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Sarge Steel (DC Comics)

Sarge Steel

(Profile #2 - the DC era)


Power Level:
Game system: DC Heroes Role-Playing Game

“There was a man who sat in the shadows, his left hand reflecting the light from half a hundred screens.”
-Neil Gaiman


Context

This profile assumes that you already have perused the first Sarge Steel profile (the Charlton era one), and in particular the section about continuity. So you should do that.

This profile’s huge History section offers a recap of many events that rocked paranormal intelligence and superhuman operations in the US post-Crisis. It thus should be a good primer for those interested in these aspects of the DC Universe.

However, only events in which Steel had a direct, on-panel involvement are covered.


Background

  • Real Name: Sergeant “Sarge” Steel.
  • Other Aliases: Director Steel.
  • Marital Status: Single.
  • Known Relatives: None.
  • Group Affiliation: Former Director of Section Seven (presumably within the Central Bureau of Intelligence), former Cabinet-level czar of metahuman operations (aka the Bureau of Metahuman Affairs), Director of the Department of Metahuman Affairs within the DEO.
  • Base Of Operations: Washington, D.C.
  • Height: 6’1” Weight: 198 lbs.
  • Eyes: Blue Hair: Grey (occasionally portrayed as black or light grey).


Powers and Abilities

Sarge Steel is a veteran of special forces operations and intelligence/counter-intelligence work. He also has extensive experience as a private investigator and routinely deals with situations involving superhumans and/or the paranormal, space aliens, super-science, non-human sapients , etc..

At this point of his career, Steel is a senior decisions-maker. He has operated under the direct authority of the President, and has headed or overseen nearly all US governmental agencies that work on paranormal and superhuman situations. His main skills have become management, negotiation, influence, strategy, and intelligence assessment.

In his prime Steel had an exceptional power of will, and despite the wear and tear he remains mentally very strong. He was one of the few men who could oppose significant resistance to being controlled by Mister Mind, at one point summoning enough resolve to shoot himself in the head to kill himself and Mind both (his agents stopped him before he could pull the trigger).

He also has a remarkable presence and authority. But he often deals with people who also have enormous egos and presence, preventing him from just dominating the conversation with his charisma.

Physical assets

Steel can still be present in the field – he certainly doesn’t shy away from danger. But he’s no longer a field operative, and seldom finds himself in a situation to fight. His action-oriented stats in the Game Stats — DC Heroes section are thus guesses, largely based on what his stats used to be and the hypothesis that he’s still dangerous – but worn out by age and stress.

He could operate proficiently along with an elite Russian paratroopers unit, and ordinary thugs and terrorists are no match for him in one-on-one combat.

Sarge Steel, Perry White, Clark Kent, Lois Lane

Steel still trains for strength. In 1993 could still do one hundred one-handed vertical push-ups (!) or use his metallic hand to punch through sheet metal. The artificial hand can also crush what it holds with great power – Steel once easily ripped off the door of an overhead airplane luggage compartment to use as a club, and stated that he could crush somebody’s hand with his prosthesis.

Steel also retains an amazing stamina given his age and his numerous excesses – most other people would have died a long time ago from the stress, lack of sleep, alcohol, smoking and meds.


History

Sarge Steel’s life on New Earth appears to have been very similar to the one he led on Earth-4 before the Crisis on Infinite Earths – which was covered in the .

Secondary sources mention a very similar biography. Enlistment with the Army, joining the Special Forces, promotion to Captain, being in war-torn Việt Nam in the 1960s, clashes with Ivan Chung (called Ivan Chong in post-Crisis secondary sources), and a counter-attack by Chung’s men destroying Steel’s left hand.

Like on Earth-4, Steel is reported as having set up a private detection practice with Bess Forbes as his secretary, and clashing with “spies, criminals and malcontents”. The accompanying art features Charlton villains (the Smiling Skull, Ivan Chung and Roja the co-leader of POW), hinting at Sarge Steel’s Charlton era adventures having occurred more or less similarly on New Earth.

Sarge Steel makes his return

One difference is that on New Earth, Steel apparently did not work full-time for the government until the late 1970s, when he joined the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). Thus his career as a P.I. was much longer on New Earth than on Earth-4. His adventures as a government agent may have occurred 8-10 years later than on Earth-4.

Things start going weird

Secondary sources state that he provided consulting services at the Presidential level before that, though, and hint that one of his areas of expertise was combating strange and super-powered menaces.

It is thus likely that, on New Earth, Sarge Steel’s career as a private investigator led him to clash with more exotic opponents than in his Charlton days – when the only super-villain was Mister Ize. Presumably, these encounters with exotic menaces occurred in the gap between the Charlton stories and Steel joining the CBI, and involved DC Universe villains.

From his earliest post-Crisis appearance on, Sarge Steel seemed wary of super-heroes. So it is possible that these unchronicled adventures involved contrasted encounters with super-heroes.

Sarge Steel on the phone in the darkness

One flashback featured Steel occupying some form of shadowy official function at the time when the Justice Society of America left Earth to eternally fight Ragnarok. At least one agent, Nightshade (Eve Eden) was working under him, which may indicate that Steel was at this point an officer for Task Force X. This presumably occurred in 1985 – the year given in Last Days of the JSA.

Steel and Nightshade had intelligence about Kobra’s plot to use the Spear of Destiny. This potent artefact is best-known for its depiction in the Bible’s New Testament and its use by Hitler during World War Two. The Spectre came to confront the Spear-wielding Kobra, and Nightshade stole the Spear after Kobra used it to gravely wound the spirit of vengeance.

Wisely, Steel (who handled the Spear using his artificial hand) just had the artefact stored in some anonymous government warehouse — à la Indiana Jones — where it laid undisturbed for a decade.

The man with the steel fist

By 1986, Sarge Steel was working at a very high level, his short chain of command quickly reaching the President. He seemed to be on excellent terms with Ronald Reagan . Steel was heading an organisation headquartered in the White House, called Section Seven – perhaps the section of the CBI dealing with paranormal and superhuman threats.

During the Legends crisis, when agents of Darkseid turned Earth’s population against its heroes, Steel was sent to Titans Tower to make sure that the Teen Titans stayed under house arrest. They ignored his orders, though, as they correctly assumed that he wouldn’t shoot kids in cold blood.

Sarge Steel introduced by a Neil Gaiman caption

In the aftermath of the Legends crisis, Steel was one of the three participants (with Amanda Waller and Ronald Reagan) in the Presidential briefing that led to the creation of Waller’s Suicide Squad. Steel was opposed to this, clearly stating that this was a PR disaster in the making. However, he also supervised several debatable projects of his own.

One such project was the super-soldier experiments that turned the hapless chimpanzee Titano into a King Kong-sized ape in the middle of Metropolis in 1987. Another was authorising and monitoring a Suicide Squad mission where psychotic operative Deadshot murdered a crime lord and his entourage in uncontrolled circumstances.

