Steel Sterling may well have the craziest origin of any Superman-wannabe in the history of funny books: He doused himself with an experimental chemical and then dove naked into a vat of molten steel!
Instead of suffering a painful, fiery death, Sterling found himself imbued with the strength and invulnerability of steel! (Don’t try this at home, Time Bulleteers!!)
The sight of Sterling diving to his apparent doom was so memorable that the above image – penciled and inked by the legendary Charles Biro, no less – became part of the character’s logo in subsequent appearances!
Despite such colorful beginnings, however, Steel Sterling may have disappeared into the mists of time like other long-dormant Golden Age characters if not for one or two salient facts.
For one thing, Sterling was dubbed “The Man Of Steel” years before a certain Kryptonian adopted the name. Secondly, Sterling eventually established a secret identity of sorts by pretending to be his own twin brother, a gimmick Stan Lee later lifted for the Silver Age Daredevil.
Finally, Steel’s publisher – MLJ Comics – never really went put of business. The company simply morphed into Archie Comics and focused its efforts on the adventures of a certain red-haired teenager.
Even though MLJ eventually veered far from its more lurid four-color origins, the company still resurrects its crime-fighters from time to time because you never know when readers might take a shine to a brand, spanking “new” super-hero universe. Therefore, it’s very likely that Steel Sterling will rise again from his molten vat, ready to beat down evildoers with his steel-hard fists.
Here’s Steel Sterling’s origin by the character’s creators, writer Abner Sundell and artist Charles Biro. “The Man Of Steel” originally appeared in Zip Comics #1 (MLJ/Archie Comics, February 1940.)