Iron Munro

Created by Roy Thomas, Dann Thomas, and Brian Murray

NAME + ALIASES:
Arnold "Iron" Munro

KNOWN RELATIVES:
Hugo Danner (biological father, deceased), Anna Blake Munro (mother, deceased), John Munro (adoptive father, deceased), Abednego and Mathilda Danner (biological grandparents, deceased), Sandra Knight (Phantom Lady, ex-wife), Walter Pratt (son, deceased), unnamed son (deceased), Katherine Spencer (Manhunter VII, granddaughter), Ramsey Robinson (great-grandson)

GROUP AFFILIATIONS:
All-Star Squadron, Freedom Fighters

FIRST APPEARANCE:
Young All-Stars #1 (June 1987)

History

The character of Iron Munro is an amalgam of several Golden Age fictional entities. He was created by Roy Thomas to adjust DC's Golden Age continuity after the effects of Crisis on Infinte Earths. After Crisis, the timeline of Earth-Two and the Golden Age Justice Society had been merged with that of Earth-One. Consequently, there was no longer a Superman in its wartime history. Thomas filled the fictional Superman void with two new creations: Iron Munro and the evil Übermensch, of Axis Amerika.

Left: Astounding Stories magazine (Dec, 1934). Right: Shadow Comics #1 (1940).
The "Iron Munro" feature from Shadow Comics #1 (1940); art by E. C. Stoner.
Leftt: The first edition of Gladiator (1933). Right: Cover of Legend #1 (2005); art by Russ Heath.

Artist Joe Shuster's first attempt at the heroic Superman is stylized with bare-chest (à la Doc Savage) and what appears to be a white streak in his hair — both signatures of DC's Iron Munro. From "The Superman" (unpublished, 1933); art by Joe Shuster.

Anna Blake has an affair with Hugo Danner. From Young All-Stars #11 (1988); art by Michael Bair and Malcolm Jones III.
Iron Munro tries to save T.N.T. and Dyna-Mite, and meets Gudra of Axis America. From Young All-Stars #1 (1987); art by Michael Bair and Malcolm Jones III.

The key elements of this character come from several concepts that are generally considered to have inspired Jerry Siegel when he originally created Superman. There are three to note: the super-human star of the novel, Gladiator; a science fiction pulp hero called "Aarn Munro"; and Friedrich Nietzsche's concept of the "Übermensch" (which translates to "Superman").

Philip Wylie's 1930 novel Gladiator (now in the public domain) starred Hugo Danner, a young man with incredible strength, speed, and invulnerability (and good looks). In Young All-Stars, Danner is used as Munro's father, and his back story was also adapted from Gladiator.

The name "Iron Munro" was borrowed from a succession of two Golden Age characters. Aarn Munro was a science fiction hero in the "Flash Gordon" mold, whose genesis was a five-part story, "The Mightiest Machine," by John W. Campbell, Jr. It was published in Astounding Stories by Street and Smith from December 1934 through April 1935 (and collected as a novel in 1947).

This story was the seed for a comic book character called "Iron Munro," also published by Street and Smith. "Iron Munro: The Astounding Man" first appeared in Shadow Comics #1 (1940), and made nine appearances in all. This comics hero was a space ranger, not a rough-and-tumble adventurer.

DC's Iron Munro appears to be visually styled on Joe Shuster's prototype Superman, from the 1933 sample story "The Superman." In the cover artwork (the only page that survives), the Superman flies through the air, and he is bare-chested, his shirt apparently torn like his popular new contemporary, Doc Savage. Also, his hair appears to have a streak; it's impossible to say whether this streak was intentional or a stylized highlight. Regardless, Iron Munro's hair has a white streak, and he frequently does battle in a ripped shirt.

In 2005, Gladiator was adapted for comics by Howard Chaykin and Russ Heath. Legend was a 4-issue limited series pulblished by DC/Wildstorm.

DC's "Gladiator"

In 1894, scientist Abednego Danner injected his pregnant wife with special experimental serums. As a result, their son Hugo was born with super-human strength. Though he lived with his parents throughout his teen years, Hugo left at age eighteen to attend college and see the world. In the years that followed, Hugo's special powers led him through a number of adventures, but his unique stature among mortal men forever brought him grief. He fought Germans as a freelancer in World War I, and when he returned home, his father was dying. (Young All-Stars #29)

Hugo fell in love with Anna Blake, who lived in Indian Creek, Colorado. He could not commit to staying in Colorado, and after Hugo left, Anna married a young businessman named John Munro. Hugo returned after a few years to bury his father. Note: The Danners and Blake are characters in Gladiator.