Fire and the press

Steel also badly botched a crisis in 1989, when he thought that the fire elemental Firestorm would destroy a satellite effectuating uncontrolled reentry over Florida. The erratic Firestorm decided to let the satellite crash after it proved oddly resistant to his powers, due to carrying the paranormal Brother Power.

Though nearly 5,000 died in the catastrophe, the true nature of the event was covered up.

Sarge Steel shows the Bronze Tiger mask to Ben Turner

During the Titano case, Steel met with fearless investigative reporter Lois Lane, of the Daily Planet. Over the years they would develop a professional relationship, with Lane being Steel’s go-to journalist when he needed to leak something to the press. She could be counted on to conduct additional investigative work rivalling what Steel’s agents could do.

Presumably, Steel’s “leaks” were all about criminal conspiracies about which he couldn’t quite get solid proof, and upon which he wished to direct some heat.

The Janus Directive, part 1

The late 1980s were dominated, in the US intelligence world, by the plot called the Janus Directive. This master plan of the nihilistic Kobra cult was devastating for US agencies.

Kobra arranged for them to war against each other, the paranoia and his manipulations resulting in a body count that crippled the warring US intelligence forces. Appalled at the mess, President Bush the elder  put Sarge Steel in charge of all agencies during the crisis, to investigate intelligence pointing at Kobra and put an end to the threat.

Aside from the CBI, agencies that fell under Steel’s temporary umbrella included Checkmate (the original, American version), Waller’s Suicide Squad, the military’s Captain Atom Project and the Force of July. Steel also benefited from the cooperation of Manhunter (Mark Shaw) and Firestorm. He further had the authorisations to hire Peacemaker, a frequent contractor of Checkmate.

Steel’s office came to be called the Bureau of Metahuman Affairs. Agents working for him occasionally identified themselves as working for the BMA, though they would more often identify as working for their normal agency, usually the CBI or Checkmate. The BMA was sometimes called the Office of Metahuman Affairs or the Department of Metahuman Affairs, perhaps due to later reorganisations.

Sarge Steel in his Washington office

At this point of the Janus Directive crisis enough intelligence existed — largely thanks to Manhunter — to learn about the Kobra cult’s master weapon. It was an orbital firebase that was being readied to destroy the Eastern half of the US. Steel decided to make a strong effort to free the various high-value hostages held on Kobra’s satellite, included professor Megala, rather than just blow everything up.

The Janus Directive, part 2

As part of this, he tasked Captain Atom, Major Force and Firestorm with forcing Kobra’s huge spaceship to effectuate reentry. The tactic was to use space wrecks left over from the Invasion as an obstacle field, then surgically damage the ship. The spaceship eventually had to fly low enough to be boarded by high-altitude jet transports, and stormed.

The assault was successful despite some casualties, but Kobra’s enormous vessel dove into a suicide run. This forced Steel to order its interception by a low-yield nuclear missile with no time to evacuate the assault force aboard.

As it turned out, the very powerful (and increasingly inhuman) Firestorm easily stopped Steel’s missile and handled the ship with Captain Atom’s help. The Kobra spacecraft was neutralised, Kobra himself was captured by Manhunter, and the remnants of the assault force safely evacuated the ship.

Sarge Steel saying Amanda Waller's name

In the wake of the Janus Directive disaster, President Bush reorganised the intelligence agencies dealing with superhumans and other special threats. Steel was the main beneficiary of this. He became a cabinet-level official reporting directly to the President on metahuman covert activities, and the CBI (including star agent King Faraday) was handed over to him.

The main 3 non-CBI persons reporting to Steel were :

  • General Eiling (promoted into overseeing all military use of metahumans)
  • Harry Stein (heading a now-independant Checkmate, its mother agency Task Force X being dissolved)
  • Amanda Waller (still heading the Suicide Squad but having lost a lot of political capital)

Waller in particular was furious to end up under Steel’s authority, having previously enjoyed a high degree of independence.

The Force of July was disbanded, most members having died during the Kobra case and the last survivor, Major Victory, having decided to leave.

Fall of the Tiger

As covert metahuman operations czar, Steel oversaw numerous operations and crises. Examples included a successful and quite public Suicide Squad foray in Iran to recover a defector – but despite this success Steel became increasingly wary about the Suicide Squad, which had a peculiar track record.

After Ben Turner, the field leader of the Squad, disobeyed the spirit of Steel’s orders to rescue Squad operatives stranded on Apokolips, Steel started investigating him in an uncharitable manner.

Sarge Steel face closeup

Steel confronted Turner, using intelligence from his psychological profile, and clearly demonstrated that Turner wasn’t psychologically stable. Whether it was Steel’s idea is unclear. The dialogue hints that Steel followed orders and wasn’t convinced of the necessity of getting rid of Turner.

However Steel’s top CBI agent, King Faraday, saw this situation as a racist plot by Cabinet-level advisors, including Steel, to get rid of a Black man occupying a unique position within the US intelligence apparat.

Fall of the Wall

At this point, Steel was determined to shut down the Squad. He had, after all, been right all along about it being a PR disaster, and having Turner crack was the final nail. At the same time, the criminal and mystical organisation Loa leaked confidential information about the Squad. Steel had to react immediately and put an end to Waller’s organisation to retain some deniability.

Steel had misunderstood the urgency of the threat posed by the Loa, however. He did not treat intelligence that Loa was about to strike and kill thousands as being reliable enough.

Sarge Steel and Hacker

Knowing that her Loa intel was correct, Waller went rogue. Accompanied by a handful of Squad killers, she murdered the leadership of Loa before they could launch their devastating plot against the US population. Waller surrendered and a plea-bargain deal was reached with the government.

Though unsure of what had happened in the field, Steel was satisfied that nothing leaked about the Loa case.

Marshall, Harper & Shaw

It was presumably during this era that Steel met with Jack Marshall. This computer science genius and irascible anarchist who was the lead engineer for an upgrade of NORAD’s computer infrastructure. Despite their starkly different attitudes and politics, the two men worked well together and came to respect each other.

Steel kept Marshall’s phone number handy, particularly for major computer security issues. He considered that his corporate contractors were not worth a damn and preferred to rely on underground security legend Jack “Hacker” Marshall for major crises.

Sarge Steel doing one-armed push-ups

This era is also likely the one during which Roy Harper — formerly Speedy of the Teen Titans — joined Checkmate. Harper was a rookie agent on the team Steel commanded in the field to stop a campus sniper. Steel, knowing that Harper was an extraordinary marksman, handed him the squad’s precision rifle, but Harper was too hesitant to shoot to kill.

Furious, Steel and his men tried more risked tactics, forcing Harper’s hand and leading him to gun down the sniper. Perhaps because of this, the working relationship between Steel and Harper would remain execrable.

Steel was more successful when working with Mark Shaw, the former Manhunter, who had been invaluable during the Janus Directive disaster. Shaw killed the psychotic assassin Dumas, which triggered a crisis of conscience leading Shaw to pretend that he was Dumas. Steel worked out a deal with Shaw, who became one of his undercover agents infiltrating the underworld under deep cover.

