stars overall. Heck, DC editorial might get crazy and actually give Natasha her own code name!
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The story hook here seems like a self-fulfilling prophecy, but the art is quite good and there's a real sense of character and story.