Detroit Steel

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Detroit Steel is a fictional suit of powered armor appearing in books published by Marvel Comics, usually as an adversary or rival to Iron Man. Created by writer Matt Fraction and artist Salvador Larocca, Detroit Steel first appeared in Iron Man (vol 5) #25 (June 2010) as part of the "Stark Resilient" storyline. Detroit Steel is the first in a line of armored soldiers called the Detroit Steelcorps,[1] or simply the Steelcorps, which is marketed by Stark's corporate rival Hammer Industries. Principal characters in storylines that have worn the armor include Lt. Doug Johnson and Sasha Hammer. Individual soldiers wearing the Detroit Steel armor have been called Steelmechs[2] or Hammermechs.[3]

Publication history

Detroit Steel first appeared in Iron Man (vol 5) #25 (June 2010), the first part of the nine-part "Stark Resilient" storyline, which saw Tony Stark as he struggled to build a new company, Stark Resilient. As Stark's previous company, Stark Industries, had already been critically damaged from terrorist attacks in the 2008 storyline "The Five Nightmares", he was ultimately forced to liquidate what was left of that company in the 2010 "Stark Disassembled" storyline, which also saw Stark removed from his position as head of S.H.I.E.L.D. following the events of the 2008 "Secret Invasion" crossover. Stark's plan for Stark Resilient was to begin by building a car powered by clean repulsor technology, the same technology used to power the arc reactor in his chest with which he first saved his own life in his origin story.[4][5]

Writer Matt Fraction created Detroit Steel to embody jingoistic patriotism in the vein of Team America,[5] and describes the character thus:

He is what follows in the hole left behind by Iron Man once Tony Stark leaves the world stage. Tony hasn't been around to protect the regular interests that he might have during his time running Stark Industries or running S.H.I.E.L.D. And now that he's back, he's made it clear he doesn't want to get back into the geo-political side of things necessarily. Detroit Steel is what happens in that absence. He is a sort of Blackwater-meets-NASCAR corporate-sponsored armored enhanced guy available for hire to the highest bidder for whatever cause around the round. Basically, Iron Man's worst nightmare of what he could become. An absolute perversion of everything he is.[5]

Though the armor exhibits the colors of the American flag, Fraction states that the armor can repainted to reflect the colors of whatever country or corporation purchases them, from the Japanese Rising Sun Flag[5] (which makes an appearance in Iron Man #27[6]) to the yellow and red colors of McDonald's. Fraction also contrasts Detroit Steel with Iron Man's Bleeding Edge armor, which debuted in the same issue, by describing the latter as "sleeker, slicker and pared down", whereas the former is "bigger and better and boisterous and loud and noisy and everything else. It's like the difference between a Porsche and a Mack Truck."[5]

In the "Stark Resilient" storyline, Hammer Industries, led by Justine Hammer (daughter of Stark's former adversary Justin Hammer) and her daughter, Sasha Hammer, not only wish revenge on Stark for the death of patriarch Justin, but see Stark as an obstacle for their product, Detroit Steel, which they hope to market globally as a new soldier for the post-9/11 world. The prototype unit, Detroit Steel Mark One, is piloted by Lt. Doug Johnson III, who underwent surgical modifications in order to operate the armor, and also trained the other pilots in the company's Steelcorps army.[4][7]

Detroit Steel next appears in Iron Man during the 2011 company-wide crossover storyline "Fear Itself".[8][9] Lt. Johnson is deployed in Paris, where he confronted Grey Gargoyle, who has been transformed by Asgardian magic into Mokk: Breaker of Faith. Mokk has turned the population of the city into stone, and during his confrontation with Johnson, rips open his armor and turns Lt. Johnson into stone as well.[10] Sasha Hammer subsequently leads a team of "Steelmechs" into Paris, ostensibly on behalf of both the U.S. and French governments, to recover Johnson and his armor, and encounter Pepper Potts (aka Rescue).[3] Hammer and the Steelmechs battle Rescue before they are both confronted by Mokk.[3]

During the "Demon" storyline, Johnson is revealed to be alive, though when asked his name by a relief worker, he gives it as "Detroit Steel".[11] The public however, believes Johnson to be dead,[1] and Justine Hammer makes Sasha the new public face of Detroit Steel.[11]

Powers and abilities

According to Hammer Industries, Detroit Steel represented "the most bleeding-edge research into man/machine spinal hybrid mechanics the world has ever seen", and incorporates technology, such as C.N.S. (Controlled Exo-Enhanciles), that would eventually be used to end paralysis caused by cervical, thoracic or corticospinal injuries. Weighing four and a half tons,[4] the "oversized"[12] Detroit Steel towers over Iron Man,[13] at approximately twice his height.[14] The suit affords its occupant considerable protection from automatic weapons and explosives,[4] though Mokk: Breaker of Faith was able to easily rip open the armor.[10]