As certain parties wondered where Shaw had gone, Steel decided to reinforce the Dumas cover since it was working so well. He had another agent wear Shaw’s Manhunter costume so nobody would wonder why Shaw had vanished.

The fist and the wall

A year later, Steel resumed contact with Waller, who was still imprisoned. A revolution in Eastern Europe — in Vlatava — was backed by a private American conspiracy. The US government needed unconventional, deniable elements outside the normal chain of command to prevent a disaster.

Waller was the only person with the experience to lead this, and Steel was the one who agreed to eat crow and negotiate with her. Waller had Steel parlay to obtain Batman’s collaboration, since the Dark Knight had also discovered the Vlatavan-American conspiracy.

Waller made aggressive demands — with the Suicide Squad becoming a mercenary force rather than an agency — but Steel saw the long-term interest of her approach and eventually agreed to it.

Sarge Steel and Valentina Vostok

In particular, Steel gave intelligence to Waller to locate her star operative, Ben Turner, whom Steel had psychologically broken more than a year before. Waller assembled a team of Suicide Squad veterans, including Turner, and successfully handled the Vlatavan situation.

Fall of Checkmate

Meanwhile, the situation at the previously reliable Checkmate agency went south. Director Harry Stein was forced to go rogue when his family was taken hostage. Furious, Steel ordered the rest of Checkmate to capture Stein – especially after he realised that Stein had lost custody of an important prisoner, renegade Checkmate agent Jacques Reynard, to save his family.

One Senator McRaven, of the congressional intelligence committee, started applying pressure to have Checkmate closed. He argued that Stein’s actions showed that a repeat of the Janus Directive events was quite possible. Steel defended Stein, but Stein’s patience ran out and he got into a heated and public argument with McRaven.

Sarge Steel, Roy Harper and an assistant

Steel smelled a rat and quickly determined that McRaven was working for Cypher International, a particularly shady international corporation that was trying to destroy Checkmate. Though he couldn’t prove anything, Steel convinced President Bush the elder to back him and Stein. He had Stein returned to active duty despite being investigated by Congress at McRaven’s behest.

A war erupted between Cypher International and Checkmate, both at Cypher’s New York City headquarters and in Europe, where CEO Victor Cypher was launching his megalomaniacal plan.

Steel dug up enough dirt to have McRaven arrested, but when his CBI men came McRaven had already been eliminated by Cypher hitmen. Checkmate nearly managed to bring Cypher down, but Cypher narrowly outmanoeuvred them and the US forces had to retreat. Despite this failure, President Bush kept supporting Steel and Stein, knowing that nobody could win every single battle.

Conspiracies, part 1

During the early 1990s, Steel determined that there existed a conspiracy that was a sort of shadow version of his role, and included CIA agents and senior military leaders, including Gen. Eiling. The goal of this cabal was to allow the US to take direct control of major superheroes by learning of their identity and extensively blackmailing them, rather than rely on allies and criminals.

The cabal was conspiring with Quraci authorities, whose Jihad program they saw as an excellent example of what they wanted to achieve. They used the Jihad as a test run, being behind some the enhancements used on the super-terrorists to test those technologies in the field. This drew the attention of Israeli intelligence assets, and from there Sarge Steel.

Though Steel couldn’t determine to which extent his own forces were compromised with the Cabal, his previous deal with Amanda Waller allowed him to just hire the Suicide Squad, who was out of anybody’s chain of command.

Sarge Steel, Amanda Waller, Major Victory

Successfully capturing President Marlo of Qurac, the Squad learned of several key cabal operatives, and made sense of a longstanding conflict between the Atom (Ray Palmer) and the CIA. They determined that pro-cabal CIA assets had been the ones who had tried to force the Atom to serve them, as they saw him as their best way to bring the JLA under their control.

Though some of the operations didn’t go well, Steel and Waller collaborated efficiently and acquired enough intelligence to present a for-your-eyes-only report to the President (the recently-elected Bill Clinton , presumably) detailing the deeds of the Cabal.

While there wasn’t enough hard evidence for a court or the media, it is likely that Steel then arranged for purges. From one oblique remark Waller made to the President, it is possible that Clinton had some knowledge of — or even some involvement with — the conspiracy.

Conspiracies, part 2

After reporting to the President, Steel and Waller shook hands and mended fences. Some weeks later, Waller decided to put the Squad on hold as she became the President of the minor island-state of Diabloverde.

Mere weeks later, critical military computer infrastructures were hit by a vicious virus, blinding the nuclear response system and various other strategic systems. Steel had Jack “Hacker” Marshall summoned on the double, expelling the official contractors when they and Marshall started yelling at each other.

This proved the correct choice. After various adventures with Steel’s support, Marshall cleaned up the strategic systems without any nuclear launch. The dogged Hacker would later expose the conspiracy that had built the virus — see his writeups.org profile.

Sarge Steel and Iron Munroe

As he finished dealing with the aftershocks of the crises Marshall had handled, Steel reactivated Checkmate as a small structure. He needed their expertise to deal with international assassin Cheshire’s organisation, which had just stolen the body of Deathstroke the Terminator.

The Checkmate strike against Cheshire’s organisation did significant damage. Nevertheless, she and other key operatives (including a resurrected Deathstroke and Checkmate mole Roy Harper aka Arsenal) managed to escape after killing off much of the Checkmate strike team.

Checkmate and Steel cooperated with their Russian equivalents in a last-ditch effort to prevent Cheshire from stealing Russian nukes, but that too narrowly failed and Cheshire blew up Qurac. Within days, American and Russian forces conducted a joint strike that wiped out Cheshire’s forces — with the help of Deathstroke, who had been working for Steel all along.

Steel soon determined that his request to have the Russian nuclear warheads neutralised before Cheschire could steal them had been intercepted by a renegade American agent. It was one Agent Smith (no relation), who hated the Quraci and harboured genocidal plans ever since some terrorist operations against the US sanctioned by the Quraci government.

Though Smith’s sabotage had led to the death of thousands, which Steel had never intended, the international standing of Qurac was so execrable that this had next to no diplomatic consequences.

Nihilists, part 1

One case Steel could handle more directly was the disappearance of a series of nuclear physicists, which greatly concerned him. As soon as the CBI managed to scare up a lead, he had another veteran of the US intelligence apparat — star CBI agent King Faraday — determine what was going on.

While Faraday was discovering that it was another plot from the Kobra cult, Steel continued another investigation to obtain evidence about a corrupt Congressman.

Sarge Steel in his office

As Faraday ran into increasingly ferocious resistance to bring an informer to safety in the US, Steel met with him in Paris. The joint French/American intelligence and covert action group operated by the DGSE and the CBI soon located the Kobra base near Chernobyl.

At this point, Sarge Steel was feeling increasingly uncomfortable with the thought that he was going to die a desk jockey. From the dialogue it is possible that he recently had some minor cardiac troubles that led him to fear that he was going to die of a coronary rather than in the field. He thus decided to accompany Faraday in the field to storm Kobra’s current base.

