Tar is a narcotic, strength enchancing drug, somewhat similar to the Venom compound that gave Bane his strength. Tar's effects include granting temporary super-strength and nigh-invulnerability. John Henry Irons had numerous run-ins with gang members using tar to gain an advantage over their enemies; these drugged individuals were often known as "tar-freaks". A more insidious effect of Tar is it heightens the affected individual's aggression instincts, making them actively seek out battles to find (and people to pummel).
At one time, Steel was accused of a savage murder; the Washington, D.C. police claimed he used his giant hammer to decapitate a man. Steel was able to prove his innocence simply by listing the already well-known effects of Tar, and explained that a tar-freak could easily inflict the same injuries that his hammer could (which would indicate that a Tar-Freak's skin becomes at least as tough as Steel's hammer, and that their super-human strength rivaled many super heroes).
Later on, an enhanced version of this drug called "S-Tar" (short for "Super Tar") would be created, which granted even more strength and invulnerablity, and was even more addicting. Also, once a person had used S-Tar 3 times, the drug buildup in their system would become fatal.
- After the Steel comic book ended, Tar and S-Tar quickly faded into obscurity.
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