Created by Paul Norris and Mort Weisinger
Alter Egos: Orin, Arthur Curry
Occupation: King of Atlantis
Marital Status: Estranged from his wife, Mera
Known Relatives: Atlanta (mother, deceased), Atlan (father, immortal wizard), Orm/Ocean Master (half-brother), Arthur Junior (son, deceased), Koryak (son)
Group Affiliation: JLA
First appearance: MORE FUN COMICS #73 (1941)
Prince Orin was born to the Queen Atlanta and sired by the ancient Atlantean sorcerer Atlan. Because he was born with yellow hair, however, Atlantis' superstitious priestly class thought he bore the mark of the curse of Kordax, a green-skinned, yellow-haired ancient Atlantean with the power to control sea life.
Orin was left to perish at Mercy Reef, where low-tide would expose him to the air and kill him. He was rescued and adopted by a pod of dolphins, lead by his adoptive mother Porm, who raised the little Atlantean as if he were a young dolphin.
He was later adopted by a lonely lighthouse keeper named Arthur Curry, who gave the mysterious young boy from the sea his own name, and raised him until his death. After Arthur Curry Sr.'s disappearance, Orin/Arthur wandered the world by land and sea for years, eventually discovering his Atlantean birthright.
Estranged from his people, who, after the death of his mother were being ruled by a cruel dictator, Arthur spent a great deal of time among the surface world, where he befriended an emerging second-generation of superheroes that included Martian Manhunter, The Flash Barry Allen, Green Lantern Hal Jordan and Black Canary Dinah Lance. Together with Batman and Superman, the seven heroes formed The Justice League of America, named after their forebears in the Justice Society of America.
Arthur would eventually be made king of Atlantis, take on sidekicks Aqualad and Aquagirl and marry Mera, with whom he had a child, Arthur Jr. Their marriage ended badly, however, when their child was killed by Aquaman's arch-enemy Black Manta, and Mera went insane, blaming Aquaman for the boy's death.
A particularly moody superhero who was constantly being pulled in different directions, Aquaman would often withdraw from one or all of the worlds to which he belonged. During one such epic brooding session in the Aquacave, he grew his hair long and grew a beard. He was eventually drawn out by Aqualad, and in one of his greatest defeats since the death of his son, Aquaman was disfigured by the sea-going villain Charybdis.
Charybdis temporarily stole Aquaman's telepathic powers to communicate and control aquatic life, and forced is left arm into a pool of piranhas, who quickly skeletonize it from half of the forearm down. After recovering, the hero replaced his hand with first a harpoon, and then a golden-colored cybernetically-controlled hook with a retractable cord he could launch from its base and turn into a drill. To his dismay, he was becoming ever more like Kordax, who had his left hand chopped off as punishment, and who also had it replaced with a weapon.
During this time, Aquaman's incredibly contentious relationship with the Justice League—which included repelling a Wonder Woman-lead team that tried to enter his city of Poseidonis without prermission—gradually began to repair itself. When the entire world—oceans included—were under threat from an invasion by powerful alien beings calling themselves The Hyperclan, Aquaman somewhat reluctantly joined Wonder Woman, Martian Manhunter, Batman, Superman and Barry Allen and Hal Jordan's successors in forming a new, more powerful league to protect the Earth.
Under water, Aquaman continued to adventure with Aqualad, who had taken the new name of Tempest, and Dolphin, a white-haired young woman who was also a victim of Charybdis, and who helped save Aquaman and Aqualad from the villain.
POWERS & ABILITIES
Like all Atlanteans, who have evolved to be able to not only withstand but thrive at the deepest depths of the oceans, where the water pressure is powerful enough to crush human beings, Aquaman has a pronounced level of super-strength, super-speed, super-endurance and a level of invulnerability on land, when the pressure is removed.
Aquaman's most notable power, however, is his telepathy, with which he can use to communicate with and occasionally even command others to do his bidding. It works especially well on sea-life, but he can also communicate and attack other forms of life with relatively low-level psychic attacks. Doing so comes with a cost, however, as dominating others psychically has, on at least one occasion, transformed him his skin into fish-like scales, pushing him ever closer in appearance to Kordax.
Aquaman's preferred weapon is his right fist and the multi-function hook on his left hand. He occasionally carries tridents into battle, the most powerful of which is the Trident of Poseidon, the, like, actual Greek god Poseidon.
