Prometheus (comics)

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For the Marvel Comics character, see Prometheus (Marvel Comics).
Prometheus: panel from New Year's Evil: Prometheus (Feb. 1998)
Art by Arnie Jorgensen.
Publication information
Publisher DC Comics
First appearance New Year's Evil: Prometheus #1 (Feb. 1998)
Created by Grant Morrison (writer)
Arnie Jorgensen (pencils)
In-story information
Team affiliations The Society
Injustice Gang
Notable aliases Retro, Shazam
Abilities Genius-level intellect
Skilled armed/unarmed combatant
Cybernetic implants

Prometheus is the name of three fictional characters appearing in comic books published by DC Comics.

The first Prometheus debuted in Blue Beetle #3 (Oct. 1986) and was created by Len Wein (writer) and Paris Cullins (pencils). The second version debuted in New Year's Evil: Prometheus (Feb. 1998), and was created by Grant Morrison (writer) and Arnie Jorgensen (pencils). The third and final version first appears in Batman: Gotham Knights #52 (June 2004), and was created by A.J. Lieberman (writer) and Al Barrionuevo (pencils).

In 2009, the second Prometheus was ranked as IGN's 80th Greatest Comic Book Villain of All Time.[1]

Publication history[edit]

The original Prometheus, Curt Calhoun, debuted in Blue Beetle #3 (Aug. 1986), followed by appearances in issues #4 (Sept. 1986); #6 (Nov. 1986); #8–9 (Jan.–Feb. 1987) and #11–13 (April–June 1987). The character returned in New Teen Titans #34 (Aug. 1987), and was apparently referenced as being deceased in JSA #28 (Nov. 2001).

The second Prometheus debuted in New Year's Evil: Prometheus (Feb. 1998) and returned in JLA #16–17 (March–April 1998) and #36–41 (Dec. 1999 – May 2000). The character was then impersonated for a time by Chad Graham, but returned in Faces of Evil: Prometheus #1 (March 2009). Prometheus starred as the villain in the limited series Justice League: Cry for Justice #1–7 (Sept. 2009 – April 2010), and was killed at the conclusion of the story.

Writer Mike Conroy noted "...with his technologically advanced armor and weapons arsenal, which can download the fighting techniques of the world's top martial artists...he (Prometheus) turned out to be a formidable foe, as the JLA found out."[2]

The third Prometheus, Chad Graham, debuted in Batman: Gotham Knights #52 (June 2004), being part of the "Pushback" storyline from issues #50–55 (April–Sept. 2004). The villain reappeared in Batman: Gotham Knights #66 (Aug. 2005); Villains United #1–6 (July–Sept. 2005); Infinite Crisis #1–7 (Dec. 2005 – June 2006); Birds of Prey #94 (June–Aug. 2006); Teen Titans vol. 3, #51–54 (Nov. 2007 – Feb. 2008) and Final Crisis #1–7 (July 2008 – March 2009) before being killed in Faces of Evil: Prometheus #1 (March 2009). He was not established as being a different character from the second Prometheus until that same issue.

Fictional character biography[edit]

Curt Calhoun[edit]

Curt Calhoun is a small-time criminal working for supervillain Doctor Alchemy and is hired to steal a quantity of the metal promethium from KORD Inc., an organization owned by Ted Kord (secretly the Blue Beetle). Although successful, both Calhoun and Dr. Alchemy are captured by Kord's alter ego Blue Beetle. On release from prison, Calhoun aids the Blue Beetle against the villain the Calculator and is offered a position as a foreman at KORD Inc. by Kord. While saving Kord from an industrial accident, Calhoun is covered with metals laced with promethium. En route to the hospital, Calhoun's ambulance is attacked by members of the supervillain team Hybrid. The leader Mento transformed the metal covering Calhoun into a permanent metallic shell. Assuming the alias "Prometheus", the reluctant Calhoun fights alongside Hybrid in an unsuccessful attempt to defeat the New Teen Titans.[3]

Although Mento eventually directs Hybrid against the Titans once again, they rebel and Mento is apparently cured of his insanity by Titans member Raven.[4] Calhoun is never seen again, until superhero team the JSA learn that Hybrid died in the gladiatorial games staged by villainess Roulette.[5]


The second Prometheus relates his origin to a young man who has won a competition to be part of the JLA for a day, with the alias "Retro" and a matching costume. The unnamed son of two hippie criminals who committed murder and theft, Prometheus traveled across the United States with them until they were cornered and shot dead by local law enforcement. This causes Prometheus's hair to turn white from the traumatic experience, and he silently vows to "annihilate the forces of justice" in order to get revenge for his dead parents.

Using his parents' hidden caches of money, Prometheus travels the world and develops his skills, becoming an underground pit-fighter in Brazil; a mercenary in Africa and joining terrorist groups in the Middle East. After avenging his parents' deaths by murdering the police officer who shot them, Prometheus went to college and ultimately located the Himalayan city of Shambhala, inhabited by a sect of evil monks. Prometheus discovers the monastery has been built on an alien spaceship, and the leader of the sect was one of the creatures from the vessel. He kills the alien and obtains the "Ghost Key", which opens a portal to the "Ghost Zone", a hyperspace void that allows interstellar travel.

