Atlas, from the cover of New Thunderbolts #12
Art by Tom Grummett.
|First appearance||Avengers vol. 1 #21 (Oct 1965)
as Smuggler: Spectacular Spider-Man #49
|Created by||Stan Lee
|Alter ego||Erik Stephan Josten|
Masters of Evil
Emissaries of Evil
|Notable aliases||Power Man, Smuggler, Goliath|
|Abilities||Mass and size manipulation
Superhuman strength and durability
|This section requires expansion. (August 2010)|
Fictional character biography
Erik Josten was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. A former AWOL Marine turned mercenary, he is employed by Baron Heinrich Zemo as head of his South American security/mercenary force. After Zemo's death Josten is convinced by the Enchantress to undergo the same 'ionic-ray' treatment (from a machine invented by Zemo) as Simon Williams (Wonder Man), making Josten super-strong (though not as strong as Wonder Man since the treatment was specifically calibrated to Simon Williams and the Enchantress wasn't aware it had to be tailored to the subject). Taking the name Power Man, he becomes the Enchantress' partner and battles the Avengers at her request. She used illusions to turn the city against the Avengers, though finally Captain America used a tape recording to prove the Avengers were innocent. He becomes a professional supervillain and partners with the Swordsman, and the two fight the Avengers again under the leadership of the brainwashed Black Widow. Alongside the Swordsman, he becomes an unwitting pawn of the Red Skull's, and fights Captain America. He briefly serves as an agent of the Mandarin. He later fights the Avengers again as a member of the first Lethal Legion.
Eventually, Josten meets Luke Cage, a hero who for a brief time has assumed the name Power Man. The two fight over the right to use the name, and Cage wins. Josten then joins Count Nefaria's new Lethal Legion under the promise that Nefaria would greatly increase Josten's powers. This he does, but Nefaria later steals Josten's enhanced powers (along with those of his other superhuman underlings), which greatly reduces his strength.
His strength fading, Josten changes his costume and becomes a smuggler, taking the unimaginative yet appropriate name the Smuggler. In his first and only appearance as the Smuggler, he is defeated by Spider-Man. Spider-Man then assists Josten against the Maggia.
Later, he gains the ability to grow to giant size from the criminal Doctor Karl Malus, who uses a sample of Henry Pym's growth serum. He then takes on the name Goliath, a name used previously by superheroes (see Goliath, Black Goliath) and again changes his costume. He fights James Rhodes as Iron Man and the West Coast Avengers, who defeat him. Using his ability, he is sent by Doctor Doom to kill Spider-Man, but, thanks to the hero's newly acquired cosmic powers, Goliath is defeated.
Josten joins a new fourth version of the Masters of Evil, founded by the current Baron Zemo. During his time with this group, Josten is one of the villains who invades and captures Avengers Mansion and beats Hercules severely .
Goliath later battles Spider-Man during the "Acts of Vengeance." His attempted breakout at the Vault is foiled by the Avengers and Freedom Force. He also battles Wonder Man in an attempt to usurp his fame.
He later fights Giant-Man (Bill Foster), Ant-Man (Scott Lang), and then another Goliath (Clint Barton), as Goliath. He then has a rematch with Wonder Man. He is then victimized by Kosmosian criminals, and rescued by Giant-Man (Hank Pym).
When Zemo later decides to disguise the Masters as a superhero team called the Thunderbolts, Josten creates the original identity (and costume) of Atlas. During this time he began dating Dallas Riordan the Thunderbolts liaison to the NYC mayor's office. However, like most of the Thunderbolts, Atlas begins to enjoy public admiration, and eventually reforms to attempt to be a genuine superhero,[volume & issue needed] even after the Thunderbolts' criminal past is publicly revealed. After absorbing the energy from one of Nefaria's weapons, an "ionic bomb", Josten mutates into a gigantic "ionic energy creature". Scourge killed/dispersed him to protect the town of Burton Canyon, Colorado. Atlas' ionic form later begins haunting Dallas Riordan in much the same way Wonder Man's ionic form had haunted the Scarlet Witch. Later Atlas would possess Dallas Riordan and empower her with the ionic energy. Together they rejoin the other founding Thunderbolt members in defeating Graviton and are shunted to Counter Earth.
When they are separated upon returning from Counter Earth, Dallas takes the ionic energy, leaving Josten powerless, a situation which lasts until Fixer gives him a new dose of Pym particles. This lasts until the end of the Avengers/Thunderbolts limited series, when Erik asks Henry Pym to remove the particles from his system. However, he regains the ability to change his size by reclaiming the ionic energy from Dallas, leaving her a paraplegic again.
Altered again by the Wellspring, during a battle against the Grandmaster in which he has to surrender his powers temporarily to Zemo, he is left stuck in a giant form, too heavy even to move and communicate. However he is able to send back some ionic energy to Dallas, restoring her legs.
Atlas is restored to normal size by scientists at Camp Hammond, and registers Atlas as part of the Initiative. Though registered, Atlas' size changing powers are considered too unreliable to be placed on an Initiative team. However, Nighthawk hires him along with other questionable heroes after his Defenders team is decommissioned by S.H.I.E.L.D.