For further reading: ATLANTIS CHRONICLES #1-7 (1990), AQUAMAN: TIME AND TIDE (1996), AQUAMAN #1-47 (1994-1998), JLA #1-#58 (1997-2001)
Created by Denny O’Neil and Joe Quesada (yes, that Joe Quesada), based on the character “created” “by” Bob Kane
Alter Egos: Jean-Paul Valley, Azrael
Group Affiliations: The Order of St. Dumas
Catch-phrase: “Yes, like the cat from The Smurfs. I have never heard that before. You are definitely the first person to ever mention that to me.”
First appearance: As Jean-Paul Valley, BATMAN: SWORD OF AZRAEL #1 (1992); as Batman, BATMAN #489 (1993)
Jean-Paul Valley was a Gotham City college student before he learned, upon his father’s death, that he was actually engineered and secretly trained since birth by The Order of St. Dumas’ advanced brain-washing and programming system, called, um, The System. He inherited his father’s title and role in the organization, but didn't want it.
Batman Bruce Wayne took him in, giving him a job as a security guard at Wayne Tech, while he and Robin Tim Drake trained Valley to fight Gotham City crime.
After Batman’s back was broken during a brutal fight with master criminal Bane, Wayne passed the mantle of the Batman and the keys to the Batcave to Valley, while Wayne and Alfred left the country to search for his kidnapped love interest Dr. Shondra Kinsolving (who, fortuitously, also possessed metahuman spinal damage-healing powers).
Valley proved psychologically unsuited to the task of being Batman, however, gradually altering the Batman costume until it was an unrecognizable suit of armor with clawed gauntlets that machine-gunned out little bat-shaped shuriken. He cut off all contact and cooperation with Robin, Commissioner Gordon and the Gotham Police Department, and gradually grew more and more extreme and violent, refusing to save a villain falling to his death (as Batman himself wold have done), which lead to the death of that villain’s hostage.
After Bruce Wayne was healed by Kinsolving's power, he trained under Lady Shiva to recover his edge and, with the help of allies Robin, Nightwing and even Catwoman, Wayne forcibly reclaimed his mantle from Valley. The former, fallen Batman eventually retook his Azrael identity, and after a period of estrangement from the Bat-family, he eventually rejoined them (and starred in his own monthly series).
He apparently died at the conclusion of his series Azrael: Agent of the Bat, a fact confirmed by his appearance as a Black Lantern in Blackest Night.
POWERS & ABILITIES
Valley’s bizarre upbringing gave him peak human physical condition, and made him an expert gymnast, athlete and hand-to-hand combatant. As Azrael, he originally fought with retractable flaming blades in his costume’s gauntlets.
As Batman, his armor was packed with offensive gadgetry (see above).
For further reading: BATMAN: SWORD OF AZRAEL, BATMAN: KNIGHTFALL VOLS. 1-3
Created by Kelley Puckett and Jim Aparo
Alter Ego: Green Arrow
Marital Status: Single…ladies. And gentlemen.
Known Relatives: Oliver Queen (father), Sandra "Moonday" Hawke (mother)
Group Affiliations: JLA (but only for, like, seven issues)
Best Bros: Eddie Fyers, Green Lantern Kyle Rayner, Robin Tim Drake
Dietary restrictions: Vegetarian
First Appearance: GREEN ARROW #0 (1994)
Connor Hawke befriended Green Arrow Oliver Queen during the latter’s stay at a California ashram. Queen had retreated there in order to seek some sort of inner peace after thinking he had killed his former best friend Green Lantern Hal Jordan, who, at the time, had gone off the deep end and was calling himself "Parallax" and was in the process of destroying all of time and space in order to rebuild it himself (It would later be revealed/retconned that Jordan was actually possessed by an ancient fear entity called Parallax; see Parallax for more).
While Hawke and Queen were traveling together with former federal agent Eddie Fyers, the pair learned that Oliver was actually Connor’s father, conceived many years earlier during a tryst with Sandra "Moonday" Hawke. Shortly afterwards, Queen gave his life while saving Metropolis from an eco-terrorist group, and Connor took up the mantle of Green Arrow until Oliver’s eventual/inevitable resurrection, after which point they both went by the name Green Arrow, fighting crime together and separately until the events of Flashpoint lead to the restructuring of the DC Universe and its timeline, apparently wiping Connor out of existence (Although a Connor Hawke would later surface on Earth-2).
