Superheroines of Metropolis by Jerry Whitworth
When you talk about the superheroes of Metropolis, you’re probably discussing the Man of Steel in Superman and friends like Supergirl, Superboy, Steel, Booster Gold, Black Lightning, and Guardian. However, this August, Phil Jimenez (well known for his iconic run on Wonder Woman) and Emanuala Lupacchino will tackle Superwoman with none other than Lois Lane assuming the mantle of the character. History has provided many Superwomen, the original being Lois Lane (when she dreamt she gained Superman’s powers via a blood transfusion leading to a series of assuming the mantle through the decades) followed by Luma Lynai of Staryl, the villainous version of Earth-3 (post-Crisis, Lois Lane of the Anti-Matter Universe), Mr. Mxyzptlk’s creation for a gender-swapped Earth (post-Crisis, Laurel Kent of Earth-11), Kristin Wells from the 29th century, Dana Dearden (aka Obsession), and Lois’ sister Lucy Lane (not to mention the various Superwomen from possible futures). On the cover of the first issue of Superwoman, it appears some of the superheroines of Metropolis’ past will come along for this new chapter in the city’s storied history. Lets take a look at some of the lesser known heroines of Metropolis.
When the organization known as the 100 came to Metropolis, they took hold of the city’s underworld and made enemies of several of the town’s emerging superheroes (including Black Lightning, Halo, and the Outsiders). With the death of police officer Phil Forrest, they likely created their chief nemesis in the Thorn. Phil’s daughter Rose underwent a psychotic break following his demise developing a split personality, remaining her normal, pacifistic self while awake but becoming the costumed vixen vigilante Thorn as she slept. The Thorn declared war on the 100, saving the lives of Lois Lane (with help from Superman) and Phil’s partner Danny Stone and turning 100 operatives like Beau Benton and Leo Lester, Jr. to her side. Despite eventually teaming with Lois Lane and Superman to topple the 100, the organization survived and evolved into the 1000 (which found a new nemesis in Booster Gold). Following the “death” of Superman, the Thorn was one of the more notable heroes to pick up the slack left in his wake until his return. Thorn would also find allies as she expanded her war on crime in Green Arrow and Supergirl. Around the time of the Infinite Crisis, the Thorn’s origins were revised where she emerged at age twelve and became a decidedly more violent version of herself (with other personalities beyond the Rose and the Thorn personas). Later, she became an ally and reserve member of the Birds of Prey.
Brilliant Japanese scientist Kimiyo Hoshi’s life changed with the dawning of the Crisis on Infinite Earths. An astronomer observing the Crisis through a telescope, Hoshi was irradiated in a beam of energy which transformed her into a being able to manipulate light. Donning a costume reminiscent of the Justice League of America villain Doctor Light, Hoshi also assumed the rogue’s name becoming a hero protecting the Earth from the Anti-Monitor. Having helped save the planet (as well as all of creation), Dr. Light became a frequent ally and sometimes member of the Justice League (and its many variations) as well as other groups like the Doom Patrol, Outsiders, and Birds of Prey. Hoshi would eventually move to Metropolis with her two children Imako and Yasu as she gained a day job at S.T.A.R. Labs (choosing to be a part-time hero to find time to be a mother). As Dr. Light, she became a sometimes partner to Gangbuster and Supergirl in protecting her adopted city.
Doctor Terrance Thirteen (often accompanied by his wife Marie Leeds) developed a reputation as the Ghost-Breaker, one of the leading experts in disproving the existence of magic and the supernatural around the world (developing something of a rivalry with the Phantom Stranger). Following Zero Hour, the character was seemingly revised as he for a time was wed to a powerful Chinese sorceress named Meihui Lan and they had a daughter in Traci Thirteen. When Lan died from using her magic, Terrance forbade his daughter from the practice (after she demonstrated an aptitude for it) before he disappeared. Traci continued practicing magic while she was raised by Ralph and Sue Dibny before running away to Hell’s Heart in Washington, D.C. After her father reunited with her, they moved to Metropolis where she became a heroine named Girl 13 and befriended Superman’s allies, joining the informally named group “Supergirls” with Steel (Natasha Irons) and Supergirl (Cir-El). Dr. Thirteen would seemingly die going on a mystic journey with Zatanna only to shortly afterward appear perfectly fine, living with his daughter in his ancestral home of Doomsbury Mansion in Metropolis. After an adventure in the French Alps where father and daughter fought the Architects of the Universe, Traci sought revenge against Jean Loring for killing her surrogate mother Sue. Possessed by Eclipso, Traci and the latest Blue Beetle (Jaime Reyes) fought Loring together (leading to an emerging romance between the two youths). When Beetle joined the Teen Titans, Traci became an infrequent ally to the group.
When Superman seemingly died at the hands of Doomsday, several heroes rose up in a bid to become the new Man of Steel. John Henry Irons was a brilliant weapons engineer who faked his death after becoming disgusted with the company he worked within. Moving to Metropolis and finding a job as a construction worker, his life would be saved by Superman when he fell from a skyscraper. While Superman was gone, the gangs within Metropolis were left unchecked and Irons constructed a suit of high tech armor in the spirit of Superman to combat them. After Superman returned, Irons remained active as the hero Steel. Irons’ family was aware of his double identity including his niece Natasha who tried to become something of his sidekick. Eventually, after spending some time operating out of Washington, D.C., Irons returned to Metropolis with Natasha joining him to found Steelworks, a laboratory Irons used as a base of operations and for consulting work. When Steel was in danger on Apokolips, Natasha designed her own suit of armor and joined Superman and his friends in saving her uncle. With John injured from the encounter, Natasha adopted his identity with a new, upgraded suit compliments of Uncle John. Natasha, now as Steel, joined the informally named group “Supergirls” with Girl 13 and Supergirl (Cir-El). In the wake of the Infinite Crisis, John and Natasha had a falling out leading to the former dismantling the latter’s armor. The turn of events led Natasha to align with Lex Luthor for his “Everyman Project” which gave normal people super powers. Becoming the heroine Starlight, Natasha joined a LexCorp sponsored version of Infinity, Inc. The youth came to realize her folly of trusting Luthor, working as a double agent for her uncle only to eventually see her powers turned off by the villain. However, new abilities would later emerge and Natasha became Vaporlock in a new Infinity, Inc.
The alien being Ahti fell in love with the priest Tuoni, one of the five custodians of faith, only to ascend toward divinity as a cosmic entity which Tuoni long hoped would happen to him (creating great jealousy in his heart). Now as Kismet, Ahti was charged with being the protector of the universe (while Tuoni became her nemesis as Dominus). However, when a bolt of lightning struck a plane carrying Clark Kent’s childhood friend Sharon Vance, Kismet was merged with Vance to form the being Strange Visitor. Made of pure energy, Visitor had to obtain one of the containment suits used by Superman (when he became a being of energy) in order to properly physically manifest on Earth. Amnesiac, Visitor wielded massive power and in times of great emotional distress, would inadvertently threaten to burst her containment apparatus. Eventually, a battle with the Parasite jogged her dormant memories leading to Visitor becoming a hero operating out of New York City. Visitor would forfeit her life to supply Superman with a boost of power needed to save Earth from the invasion of Imperiex. Kismet would later re-emerge where she fell in love with Eternity of the Marvel Universe during the events of JLA/Avengers.