- "I'm a hero to a lot of people; that's the job."
- —Henry Heywood[src]
Henry Heywood (died April 13, 1970) was a flight commander for NASA and a former member of the Justice Society of America known as Commander Steel and The Chameleon. He was the husband of Bettie Heywood, the father of the late Hank Heywood, and the paternal grandfather of Nate Heywood.
Henry became a guardian for a fragment to the Spear of Destiny and managed to hide it on the moon. He ultimately met his demise when he sacrificed himself to save the Legends and the Waverider. His dog tags served as an heirloom that was passed to his son, and later to his grandson.
Military and superhero career
Henry Heywood served in the United States Army and was given dog tags with the number 070233, which he continued to regularly wear throughout his career. In 1939, Henry saved President Roosevelt from an assassin's bullet, which left a dent in one his tags. During his military career, he was a fighter pilot.
During World War II, Henry was recruited into the Justice Society of America under the moniker "Commander Steel". Despite the organization's strict professionalism, Henry worked to maintain a camaraderie with his teammates, such as trying to get them to sing whilst on stakeouts, with mixed success.
Working with the Legends
After the Legends forced Albert Einstein to reveal Mileva Maric as the physicist's secret collaborator in 1942, Heywood and the Justice Society of America intercepted the team and wanted to bring them in for questioning.
When Nate Heywood saw him, he seemed somewhat awestruck though Henry was at a loss for why. The Legends then revealed that they knew Rex Tyler though the JSA insisted that Rex never said anything about them. When they were ready to bring them in, the Legends began to resist, sparking a fight. Henry quickly knocked Nate out before he and Stargirl moved to fight against Firestorm. The JSA managed to incapacitate the Legends and brought them back to their headquarters. Henry thought that they should send them to the Bellevue Mental Hospital as he thought they were crazy for their talk of time travel. However, it was revealed that Nate Heywood had his own copy of his dog tags because he was his future grandson. Nate was excited to finally meet him but Henry tried hard to not look or speak to him.
When the team was dispatched to Paris to intercept a Nazi named Krieger, they ran into the Legends again as they had learned history had changed and the JSA didn't make it back from the mission alive. Nate pulled Henry aside and wondered why he wasn't speaking to him and Henry revealed that his grandson's idolization of him scared him. He said that he did what he did so others like his son and even his grandson didn't have to. Nate told him that, because of his health condition, he was shielded his whole life and wanted to be a hero like him though Henry told him that he didn't have to be a soldier to be a hero. Henry fought with the JSA and Legends to intercept an exchange that Krieger was overseeing but they were caught off guard when Krieger transformed into a berserker monster due to a serum and kidnapped Amaya and Ray. He fought with the team to rescue them but was unable to get far enough away when a bomb strike was ordered. Nate arrived with a motorbike to help him but they were unable to get fully away when a bomb made them crash and injured Nate.
Nate's life was starting to be in jeopardy and Henry was angrily asking if there was anything that could be done for him as they were all from the future. Ray arrived with a modified version of the serum and injected Nate, saving his life. Henry stayed by Nate's side until he woke up and was happy to see that he was going to be okay. When Nate's dog tags returned, it appeared that history was back on course again. Henry told Nate that he was a hero after all. He and his team were then returned back to their headquarters, where their leader, Rex Tyler, had been killed shortly afterwards.
Finding the Spear of Destiny and retirement
In 1956, President Eisenhower sent an order for Henry and the JSA (sans Obsidian) to go on a mission to Leipzig, but they never made it back. When he, Stargirl and Dr. Mid-Nite were there, they were aided by Rip Hunter, to recover the Spear of Destiny. They found that the spear's power was too great for any one person to wield. Breaking it into four pieces, Henry took a piece and was transported by Rip to Manhattan in 1965.
Final mission and death
During the launch of the Apollo 13 capsule into space, he was visited by the Legends, among whom was Rip. When he was approached by Rip, Henry went and gave him a hard punch across the jaw and locked him up as he thought he wasn't ever supposed to see him again. When he reunited with the Legends they explained their situation, how the Legion of Doom was hunting the fragments, and so they wished to retrieve the final piece. Discovering him to have hidden it in Neil Armstrong's flag on the moon, they flew their way into space aboard the Waverider, only to discover that Eobard Thawne, a member of the Legion, was ahead of them. Due to a small meteoroid field, the Waverider lost most of its power, causing it to have trouble re-entering the Earth's atmosphere with the lunar module. Henry met back up with Nate and he confessed that he was actually happy to see them again because he now had a chance to go back and reunite with his wife and son and make it like he never left, which Nate was happy about. However, they were overheard by Amaya and she told Henry that doing that could change the person that his son could become as well as change Nate, if he even is born at all. Henry didn't take that into account and though Nate argued that it might not be a risk, Henry didn't want to take the chance. He then went and apologized to Rip for hitting him and blaming him for his own decision to leave his family for the sake of the mission. Martin Stein contacted the team and informed them that Hank Heywood was at mission control and Henry confessed that he rigged a contest to be able to finally meet with him.When the Waverider had to re-enter the Earth at an angle of 38°, it was determined that the cargo bay door had to be opened to correctly angle the ship, though the person would no doubt lose their life. Henry decided to sacrifice himself to correctly angle the Waverider and headed for the cargo bay. Henry shared one last look with his grandson and requested him to tell Hank back on Earth that he was sorry. Henry then unlocked the cargo bay door of the ship and was sucked straight out into the atmosphere, eventually dying of oxygen deprivation.