POWERS & ABILITIES
Connor Hawke is a superb archer, although not nearly as talented with a bow and arrow as his father was. He nevertheless continued to carry the weapon into battle after taking up the mantle of Green Arrow in order to honor his late father.
Hawke is a better hand-to-hand combatant than he is an archer, however, and is, in fact, one of the best martial artists in the DC Universe, and has only rarely been defeated (in one notable instance, by Lady Shiva, widely believed to be the world’s greatest martial artist and assassin).
Hawke is also one of the handsomest young men in the DC Universe, which, when combined with his relative innocence and naivete, has made him pretty much irresistible to women, which he doesn't really know what to do with.
For further reading: Connor’s tenure as GA lasted from GREEN ARROW #91-#137 (1994-1998), pretty much none of which is available in trade. GREEN LANTERN: EMERALD ALLIES (2000) collects Connor's first meeting with Green Lantern Kyle Rayner. The so-so miniseries CONNOR HAWKE: DRAGON’S BLOOD (2008) did get collected, but is hardly the best Hawke story around. One of the best Connor Hawke stories was that in JLA #8-9 (1997), collected in a couple different JLA trades over the years. ADVENTURES IN THE DC UNIVERSE #16 (1997) is well-worth seeking out.
Created by Jim Lee and Brandon Choi
Alter Ego: Michael Cray
Occupation: U.S. and International special forces operative
Known Relatives: Admiral Phillip James Cray (father), Elizabeth Cray (mother), Alexander Cray (brother), Rachel Goldman/Sublime (daughter)
Group Affiliations: U.S. Navy, SEALs, International Operations, Team 7, StormWatch
Signature look: Eye-make up, bandanna
First appearance: DARKER IMAGE #1 (1992)
Driven to join the armed forces to avenge the death of his parents at the hands of terrorists, Michael Cray was eventually recruited into the International Operations, formerly part of the Central Intelligence Agency, where he was assigned to their elite Team 7. Like the rest of his team, he was maneuvered into being exposed to the "Gen Factor," which would have made them "Gen Active," which is WildStorm jargon for "super-powered." Many of them died, some survived with powers, while others—like Cray—did neither.
He continued to work with IO for sometime, before going solo and attempting to atone for all of his misdeeds. He had many adventures, a few inter-company crossovers and eventually gained low-level superpowers, including a healing factor and the ability to subconsciously manifest force-fields for self-defense, a delayed result of his exposure to the Gen Factor.
Then he died and there were some reboots, but obviously the Deathblow in Convergence was plucked from a time before his death.
POWERS & ABILITIES
With or without his superpowers, Deathblow is super-good at killing people.
For further reading: DEATHBLOW (2015), DEATHBLOW VOL. 1 (2008), BATMAN/DEATHBLOW: AFTER THE FIRE (2014)
Created by James Robinson and Nicola Scott, based on the character created by Harry Lampert and Gardner Fox
Alter Ego: Jason "Jay" Garrick
Occupation: Unemployed college graduate
Marital Status: Totally dumped by his girlfriend Joan Williams
Known Relatives: Mother
Group Affiliation: World Army
First appearance: EARTH 2 #1 (2012)
Five years of the his world's "Wonders" Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Robin and Supergirl either died or disappeared while repelling an invasion from Apokolips, recent college Jay Garrick had a strange encounter that would transform him into the first of a new wave of Wonders.
The dying god Mercury, who, told Garrick that he and many other gods had been fighting Apokolips unseen and that he had been captured by an even darker force with designs on their world, offered Garrick a dire warning about the future. He then gifted Garrick with the last of his power, giving Garrick super-speed.
He had to put his new power to the test almost immediately, as he and Hawkgirl, a former agent of the World Army who had gone rogue, joined the new hero Green Lantern in saving Washington DC from Solomon Grundy, the powerful avatar of The Grey.
The Flash, like his new allies, was briefly hunted by the World Army, and he had a particularly close call at his mother's house. After coming to the aid of Khalid Ben-Hassin, who would become Dr. Fate, against Wotan, it seemed as if The Flash had gained enough new allies to form some sort of team of heroes who could fight for justice together...but that was all rather quickly derailed when Apokolips attacked Earth yet again. Flash, like his super-powered allies, was quickly swept up in a losing-battle to save their world.
