Here's another one of those comics that our gang found utterly worthless when it came to swapping sessions, but that we all had a copy of.
It isn't that Steel #1 was necessarily a bad comic, just a breathtakingly average one. A patriotic superhero in World War Two? You've lost us already, Messrs. Conway & Heck.
I wish I knew why Bronze Age writers were so fascinated by WW2 superheroes. Maybe it was nostalgia for the comics of their youth, I don't know, but us groovy kids of the '70's couldn't've cared less. We wanted NOW! We wanted COOL! We wanted HIP! We didn't want the stinky old 1940's, thanks.
That was a world we simply had no interest in, which is not to invalidate Sgt. Rock or Fury, or The Unknown Soldier for instance, just that whole 'Homefront Hero' thing? Blah.
Then there was Don Heck. Sad to say, our gang hated Don Heck back then.
These days, I've seen Don's '50's Atlas work, and it's great. He had real style and verve. But by the '70's something had happened, and although there's ostensibly wrong with his art, there's nothing exciting about it either. I'm sure he sweated blood over Steel #1, in fact I know he did. By all accounts, Don Heck was a real grafter. But to us, he was Hacky McHack, the Hackiest Hack in Hacksville.
In an age where I've come to appreciate many artists I once hated as a kid ( Robbins, Thorne, even Infantino in his early years ) I still can't get past Don Heck. I still groan inwardly when I pick up a 'new' back issue of something, and find his work in there. And I still find Steel The Indestructible Man the dullest, most by-the-numbers concept ever.
But then, writing this, I find myself getting all nostalgic for this series. It's really not that bad, certainly not on a par with stinkers like Modred The Mystic or Phoenix. And some of the covers are really good. And it's a pretty cool costume.
And finally, ( and here's where I hoist myself on my own petard ), I own every isssue bar the 5th and last one. We really would buy anything wouldn't we?