Real Name: Robert "Bob" Dolan

Identity/Class: Ghost;
   formerly human cyborg (
Old West era)

Occupation: Sheriff

Group Membership: "Ghosts of the Old West" (el Aguila/Paco Montoya, Apache Kid/Rosa Kare, Demon Rider/Kushala, Hijiro Nguri, Kid Cassidy/Richard Cassidy, Phantom Rider/Carter Slade, Puma/Heart-Like-Fire, Reno Jones, Rawhide Kid/Jonathan Clay) (see comments)

Affiliations: "Babysitters Club" (Balder Odinson, Death Locket/Rebecca Ryker, Druid/Sebastian Druid, Hawkeye/Kate Bishop, Spider-Man/Miles Morales, Thori, Wonder Man/Simon Williams), Laussa, Mr. Dolan, Tin, unidentified deputy

Enemies: Isaac Stark Sr., Jake Rutherford, Rutherford family

Known Relatives: Mr. Dolan (father)

Aliases: "Sonny," Steam Sheriff

Base of Operations: (as a ghost) Mobile'
   (formerly/in life) an unidentified town, Texas

First Appearance: Amazing Fantasy III#20/2 (June 2006)

Powers/Abilities: Steam Rider's body is covered in a thin, flexible metal that renders him bulletproof to at least smaller caliber weapons. His internal organs are powered and kept functioning by an internal boiler that generate steam so long as it is kept supplied with an unspecified fuel; whether this fuel is a standard source (such as coal or wood) or something more esoteric is unrevealed. The steam generated is then discharged through his stovepipe "hat." As a result of this boiler, his body is hot to the touch. It is unrevealed whether his limbs are merely coated with this metal, or have been replaced by mechanical ones, though his elbow and knee joints do look mechanical, and if so he may possess a degree of enhanced strength.

   He rides a horse automaton dubbed Tin; it can presumably travel long distances at speed without tiring so long as it is properly fueled, and is likely made of similar bullet resistant materials. Like Dolan, its internal boiler causes Tin's body scalding hot to touch, except on its insulated saddle. Presumably this is not a concern for the similarly metallic Dolan. Because of how hot Dolan's own body is, and possibly because his new form is excessively heavy, he would presumably be unable to safely ride a normal horse without causing it significant injury in short order.

   As a ghost Steam Rider was able to be immaterial to normal objects, passing through walls and ignoring non-enchanted weapons, but he could also be simultaneously solid enough to attack living beings. He presumably no longer needed to be fueled.

   Alive or dead, human or cyborg, Dolan was a good shot and decent fighter.

Height: (human) 6'; (cyborg) 7'2" (by approximation)
Weight: (human) 170 lbs.; (cyborg) unrevealed
Eyes: Blue
Hair: Blond


(Amazing Fantasy III#20/2) - Bob Dolan's father was a veterinarian and blacksmith by profession, and a skilled inventor intrigued by the possible applications of steam as a power source. At some point after Bob left home, his father moved to live in a small Texas town.

(Marvel Westerns: Outlaw Files) - In early 1869...

(Amazing Fantasy III#20/2) - Bob Dolan moved to the same town to become the new sheriff. Shortly after he arrived he made his first arrest after witnessing local troublemaker Jake Rutherford recklessly shooting off his pistol in the saloon. Coming up behind the man as Jake threatened to shoot the bartender, Bob cold-cocked Jake with the butt of his own gun, then introduced himself to the rest of the patrons. He informed the shocked assemblage that they were welcome to swing by his offices any time to say hi, then added that from now on they were expected to hand their guns in to the bartender while using the saloon. 

   Bob dragged the unconscious Jake to the sheriff's offices, and when Jake woke in a cell soon after, Bob listened unimpressed as Jake warned his captor that the rest of the Rutherford brothers would come to get him out, promising to cut Bob's ears off when they did. Viewing Jake as a blowhard making idle threats, Bob jovially informed his newly arrived deputy what Jake had said, but the youth informed the new-to-town sheriff that Jake hadn't been kidding, stating that the Rutherfords were mean and stupid. Still unconcerned, Bob told his deputy to watch the prisoner while he visited his father and grabbed a bite to eat. When he asked if the lad wanted him to bring anything back, the deputy suggested "Reinforcements," but this too failed to concern Bob.

   Swinging by his father's workshop, Bob watched with interest as the elder Dolan demonstrated the new steam-powered horse automaton he had built. After another stop for a bite to eat, Bob returned to the sheriff's office to discover the Rutherfords had arrived, freed Jake, hung the deputy, and were now waiting for him. While two of them restrained Bob, Jake beat the sheriff up, then pulled out his knife,...