Millions of people escaped Earth on space-faring refugee ships, including Garrick's mom, while he, Green Lantern, Superman II, Batman II, former avatar Yolanda Montez and young civilian war correspondent Dick Grayson were transported to the mysterious sentient planet Telos.
POWERS & ABILITIES
The Flash can run fast. Really, really fast.
For further reading: EARTH 2 VOLS. 1-5, EARTH 2: WORLD'S END
Created by James Robinson and Nicola Scott, based on the character created Martin Nodell
Alter Ego: Alan Scott
Occupation: Founder and CEO of media empire GBC productions, Avatar of The Green
Marital Status: Kind of a sore subject
Group Affiliation: World Army
First appearance: EARTH 2 #1 (2012)
A powerful media mogul and one of his world's richest men, Scott seemingly had everything going for him, or as much as anyone from his world—which suffered horrifically during an invasion from Apokolips that claimed the lives of his world's few heroes ago—could.
While taking a much-needed vacation with his long-time boyfriend Sam Zhao in China, Scott was about to propose when the train they were on had a terrible accident, killing Sam and the other passengers. Scott was miraculously saved by the intercession of a mysterious green flame that chose Scott to be its champion. It healed him, gave him a new costume and asked him to choose a token through which he cold channel his new powers. He chose the ring he had planned on placing on Sam's finger.
Scott discovered that the flame speaking to him was the voice of The Green, a mysterious force that connected all organic life on his Earth. Scott could now create force-fields and force-blasts of green energy, could fly and do almost anything...his only limitation being his own will-power, and his nearness to the Earth itself (when he almost leaves the planet's atmosphere at one point, his powers extinguish).
Scott's first duty as Earth's Green Lantern was to defeat the Solomon Grundy, the avatar of the The Gray.
Scott did so with help from The Flash and Hawkgirl, although when they proposed an alliance, he rebuffed them, angry and embittered by the loss of Sam. Hawkgirl attempts to convince him otherwise, even helping Scott investigate what exactly caused the train wreck that claimed Sam's life.
When Apokolips launched a new assault on Earth, Scott, as the world's most powerful hero, lead the resistance, taking on Superman clone Brutaal and joining forces with The World Army and its own handful of heroes.
Together with a motley crew of heroes, Scott sought to defend Earth from yet another Apokolyptian invasion, rallying Earth's other avatars and even facing Darkseid himself in one-on-one combat. But the champions of Earth were overmatched and eventually overwhelemed. Millions of refugees attempted to flee the dying world before it was completely consumed by Apokolips. Scott, Flash, Superman II, Batman II, former avatar Yolanda Montez and young civilian war correspondent Dick Grayson were transported to the mysterious sentient planet Telos.
POWERS & ABILITIES
Through the powers imbued in him by The Green, Scott is able to manipulate magical green energy in a way that gives him super-human strength and invulnerability, as well as to fly, create force-fields and other energy constructs, and to project offensive blasts of green energy.
He also has some power of plant-life, which he can cause to grow supernaturally fast, and can communicate with The Green and the other aspects of the Earth, like The Grey.
For further reading: EARTH 2 VOLS. 1-5, EARTH 2: WORLD'S END
Created by Jim Lee, J. Scott Campbell and Brandon Choi
Base of Operations: La Jolla, California, WildStorm Universe
Line-up: Caitlin Fairchild, Sarah Rainmaker, Roxanne "Roxy" Spaulding/Freefall, Percival Edmund Chang/Gunge, Bobby Lane/Burnout and John Lynch
First appearance: WILDCATS TRILOGY #1 (1993)
The blandly-named International Operations, a one-time branch of the Central Intelligence Agency that eventually became its own, distinct entity, initiated an internship program for young people—which was in actuality an excuse to perform tests on the "Gen-Active" (i.e. super-powered) children of the members of IO's strikeforce, Team 7.
One of the programs enrollees, Caitlin Fairchild, escaped with several others, but later returned to free the others—and ended up getting caught themselves. Eventually freed with the help of John Lynch, one of the members of Team 7, the teens hooked up with Sarah Rainmaker and, under the leadership of Lynch, they formed the superhero team Gen 13.
