"Astro City: The Tarnished Angel" by Kurt Busiek, 2000, 156389663x. From Beaver Dam PL.
Pretty good story. A comic book novel from the same series as "Kurt Busiek's Astro City: life in the big city" which I mentioned earlier. This book is a single story focusing on Carl "Steeljack" Donewicz. As Steeljack, Carl was a big name villain in Astro City and fought against the superheroes he aspired to work with when he was a child.
Inspired by his mother, Carl worked hard at school but joined a street gang for safety. During a brawl with a rival gang he shot and killed a 16 year old rival and decided, "I'd killed a kid. I wasn't ever getting out." Still dreaming of superheroe status Carl convinced mad scientist Dr. Ganss to experiement on him. Ganss gave Carl a skin of steel and Carl became Steeljack in his quest to pay Ganss for the service.
Carl is paroled after twenty years in prison and returns to his old neighborhood, Kiefer Square. Carl is unwelcome anywhere else in the City but Kiefer Square has always been home to criminal lowlives. Carl is working hard to keep his parole and stay out of trouble. But, unskilled and unwanted by most employers, Carl is just getting by when the local "fixer" gets him hired by the neighborhood to look into who has been secretly killing off the local hoods.
Carl is no mental giant but takes the job out of desperation. As the work progresses he finds out that a citywide heist of Astro City has been planned, and that the hoods involved - his friends and neighbors - are getting set-up by a disgraced superhero.
I was impressed with the story. Carl is looking for redemption from his years as Steeljack. Carl's guilt and his childhood dreams of heroism still haunt him and drive him along. Some neat artwork with Carl's reflective metal skin but some of the other work is so-so.
Worth reading. I will check for more books in the series.