In 1921, he joined Prof. Hardin's expedition to the Yucatán, where Hugo was inspired to create a "race of titans"; he sent a charred body back home as his own, along with a faked journal.

Danner continued his expeditions and ultimately found Dr. Edward Challenger's Maple White Land. His powers allowed him to coexist with the dinosaurs there, and he set himself up as leader of the native Accalas. He followed his father's notes and injected pregnant women with his serum, which produced all male children with super-human abilities — save for one girl. His formula had been off from his father's and none of these children were as strong as Danner himself. Note: The Maple White Land is from Arthur Conan Doyle's 1912 novel The Lost World. Georgia Challenger is the granddaughter of that novel's hero, Dr. Edward Challenger.

Danner indulged one final return to Colorado, to see Anna Blake, and they enjoyed one last affair. Her husband was away, and she became pregnant from that encounter; and John Munro never realized the child was not his own.

Anna and Hugo's son, Arnold began exhibiting super-human strength and invulnerability at age ten. As a baseball player at his high school, Munro earned the nickname "Iron." Remembering Hugo's troubles, Anna pressured her son to keep his abilities a secret. (Young All-Stars #11, 29)

Graduation

Arn was a senior there when, in April 1942, Munro saved the super-heroes T.N.T. and Dyna-Mite from a burning car crash. T.N.T. died but Arn managed to bring Dyna-Mite to a nearby hospital. Subsequently, Munro and other new "Young All-Stars" aided the All-Star Squadron in defeating Axis Amerika. President Franklin Roosevelt asked Munro and the others to join the Squadron, about which Munro was reluctant, but he agreed to accompany them on a cross-country War Bond promotion. (#1-3)

Soon thereafter, Arn received a mysterious diary written by Hugo Danner, his father. (#9) He learned about his father's troubled experiences as one of the 20th century's first metahumans. (#10) This led the young hero on a quest to learn of his father's fate.

Iron Munro tries out a more super-heroic costume. From Young All-Stars #12 (1988); art by Howard Simpson and Malcolm Jones III.
Arn meets his father, Hugo Danner. From Young All-Stars #28 (1989); art by Lou Manna and Bob Downs.
The Sons of Dawn fall to the common cold. From Young All-Stars #31 (1989); art by Lou Manna and Bob Downs.

The Sons of Dawn

After reading his father’s diary and discovering a photo of his father with a large lizard, Arn turned to Prof. Mazursky at the secret Project M. He demanded to know the location of a so-called "Dinosaur Island," which was mentioned in the diary. Mazursky's colleague, Georgia Challenger, instead identified the location as the Maple White Land in South America. They were surprised to have actually located Arn’s father — who had created a whole new band of  super-human "offspring" he called the Sons of Dawn. (#28)

Danner had raised the Sons of Dawn apart from the Accala, and now they had matured. Arn and Hugo also deduced that the German's had used Abednego Danner's formula create their Übermensch. Two of the Sons, brother and sister Xtoh and Xavi, were jealous of Arn and led a rebellion against Hugo. (#29)

The Sons attacked the city of Rioguay, where Arn's friend Dan (the Dyna-Mite) was staying with his parents. In New York, Fury heard the news on the radio and mobilized the All-Star Squadron. (#30) Even the weight of the entire Squadron could not best the Sons of Dawn. Arn was forced to fight his own father, but discovered that his strength was not as great as Danner's. The battle ended when the Sons of Dawn began falling to a virus — a cold virus brought by Georgia Challenger. Danner predicted that his "offspring" would die, and they returned to the Maple White Land. Only the girl, Xavi, appeared unaffected.