The two American operatives liaised with the Russian government, who agreed to let them join a Russian airborne commando team tasked with destroying the base. Though the Russian paratroopers were sceptical at first, they took a liking to the two Americans and their military skills, and the operation was a complete success.

Nihilists, part 2

Meanwhile, the dark god of vengeance Eclipso took control of the minor island-state of Parador, turning it into a miniature Hell on Earth. Scientist Bruce Gordon, Eclipso’s sworn enemy, attempted to obtain some help from the government. But Sarge Steel couldn’t act, as the US government invading Parador would have catastrophic political consequences.

Sarge Steel, the Spear of Destiny and Nightshade

However, he advised Gordon off-the-record as to how he could prepare a private assault of Parador. Steel also called Waller to have her listen to Gordon’s projects. Waller agreed to help, and continued to keep Steel informed of what was going on.

As the Eclipso situation became increasingly hard to handle, Steel — who was furious that his hands were tied given the atrocious crimes taking place in Parador — procured help for Waller. The original Major Victory (who had been one of Steel’s men years before) agreed to help, though he would become one of the numerous casualties of the raid in Parador. Steel’s agent wearing Mark Shaw’s Manhunter costume was also killed.

Aftermath of Parador

Though the raid was more or less successful, the numerous deaths and high-profile violence forced Steel to arrest Waller, Gordon and the others as American citizens having committed acts of war against a sovereign nation. Disgusted with the situation, Steel decided to take the fall along with Waller. He revealed that he had had knowledge of the impending operation and did not prevent it.

Sarge Steel looking very determined

Steel, Waller, Gordon and Gordon’s fiancée Mona Bennet were tried by the UN, with some of the less salubrious aspects of the operation’s financing coming to light. However, Eclipso (possessing the Paradorian ambassador) rushed the trial and demanded the immediate execution of Steel and the others under threat of nuclear reprisals.

The surviving members of Waller’s task force intervened and chased Eclipso. The incident convinced the UN to clear the four suspects of all charges, back the effort against Eclipso and vote a resolution for armed intervention in Parador. The UN requested Steel’s expertise in coordinating the military operation, which Steel immediately agreed to do.

Waller and Wonder Woman assembled a powerful team of heroes. Steel had Gordon’s solar-based weaponry, which could prevent Eclipso from possessing victims, produced in quantities sufficient to arm an air force (presumably a US Marines Corps Aviation squadron) and several infantry units, including one which was put under Waller’s command.

Steel oversaw the force which took the Paradorian capital, Port-au-Fina, and Eclipso was soon dispersed by the Spectre and the Phantom Stranger.

Titans together

A short time later, the marriage of Nightwing and Starfire of the Teen Titans turned into a disaster. The Trigon-possessed Raven attacked, slaying various guests – including some VIPs. This led to considerable political and media backlash against the Titans, centring on a New York City Councilwoman who had been running a campaign against the Titans and was left in a coma after the battle.

The Attorney General decided to prosecute. To control the damage, Steel ordered Checkmate agent and long-time Titan Roy Harper — aka Arsenal — to assume command of the Titans. This gambit was successful. With the Titans under Steel’s indirect command, a lot of the pressure to pass laws regulating superhuman activity was defanged.

Sarge Steel working with Checkmate

Steel had his PR staff work overtime, and the public was convinced that the Titans had turned over a new leaf and now were neither threat nor menace.

Steel then tried to better integrate the Titans among the agencies he oversaw. He even had Harper suspend ties with Dayton Industries, who had been equipping the Titans, to enter a relationship with government contractor Lex Luthor II, CEO of Lexcorp and supposedly the son of Lex Luthor.

Titans not so together

Though the Titans were very reluctant to work for the government, Steel had a few ways to apply pressure. Especially after he indicated that his legal staff would defend them from a threatened lawsuit from the City of New York. At this point the team was Arsenal, Changeling, Pantha, Red Star and “Baby”, a childlike Wildebeest construct adopted by Pantha.

Steel had them run an operation under his direct command, though it was a case where he knew that their altruism and heroism would lead them to intervene anyway. The so-called Terrarizer had been threatening various governments with orbital bombardment lest they accept his demands, and the Titans (with the help of the amnesiac Starfire) stopped him.

Sarge Steel working at his desk

The Titans were particularly wary of Steel’s agenda. They also knew that the relationship between the JLA and the government had been degrading, leaving Steel without much superhuman manpower. Arsenal petulantly leveraged the situation to impose his terms to Steel, having the government support the Titans without being able to rely on much in return.

While President Clinton was favourable to this very loose deal, Steel assumed that sooner or later it would leave the US powerless against some threat. He started manoeuvring to gain some degree of control — Arsenal had simply asked for too much for the deal to be viable.

Steel also had several attractive female agents start vamping selected Titans while they were having a night out, presumably to gather intelligence and ’negotiation material‘.

Titans out, part 1

Despite all these antics, the Titans angle turned out to be a dud. Days after Arsenal signed the contract, the existing team disintegrated, leaving but Arsenal and Changeling. Furthermore, the latter turned out to be possessed by the Trigon essence within Raven.

Still, Harper recruited Terra, Mirage, Green Lantern (Kyle Rayner), Impulse and Darkstar (Donna Troy) to form a new version of the Titans.

Furthermore, Steel contacted the judge overseeing the trial of the young hero Damage, who had accidentally blown up part of Atlanta. Steel arranged for Damage to be able to join Arsenal’s team, and convinced the youth to give the team a try, but the immature Damage left within weeks. Supergirl would later join for a while.

Sarge Steel smoking and talking

Arsenal strong-armed Steel into agreeing to bankroll a full base for the Titans as part of the lopsided agreement. Still, Director Steel openly considered that it was a mistake and that the taxpayer-paid multi-million dollars gear would get thrashed well before it was amortised.

Steel also started conferring with Nightwing in secret, without Arsenal’s knowledge. Though Nightwing was also wary about Steel’s agenda, he provided some good advice. It was further hinted that Steel had altered the contract before Harper carelessly signed it, to have much more authority over the Titans than Harper intended.

Titans out, part 2

The Titans were rarely available for government work as they struggled against old opponents such as Psimon or the Trigon-possessed Raven. The latter put several former Titans and allies out of commission by infecting them with Trigon seeds, further restricting the pool of potential agents and allies for Sarge Steel. This wobbling version of the Titans would peter out after a few chaotic months.

Sarge Steel rips open an overhead luggage compartment

Thankfully, Steel concurrently managed to briefly reactivate a veteran O.S.S. agent. It was Arnold “Iron” Munro, a former All-Star Squadron member who had later served as a special agent during the Cold War under the call-sign “Gladiator-One”.

Munro had retired on bitter terms after the loss of his son and his wife, and wanted nothing to do with the government anymore. Steel had not come empty-handed, though – he was specifically looking for Munro since he had learned that Gladiator-One’s longtime opponent Baron Blitzkrieg was back.

While Munro had rejected Steel’s previous offers, his hatred for the Baron led to him to return to the field for a while. However he still requested his fee as a private troubleshooter to point out that he wasn’t back in government service.