The suit allows its users to fly, and usually is seen with a rotary cannon mounted on its right arm, and a specialized chainsaw on its left,[4] which can penetrate Iron Man's Bleeding Edge Armor.[14] There are rocket-powered munitions on the suit's shoulders.[4] The rotary cannon can be dismounted so that the soldier can carry and fire it as a traditional handheld weapon,[15] and users of the armor have been seen outfitted with other types of weapons in this manner, including both directed-energy weapons and scaled-up rifles.[3] Sasha Hammer's armor has also been observed to have a directed-energy weapon in palm of its hands.[15] Those who pilot the armor are required to undergo considerable surgical modifications, which leave implants visible on the pilot's chest, which Lt. Johnson, who first piloted the Mark One, felt "turned him into a monster". According to Justine Hammer, the company designed models for different environments and hot zones, including arctic climates and urban encounters.[4] Suits of different heights and designs have also been revealed.[11]

During the "Stark Resilient" storyline, Detroit Steel was aided in his attack against Iron Man by a fleet of unmanned flying drones that were operated by anonymous users duped into believing that the missions they were carrying out on behalf of Hammer Industries were a video game, playable via a cell phone application, in which they pretended to be Detroit Steel's "wingman".[16][17]


Alex Evans, reviewing Invincible Iron Man #33 for Weekly Comic Book Review, while praising the "Stark Resilient" storyline, including issue #33 (which he gave a B-), found the Justine and Sasha Hammer to be more effective villains than Detroit Steel, which he found to be "bland" and "boring". Evans also disliked the lack of a resolution to Steel and Iron Man's battle in that issue,[18] though he later praised Iron Man #505, which he felt tied up that loose end.[9]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Matt Fraction (w), Salvador Larocca (a). "Demon Part 3: Control" The Invincible Iron Man #511 (March 2012), Marvel Comics
  2. Matt Fraction (w), Salvador Larocca (a). "Fear Itself Part 3: The Apostate" The Invincible Iron Man #506 (September 2011), Marvel Comics
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Matt Fraction (w), Salvador Larocca (a). "Fear Itself Part 4: Fog of War" The Invincible Iron Man #507 (October 2011), Marvel Comics
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 Matt Fraction (w), Salvador Larocca (a). "Stark Resilient Part 1: Hammer Girls" The Invincible Iron Man v5, #25 (June 2010), Marvel Comics
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 Mahadeo, Kevin. "SNEAK PEEK: Detroit Steel". Marvel Comics. April 1, 2010
  6. Matt Fraction (w), Salvador Larocca (a). "Stark Resilient Part 3: This Is What We Do" The Invincible Iron Man v5, #27 (August 2010), Marvel Comics
  7. Matt Fraction (w), Salvador Larocca (a). "Stark Resilient Part 7: Sabot" The Invincible Iron Man v5, #31 (December 2010), Marvel Comics
  8. Richards, Dave. "'Invincible Iron Man's' Stark Future". Comic Book Resources. April 20, 2011
  9. 9.0 9.1 Evans, Alex. "Invincible Iron Man #505 – Review". Weekly Comic Book Review. June 19, 2001
  10. 10.0 10.1 Matt Fraction (w), Salvador Larocca (a). "Fear Itself Part 2: Cracked Actor" The Invincible Iron Man #505 (August 2011), Marvel Comics
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 Matt Fraction (w), Salvador Larocca (a). "Demon Part 2: Exposure" The Invincible Iron Man #511 (February 2012), Marvel Comics
  12. Callahan, Timothy. Review of "Invincible Iron Man #28". Comic Book Resources. July 18, 2010
  13. Matt Fraction (w), Salvador Larocca (a). "Stark Resilient Part 4: Grand Mal Tokyo Moron Party" The Invincible Iron Man v5, #28 (September 2010), Marvel Comics
  14. 14.0 14.1 Matt Fraction (w), Salvador Larocca (a). "Stark Resilient Part 8: Drones Scream Down" The Invincible Iron Man v5, #32 (January 2011), Marvel Comics
  15. 15.0 15.1 Matt Fraction (w), Salvador Larocca (a). "Fear Itself Part 5: If I Ever Get Out Of Here" The Invincible Iron Man #508 (November 2011), Marvel Comics
  16. Matt Fraction (w), Salvador Larocca (a). "Stark Resilient" The Invincible Iron Man v5, #29-33 (October 2010-February 2011), Marvel Comics
  17. Tabu, Hannibal. "THE BUY PILE FOR DECEMBER 22ND, 2010". "The Buy Pile". Comic Book Resources. December 23, 2010
  18. Evans, Alex. "Invincible Iron Man #33 – Review". Weekly Comic Book Review. December 24, 2010