First Comics News: How did you originally come up with Steel Wolf?

Eric N Bennett: Steel Wolf was created WAY back in 1986 as a part of the old Marvel Super Heroes RPG that my friends and I used to play. I wanted a character that I’d have a lot of room to play with, and being a child of the 80s, the Cold War was still very much on our young adolescent minds. Russia seemed like this mysterious, looming presence, and I liked the fact that (within the confines of the Marvel Universe in which the game was based) there weren’t that many super-powered characters to have to worry about New York was lousy with super-heroes. So I liked the idea of fertile untouched soil in which to plant some ideas. And so I came up with the idea of “a Steel Wolf to guard the Iron Curtain,” and made the character basically who he is today (though he wore a different costume than he does now). Eventually, we drifted away from playing the game, but Steel Wolf stuck in my mind. So, I migrated all his story elements out of the Marvel Universe into a setting of my own, and he’s continued to evolve ever since.

1st: What part does Steel Wolf play within the ranks of Power Company?

Eric: Steel Wolf is one of three extra-dimensional heroes who come to the aid of the Power Company when Damage, Inc. attacks Washington, D.C. He, Thunder Woman, and Midnight Owl are acting as sort of Guardians of the White House, protecting the President during this attack. The three of them were all members of a group tasked with safeguarding the multiverse known as the Empyrean Command (though Thunder Woman left for as-yet-unrevealed reasons), and when Cyborilla’s multiversal incursions began, it alerted them in their headquarters the Parhelion. They then bridged themselves to the PC world where the story takes place.

1st: What are Steel Wolf’s powers and abilities?

Eric: Steel Wolf is what I guess gets termed as a “flying brick.” Basically, that means he has the same basic powerset as a Superman-like character. He’s immensely strong, invulnerable, can fly and is fast, and has heightened senses as well as the ability to project excess ionic energy buildup from his eyes as a kind of heat vision. Not the most original powerset to be sure, but it’s always been my favorite. I’m lifelong Superman fan.

1st: In Power Company, who would make the best one-on-one partner for him?

Eric: Within the ranks of the Power Company, I think both Five Star and Steel Wolf’s longtime ally Thunder Woman would be a formidable match. There intelligent, physical powerhouses.

1st: In Damage Inc. who has the best chance of beating Steel Wolf?

Eric: Abominus has the best chance of taking him down from a purely physical standpoint, but never underestimate a cybernetic gorilla. Cyborilla has a lot of experience dealing with his own flying brick in Ultra-Man, so he’s well-versed in strategies designed to overcome that kind of threat.

1st: Will we be seeing more of Steel Wolf in “Power Company”?

Eric: We will. Following the events of the first story, Steel Wolf has elected to remain on their world to help deal with the threat posed by Cyborilla and his dimensional incursions. That’s kinda one of the main tenants of his other group, the Empyrean Command. And so, for him to just walk away while this kind of threat is outstanding would be irresponsible. So he offers his services to the PC for the duration of this threat, and maybe longer. Though his wife and partner Auren isn’t too thrilled with him being away in another dimension for an extended period. 

1st: Will there be more “Steel Wolf” original comics anytime soon?

Eric: There will. He has a couple short upcoming guest appearances coming soon, and I’m currently working on finishing a solo adventure for him. 

1st: Who makes up BearClaw Press?

Eric: BearClaw Press is me, myself, and I. It’s a one-man operation. 

1st: Who are a few characters you created at BearClaw Press?

Eric: Besides Steel Wolf, there’s his wife Auren, as well as the members of the team to which they belong known as the First Guard. The First Guard are a United Nations-sponsored team of powered individuals from around the world who have been given the authority to engage threats beyond the ability of conventional forces to deal with. The other currently-active members of the First Guard are the second Blue Bolt, the Israeli heroine Onyx, Canadian powerhouse Nemesis, and the U.K.’s Legion. As far as villains, the major threats tom Steel Wolf come from his former Russian teammates known as the Red Guard, the villainous Fulcrum, who desires a return of the former Soviet State, the walking atomic juggernaut known as Warhead (himself once Steel Wolf’s closest friend), and the Temporal Tyrant known as The Chronarch. But I’m a big fan of goofball villains too, so Steel Wolf also clashes with villains like the Manotaur, Vault, the Brain Bruiser, Half-Man, and the Lady Doms to name just a few. 

1st: Who are the Empyrean Command, why do they exist?

Eric: The Empyrean Command is the brainchild of creator Andrew W. Rowland. He wanted to do a series of storylines featuring different original characters from the deviantART community, and Steel Wolf was one that he chose. After a few little stories, the idea solidified in all our heads, and now the team consists of a group of core characters, around whom other characters come in as stories dictate. Besides Steel Wolf and Auren, Andrew’s own Valiant and Krakatoa are members, as well as Chris Lilwall’s South Star, Andrew Hutchison’s Captain Unity, and of course Cuong Nguyen’s Midnight Owl. As stated before, the team operates out of a base located in what we call “The Verge” located between dimensions. And ancient and mysterious being known only as Anahita cares for and monitors the facility, as well as alerting the team to threats. It was she who alerted Steel Wolf and Midnight Owl to the events depicted in the Power Company #1. 

1st: What are you currently working on?

Eric: I’m currently working on lettering a short 5-page bonus story as well as an 8-page story (to be featured in an upcoming Kickstarter from another creator) with artist Mitch Ballard and colorist Tristan MacDonald. Following that, I’ll be working on finishing up Steel Wolf’s own official first issue, as well as continuing to refine and work out the necessary material for a full Empyrean Command book as well. And of course, my own day job as a graphic artist, soccer coach, Cub Scout leader, husband, and father to two sons. Always plenty busy.

1st: Would you like to visit Steel Wolf in his universe and spend a day with him?

Eric: Absolutely. Since his personality is based largely on mine, I think we’d have a good time. Though there wouldn’t be a lot of talking. Despite my answers here, I’m generally not a talkative type. And neither is he.

1st: What comics did you read as a child and do you read now?

Eric: I was introduced to comics through books like Thor and Superman. I still read Thor to this day, though I only do so in trade paperback form. For me, the single most definitive comic run and the stories that to me define the very concept of a comic book, are John Byrne’s FANTASTIC FOUR run. If I had only one run to read for the rest of my life, despite how much I love Thor, it’d be that run. But as a kid, I also read Teen Titans, Champions, Avengers, Justice League of America (satellite-era FTW), and of course X-Men.

1stHow do you feel about all your fans?

Eric: I’m extremely grateful and humbled by the interest people have shown for my characters and ideas. To me, Steel Wolf is just this guy that’s been living in my mind for 30 years now. In a sea of superheroes, he’s nothing special. Just one of many. So when I see people asking about him, or excited to see him in something, it always stuns me.

Photo Credits (Top to bottom): Steel Wolf by Joe Davis, Steel Wolf by Marvel artist Steven Butler, Steel Wolf vs The Red Guard by Luis Rivera and Pepito Sioc, Steel Wolf vs Fulcrum by Carlo Garde and Tristan MacDonald, Steel Wolf #12 mock cover by Eric N Bennett, steel_wolf__367_cover_by Eric N Bennett, Steel Wolf Special #1 mock cover (art by Ron Frenz)

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First Comics News: How did you originally come up with Steel Wolf? Eric N Bennett: Steel Wolf was created WAY back in 1986 as a part of the old Marvel Super Heroes RPG that my friends and I used to play. I wanted a character that I'd have a lot of room...