Fairchild is the smartest member of the team, and their natural leader. She gained super-strength, super-speed and a degree of invulnerability when her powers were activated--along with a tall, buxom new figure. Despite her smarts, here clothes were regularly damaged are accidentally removed, and she would sometimes be unaware of such changes in circumstances.
Roxanne "Roxy" Spaulding, aka Freefall, is Fairchild's younger half-sister, and has the power to manipulate gravity, allowing herself to float or fly by lessening it, or increasing it in or around others to knock them down or pin them.
Edmund Percival Chang took the name "Grunge," which will certainly never make the character the least bit dated, and had the power to mimic the molecular make-up of any material he touches, not unlike DC's Amazing Man or Marvel's Absorbing Man.
Bobby Lane, aka Burnout, is basically just Johnny Storm from The Fantastic Four, while Sarah Rainmaker is basically just Storm from the X-Men.
Together with Lynch and/or their robot maid Anna, the team had many adventures, most of them extremely derivative of those of the X-Men on whom they were so clearly based. Despite their humbling beginnings, cartoonist Adam Warren turned out some of the very best superhero comics of the late '90s and early '00s using these characters.
For further reading: If you're looking in the back-issue bins, you're better off with GEN 13 BOOTLEG (1996-1998) than any of the earlier, non-Adam Warren GEN 13 stuff. After GEN 13 BOOTlEg: GRUNGE: THE MOVIE (1997) and GEN 13: MAGICAL DRAMA QUEEN ROXY (1998), Warren had the reigns for the GEN 13 ongoing from #60-77 (2001-2002). The team crossed over with Superman, The Fantastic Four, Generation X, The Maxx and Monkey Man and O'Brien...all worth a look for novelty's sake at least.
Hal Jordan created by John Broome and Gil Kane; Parallax created by Ron Marz and Daryl Cunninham
Alter Ego: Hal Jordan
Hobby: Playing God
Group Affiliation: The Green Lantern Corps...at least up until he killed them all
First appearance: GREEN LANTERN #50 (1994)
At the dawn of the modern age of superheroes, Hal Jordan became the first Earthling to ever be inducted into the Green Lantern Corps, the universe-wide peace-keeping force created by the Guardians of The Universe who were gifted with green power rings capable of creating and manipulating green energy and matter.
Jordan was a successful Green Lantern for years, becoming one of the best in the organization's history—despite a rebellious streak that often caused him to butt heads with the Guardians—and was one of the world's premiere heroes, co-founding the Justice League and serving with the team for may years.
When Mongul and the Cyborg-Superman destroyed his hometown of Coast City, California, Jordan went a little insane, fighting and killing most of Corps, all but one of the Guardians and his archenemy, the fallen Green Lantern Sinestro, who had long fought against Jordan and the Green Lanterns with a Qwardian-created yellow power ring.
With each Lantern Jordan defeated, he took their rings and absorbed their power, eventually draining the power from the organization's central power battery on Oa, the source of the entire Corps' power. Shortly after this, Jordan was confronted by former GLs Guy Gardner and Arisa, Sentinel (Original Green Lantern Alan Scott), Wonder Woman, Martian Manhunter, Captain Atom and Darkstar Colos, but Jordan defeated them quickly and thoroughly.
While his actions seemed to be a complete 180, they eventually made a sort of sense. Working with the temporally-powered villain Extant (formerly Monarch, and formerly Hank "Hawk" Hall before that), at least until he was able to absorb his underling's power over the time-stream, Jordan—now calling himself "Parallax"—sought to de-create the universe, eating away the time stream at both the beginning and end of time until it no longer existed. He would then use his practically omnipotent powers to re-create the universe, this time making it so that Coast City was never destroyed and its many inhabitants never annihilated.
A large contingent of superheroes, including Superman, The Ray, a time-lost Batgirl Barbara Gordon, Guy Gardner, Jordan's successor Green Lantern Kyle Rayner, battled Parallax outside of time and space, ultimately defeating him when Green Arrow Oliver Queen—Jordan's best friend—fired an arrow into his chest. Superman and the others then re-started the universe themselves by creating a new "Big Bang" via the young hero Damage. The DC Universe and it's de-created timeline were thus re-created, but without Jordan to guide it. This new timeline was fairly identical to the old one, with only a few significant changes that were unknown to those within the DC Universe (We sure noticed on Earth-33, however).
