WANTED: Earth-Two's Most Dangerous Super-Villains

The Gadgeteer

Personal information

Roger Romaine

Residence: New York City
Occupation: Professional Criminal
First Appearance (Post-Golden Age): Steel, the Indestructible Man #3 (June 1978)

Character History

Details of the early life of Roger Romaine are largely unavailable.  It is known that by the 1930’s, he was a Colonel of the Army Core of Engineers working in research and development.  He developed a series of multi-functional tools for members of the Corps to use but when he presented his proposal to senior leaders, he was denied permission to develop them.  He insulted the General overseeing the project to an extent that he was administratively discharged for insubordination but not so severely that he was ineligible for a pension. The time frame of his military career and exact date of discharge are not clear.

Romaine first game to the public eye as the Gadgeteer in 1939 when he staged a robbery at the Plaza Hotel hosting a large party, including Edward Runyon, fresh from an encounter between military adventurer Steel and  the gang lord Sledgehammer.  Using a modified harmonica that emitted extremely harsh sounds, he compelled the assembled patrons to empty their wallets and valuables into his bag after which he promptly departed unimpeded by the police or that attendees.  Kathy Kulhammer, daughter of a prominent senator and paramour of Runyon, had little faith that the police could recover their valuables and secretly began to scheme to involve Steel.

Serendipitously, Steel had seized on the idea of pressuring Runyon to take a more pro-war stance in his historically anti-war paper, the New York office of the Daily Star.  Dropping on him at his Manhattan apartment, Steel found Runyon engaged in an argument with Kulhammer and was persuaded to pursue the Gadgeteer in exchange for a softer stance on the war in Runyon’s paper.  The two had little interest in accommodating Steel and simply wanted to recover their losses from the engineering criminal.  Whether Steel closed the loop on this promise before he left for Europe is unknown.

The Gadgeteer inks colors resize

Steel found the Gadgeteer on 42nd Street, where he had used one of his devices to turn a street lamp into a laser beam, melting a passing armored car in a way that prevented combustion of the cash. As the car was being looted, Steel burst onto the scene and attacked the Gadgeteer in a full frontal assault.  The Gadgeteer ridiculed him for being a soldier, tipping Steel as to his military connections. Not willing to engage in a physical altercation, the Gadgeteer pulled out what appeared to a toy auto-gyro which in fact pulled 100 horsepower and easily lifted the criminal off the ground before he could complete his robbery. He floated over the rooftops taunting Steel as he went.  As Steel raised his rifle to take him down, he was suddenly surrounded by the police who assumed he had robbed the armored car.

Breaking free of the arresting officers, Steel resumed his identity as Hank Heywood and consulted records on military engineering and found Romaine’s records, including the address for his pension checks.   Finding the Gadgeteer there, Steel used his rifle to shoot a rappelling cable into the building and crash through the window.  Swearing not to be taken alive, the Gadgeteer pulled the pin on a three-second grenade.  Steel snatched and it an effort to save the lives of those in the building, buffered it with his own body.   Badly injured, Steel survived the resultant explosion but whether Romaine also survived is unknown.

His later activities if any and the deposition of Romaine’s gadgets if not have not been revealed.

NOTE: A second character named Roger Romaine was the Mr. Terrific foe, the Spirit King.  Whether there is any connection between the two is unknown.

Powers and Abilities

The Gadgeteer was an accomplished mechanical engineer and inventor with significant experience in military applications, notably in weapons. This included specific expertise in sonics, explosive and chemical weapons.  He was a master at miniaturization, allowing concealment of devices in small spaces of inordinary objects.  In addition to weapons, he perfected a series of getaway devices allowing him make quick departures by land or air.  Finally, he was an excellent strategist and carefully planned his crimes with escape routes and hidden caches of equipment to access as needed to complete his actions.

Weaknesses and Limitations

Other than his devices, Roger Romaine was a normal individual and could be physically defeated as such.

Multiversity Villains


No other version of the Gadgeteer is known to exist outside the Earth-Two timeline.


Issue Comment Reprinted in
Steel the Indestructible Man #3
First appearance, vs. Steel
Steel the Indestructible Man #4
Origin revealed, vs. Steel