Charlton vs Mighty MLJ

Two parallel universes from two silver age comic book publishers examined ad naseum!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Character Profiles Week: The Steels

To commence this week, which will illuminate the similaries in two underrated publishing universes,it seemed appropriate to start with their Men of Steel. Really, it was a Man of Steel (although not identified by that term until years after his debut) which really kicked into high gear the superhero craze that still exists today.

Both had their way with the women. In Steel Sterling's 1980's Red Circle series, he had a personal assistant, publicity agent, and fellow gym rat all coveting a kiss with the Lips of Steel. Sarge had his way, as well, as you'll no doubt note his suave technique as he proceeds to "steel" the kiss of his femme fatale the Lynx.

John Sterling debutted in Zip Comics #1 and had a healthy if undistinguished run under the MLJ inprint. He was of note for being the first documented "Man of Steel" before someone else took the title offer. Here is how he received his powers (no rocketships required):

Meanwhile, the aforementioned Sarge received a steel appendage the old fashioned way...his original left hand was blown of while serving in Vietnam. Or so he claims, there is no definitive take on his origin like that of his MLJ forebearer. While he cannot claim superstrength as can Sterling (although that fluctuate at times with the ambient "solar flares" that described inaccuracies in his portrayal during later years) at least Sarge had a superstrong pinky...always an attractive feature. And what he lacked in prawn he made up for in his judo skills, in fine display in Fightin' Five and Judomaster featurettes.

While neither can hold a candle to the man that made the definitive claim for the steel title, each endured and had respectable runs in the mid-60s, and occasionally mixed it up with superheroic teams (Sterling attempted to join the Mighty Crusaders in their issue #4, Sarge while brainwashed tried to styme the Sensational Sentinels in Thunderbolt #57 and 58). Both reappeared in the 80s under new imprints though they eventually faded into the background tapestry of their respective worlds as private investigators that truly loved the ladies.

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