Prometheus builds a house in the void as his headquarters, which is warped by the dimensional effects to become "crooked," and it is revealed that this is the setting for the story he now relates to Retro. Prometheus kills Retro, and courtesy of his advanced helmet copies the young man's mannerisms, intending to masquerade as Retro to gain access to the JLA Watchtower.[6]

Initially, the plan appears to be successful, with Prometheus infecting Steel's armour with a virus, hitting the Martian Manhunter with a dart containing a toxin that destabilises his ability to control his shape, knocks out Huntress, traps Zauriel in the 'Ghost Zone', beats Batman senseless using downloaded skills, uses a neural chaff to disrupt Green Lantern's will and informs Flash that the tower is rigged with bombs that will detonate if he moves too fast. However, while trying to force Superman to kill himself so that Prometheus will allow civilians to leave, on the grounds that Superman was too powerful for him to devise a means of killing him, Prometheus was caught off guard by the anti-hero Catwoman, allowing the heroes time to recover and regroup from what he had done to them, forcing Prometheus to retreat when Steel infects his systems with a virus using the temporary link that was created when the villain downloaded the original virus.[7]

Prometheus appears briefly during an encounter between the JLA and alternate universe superhero team the Avengers, and skirmishes with Captain America while he is using Batman's skills, but Captain America easily defeats him.[8]

Prometheus returns as a member of Lex Luthor's second Injustice Gang. During the confusion caused by the arrival of the weapon Mageddon, Prometheus is able to utilize a White Martian space vessel abandoned in the Ghost Zone to infiltrate the Justice League Watchtower and attack team aide Oracle. Oracle escapes, with Prometheus' helmet damaged in the process. The villain retrieves his original helmet (lost during the first battle with the JLA) and battles Batman once again. Prometheus is neutralized when Batman sabotages his helmet based on the month he spent studying it after the last battle, overriding the information on the disc Prometheus uses to upload his combat skills and replacing the data with the physical skills and coordination of Professor Stephen Hawking, who due to a motor neuron disease can barely move. Batman prevents fellow member Huntress from killing Prometheus, before firing her from the JLA.[9] Batman and Martian Manhunter took Prometheus into custody and arranged to reduce Prometheus' brain to a mentally disabled state in order to permanently end his threat, reasoning that his skills and training meant that no jail could hold him under conventional circumstances. Upon Martian Manhunter's death at the hands of Libra, Prometheus' mind was restored and he began tracking down his would-be protege,[10] resulting in him killing Graham[11] and maiming/murdering members of the Blood Pack super-hero team.[12]

Impostor Prometheus[edit]

After Prometheus went into a mentally disabled state, an impostor took his mantle. Chad Graham had been taken in by Prometheus to serve as his evil sidekick years earlier, but Graham proved too impulsive and ended up (under unknown circumstances) leaving Prometheus, only to return years later to assume the identity once the original went missing following his second battle with the Justice League. The villain appears in Star City, battling hero Green Arrow and local law enforcement. Almost killed by Green Arrow, Graham is saved by Hush. Hush forms an alliance with the impostor but abandons him due to his apparent incompetence.[13] Talia al Ghul leads the evil Cobra Cult in search of Prometheus in a bid to secure his Ghost Key. Graham, poisoned by one of the creations of villainess Poison Ivy, is saved once again by Hush.[14] Graham is then recruited to join another version (numbering in the hundreds) of the Secret Society of Super Villains[15] as Prometheus and participates in a massive attack by the Society on the city of Metropolis. During the battle Graham kills the hero Peacemaker.[16] Graham also has an encounter with the superheroine group Birds of Prey, and defeats the mercenary Lady Shiva in seconds.[17] The villain eventually falls under the control of the alien Starro, and is used as a foot soldier, but is defeated by an alternate future version of Robin and freed once Starro is defeated.[18] Graham is later murdered when the real Prometheus regains his mind and kills him, expressing contempt for Graham's impersonation but still satisfied that the damage Graham had done to Prometheus' reputation would lead to the heroes underestimating the villain in the future.

Cry for Justice[edit]

A spate of superhero deaths (Freedom Beast; Gloss and Tasmanian Devil) and attacks on others (Barry Allen; Batwoman and Crimson Avenger) is revealed to be the work of the true Prometheus. The villain impersonates Freddy Freeman, and gains access to the JLA satellite, which in turn allows Prometheus to place teleportation devices in the home cities of various heroes which will "strand" the city in various places in the past and future, as revenge for the years that he spent with his mind damaged. Prometheus also maims Roy Harper after he realizes his foe is not Freddy Freeman. While defeating the JLA and their allies the Teen Titans and the reformed villain Shade using files on them, though he does not kill any of them, Prometheus is captured by Donna Troy and beaten brutally, until she is stopped by Shade. The villain offers to reveal the location of the devices in exchange for his release, after his devices malfunction and begin destroying the cities. With Star City suffering massive casualties including the daughter of Roy Harper, Prometheus' ultimatum is met and he returns to his lair, but is murdered by Green Arrow, who shoots an arrow through the villain's head.[19]