Munro proved invaluable in controlling troubles in Atlanta. He also helped curb the doings of the Symbolix corporation, about which Steel had repeatedly advised caution to officials.

The Crimelord, part 1

While the Titans were disintegrating and Munro was working, the feared mercenary Deathstroke the Terminator was caught on TV murdering a US Senator. It was assumed to have been an attempt on the President’s life. Steel and his Checkmate assets reacted swiftly and located Deathstroke before any other agency could.

Deathstroke escaped from the first attempt to stop him, but Steel convinced the Bronze Tiger to work with him despite the bad blood between them from the Suicide Squad days. Steel then managed to hire Deadshot to provide backup for the Tiger. The uncontrollable Deadshot killed the Terminator, who soon revived.

At this point a witness went to press to state the truth – the man Deathstroke had killed was a body double equipped with a bomb intended for President Clinton.

Sarge Steel and Salt with weapons drawn

Deathstroke and Steel independently discovered that this attempt on the President’s life, along with several other recent major criminal campaigns, had been orchestrated by the mysterious Crimelord. The Crimelord was secretly Steve Dayton suffering from yet another mental breakdown.

The Crimelord also plotted attacks against the Titans, further keeping the unravelling team off-balance, and had other officials assassinated as part of his plan to create war and chaos within the US.

The Crimelord, part 2

Meanwhile, Steel backed Deathstroke as his best chance to put an end of the considerable threat the Crimelord posed. He arranged to recover the corpse of Deathstroke after he was killed again by the Ravager and Adeline Kane-Wilson, before the cops could identify him and before the immortal Deathstroke would return to life.

Steel also took care of Deathstroke’s daughter Rose after the Ravager killed her mother. He placed the dangerous teen with the Titans until the courts could arrange for some sort of guardianship and psychiatric healthcare for her.

After sending the Titans to capture the out-of-control Deathstroke, Steel offered the Terminator a deal to work with Checkmate to help prove his innocence.

Steel further stacked the deck by having Deathstroke tortured, then announcing that the torture had been ordered by irate officials who wanted to have Deathstroke executed off the record no matter what. This left Steel looking like he was Desthstroke’s best chance at survival and vindication.

Sarge Steel with his Luger

The Crimelord escalated to a worldwide plot of nuclear blackmail. But one of his recent thefts had angered the Syndicate – the main criminal organisation in Earth’s space sector, which has some assets active on Earth to steal and smuggle antiques.

The Syndicate hit the Crimelord’s bases and anonymously informed Checkmate of the location of several nukes planted in major cities by the Crimelord. In return the Crimelord also manipulated Steel into having Deathstroke, the Titans and some Checkmate assets destroy a Syndicate spaceship.

The Crimelord, part 3

The situation escalated into a war in Dallas between the Crimelord’s superhuman enforcers and the Syndicate – with Checkmate, the Titans and Deathstroke caught in the middle. Steel’s forces were reinforced in the nick of time by a contingent of Darkstars and were thus victorious.

In the scramble to disarm the nuclear bombs, Steel took command of all heroic forces he could get – the Outsiders, Hawkman, the Titans (with Supergirl and Green Lantern splitting off to cover more ground), Steel (John Henry Irons), the Blood Pack, Extreme Justice, Deathstroke the Terminator and Aquaman. All bombs were safely disposed of, and Deathstroke and Steel established that the Crimelord was Dayton.

Deathstroke also determined that the bombs were just a decoy, to allow for the replacement of several world leaders by artificial body doubles. Steel and his Checkmate operatives imprisoned Datyon, who had turned himself into a cyberspace intelligence, by cutting communications to his computer core. They also presumably eliminated the body doubles worldwide.

Sarge Steel and several L.A.W. members

While the clean-up was going on, Steel had the Titans leave for Jupiter to investigate a strange gravity well that had destroyed a NASA probe. This would be the last mission he would be able to send the Titans on, as they disappeared into deep space and finally disbanded when they came back.

More aliens

The loss of the Titans weakened Steel’s roster – though Donna Troy continued to make use of the base intended for the Titans, allowing Steel to require her expertise in exchange.

When an unconventional power source was detected in Antarctica, Steel was too short on manpower and sent in a mercenary team, but they went missing in action. Steel convinced Troy to go check and she in turn invited the Flash (Wally West) to join her.

The mercenaries were all dead when the two ex-Titans arrived, but the heroes stopped a gang of Laxorian criminals who had been accidentally awakened from suspension.

More Deathstroke

Nevertheless, Steel had to make do for most of the late 1990s with less powerful agents, and his workhorse was Deathstroke the Terminator. Such missions included killing a psychotic immortal in Milwaukee, and defeating another attempt at killing the President. Led by Baron Blitzkrieg’s Shadowspire network, this attempt failed but did blow up the Capitol Building, killing and wounding hundreds.

Deathstroke was one of those caught under the rubble, and when he was dug out he was physically much younger, and partially amnesiac.

Sarge Steel amidst a sea of guards

The rejuvenated Deathstroke continued to work for Steel, who had him medically monitored and re-equipped. This lasted until the renegade Checkmate agent Karrion intervened. Karrion told Deathstroke that rather than save the Terminator from torture and execution by irate government officials during the Crimelord crisis, Steel had been the one ordering the torture to manipulate him.

Karrion also explained that he was the result of an experiment using Deathstroke’s blood to create a superhuman biological warfare agent with a healing factor . Deathstroke neutralised Karrion, but left Checkmate after threatening to kill Steel.

Less Arsenal

Steel also ended up burning bridges for a while with Roy Harper aka Arsenal, in somewhat similar circumstances. As part of some political horse-trading with two Senators, Steel sent Harper after Sing Lu, a former crimelord who had retired a decade before. The Senators wanted to put Lu on a show trial as part of the War on Drugs propaganda, though he hadn’t committed any crime for years.

This led to Steel lying to Harper — telling him that Lu was now dealing in weapons of mass destruction — and to Lu — leaking information that an American assassin was coming to kill his beloved daughters. Lu hired an army of criminals to stop Harper, and was nearly successful. But Harper eventually prevailed and he and Lu discovered that they had been manipulated.

Having gone through a lot of suffering during this mission — including a new bout of withdrawal from heroin — Harper threatened Steel with death before leaving.

Enters the red cheese

A more tractable operative was found when a NASA shuttle on a mission to Venus sent a distress message requesting Captain Marvel’s assistance. Steel took over the operation and summoned the big red cheese, who readily agreed to help.

Not having a spaceship handy, Steel had his scientists dig out a Mother Box that had been found in an abandoned Intergang hideout. While the damaged Box had remained inert when analysed by Steel’s specialists, it immediately came alive in Marvel’s hand.

Sarge Steel and Justine Ramagas

The Box proved invaluable in creating Boom Tubes to and from Venus, but also in repelling millions of mind-controlling worms living there. Marvel returned with the shuttle, all surviving astronauts and his nemesis Dr. Sivana, who had been captured by the worms. The damaged shuttle reappeared close to the Washington Monument, and Steel had the entire area locked down.