(Amazing Fantasy III#20/2 - BTS) - cut off Bob's ears, and stabbed him in the heart. The battered and dying Bob was soon found by other townsfolk after the Rutherfords departed. Deeming Bob too badly injured to have any chance of surviving, and with the local doctor out of town anyway, they carried Bob to his father's workshop.

(Amazing Fantasy III#20/2) - The locals carried Bob into the workshop, expressing their sympathies to his father. Cradling his son, Mr. Dolan realized Bob wasn't dead yet, but the other men insisted he was a goner after what he had endured.

(Amazing Fantasy III#20/2 - BTS) - Refusing to accept this diagnosis, Mr. Dolan used every ounce of his veterinarian and blacksmithing skills to save Bob, transforming him into a cyborg with a mechanical system replacing his damaged heart, so that as long as he was provided with fuel his organs would pound and pulse, and covering him with a thin flexible metal of Mr. Dolan's own devising.

(Amazing Fantasy III#20/2) - Bob woke from his surgery to discover to his shock that he was no longer human, but when he declared himself a freak his father insisted he was still himself, maybe even better than before. Recalling what had happened, Bob declared that he needed to get the Rutherfords and make them pay. Taking Tin as his new mount, he rode to the saloon and, spotting Jake's horse outside, stopped and went into the establishment. Seeing the Rutherfords assembled at the bar, Bob informed them they were under arrest. Despite being shocked by the unusual sight of a mechanical man, the Rutherfords swiftly opened fire upon hearing that declaration, but to their shock Bob proved to be bulletproof, their pistol shots bouncing off his metal skin while he covered his vulnerable, still human face with his metal arms. Bob then gunned down to of Jake's siblings, rendered another unconscious by slamming him face first into a wall, and arrested the now terrified criminal. Back in the cells, Jake declared Bob a monster, and Bob agreed that might be true, but as long as his (boiler) fires didn't go out, he was also still the sheriff - the Steam Sheriff. 

(Marvel Westerns: Outlaw Files) - Several months after Dolan became the Steam Rider, the San Francisco offices of the Central Pacific Railroad Company heard reports of a steam-powered man-machine in a small Texan settlement and sent men to investigate. Four weeks later they reported back what they had learned of Steam Rider to their superior, Isaac Stark Sr. Concerned that the technology used to create Tin might render their locomotives obsolete, Stark informed his bosses of the threat in a letter, and pledged to have agents monitor Steam Rider's activities and keep them updated on his actions.

(War of the Realms: Journey Into Mystery#3 (fb) - BTS) - At some point Steam Rider died under unrevealed circumstances.

(War of the Realms: Journey Into Mystery#4 (fb) - BTS) - While visiting the early 21st century via time travel, Demon Rider, the Sorcerer Supreme of the mid-1800s, was present when the armies of the Dark Elf Malekith invaded Earth. To assist Earth's defenders in the oncoming war, Demon Rider visited a closed Old West themed amusement park town, Six-Gun Territory, and summoned the ghosts of several heroes from her own era, including Steam Rider. Agreeing that they had fought to pursue justice and oppose invaders and evil all their lives, and shouldn't stop doing so just because they were dead, the ghosts joined her cause; Demon Rider informed the ghosts they were waiting for the arrival of a powerful demon to align themselves with. Meanwhile, instinctively gathering allies to protect herself, the demon-tainted infant goddess Laussa sensed their presence and covertly nudged the heroes protecting her, the "Babysitters Club," into hiding out in Six-Gun Territory as they sought to evade pursuers coming for the child.

(War of the Realms: Journey Into Mystery#3) - When the Babysitters Club arrived in Six-Gun Territory the ghost tried to approach them, but to the ears of non-sorcerers, the ghosts' attempts to communicate were only audible as ghastly wailing. Mistaking the specters for enemies seeking to harm the child, battle broke out between the two groups, with Steam Rider taking on the god dog Thori while his compatriots fought the other Babysitters. Luckily the Babysitters' sorcerous member, Druid, was able to understand the ghosts, and ended the battle to explain that they were looking for a demon. However, since the Babysitters had not realized Laussa had a demonic taint, they remained unsure what to do.

(War of the Realms: Journey Into Mystery#4) - Having agreed a truce, the Babysitters and some of the ghosts waited in the town church as they tried to figure out what to do; Steam Rider stayed outside. Eventually Demon Rider arrived and clarified that she and the ghosts she had summoned didn't wish to harm the child, but to serve her, and pledged her forces to Laussa's cause. And with that Demon Rider led the ghosts in riding off, declaring they were heading to the war's final battle.

(War of the Realms: Journey Into Mystery#5) - By the side of a rural highway the Western ghosts met up again with the Babysitters and other allies that Laussa had been gathering.

(War of the Realms#6 - BTS) - The ghosts presumably helped in the final battle against Malekith's forces, and thereafter likely returned to their eternal rest.