At the conclusion of this mission, Liberty Belle offered once again to accept the Young All-Stars into the senior Squadron; Iron Munro accepted on behalf of their group. (#31)

Good on Paper

He was divorced from his first love. (Damage #11)

During the War, Iron Munro also met his second wife, Sandra Knight (the All-Star known as Phantom Lady). Before the two of them were married, Sandra conceived a child — which she never revealed to him. She confided only in the Atom, Al Pratt, who helped her give the child up for adoption. The hospital mistakenly put Al's name as father on the child's (Walter Pratt) birth certificate. (Manhunter v.3 #23)

After the war, Arn and Sandra were recruited for a new branch of the O.S.S. called Argent. Sandra and Munro married hastily in Monaco; their union was cursed and they quarrelled a lot. They bore a second child who was kidnapped by Baron Blitzkrieg, an operative of the Soviets. Sandra had fallen into the Baron's trap in Poland and their child was born and taken in captivity; they never saw this child again, and it was presumed dead. (Damage #6, 11)

After escaping from Poland, Sandra went to Roy Lincoln (the Human Bomb) for help. She wanted out of espionage. She asked him not to tell Arn, who was in a coma then, and dedicated herself to training new operatives in the school called the Université Notre Dame des Ombres. Munro was never reunited with Sandra. (Damage #11)

Damages

Iron Munro became a freelance private investigator and lived with Roy Lincoln on a boat in Florida. He maintained ties to Sarge Steel in U.S. intelligence, who brought him in on a case to take down his arch enemy, the Baron. (Damage #2) The Baron had become a freelance crime lord, and was under contract to Symbolix to distribute experimental drugs. (#4)

Munro's fight happened to randomly cross paths with that of the young hero, Grant Emerson, aka Damage. (#5) The two of them were subsequently swept into a bubble of time/space distortion. Arn experienced an encounter with Phantom Lady, from 1964, and she asks if Damage was their son. This was a shock to Munro. (#6) Damage asked Arn directly: was he his father? He denied it but truthfully, Arn was unsure. (#0)

These events spurred Iron Munro to reignite investigations into his own past. He would begin in Poland, where he'd last seen his wife. (#8) The site of Gniezno Colliery in Poland produced a dead end, but not until after Arn endured an attack by the Baron's associate, the telepath Kodrescu. (#9)

He escaped his tormentor, and the facility's destruction, and returned to Washington, DC. In Sarge Steel's office, Roy Lincoln revealed that Sandra was still alive; he had helped her after she escaped from Poland. She asked Roy not to tell Arn, who'd been in a coma at the time. Arn learned that she was now running a school, the Université Notre Dame des Ombres, to train top espionage operatives.

At the same time, Damage had secured a meeting with Sandra to learn about his past. She did not believe she was his mother. Munro arrived during their meeting and was detained by Sandra's successor, the second Phantom Lady (Dee Tyler). When Grant exited the Université, he and Munro were attacked by Kodrescu, who made them fight one another. Damage defeated Kodrescu, who departed with a lie: that Arn's child was turned over to Egrin Wahrman, founder of Symbolix, who had engineered Damage. Munor and Damage seemed to believe Kodrescu and assumed their relationship. (#11)

Damage soon learned that in fact, he was the son of the original Atom. This was also due to the machinations of the Baron, who had worked with Symbolix to bioengineer a super-human. (#12) This didn't hinder Munro from helping Damage when the boy was besieged by genetic rejects from Symbolix. (#18)

Damage Done

Iron Munro still answered the call of the super-hero community (and apparently benefited from extended youth). During the massive war between Imperiex and Brainiac 13, the Justice Society’s Sand recruited an army of All-Stars, including Arn. (JSA: Our Worlds at War) Afterwards, he joined the Human Bomb and Damage in a new incarnation of the Freedom Fighters. (JSA #49-51) This group was doomed; Arn lost his good friend Roy when several of the FF were slaughtered by the Society. (Infinite Crisis #1)  

Sandra Knight eventually learned the fate of her first child. Walter Pratt became a homicidal maniac, but his daughter, Katherine Spencer became Los Angeles' avenging Manhunter. Pratt died when he was cut in half midstream in teleporation. (Manhunter v.3 #19)

Spencer eventually located Sandra (#23) ...

+ Powers

Iron Munro demonstrates super-strength and invulnerability. These were inherited from his father, the result of Arn's grandfather's experiments.

Appearances + References

» FEATURED APPEARANCES:  
  • Batman: Streets of Gotham #2, 10–13
  • JSA #49-51
  • JSA All-Stars #7
  • JSA: Our Worlds at War #1
  • Manhunter v.3 #25, 31-34

» SERIES:

  • Young All-Stars, 31 issues (1987–89)
  • Damage, 21 issues (1994-95)