Though the damaged Mother Box had been destroyed on Venus, Marvel had neutralised the entire worm colony there, and also took out the one worm scout on Earth, locking it in an ice cream truck’s freezer where the creature went inert. The diminutive alien, whom Sivana had dubbed “Mister Mind”, was handed over to Steel’s staff for safekeeping.

More Captain Marvel

After Steel once again worked in the field with Faraday — foiling an attempt to take VIP hostages by hijacking their airplane — he continued to associate with Captain Marvel whenever possible, finding his crushing power and juvenile naiveté to be an ideal mix.

Steel’s men recovered the experimental “Mister Atom” robot, and Steel later cleared a situation after Marvel mistakenly intervened in two missions of Major Deanna Barr piloting the Windshear aircraft prototype.

Sarge Steel and Sasha Bordeaux arguing

Steel was also involved in handling a Nazi attempt to smear the name of WWII American hero Bulletman (James Barr). Director Steel’s concern was that Barr might reveal old military secrets while defending his reputation, since his alibi was that he was on a top-secret mission on the day when he had been reportedly working with Nazis.

As it turned out, the highly patriotic Barr and his allies (particularly fellow WWII veteran Ted Knight, aka Starman) proved that Bulletman had never collaborated with the Nazis without exposing old war secrets.

Steel shouldn’t have worried, though. As it turned both Barr and Knight had been hypnotised into being unable to remember the details of their secret mission, and only Steel knew the truth about what they had discovered that day.

DEO

It was also during the late 1990s that the Department of Extranormal Operation (DEO) sprang up, as established by the Bureau of Metahuman Affairs, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the Internal Security Agency, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The DEO, headed by Director Bones (formerly known as Mister Bones of the dysfunctional superhuman clan Helix), monitored superhuman activity throughout the US.

How the DEO was created (and how Bones came to head it) was never clear. It presumably involved considerable political infighting and Steel being on the losing end of it. Bones noted with some sarcasm that Steel rarely visited the DEO headquarters, and seemed to be rubbing his nose in the DEO’s existence.

Mister Mind

Mister Mind escaped and possessed Sarge Steel and one of his scientists, with tragic consequences. The confiscated Mister Atom robot was launched at Fairfield with a nuclear payload and detonated, killing thousands.

Captain Marvel and Mary Marvel had their allies determine how the warhead had been delivered, but soon guessed what had happened to Steel. Mr. Mind outwitted them the first time around, however – instead of controlling Steel from his ear canal as his species does, he devised equipment giving him a short range, and hid within Steel’s artificial hand instead.

Sarge Steel on the phone at night talking about Ivy Town

Mister Mind worked on his plan of nuclear armageddon using the enormous resources at Steel’s disposal. But Steel kept resisting him and that gave time to the Marvels to intervene.

However, Mind discovered an old exoskeleton of his in Steel’s warehouses — an alien artefact recovered by American intelligence services during WWII. Mind went on to fight the Marvels and two Green Lanterns after leaving Steel’s body to enter his armour suit.

Professor Bibbowski, an ally of the Marvels, perfected his anti-Mister-Mind weaponry, and Steel and his men used those guns to kill the worms who had come to reinforce Mister Mind. Steel shot his former possessor and seemingly killing him.

Recon

As he recovered, Steel left for Canada, where he wanted to investigate leads about a project in genetic research backed by the Agenda conspiracy. He came there alone – presumably because it was easier for a single VIP to be there than for an American spook team.

Steel finished investigating. He determined that a base beyond the polar circle was, under benign pretences, conducting research to create a man-bear genetic hybrid soldier.

Steel called Lois Lane to meet him on site (perhaps because he suspected that the Agenda had allies among Canadian agencies), but was captured. Lane sneaked into the base, discovered what was going on and freed Steel, but was captured outside.

While the guards thought that they had shot Steel dead, he was still alive. He freed the polar bears held at the facility ; angered at the torture they had been subjected to, the bears attacked the Agenda guards. Steel, Lane and their allies safely got out, even saving a number of local kids who had been kidnapped as part of the Agenda experiments.

Sarge Steel briefing agents

Another solo reconnaissance mission — presumably, Steel was having one of his phases where he resented being a desk jockey — took place in Bialya, the minuscule nation ruled by the original Queen Bee. Steel was highly suspicious of the supposedly rehabilitated Bee.

Though he did not find anything concrete he helped disrupt a suspicious terrorist attack on Bee’s palace which was intended to damage Captain Atom’s reputation.

The Avatar crisis, part 1

(These sections covers the L.A.W. miniseries, whose continuity status has always seemed dubious to me. Still, it’s credible that something along the general lines of the L.A.W. story occurred in the DC universe as it existed back then.)

Sarge Steel, Diana Prince, Thomas Tresser

Meanwhile a villain named Avatar made his play. He swiftly built an organisation of followers, shunt the JLA’s watchtower into another dimension with the whole team inside, and destroyed numerous military installations worldwide.

President Clinton requested that Steel intervene without engaging any American forces, and Steel soon flew to Switzerland to hire operatives from Project Peacemaker. Even there he was attacked by a small horde of Ravanan demons serving Avatar, and Steel’s artificial hand was destroyed when he punched one.

Project Peacemaker insisted to replace his prothesis with a much more sophisticated one – lifelike and capable of providing full tactile sensations. Steel would soon get an opportunity to test the latter feature as the very attractive and far younger Peacemaker communication network director Justine Ramagas embarked on a fling with him.

The Avatar crisis, part 2

After a few hours spent with the Project Peacemaker heads, Steel convinced them to essentially put their enormous resources under his command. He hired Mitchell Black (the new Peacemaker), and with the help of Project Peacemaker assets recovered Nightshade, who had recently been altered to exorcise the literal demons within her.

Steel called some markers, and when the Blue Beetle came he was accompanied by the Question and the original Judomaster, both of whom the Beetle had met whilst investigating the threat of Avatar. The martial arts instructor of Project Peacemaker, Salt, joined this ad hoc field team, which the directors of Project Peacemaker named L.A.W. (Living Assault Weapons).

Sarge Steel and Tom Tresser

The first operation of Steel’s new team turned out to be a trap, since there was an Avatar mole within the Project. Avatar announced that in three days an army of demons would storm Earth and kill anybody who resisted.

Judomaster ended up encountering and defeating Avatar, but discovered that the villain was his former sidekick Tiger. Judomaster let him go to honour a promise he had made when Tiger was young, during the war.

The Avatar crisis, part 3

Steel, furious about Judomaster’s choice, came up with a new plan. Using security tapes, he discovered that the enemy mole was Project Peacemaker’s chief scientist. Using intelligence gathered during the first mission, Steel also sent Nightshade to another dimension to recover the exiled and frozen JLA.

Meanwhile, the first demonic incursions started engaging the Earth militaries.

