(p) Yildiray Cinar
(i) Rob Hunter
James Robinson gave himself a big task with Earth 2. I phrase it like this because Robinson was the one with the concept from the beginning and he’s written every issue so far. It’s quite obvious the man has epic plans for this series. It’s a true shame he’ll be leaving the series after issue 16. But that’s another rant altogether.
Earth 2 #13 introduces Captain Steel, a character most modern readers probably don’t know. And that’s okay, because Robinson gives us such a fantastically comprehensive look at Hank Heywood and what he means to the ongoing narrative. What’s most interesting about him, though, is not his powers or his origin story (though both are fun), but rather his personality.
** SPOILERS AHEAD **
Steel is less man than metal after his father saved his life from a degenerative bone disorder by injecting him with living metals that rebuilt most of what was dying inside his body. It’s nice to focus on all the amazing things Captain Steel can do now that he’s not restricted by conventional human weaknesses, but the real change in Heywood was psychological. And it all comes down to a single panel.
Unlike the rest of the wonders featured in Earth 2 so far, Captain Steel is a “lone ranger” of sorts. Though he’s associated with the World Army and he follows commands to a tee, it’s not because he wants to. He doesn’t have the passion or the sense of duty that any of the other wonders possess. The living metal that saved his life also striped him of whatever emotional ability he once had. Now, he’s just a husk of a man who does what he does “because what else is there? But I do not care.” It’s an extremely powerful sentence that shows a different side to the concept of a superhero. Captain Steel is still just as heroic, brave, and just as the other wonders, but his motivations are nonexistent, which is fascinating when you think how that basically never happens in modern comic books.
I am very sad that James Robinson is leaving Earth 2 because we’re now getting to the point in the series where all the various bits and pieces we’ve been getting over the past year will finally start coming together. He’s taking old ideas and totally revamping them in a way that even the rest of the ‘New 52’ can’t top.