In 1970, moments after Henry's death, Nate went down to see his young father, Hank, at NASA. Nate noticed Hank was wearing Henry's dog tags. Hank explained they belonged to his father, who had died before he could know his son. Nate assured Hank that Henry was sorry for leaving him.
When Sara Lance was corrupted by wearing the Death Totem, she made a glamor of Henry to psychologically torment Nate. The vision of Henry played on his grandson's guilt over the former's death, indicating Nate should have been the one sucked out into space instead. Henry then brutally pummeled Nate, denouncing him as a "disappointment" to the family and claiming he wasn't worthy of Amaya.
Henry never wanted to be seen as a hero, merely a person, a belief he relayed to his grandson Nate when the latter traveled back in time to 1942. Usually appearing rough around the edges and possessing a no-nonsense attitude, Henry was not purely a grouch; he regularly sung to the JSA to raise their spirits when on missions, and often tried to teach Amaya Jiwe to sing along, though he never succeeded.
Henry's somewhat gruff exterior was notably seen during his interactions with his future grandson. Despite his rough demeanor towards his descendant, Henry offered Nate sound advice and appears proud of the hero that Nate would become. He also felt a certain attachment to Nate, sitting by his side following Nate's recovery from his injuries on board the Waverider. He also enjoyed his time in space with Nate, having bonded with his grandson even further. Upon sacrificing his life to ensure atmospheric re-entry to Earth, he revealed to Nate just how much he loved and respected him, deciding that Nate should not have to bear the burden of sacrificing his life, feeling satisfied that he'd done his duty to his country, planet, and family. Henry's sacrifice profoundly shook Nate, causing him to emotionally break down in Amaya's arms, showing how deeply the two Heywood men had bonded.
During his time as a flight commander for NASA, Henry became resentful of Rip Hunter due to having had to abandon his wife and son in order to protect his fragment of the Spear of Destiny. This extended to the point where he punched Rip in the face, locked him up, and refused to speak with him. However, upon his grandson revealing how Rip had lost his own wife and child, Henry became considerably more at ease.
- Expert hand-to-hand combatant: Henry was incredibly strong in close combat.
- Multilingualism: As noted by Amaya Jiwe, Henry was fluent in seven languages (including English), to the point of being able to sound like a native in each.
- Singing: Henry was an avid singer with a beautiful voice. His songs kept the JSA's spirits up during harsh missions.
- Stealth/infiltration: Henry earned another nickname as the "the Chameleon" for his talent to move about unnoticed and conceal his true nature. His talent ultimately allowed him to effectively adopt a whole new lifestyle in 1970, becoming a lead official in NASA.
- Commander Steel uniform: Henry uses this specialized uniform on his missions as a member of the JSA.
- Dog tags #070233: This item was passed in the Heywood family throughout generations, eventually ending in Nate's hands. When Henry saved President Roosevelt from an assassin's bullet, it left a dent in the tags.
- Winchester 1897: Henry uses a modified shotgun on his missions as Commander Steel.
- Colt M1911A1: Henry used this pistol as a sidearm.
DC's Legends of Tomorrow
Behind the scenes
- In the DC comics, Hank Heywood was crippled during World War II, and a scientist used cybernetic upgrades to make him extremely powerful. He took the name "Commander Steel", originally just "Steel", and became a member of the All-Star Squadron. His grandson Hank Heywood III also had to be rebuilt after an injury, and he became the second Steel working with Justice League Detroit. Heywood's other grandson Nathan became Citizen Steel as a member of the Justice Society.
- In the New 52 continuity, Henry Heywood became known as Captain Steel, after his scientist father Henry Heywood, Sr., used a special metal alloy to make his bones stronger by binding with his DNA; however, it replaced the bones and some of his vital organs entirely, while imbuing him with super-strength and a mental control over machinery.