Friday, February 4, 2011

2009 Black Lantern Steel II design by Joe Prado

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Say, did Commander Steel ever turn up in Blackest Night? I only read the first issue of the JSA tie-in mini-series, but don't remember him turning up there. Anyway, I bring this up because Commander Steel had a nice, relatively simple but quite distinct costume by Don Heck that was likely intended to evoke MLJ's the Shield. Later came his grandson as Steel II, with a much more intricate design by Chuck Patton involving thigh high boots, decorative pouches before they were in style. Not a bad suit, especially given his company, but his motivation was less clear than the obvious patriotism of Commander Steel. I'm sure the Patton suit proved too big of a pain to draw though, so it was heavily reworked and simplified as soon as a new artist Luke McDonnell took over drawing his adventures. That final costume before Hank Henshaw III's death formed the basis for Joe Prado adaptation into a Black Lantern. Herein lies the problem: the "McDonnell" suit was too simple. Once you redirect the piping and change the chest star into a Black Hand symbol, Steel II is damned near unrecognizable. I passed him right by the first time I browsed through the design gallery at Bleeding Cool. Obviously, color and context made Black Lantern Steel II clear in his Justice League of America appearances during the event, but I'm glad Citizen Steel was wise enough to get his fin on.

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