John Wilson was a veteran of the Korean War. After the conflict, Wilson was discharged and took work in a local machine shop and settled down in Knoxville, Tennessee with his wife Lucille and baby daughter Loretta. On the night of March 17, 1955, John and his family were attacked by the local Ku Klux Klan. He was lynched and his family was burned to death. After the Klan left, John survived his lynching. Devastated by the death of his family, John followed where the Klan that murdered his family. John then forged two iron sledge hammers and become the vigilante known as John Henry. For three months, John plagued the Klan and had killed two Klansmen in his crusade. John Henry's reputation attracted the news media and remained a hot staple on the public, including the Martian J'onn J'onzz, who considered him an actual American hero.[1]

Tragically, John was wounded by the Klan and stumble upon a backyard and discovered by a young white girl, who outed him out despite John's pleading for help. Once caught he was burned alive.

However, his death didn't go unmentioned and his endeavors was highlighted in the television news show The Big Picture, which its host extolled Wilson's stance against racism and criticized the American government for ignoring the serious issue. J'onn J'onzz saw this and was very dismayed of Wilson's death, which contributed his demoralizing faith for humanity.[1]

John Henry Irons Earth-21 001

"Here Lies A Steel Driven Man."

Following the defeat of The Centre, a young John Henry Irons sat reading near John Wilson's gravestone.[2]


  • Sledgehammers
  • In the animated adaption of Justice League: The New Frontier John Henry features very little in the film, and his picture on the front page of Time magazine appears on J'onn J'onzz's wall. He only appear on a television news right before The Flash's interrupted announcement, who he also pays his respect for Wilson.



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