Erik's parents were farmers who lost their farm as a result of Erik's crimes as Power Man making the news. No one in their town would do business with the Jostens. His older brother Carl became an alcoholic and a gambling addict. His younger sister Lindy was killed when she was 10 years old and Erik was 17. She tried to follow him and his friends on her bike and was eventually hit by a car. His younger brother Conrad was so ashamed of Erik that he ran away and changed his name. Carl was murdered by a loanshark he owed money to. Conrad was inducted into the Redeemers and took Erik's previous codename Smuggler and was given a suit that allowed him to access the darkforce dimension. Conrad and the majority of the Redeemers were killed by the villain Graviton. Years later Zemo coerced Erik into betraying the Thunderbolts by offering to save Conrad from the darkforce dimension. Conrad briefly serves a member of the Thunderbolts alongside Erik and they made peace with their past.
As a Thunderbolt Erik was the least assertive member despite being the physically strongest one on the team. He frequently runs from his problems. He ran away from home after his sister's death and joined the military, then he went AWOL and became a smuggler and later a mercenary working for Heinrich Zemo. It was at this time he first met Heinrich's son Helmut. Erik betrays Baron Helmut Zemo when he tries to kill Jolt but later saves him from death after the baron suffers a severe beating by Moonstone. Erik routinely demurrs to the leadership of others on his team as he does not like making decisions because, as he puts it, he's "just a grunt." Erik usually is the first to empathize with a foe and often places his relationships with friends and family over doing the right thing. Instances of this include: when he knew Man Killer was pretending to be a bartender while she was lying low from the law; not telling the team about saving Zemo; refusing to tell the Thunderbolts about Techno being in Burton Canyon; betraying his team to save his brother; and "killing" Genis to prevent him from disrupting Abe and Melissa's relationship because he feared it would screw up Abe's reconstitution of the Thunderbolts.
Powers and abilities
Similarly to Wonder Man and Count Nefaria, Erik Josten is a virtually indestructible immortal made of "ionic energy", as a result of the application of mutagenic processes developed by Baron Heinrich Zemo.[volume & issue needed] He possesses great superhuman strength and durability even at normal size.
As a result of experimentation by Dr. Karl Malus he additionally gained the ability to increase his size and mass at will.[volume & issue needed] Originally he was limited to convert his normal 6-foot (1.8 m) height to his maximum 60-foot (18 m), but he later learned to increase this limit when he is angry. Josten psionically draws the additional mass from an extra-dimensional source of "Cosmos", to which it returns as he decreases in size. At his maximum height he is capable of greatly outmatching Namor, or even defeating Hyperion with a single attack. His durability also increases with his height, and if his body is destroyed he is usually capable or reconstructing it given enough time.[volume & issue needed]
Once when helping renegade Cosmossians he was able to absorb the majority of the mass from their prison, allowing them to escape. His obessession with size and power made him their prisoner as they continually filled him with the mass from their prison. Encased in an extra dimension, and hundreds of miles tall, he was saved by a 100 foot Giant Man (Henry Pym) and was returned to normal size and in a coma.[volume & issue needed]
Josten is a good hand-to-hand combatant, and received combat training when working as a mercenary.
Atlas appears alongside the Thunderbolts in the Dead Days one-shot of the Marvel Zombies miniseries attacking Thor. He is seen in one panel being hit in the face with Thor's mighty hammer.[volume & issue needed]
Erik Josten appears in Marvel Adventures: The Avengers #20 as Hank Pym's research assistant. It transpires he has a grudge against Hank and a crush on Janet van Dyne/Giant Girl, and when Janet tells him she's not interested, he grows to giant size and dons a version of the Goliath costume. He is defeated by Hank and an army of ants.
House of M - Avengers
In the House of M series, Power Man is part of a non-mutant super villain team made up of the Vulture and Stilt-Man.[volume & issue needed] In issue #5, he is seen on TV being subdued and arrested by an FBI team of mutants, specifically the Blob and Thunderbird.
In other media
- Erik Josten as Goliath appears in the video game Iron Man and X-O Manowar in Heavy Metal.
- New Avengers Annual vol. 2 #1 (2011)
- Avengers #21-22
- Avengers #29-30
- Tales of Suspense #88
- Avengers Special #1
- Avengers #78-79
- Power Man #21
- Avengers #164
- Spectacular Spider-Man #49-50
- Spectacular Spider-Man #54
- Iron Man Annual #7
- West Coast Avengers Vol. 2 #1-2; Vision and Scarlet Witch Vol. 2 #1-2
- Iron Man #206
- Avengers #273-274
- Web of Spider-Man #60, 64-65
- Avengers: Deathtrap - The Vault
- Wonder Man #1
- Marvel Comics Presents #114-118
- Marvel Comics Presents #137
- Avengers West Coast #92
- Wonder Man #24-25
- Avengers #382
- Thunderbolts ´97 Annual
- Thunderbolts #5
- Thunderbolts #10-12
- Thunderbolts #47
- Thunderbolts #51
- Thunderbolts #56-74
- Thunderbolts #58, 60
- Thunderbolts #74-75
- Avengers/Thunderbolts #6
- New Thunderbolts #1
- Thunderbolts #108-109
- Last Defenders #3
- New Avengers Annual Vol. 2 #1
- Thunderbolts #16
- Thunderbolts #10
- Thunderbolts 48
- Thunderbolts #56
- Thunderbolts #100
- Thunderbolts #101
- Thunderbolts #18
- Thunderbolts #-1: Distant Rumblings
- Thunderbolts #12
- Thunderbolts #20
- Thunderbolts #27
- Thunderbolts #30
- Thunderbolts #1
- New Thunderbolts" #04 (Mar. 2005)
- New Thunderbolts" #16 (Feb. 2006)
- Marvel Adventures: The Avengers #20
- House of M - Avengers #5