New 52[edit]

Prometheus shows up to torment Midnighter using stolen technology from the God Garden that he sells to various individuals around the world. In addition, he has got hold of the Gardener's secret files on Midnighter's true identity and origin. When confronted by Midnighter, Prometheus uses God Garden technology to block Midnighter's tactical computer, eliminating the edge Midnighter has in analyzing an opponent's fighting techniques. Prometheus also reveals that he has downloaded all of Midnighter's own skills into his brain to use against him.[volume & issue needed]

Powers and abilities[edit]

Curt Calhoun, the original Prometheus, possesses a metal epidermis, which confers superior strength and durability. Calhoun is also capable of raising the temperature of his armored form to several hundred degrees Celsius.

The second Prometheus possesses no superhuman abilities, but like the hero Batman has undergone intense physical and mental training and utilizes an extensive range of equipment and technology. Common tools include body armor, gauntlets that fire various projectiles, a side-handle baton with several technological features, and a helmet that in addition to emitting strobe lighting capable of disorientation and hypnotism, can download the knowledge and physical skills of others directly into his brain via a compact disc, his default disc including the skills of thirty of the world's greatest martial artists. Where Prometheus obtains this information is not known, but his combat skills include the duplicated abilities of Batman and Lady Shiva, although it is unclear how much combat training he would possess if he had to fight without the helmet. The 'battlesuit'/helmet combination is also equipped with an Artificial Intelligence that can rapidly calculate and deploy a variety of strategies and countermeasures that have allowed Prometheus at various times to incapacitate entire groups of Justice Leaguers singlehandedly and simultaneously. Finally, the second Prometheus possesses the "Ghost Key," which allows the villain to teleport himself and other objects and persons to and from a dimension called the "Ghost Zone." It can also be used to inflict total molecular disintegration on a target, but Prometheus only employed this function once, when he eliminated an unsuspecting Retro. The helmet can be hacked by external sources, but Batman had to study the helmet for a month to learn how to hack it in that manner, and it is unclear if this would allow him to hack other versions of the helmet.

The third Prometheus relies on the use of two pistols, although he also possesses his mentor's helmet and artificial skills, giving him the training to defeat even Lady Shiva in a matter of seconds.

Other versions[edit]


The second Prometheus is seen among the enthralled villains defending Krona's stronghold in #4. He is seen being seized by Green Lantern. Later he confronts Captain America, having uploaded Batman's fighting skills. However, with his shield Captain America defeats Prometheus.

Smallville: Lantern[edit]

Prometheus is featured in Smallville Season 11, a comic book continuation of the TV series.

In other media[edit]

  • Prometheus appears in the Nintendo DS version of Justice League Heroes.
  • Prometheus makes a cameo appearance in Batman: Arkham Asylum. His wanted poster is featured in the Penitentiary's Guard Room and can be scanned as the answer to one of Riddler's riddles.
  • Prometheus is referred to in Batman: Arkham City. Throughout Arkham City there are newspapers detailing how two criminals were shot in an alley and how a boy watches his parents die. Also there is a psyche report detailing the approval of his release from Arkham Island on the wall of the GCPD forensics lab.
  • Prometheus has recently been added to the CW's Arrowverse as a new archer and what so far seems like the hidden main antagonist of Arrow.


  1. ^ Prometheus is number 80, IGN. Retrieved September 5, 2009.
  2. ^ Conroy, Mike. 500 Comicbook Villains, Collins & Brown, 2004.
  3. ^ Blue Beetle #4 (Sept. 1986); #6 (Nov. 1986); #8–9 (Jan.–Feb. 1987) and #11–13 (April–June 1987)
  4. ^ New Teen Titans #34 (Aug. 1987)
  5. ^ JSA #28 (Nov. 2001)
  6. ^ New Year's Evil: Prometheus (Feb. 1998)
  7. ^ JLA #16–17 (March–April 1998)
  8. ^ JLA/Avengers #1 – 4 (Sept. 2003 – May 2004)
  9. ^ JLA #36–41 (Dec. 1999 – May 2000)
  10. ^ Faces of Evil: Prometheus #1 (March 2009)
  11. ^ Faces of Evil: Prometheus #1 (March 2009)
  12. ^ Faces of Evil: Prometheus #1 (March 2009)
  13. ^ Batman: Gotham Knights #50–55 (April–Sept. 2004)
  14. ^ Batman: Gotham Knights #66 (Aug. 2005)
  15. ^ Villains United #1 – 6 (July–Sept. 2005)
  16. ^ Infinite Crisis #1 – 7 (Dec. 2005 – June 2006)
  17. ^ Birds of Prey #94 (June–Aug. 2006)
  18. ^ Teen Titans vol. 3, #51 – 54 (Nov. 2007 – Feb. 2008)
  19. ^ Justice League: Cry for Justice #1–7 (Sept. 2009 – April 2010)

External links[edit]