One day while Ken Mack was surfing, another surfer accidentally crashed into him, ramming Ken's face with his surfboard. Instead of killing him, the impact trauma accelerated a transformation already taking place under his skin. His skin peeled off, revealing a red iridium skull beneath.
At the time of the accident, Ken was unaware of the transformation because the iridium has no nerve endings. He was then taken to Norman Osborn on a plane. Norman then amplified his transformation, making his whole body iridium.
Ken was recruited to join the newly formed Avengers Academy alongside other young potential heroes Veil (Madeline Berry), Striker (Brandon Sharpe), Finesse (Jeanne Foucault), Reptil (Humberto Lopez), and Hazmat (Jennifer Takeda). At their first meeting Veil screamed when she saw Mettle, but he is not offended as he is used to being feared, during the first few days at the school he bonds with Reptil and they become friends. He and the rest of the class were lead to believe they were among those most likely to become heroes, but they quickly uncovered files on them revealed they were most likely to become villains.
On their visit to the Raft Mettle, Hazmat, and Veil went to Norman Osborn's cell. Mettle and Hazmat were looking forward to killing Osborn, much to the shock of Veil who thought that they were going to force him to change them back to normal. Hazmat stated that if Pym cannot save them, no one can. The only thing worthwhile is making Osborn pay for what he has done. Grabbed at the neck by Mettle, Osborn tells them that he has molded them for greatness. He subtly manipulates them into thinking that perhaps Pym is withholding his attempts at a cure.
They then ran into Powderkeg, who was in the middle of fighting the Academy staff. They were knocked away, and when they come to, Mettle impulsively attacked the Juggernaut before realizing what he had done. Veil then alerted them to Man-Thing presence. Knowing that his teammate would burn them no matter what material they were made of, Juggernaut used a loud clap to blow Veil away from the creature before carting him off back to his habitat. Mettle and Veil then went looking for Hazmat, who was in the midst of wandering into a fight between The Raft guards and prisoners. Grizzly attempted to take her as a hostage, only to back off when she threatened to give him cancer. However, she was knocked out by another prisoner. Her friends soon found her, and Mettle decided to face the villains alone, only for their teachers to intervene.
Once The Raft was brought under control, Luke Cage scolded the trio for attempting to assassinate Osborn. Hazmat stated that he Luke did not know what that madman did to them. Cage retorted that Osborn put a bomb on his heart and went after his wife, but he is not the type to tear off his cell door. Pym promised to discipline his students and to upgrade prison security. Mettle, Veil, and Hazmat silently agreed to keep the true cause of the blackout a secret, as Mettle contemplated what they had almost done.
After he was elected class leader of Avengers Academy, Reptil decided to mediate Mettle and Hazmat's differences, saying that they would make a good couple, to which they expressed disgust. Mentallo escaped from his transport truck and started messing with the Avengers. The team went to intervene, with Reptil ultimately ripping his arm off.
The team then escorted Absorbing Man under the supervision of Hank Pym. Suddenly, his ball and chain started acting up. Mettle attempted to grab it, only to accidentally release Creel. Pym brought Creel to the realm of Abstracts for ten seconds. Overwhelmed by Overspace, Creel became shocked and easily subdued. They then transported him to the Raft.
Pym discovered Veil in her attempt to bring back the Wasp. However, it turned out that what they perceived to be Janet was actually Carina Walters; and where she is, Michael Korvac followed However, Carina had no intention of returning to her husband. The Avengers and New Avengers then arrive in the Academy to defeat Korvac once again. Meanwhile, Jocasta sequestered the Academy students and Carina into a safe room which shunted to other dimensions every 2.3 seconds, though the effort was futile.
Carina told the students that Korvac was not invincible, citing the example of how the Red Skull disintegrated him with antimatter. She offered to place them in the bodies of their adults selves from other timelines, but only if they consented. Korvac floored the Avengers with only Speedball left standing. Academy students stepped out as adults to face him.
They then attacked Korvac. Veil, Finesse, Hazmat, and Reptil caught him by surprise. Mettle punched Korvac through the chest, thinking that they had achieved an early victory. But Korvac gets up and fired an energy beam through Striker's chest. Luckily, because it was his adult-self who has died, Carina restored Striker to his teenage form. Scared, Striker ran off.
Carina then turned to Veil and Hazmat, stating that the two of them were key to Korvac's defeat. Meanwhile, Korvac decided to no longer hold back, believing that Carina thought that he would refrain from killing the students to avoid damaging the timestream. He boasted that once he had won and conquered all existence, he would then repair the damage after. Hazmat then walked up, revealing her older self to be able to generate antimatter and defeat Korvac. Carina congratulated the students on a great victory before restoring them to their original bodies.
Pym asked Carina if she could use her power to help Mettle and Hazmat, but she admitted that she has less than finer control of them. She then left, inferring that Pym might find Janet one day.
Mettle found Hazmat in the students lounge. He tried comforting her, even advising that she can take her helmet off around him. With some reluctance, Hazmat did so and cried in his arms.