Steel’s assets were successful. Nightshade brought the full roster of the JLA back to Earth, Judomaster contacted Avatar to negotiate the release of children held hostage, and the rest of the L.A.W. shut down an orbital fortress that was about to scramble electronics worldwide and thus cripple the armed forces fighting the demons. Steel also had his new prosthesis taken off, realising that is was actually a mind-control device.

To top these triumphs, Judomaster recovered Captain Atom, who has been captured by Avatar to serve as a power battery.

Sarge Steel smoking and pointing his finger

Steel allowed himself to take his first vacations in years if not decades, and left to ski with Justine Ramagas, who appreciated his old-fashioned style.

After he came back from his vacation, Sarge Steel had Captain Atom investigate an apparent world take-over by the JLA. Steel did not react strongly, assuming that it was all some sort of deception to turn the world’s militaries against the JLA.

He was right, and the mighty League soon contained the situation, though the pawns of time-traveller Xotar the Weapons Master did have time to destroy several cities and kill thousands.

Downsizing

During the early 2000s, Steel was less active. It is possible that he resumed some sort of private life with Ramagas and cut back his working hours to something more humanly tolerable. The Department of Metahuman Affairs seemed to shrink in scope and manpower during that time. It is possible that with Steel being less present, other agencies managed to politics away some of his assets and missions.

One may imagine that the creation of the Department of Homeland Security was what opened unprecedented possibilities to pillage Steel’s administrative turf and responsibilities.

Sarge Steel and Nemesis (Tom Tresser)

When a Kryptonian boy crashed into Metropolis, Steel and the DMA handled the case, but the Pentagon arranged to have the kid moved to another base without warning Superman. Though Superman originally thought that Steel had lied, the man with the metallic hand was actually out of the loop, further hinting at a diminished influence. Superman ended up kidnapping the kid back from the military.

When Lex Luthor became President, Steel was replaced by Waller. His Department of Metahuman Affairs was gobbled up by the DEO. While smaller and lower on the totem pole, the DMA retained significant independence and influence, presumably thanks to Steel’s experience and contacts.

Sarge Steel planning against the Society

Still, most of the star agents Steel had previously worked with were whisked elsewhere. Nevertheless, Steel managed to recruit the one-time Federal agent Thomas Tresser, formerly the vigilante Nemesis.

In the mid-2000s, two more top agents joined his agency. But as it turned out, both were plants. Lt.-Col. Etta Candy-Trevor, formerly with Air Force Intelligence, was secretly an agent of the powerful U.N. agency Checkmate, with whom Steel had a workable but rocky relationship. Diana Prince, formerly of the Wayne Corporation, was secretly Princess Diana of Themyscira, taking a sabbatical from her obligations as Wonder Woman thanks to documents expertly forged by Batman.

Prince’s recruitment was ’coincidentally‘ followed by a large donation of high-tech vehicles to the DMA by WayneTech, including one or more redoubtable stealth jet airplanes.

My God. Bees.

Though Steel no longer was the lynchpin of the US’s metahuman operations, he still provided some key coordination work. This was still the case when the Amazons, manipulated by Circe, attacked Washington, D.C.. However, part of Circe’s plan was to replace Sarge Steel with an impersonator, the shapechanger Everyman.

As Steel, Everyman sabotaged the attempts at having super-heroes repel the powerful Amazon military. In particular he had Wonder Woman arrested on charges of murder, for killing Max Lord months before.

Wonder Woman decided to go along to clear her name. However she was imprisoned and isolated much more thoroughly than she had planned since the goal was to keep her unaware that her fellow Amazons were attacking the US.

Sarge Steel in his office with his photos

Tresser realised that something was rotten and freed Wonder Woman. Together they discovered the truth about Steel, stopped the impostor and freed the genuine Sarge Steel, who had been imprisoned under the Unknown Soldier’s grave.

They also were instrumental in stopping the Amazon attack and freeing Queen Hippolyte from Circe’s mystical influence. Meanwhile various super-heroes, no longer tricked by the fake Steel’s orders, were able to more efficiently stop the Amazon military.

Psyche!

However, the DMA’s defences against magic and psychic influence were no longer state-of-the-art. Perhaps this was a result of the best specialists having been tapped to work with either Waller’s agencies or Checkmate.

Thus, not long after the war against the Amazons in Washington, Dr. Psycho touched and enhanced Steel’s paranoid and misogynistic tendencies, particularly as they related to the Amazons.

Sarge Steel and Diana Prince (Wonder Woman)

Steel gradually became certain that Amazon agents were still around, and soon grew convinced that Prince was one such infiltrator, though he couldn’t obtain proof. In part to keep Prince under close watch, he promoted her to a senior agent rank, reporting directly to him and commanding a field squad.

Seeing that Candy-Trevor was hiding things about Prince, he quickly came to distrust all women as possible Amazon agents. Steel asked Tresser to investigate Prince and Trevor. Steel then saw photos of Tresser holding hands with Wonder Woman, greatly feeding his paranoia and reinforcing Dr. Psycho’s hold over him.

Displaced consciousness, part 1

Steel had agent Tresser arrested as a traitor, but Tresser escaped. Hours later, the monstrously powerful creature Genocide, who had just defeated Wonder Woman, stormed the headquarters of the DMA. Genocide wrecked the building and killed the majority of agents there despite their resistance and the arrival of several super-heroes.

As the carnage started, Steel’s considerable willpower finally gave. Psycho gained enough of a foothold to have Steel murder one of his own agents. Unhinged, Steel decided to go murder Psycho, who was held captive in a special DMA cell. Psycho’s control was too strong, however, and Steel ended up just freeing the diminutive villain, who then swapped their consciousnesses.

Steel’s stuporous mind was trapped within Psycho’s body whereas Psycho enjoyed the tall, strong, remarkably robust body of Steel. The Vice-Secretary of Defence, Steve Trevor, came to take control of the ravaged DMA and dismissed “Steel” as Psycho feigned complete stupidity before leaving.

However, one of the scientists who had helped create Genocide — T.O. Morrow — cracked and told Tresser and Wonder Woman how Cheetah, Psycho and Ares had engineered Genocide using the resources of the Society. Morrow also revealed the Psycho/Steel substitution, and that Psycho in Steel’s body and Steel in Psycho’s body were now in Japan. He was managing an illegal metahuman arena circuit reporting to Roulette.

Realising that Steel’s constant hostility toward her had been Psycho’s creation, Wonder Woman mounted a rescue operation. She enlisted her colleague Black Canary as an expert about the legal and illegal mixed-martial-arts and superhuman fighting scene.

Displaced consciousness, part 2

The two women swiftly infiltrated the circuit as the fighting duo the Orphan Sisters. They discovered that the drugged, bewitched and shocked Steel was kept around, dressed like a medieval jester and acting as a servant and MC.

Sarge Steel eyes closeup

After interacting with the mesmerised Steel in Psycho’s body, Wonder Woman realised that Steel’s willpower would allow him to survive the direct approach. She touched him with the Lasso of Truth. Though recovering his true personality and memories was particularly painful, Diana was correct. Director Steel recovered his full clarity of mind within minutes.

Steel in Psycho’s body, Wonder Woman and Black Canary then went to confront Psycho in Steel’s body before he could flee.