Parallax would appear only a few more times after the events of Zero Hour, generally causing trouble with his incredible powers even when trying to do good (as when he attempted to resurrect the dead Oliver Queen and only succeeding in creating an exact but soulless clone of his body), and he would ultimately give his life to destroy an extra-dimensional "suneater" entity that was snuffing out the sun.
Writer Geoff Johns would later retcon the hell out of the character in Green Lantern: Rebirth; it was a pretty elegant solution to a perceived problem that made the plot of Jordan's arc much more complicated, while making the drama and ethical issues of that arc more simplistic. None of that much matters as far as is Convergence is concerned, however, as it features a pre-Final Night version of Parallax.
POWERS & ABILITIES
Parallax could do pretty much anything. By the time he had defeated the GLC and Guardians, Jordan had essentially become a living power battery, capable of absorbing and manipulating energies of any kind, including the fundamental powers of existence, like time itself. Jordan was physically powerful enough to knock Superman on his ass with his bare hands, and to destroy and remake the universe. Even when his powers were fairly depleted, he retained powers similar but greater than those of a Guardian.
For further reading: GREEN LANTERN: EMERALD TWILIGHT, GUY GARDNER: WARRIOR #18-21 (1994), ZERO HOUR, GREEN LANTERN #0 (1994), FINAL NIGHT (1998), PARALLAX: EMERALD NIGHT (1996)...and DAY OF JUDGEMENT and GREEN LANTERN: REBIRTH if you want to know what happened to Jordan after he stopped calling himself "Parallax."
Created by Louise Simonson and Jon Bogdanove
Alter Ego: Dr. John Henry Irons
Occupation: Construction worker/crimefighter
Known relatives: Butter (grandfather), Bess (grandmother), Clay/Crash (brother), Blondell (sister-in-law), Jemahl, Paco and Tyke (nephews), Natasha and Darlene (nieces)
No relation to: Henry Heywood
Base of Operations: Metropolis
First Appearance: ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN #500 (1993)
Dr. John Henry Irons, named for the African-American folk hero who challenged a machine in a steel-driving contest that he won at the cost of his own life, was a brilliant inventor and engineer working for AmerTek Industries. Irons was chiefly responsible for the creation of a hand-held energy cannon, which, upon falling into the wrong hands, had the potential to become the automatic handgun of laser guns. Disgusted, Irons faked his own death and started a new life as a construction worker in Metropolis.
One day he saved a fellow worker from falling from a high-rise girder, only to fall himself. He was saved by Superman, who, when asked by Irons what he could ever do to repay Superman, was told simply to "live a life worth saving."
Irons had ample opportunity to do so when Superman "died" in his battle to stop Doomsday (a battle which buried Irons in an avalanche of rubble). Irons used his engineering skills to create a high-tech suit of armor, complete with a big Superman-style S-shield and a red cape, and stepped up to try and replace the dead Superman. The Man of Steel, as Irons appropriately called himself, was only one of four to attempet filling the late Superman's red boots--a teenage clone, a brutal vigilante wearing a visor and a cyborg all converged in Metropolis claiming to be the real Superman--but he was the only one to attempt it without the benefit of superpowers.
Steel's first major battles in Metropolis were pretty personal, as he soon discovered that new versions of his energy cannons were being used by local street gangs, who called the deadly new weapons "Toastmasters." The source of the weapons turned out to be the criminal The White Rabbit, the new identity of Irons' former AmerTek partner Dr. Angora Lapin.
When the nefarious nature of the Cyborg Superman was finally revealed, Steel joined "The Kid" (the name teen Superman clone preferred to "Superboy") and the alive-but-weakened Kal-El in storming Engine City, which the Cyborg and his extrateresstrial ally Mongul had built on the ruins of Coast City. Eventually joined by Green Lantern Hal Jordan, Supergirl and The Eradicator (the true identity of the fourth substitute Superman), they succeeded in defeating The Cyborg and Mongul, and saving Metropolis from a devastating missile attack.
Steel, as he shortened his name to after Superman returned, later moved to Washington D.C. to be closer to his family, and adopted the city under his protection. He would move a few more times, repeatedly refine his armor and its design, and develop a close relationship with his niece Natasha. His greatest adventures, including being recruited into the re-formed JLA after the new, more powerful team's battles against The Hyperc Can, rogue angel Asmodel and The Injustice Gang, would follow in the years after Zero Hour.
