Ken Mack used to be an ordinary Hawaiian boy. He first discovered his powers when a surfboard hit him in the head, scraping away a piece of skin to reveal the red armor underneath. He went to Osborn for help with his new condition. Osborn's treatment doesn't reverse his state, but let's Mettle get rid of his old skin.
Mettle was created by writer Christos Gage and artist Mike McKone and first appeared in Avengers Academy #1 (2010).
One of the very key aspects to this character is that he has struggled with the acquisition of respect his entire life. Ever since he was first born with his powers, people did nothing but pity him. This was not what Mettle desired however, his only desire was respect. Nothing more than to be treated as an equal, a basic human right. For years and years people have chosen to pity him, which is what drove Mettle to join the Avengers Academy, to prove that he is indeed deserving of people's respect.
Major Story Arcs
In Avengers Academy #1 Veil screams when she sees him. Mettle says hes used to being feared, his best friend is Reptil. In issue 2 when Arsenal attacks he gets knocked on his ass by Arsenal's chest cannon. In issue 3 after Finesse kissed Reptil he says he would kiss Hazmat if she was left out. Later in the issue he is one of the three who go to Osborn's cell to get revenge. Though he planned on killing Osborn, he changed his mind when he said he could offer him a cure for his condition. When the three were addressed if they had anything to do with the blackout, Mettle lied and claimed it was fate. After the team was exposed to the public, Mettle became a meme on 4chan. (Really! Not lying!) Even more humorous was that Reptil tried to get him and Hazmat to hook up, which lead to both storming off at the mere thought of it.
Later on the team & their instructors; Tigra, Speedball, Giant Man and Justice take on Mentallo who turns the instructors on the students. Mettle takes on Speedball until Reptil is able to stop Mentallo. Mettle later tries to stop the Absorbing Man's wrecking ball from freeing him but is unsuccessful. Giant Man is able to stop him by expanding him to the realm of Abstract Entities.
Mettle joins in a super hero ethics class along with Veil, Striker and Hazmat tought by Justice and Speedball when Veil accidentally mentions Stamford, CT. Speedball says he's not upset and insists they take a trip there. Once they arrive they are attacked by men in suits like Iron Man's. Mettle and the others hold them off until Speedball takes them all out in one shot.
Veil, hoping to bring back the Wasp and cure herself, activates Hank Pym's experimental machine and winds up bringing back Carina Walters, wife of Korvac. Korvac shows up next demanding his wife back. The Avengers show up but are taken down one by one by Korvac. Carina allows Mettle and the others to borrow powers from their future selves to help take down Korvac. After receiving his future powers, Mettle asks Carina if he'll be normal in any of his futures to which she does not reply. The team takes after Korvac, Mettle punches a hole in his chest only for him to blast a whole in Striker's. Mettle & Korvac lock in combat as Korvac begins to melt Mettle's hands. Mettle does not seem to care if he lives or dies. Hazmat over powers Korvac with anti matter and defeats him. Later on Mettle asks if he can sit with her in the student lounge. After hesitating at first she says okay and takes off her helmet and cries in his arms.
During the Prom, Hazmat was criticizing Veil hooking her up with ugly potential boyfriends, which Mettle overhears. Mettle smashes a statue in the hallway, while Hazmat opened up to him with her honest opinion. Compliment lead to compliment, and Hazmat finally said that the two of them should try giving dating a chance.
During Fear Itself ,when the Raft was destroy and it's super villains escaped and formed a riot, Mettle throw a pole at an armed tank who was blast common civilians and accidentally killed the person behind to robot. He then felt very sorry for his action when Tigra talked to him and said "You had to kill a bad guy to save innocent lives". Mettle then felt more emotional hurt dealing with his guilt.
Later during the midway point of Fear Itself, Hazmat and Mettle became boyfriend and girlfriend. He then told her about his guilt from killing the Nazi solider. Hazmat then asked Veil to help Mettle with his emotional problem because she experienced a similar problem. When the Worthy attack the Infinite Mansion, Mettle and Hazmat choose to fight them off and sacrifice themselves for the others to escape. Luckily, the teachers saved them just in time.
Mettle is a lot more unsure now. After hearing the idea that he might be replaced in the Academy, he attacks Luke Cage. He takes Hazmat turning down her sex offer personally and he feels a disconnect with people like Captain America. He is becoming increasingly worried about what he's becoming.
When X-23 joins the team, Mettle is pushed by Hazmat to talk to her about killing. When Reptil mentions that Hazmat may have some competition, Hazmat gets flustered and yanks Mettle away, commenting on what a hussy X-23 is, depriving Mettle of the much needed talk.
Mettle & Hazmat meet with Veil and Jeremy Briggs at the Briggs Building where Jeremy has developed a cure for their conditions. Ken and Jenny both decide to take this "Clean Slate" which succeeds in returning them to normal. They leave to enjoy each others normal company while Jeremy reveals his plan on removing everyone's powers, allowing only those he deems worthy to be allowed to have them, to Veil and Striker. Veil runs to tell Ken and Jenny and convinces them to take the "antidote" and restore their powers for good. Mettle regroups with the other students as they confront Jeremy and Enchantress on the rooftop.
Avengers Arena & Death
Mettle is one of the 16 teenage superheroes, alongside fellow Avengers Academy students Hazmat, Juston Seyfert, Reptil, and X-23, kidnapped by Arcade and taken to Murder World. Once there, Arcade explains that they will be contestants in a 30-day long deathmatch with only one survivor. After he brutally defeats the kids, who rushed him in order to stop the game before anyone got hurt, using new superpowers. In order to get the game started, Arcade offers to make the first kill. When Hazmat, unwilling to back down, attacks him again, Arcade picks her and begins to kill her. Mettle, unable to stand by and allow her to die, steps forward and claims to be the weakest link. Arcade accepts this and kills him without any hesitation, leaving Hazmat alone and devastated but alive.
Powers & Abilities
Possesses a body of living Iridium, he is virtually indestructible shown to be able to withstand the intense heat of a flame thrower. His costume is made of "unstable molecules" that Mister Fantastic designed, which is able to adjust to his powers. He has superhuman strength and durability due to his body, but he is unable to transform back into his human form. However due to the tampering of Norman Osborn he is unable to feel the basic of human sensations due to deteriorated nerve endings and remains closed off from the world. Mettle has been shown that he does not know his own strength and is fearful of his powers.
Before obtaining his iridium body, Ken Mack was an experienced surfer.
Mettle may be the calmest and most humorous of the Academy students. He tends to be a "bro" with Reptil and is probably the most emotionally expressive. Though lately, he tends to be more worried after confronting Norman Osborn in his cell. Mettle has a problem with hurting people because he thinks he might kill them due to his super strength.