Steel hasn’t been seen since, though one presumes that the consciousness switch was undone, either by a coerced Psycho or the psychic and mystic specialists of the JLA.

While Steel was recuperating, what remained of the DMA suffered additional losses as they resisted the invasion of the alien Silver Serpent forces in Washington, D.C.. At the conclusion of this crisis the DMA, already ravaged by Genocide, had about a dozen agents left and its headquarters, vehicles, labs and the like had all been destroyed.


Description

Even in modern comic books Steel is a chain smoker. He occasionally lights up by scratching a match along his steel fist, which is very manly and everything.

As with most aged characters, his apparent age (and even how grey his hair gets) varies considerably from artist to artist. Some artists have even depicted Steel as if he were roughly the same age as Roy Harper.

Steel usually wears a suit, but during those occasions where he’s in uniform (usually to present an official report) he wears an Army one – presumably with Green Beret insignia and an imposing salad bar.

In more recent years he wore less formal clothing — usually an old-fashioned military pull-over — presumably because he was no longer operating at the Cabinet level.


Personality

Steel is a tough, direct man with a strong sense of duty and little love for pomp and stuffy protocol. However he also occupies positions of high responsibility, and has to take cautious and careful decisions. He may not believe in pussyfooting, but he’s certainly not a loose cannon.

In particular, Steel is not the figure of the hard man who makes his own rules. He dutifully follow orders, even those he disagrees with, and particularly respects the Presidential office. His loyalty toward the President is samurai-like.

Sarge Steel and Tom Tresser at the shooting range

This loyalty means that Steel is particularly concerned by avoiding scandals and PR disasters. It sometimes seems that his primary objective is to avoid embarrassing the government. Since Steel deals in things that tend to go wrong and blow up in all sorts of interesting ways, he spends a fair bit of time doing damage control, suppression of information, mop-ups, spin doctoring and the like.

He also seems to spend a fair bit of time trying to convince politicians not to launch projects that are obviously an incredibly bad idea, though as a civil servant he’s usually ignored by the wealthy and influential.

Stress

Steel does an incredibly stressful job in a toxic, back-stabbing environment. He also has been through a number of reversals of fortune, major crises and grave mistakes. That he still can function is remarkable, especially at his age, but it has an obvious cost.

Steel smokes and drinks an awful lot to cope with the stress. He also takes prodigious amounts of antacids and anxiety drugs to keep functioning and to serve despite the frequent failures and disasters he has to handle.

Though he’s forceful and intimidating, Steel doesn’t really seems to mind when he’s given lip by irreverent allies such as King Faraday or Jack Marshall. He’s not a susceptible man. This may be in part because he has a soft spot for those men and women who are out there making a difference, wishing he could join them despite his responsibilities.

He also doesn’t mind being roughed up by a potential ally if he’s trying to convince them to work for them. This strong pragmatism goes both way, though. If Sarge Steel has to lie and manipulate, he will do it with gusto.

Villain ?

The imperatives of the raison d‘État can result in Steel occupying an almost villainous role in some stories.

Still, he seems to be a generally moral man often dealing with no-win choices and making enough realpolitik decisions to erode his moral compass to a degree. Most of the amoral decisions he took stemmed from being manipulated, not having the right information or having little choice.

Of course, in a less in-universe way, what happens generally is that Steel’s characterisation reflects the writer’s view of the government, rather than a characterisation. Steel can be cast in the rule of the Stupid Chief (who hampers the Maverick Hero as per the American tradition) in one issue and as the Grizzled Patriotic Spy (who saves America in a complicated world) in the next.

Sometimes he sacrifices innocents not to make the government look bad, sometimes he goes to great lengths to save lives and bring crises under control though it might end his career.


Quotes

“The Commander-in-Chief has issued an edict — and Sarge Steel is here to make sure it gets obeyed !”

“Thank you, Mr. President. All right, people, I didn’t ask for this job, but it’s been handed to me and I’m going to see it through. So if anybody’s got any complaints… I don’t want to hear them ! We’ve got a lot of ground to cover in the next hour, so let’s get to it.”

“You’re out of this, Batman. Or we’ll find out just how secret your ‘secret identity’ is when the government really puts its mind to finding out.”

“Well, well, Mister Senator – picking up a little extra change in dark garages now, are we ?”

Deathstroke: “All right, Steel. I’ll take the job.”
Sarge Steel: “Just like that ? No complaints ? No threats ? You’re not letting me have any fun.”

“With the Titans disbanded, I imagine you’re having a bit of a cash flow problem. But me, I’ve got a big sack o’ cash for the man who brings me Sing Lu.”

Justine Ramagas: “Do you own any ties that were made in this decade ?”
Sarge Steel: “Come to think of it… I don’t.”

“Don’t mind me. Spooks don’t get older. Just more suspicious.”


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Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

Sarge Steel

Dex: 05 Str: 04 Bod: 05 Motivation: Responsibility
Int: 06 Wil: 06 Min: 06 Occupation: Intelligence director
Inf: 06 Aur: 05 Spi: 06 Resources {or Wealth}: 006
Init: 017 HP: 025

Powers:
Systemic antidote: 01

Bonuses and Limitations:
Systemic antidote is a Skilled Power.

Skills:
Artist (Actor): 04, Charisma: 06, Detective (Counterfeit recognition, Legwork, Police procedure): 06, Martial Artist: 05, Military science: 05, Thief: 04, Vehicles (Air, Land, Water): 05, Weaponry (Firearms): 05

Advantages:
Credentials (US Intelligence, High ; US Military, Low ; Suicide Squad, Medium ; White House, Medium), Expertise (Covert metahuman operatives and operations, Intelligence operations, US Intelligence agencies and allies, Security, Federal politics, Metahuman and paranormal threats), Iron Nerves, Rich Friend (Expenses account).

Connections:
CIA (Low), Amanda Waller (Low), Jack “Hacker” Marshall (Low), King Faraday (Low), Sandra Knight (formerly the Phantom Lady and now headmistress of the Université Notre-Dame-des-Ombres, Low), Lois Lane (Low), Nightshade (Eve Eden, Low), Justine Ramagas (Low), plus others from Credentials.

Drawbacks:
Age (Old). Sarge Steel slowly develops a MIA toward alcohol, nicotine and various anxiety drugs.

Equipment:

  • STEEL HAND [BODY (Hardened defences) 10, STR 07, Flame project (No Range): 00]. This is a fully functional, albeit obviously artificial and metallic, prothesis. It can punch or crush with superhuman strength. The new model he started using in 2000 or 2001 includes a cigarette lighter within the thumb.
  • Rechambered .45 P08 “Luger” pistol [BODY 04, Projectile weapon: 04, Ammo: 08, R#02]. It is not clear how often Steel carries, or which type of pistol he packs, but it seems that it is still his old workhorse Lüger.

By Sébastien Andrivet.

Source of Character: Post-Crisis DC Universe.

Helper(s): Darci.

Writeup completed on the 4th of April, 2011.

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