A dance was set in the Infinite Avengers Mansion, specifically for the Avengers Academy students, the Young Allies, and some former members of the Initiative. Veil informed Hazmat of Butterball being invulnerable. Hazmat took this to mean that she wanted her to jump him. She then went into a fit before unintentionally insulting Mettle, who had just walked up behind her to give her punch. Mettle stormed out of the dance and destroyed a statue of Iron Man. Hazmat followed him and they discussed their relationship before deciding to give it a shot.
The prison known as the Raft was destroyed and its inmates escaped, starting a riot. The team battled the escapees and Mettle threw a pole at a Hydra tank, which exploded harming some nearby bystanders and killing the person operating the war machine. He then felt very sorry for his action, even after Tigra told him "You had to kill a bad guy to save innocent lives". This incident caused him emotional trauma due to the guilt he felt over his actions.
Later Hazmat and Mettle finally get together and begin a relationship. He confided in her about his guilt from killing the Nazi soldier. Hazmat then asked Veil to help him with his emotional issues, as she had experienced a similar problem.
When the Worthy attacked the Infinite Mansion,, Mettle and Hazmat chose to fight them off and sacrifice themselves for the others to escape. However, their instructors arrived to save them just in time.
Mettle and Hazmat were at the beach, but their unusual appearances made it hard for them to enjoy it. Hazmat received a call from Briggs, saying he had a cure for her condition. They traveled to the Briggs Building to meet their former teammate Veil working with another subject of Osborn's experiments, Jeremy Briggs. He had been working on a cure for all their conditions. The couple decided to take his clean slate process, which would restore them to normal forms. Now free from their deformities the couple went out to enjoy life as normal people.
Jeremy Briggs however revealed his true plan to Veil and Striker. He planed to remove all superpowered beings' powers, only allowing the worthy to possess them. Veil ran to tell Mettle and Hazmat, persuading them to take the so-called antidote and restore their powers for good. Mettle and the group confronted Jeremy and his accomplice, the Enchantress (Sylvie Lushton), on the rooftop of his building.
White Tiger and Reptil drew on the full power of their magic, gaining an extreme upper hand on the Enchantress. Sensing her defeat, she teleported away, but not before getting her face slashed by White Tiger. X-23 did some slicing and dicing of Briggs, releasing an acid attack on her stomach, temporarily destroying it in the process. Finesse notices this as the perfect opportunity to use X-23's hands as weapons. Finesse grabbed X-23's wrists, and stabbed two of Briggs' most important arteries. As he sat bleeding to death and freaking out, Finesse started to stem the loss of blood by cutting off the flow. Finesse reminded Briggs about why they were recruited: that they were at risk of becoming villains. As she said this, she untied the cloth that has been keeping Briggs from bleeding to death, and walked off as he died.
In the aftermath, Hazmat told Mettle that killing Briggs was completely worth it, and that she had no remorse.
On Christmas Eve, with all the faculty gone, Mettle and Hazmat finally decide to sleep together. However, they, along with fellow students Reptil, Juston, and X-23, were suddenly transported to Murderworld by Arcade, who wanted them and eleven other teenage superheroes to battle to the death over the next thirty days. Naturally, they were against this and some of them try to fight him, but to no avail.
To start things off, he asked the heroes to choose the weakest link for him to kill. The defiant Hazmat tried to kill him, making her his choice to kill. In an act of noble sacrifice, Mettle offered up his own life to save her. Arcade happily complied and blew him to pieces.
His body was later seen among the other dead heroes in a room where Arcade appeared to be using them for an unknown reason.
Powers and Abilities
Organic Iridium Body: Mettle's bodies transformation converted the tissue of his entire body into an organic iridium-like substance. Mettle possesses the same degree of mobility that he did in his normal form.
- Superhuman Strength: Mettle possesses vast superhuman strength. The exact limits have not yet been defined, but due to his young age is power may increase over time.
- Superhuman Stamina: Mettle's musculature produces considerably less fatigue toxins than the musculature of a normal human.
- Superhuman Durability: Mettle's is invulnerable to most forms of bodily harm. His armor is capable of withstanding ballistic penetration. He can survive extremes of temperatures. He can also survive falls from great heights.
Surfing: Ken Mack used to be a competent surfer.
Mettle was stuck in his condition and cannot change back. While in his metal body, he had diminished nerve sensation; he couldn't feel pain, but he also couldn't feel anything else either. Also, it looked like he couldn't close his eyes, having no eyelids. Henry Pym promised to find a way to cure him. His body was vulnerable to any weapons made from a metal more durable than iridium (e.g. X-23's Adamantium bonded claws)
Mettle's costume has a high level of durability.
- Originally referred to as "Fortress" in solicitations.
- Mettle has a laid back attitude.
- Mettle is half Jewish.
- Mettle is half African American & half Caucasian.
- Mettle had a close friendship with Reptil.
- He was revealed to have genitals in Issue 38 of Avengers Academy.
- He was in a relationship with Hazmat before he died.
- 55 appearance(s) of Ken Mack (Earth-616)
- 8 minor appearance(s) of Ken Mack (Earth-616)
- 3 mention(s) of Ken Mack (Earth-616)
- 81 image(s) of Ken Mack (Earth-616)
- 3 quotation(s) by or about Ken Mack (Earth-616)