Comments: Created by Joe Lansdale, Byron Penaranda and Norman Lee.

   Bob's first name isn't revealed in his initial appearance, where he's only identified as the sheriff, the son of Mr. Dolan, and called Sonny by his father. His first name was confirmed in scripts though, and as a result was revealed in his entry in Marvel Westerns: Outlaw Files. Likewise, within the story the only alias he uses is the Steam Sheriff, not the Steam Rider, but the story is titled Steam Rider, and it's worth noting that if he ever lost the sheriff job (which could easily happen, as I'm not sure how the locals would react to having a mechanical man as their sheriff), he'd no longer use the former appellation.

   The ghosts from the Old West didn't seem to have a formal name for their group, and probably shouldn't count as a formal team; nevertheless, I've listed them above as a team rather than individually as affiliations because they were a grouping, and to make it easier to distinguish which of his allies were fellow specters. Since none of them provided their real names, and el Aguila, Phantom Rider and Puma are all identities that have been used by several people and passed down through familial lines, it isn't certain that Paco, Carter and Heart-Like-Fire were the ghosts present; though that's probably who the writers intended them to be, it's certainly feasible that one or more of them was another individual who had claimed said identity during the late 1800s. Heck, even Rawhide Kid had a similarly dressed namesake predecessor! Notably, el Aguila wears a costume closer to the modern day version than the one Paco has been shown wearing.

   There's no confirmed connection between Isaac Stark Sr. of the Central Pacific Railroad Company and Howard or Tony Stark, but he could easily be an ancestor; the idea of him being worried about the creation of an iron man whose heart had to be replaced by machinery would be all too ironic.

   It's unclear from his origin story what proportion of his body is now mechanical. His father only confirms he's somehow sorted out a way of keeping Bob's organs functioning, and the story's title - The Steam-Powered Heart - suggests his damaged heart was replaced, and though it's not mentioned explicitly, he presumably has mechanical ears to replace the ones cut off. Additionally, Bob's skin was also now metal, but it's not clear whether his father replaced his limbs with metal or simply coated his son's body in the metal - the look of his arms and the fact that Bob's body is now hot to the touch suggests the former, but it's unclear why this was necessary given that outside his ears and heart his injuries amounted to severe bruising and some broken bones; perhaps the injuries were even more severe than at first glance.

   It's also unclear how long Bob was unconscious while his father repaired his body. Given the amount of modifications, it would seem likely the process took at least days and possibly even as much as months.

   Steam Rider was likely inspired by Edward S. Ellis' 1868 Dime Novel, The Steam Man of the Prairies, who while somewhat more rotund in his original illustrations nevertheless resembles Steam Rider's appearance, right down to the tall hat/chimney.

   Kudos the writers of the War of Realms: Journey into Mystery series for realizing that there are more interesting Old West heroes than just Kid Colt, Rawhide Kid, Phantom Rider and Two-Gun-Kid, and going to the trouble to use some of the more distinctive but less well known denizens of the era.

   I get how Demon Rider could summon Steam Rider's ghost - cyborg or not, he'd still have a soul and thus a ghost. And I get that if self-actualization determines ghostly form, he might appear as a cyborg rather than in his original human form. But how on Earth did Demon Rider manage to summon the ghost of a purely mechanical entity like Tin? Truly, there was a ghost in the machine!

   An alternate reality version of the character turned up in Marvel Adventures Fantastic Four#32, where the Thing dubbed him "Tin Man."

   This profile was completed 09/03/2021, but its publication was delayed as it was intended for the Appendix 20th anniversary 's celebratory event. 

Profile by Loki.


Steam Rider has no known connections to:



Constructed and named by Mr. Dolan, Tin was a steam-powered mechanical horse capable of being ridden like a real animal. Because his internal boiler heated his metal body, he was scolding hot to the touch anywhere except for his insulated saddle.


   Strangely, when long after his death Steam Rider's ghost was summoned by Demon Rider, he rode what appeared by a ghostly version of Tin. It is unrevealed how an automaton horse could have a spirit capable of manifesting as a ghost.


--Amazing Fantasy III#20/2  (War of the Realms: Journey Into Mystery#3-5

Mr. Dolan


Mr. Dolan was a blacksmith and veterinarian, as well as a genius inventor who believed that steam had the potential to be a valuable power source. He was pleased when his son Bob moved to the small Texas town where Mr. Dolan resided to become the new sheriff, and proudly showed off his newest invention, a mechanical steam-powered horse he had dubbed Tin. However, to Mr. Dolan's horror, a few hours later some townspeople brought his fatally wounded son to him, beaten, mutilated and stabbed through the heart by Jake Rutherford. Informing the distressed father that the local doctor was out of town, they left Dolan to comfort his dying son, but Dolan realized that Bob wasn't quite dead yet. Using every ounce of his veterinarian and blacksmithing skills, Dolan saved his son, turning him into a steam-powered cyborg coated in a special flexible metal skin Dolan had developed. Finally waking, Bob initially viewed himself as having become a freak, but Mr. Dolan reassured him that he was still himself, however his body might have changed. 


