Superman/Batman was an odd comic, because although it was a crossover book and therefore neither character's "main" title, major changes occured in its pages, and they stuck: the DCU reacted to Superman/Batman, not the other way around. Which isn't to say that the book didn't draw from the main titles. You had to have at least some idea what was happening in the regular comics, and who the characters were. That's why I was so confused when the Superman Family showed up. I recognized Superboy and Krypto, but who was everyone else?
Niece of John Henry, Steel (Natasha Irons) joined Nightwing, Robin, Batgirl, Huntress, Superboy and Supergirl to invade the White House and battle Lex Luthor.
After the abomination that was the "Supergirl From Krypton" series of DC Direct's Superman/Batman action figures, it's a welcome change to get back to lovely, Ed McGuinness-designed "Public Enemies" figures. Even if you don't know who they are.
Apparently during DC's big "Our Worlds at War" crossover, John Henry Irons, the original Steel, was injured so severely that he had to give up being a superhero. However, he built a suit of armor for his niece and sent her out to kick butt in his name, which is where the situation stood when it came time for the Superman Rescue Squad to storm the White House.
Natasha's armor was, as far as I can tell, originally designed by Spanish artist Pasqual Ferry. Since this figure is based on McG's artwork, there are a few stylistic differences, but not too many. The design is very reminiscent of the robot Maria, in Fritz Lang's Metropolis - you can see why Ferry might have chosen that as inspiration for a Superman character.
The sculpt is good.
It was handled by Big Chief, the same guy behind those god-awful Series 2 figures, which just proves that there was something wrong with the Michael Turner figure designs, not the sculpt. Steel looks feminine yet robotic, which is the goal. She has this weird "tail" thing hanging off the back of her head, which is apparently supposed to suggest hair. The facial structure of the mask actually looks like a black woman, which is nice. In fact, the mask is removable, and it looks more appropriately ethnic than the face beneath it.
The real beauty of this figure, though, is the articulation. For once, DCD has stepped up to the plate and delivered. It's not ML-quality, but it's close. Steel has balljoints at the knees, hips, waist(!), torso, shoulders and head. Her wrists are peg joints and her elbows are hinged, and her head-tail is bendy, so you can pose it how you like. She only suffers slightly from the lack of any kind of bicep joint, and you won't miss the ankles. If only DC could actually manage to give us this kind of quality more often.
Steel comes with one accessory, her hammer.
While her uncle's version really just looked like a sledgehammer (a techno sledgehammer, but still), Natasha's is much different. The handle is impossibly thin, while the head is about the size of a cinderblock. The whole thing is very smooth and technological, which makes sense. She can hold it in either hand, or in both, with some careful posing.
When the line-up for Public Enemies Series 2 was announced, Steel didn't seem like a must-have figure. A short-term replacement character with kind of a goofy design and a strangely unbalanced hammer? Yeah, okay. But I took the gamble on her, since it was a character we didn't already have, and was really surprised. Steel is definitely worth getting, if only to encourage DCD to make more figures of this caliber.
Who's your favorite armored hero? Tell us on our message board, The Loafing Lounge.