POWERS & ABILITIES
Steel (usually) doesn't have any superpowers, but tampering from otuside forces has occasionally given him tempoary powers of various kinds. Despite being a regular human being—if bigger, stronger and in better shape than most—his incredible armor gives him the strength and abilities of a metahuman. In addition to offering him a high-degree of vulnerability, super-strenth and flight capabilities, his original armor included a high-powered, wrist-mounted rivet gun that fired hot, metal rivets with incredible accuracy, and a long-handled sledgehammer. Later suits contained various features, including a "smart hammer" with a shorter handle that he could control, and had the unique ability to hit harder the farther it was thrown.
Steel is a genius-level intellect, adept in the fields of engineering, munitions, medicine and physics, and is one of the world's foremost super-scientists.
For future reading: RETURN OF SUPERMAN (1993) or SUPERMAN: DEATH AND RETURN OF SUPERMAN OMNIBUS (2013); while none of it is currently available in trade paperback form, John Henry Irons starred in his the 52-issue monthly STEEL (1994-1998), which isn't too hard to find in back-issue bins. He was a common presence in the Superman books from his creation onward as well.
Created by John Byrne, based on the character created by Otto Binder, Curt Swan and Al Plastino, based on the character Superman created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster
Alter Ego: Matrix, Mae Kent, Exhibit A In How Sometimes Attempting To Simplify Superhero Comics Only Makes Them More Comiplicated
Known relatives: Martha Kent (adoptive mother), Jonathan Kent (adoptive father), Superman/Clark Kent/Kal-El (adopted brother)
Bases of Operations: Smallville, Kansas and Metropolis
First appearance: SUPERMAN #16 (1988)
Deep breath. Okay, in an alternate reality referred to as a "pocket universe," as there weren't any alternate realities at the time, three Kryptonian superheroes escaped their Phantom Zone imprisonment to wreak havoc. That reality's Lex Luthor had created an artificial life form called "the protoplasmic matrix," which resembled the late Lana Lang and had all of her memories, but which had the physiology and all of the superpowers of the one, true Superman from the DCU (the pocket reality's Kal-El having died while still Superboy, and thus never growing up to become Superman.
After failing to stop the criminals on her own in her Supergirl form, Matrix came to the DCU to recruit Superman's aid. He helped her, but by the time they defeated the criminals, the pocket universe was lifeless and destroyed.
Superman then took this Supergirl to his own reality and left her with his parents, who named her Mae and tried to instill in her the same good old-fashioned, Midwestern, down-on-the-farm values that made their adopted son such a great hero.
When her powers malfunctioned a bit, she fled for the seclusion of space, eventually returning to Earth...and falling in love with Lex Luthor II (actually the one and only Lex Luthor, whose mind was in a younger clone of himself and who was now posing as his own son). This naturally made things awkward with her adoptive brother.
Supergirl tried and failed to help Superman stop Doomsday and, after his death, tried to fill in as best she could as Metropolis' protector (a role in which she found a lot of competition, as it seemed to be raining Supermen). She aided Steel, Superboy and the not-dead-after all Superman in defeating The Cyborg-Superman and Mongul, and had a pretty dramatic falling-out with Luthor when she discovered he had been secretly cloning her.
Things would get much, much weirder when she began to question if she had a soul and met the young Linda Danvers, but that business would all occur after the events of Zero Hour, which excuses us from having to talk about them at all, thank goodness.
POWERS & ABILITIES
The Matrix had the ability to change shape and could be imprinted with the thoughts, memories and abilities of others. Her basic super-power, however, was a powerful telekinesis, which could be used to mimic most of Superman's powers, in addition to allowing her to "cloak" herself visually and aurally, create defensive force fields and attack others with offensive psionic force blasts.
For further reading: SUPERMAN: THE MAN OF STEEL VOL. 8 (2014), SUPERMAN: THEY SAVED LUTHOR'S BRAIN (2000), THE DEATH OF SUPERMAN (2013), WORLD WITHOUT A SUPERMAN (1993), THE RETURN OF SUPERMAN (1993), SUPERGIRL #1-4 (1994)