--Amazing Fantasy III#20/2



The deputy to Sheriff Bob Dolan was a young man, but a dutiful one. When Dolan arrested Jake Rutherford, the deputy tried to warn the nonchalant sheriff that Jake's threats were not idle ones, stating that the Rutherford family were as mean as they were stupid. When the sheriff informed his deputy that he was nipping out to get a bite to eat and asked the youth if he wanted the sheriff to bring anything back, the deputy told him "reinforcements."


  Despite his misgivings though, when the sheriff left the deputy alone with Jake, the youth refused to go along with the prisoner's demands to be released, even when Jake told him that if he failed to do so then the Rutherfords would hang him when they came to release Jake. Sadly for the deputy, this was not an idle threat. The Rutherfords arrived at the jail while the sheriff was still absent, and Dolan returned to the sight of his murdered young deputy hanging from a noose.


--Amazing Fantasy III#20/2

Jake Rutherford


Residents of a small Texas town, the Rutherford brothers had a reputation of being stupid and mean, with no respect for the law, and a tendency to take group vengeance against anyone who clashed with any member of their family. Jake Rutherford in particular was a nasty piece of work, known for shooting people and boastful of doing so. One day in the town saloon he decided to amuse himself by shooting empty bottles off the bar, uncaring of the danger this posed to other patrons and threatening to shoot the barkeep when he tried to suggest Jake stop. However, Jake wasn't expecting the new sheriff, Bob Dolan, to cold cock him from behind and arrest him. Dragged unconscious to the sheriff's offices, Jake woke to find himself locked in a cell, and angrily informed the sheriff that the other Rutherfords would come to break him out, and threatened to cut Dolan's ears off when they did. Writing Dolan off as a blowhard, Jake left his deputy in charge of the prisoner while he nipped off to eat. As soon as Dolan left, Jake demanded the deputy release him, and when the deputy declined, Jake menacingly stated that he and his brothers would hang the young man then. Unfortunately for the deputy, Jake made true his threat. While Dolan was still absent the other Rutherfords arrived, and Dolan returned to the sheriff's office to find the deputy hanging outside and the brothers waiting for him. The other Rutherfords held Dolan while Jake beat him up, cut off his ears, then stabbed him in the heart.

   A while later the Rutherfords were back in the saloon drinking, when to their surprise a metal man walked in the doors and declared them under arrest. A shocked Jake queried what he was facing, and the mechanical figure identified himself as the man Jake had thought he had killed. The Rutherfords swiftly opened fire, but the bullets glanced off their target's metallic form without harming him. Dolan then gunned down the other Rutherfords and re-arrested the terrified Jake. Back in his cell he declared that Dolan was a monster, but Dolan reminded his prisoner that he was also the sheriff.


--Amazing Fantasy III#20/2

images: (without ads)
Amazing Fantasy III#20, p28, pan1 (main image)
Amazing Fantasy III#20, p24, pan5 (human headshot)
Amazing Fantasy III#20, p23, pan1 (human body)
Amazing Fantasy III#20
, p26, pan5 (attacked by the Rutherfords)

Amazing Fantasy III#20, p29, pan1 (blocking bullets)
Amazing Fantasy III#20, p29, pan6 (mechanical headshot)
War of the Realms: Journey Into Mystery#3, p17, pan1 (ghost Steam Rider atop ghost Tin)
American Novels#45, "The Steam Man of the Prairies" cover (Stream Man cover)
Amazing Fantasy III#20, p26, pan1 (Tin)
Byron Penaranda design sketch (Tin)
Amazing Fantasy III#20, p27, pan2 (Mr. Dolan)
Amazing Fantasy III#20, p24, pan5 (deputy)
Amazing Fantasy III#20, p26, pan4 (deputy slain)
Amazing Fantasy III#20, p26, pan6 (Jake Rutherford)

Amazing Fantasy III#20/2 (June 2006) - Joe Lansdale (writer), Byron Penaranda (pencils), Norman Lee (inks), Mark Paniccia (editor)
Marvel Westerns: Outlaw Files (August 2006) - Jeff Youngquist (editor)
War of the Realms: Journey Into Mystery#3-5 (July-August 2019) - Clint McElroy, Griffin McElroy, Justin McElroy, Travis McElroy (writers), André Lima Araújo (art), Will Moss (editor)

First Posted: 09/10/2021
Last updated:

Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.

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