Quote1 I'm not Power Man anymore. I'm Goliath. And where Goliath walks -- he walks alone! Quote2
-- Goliath src

Early Life

Erik Josten was born and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin the son of Jonathan and Martha Josten. He was one brother from a large mid-western farming family which included Carl and Conrad. Erik's sister Lindy died in an accident and Erik blamed himself, thinking he could have prevented her death. Wracked with guilt, Josten ran away to join the US Army.[2] When he was later discovered smuggling, Josten ran away from the army to become a soldier-for-hire.[3]

Power Man

He was hired by Nazi scientist Baron Heinrich Zemo to smuggle stolen technology into Zemo's secret South American stronghold. With this equipment, Zemo built a machine that could project an unknown form of mutagenic radiation ("ionic rays") capable of bestowing superhuman physical powers to a subject. Zemo's first subject was industrialist Simon Williams, who became known as Wonder Man.[4] When Zemo fled his South American base shortly thereafter, he left his "ionic ray" machine functional. Josten, who had been wounded by South American authorities in his latest smuggling venture, sought refuge in Zemo's now abandoned fortress and learned of Zemo's machine. There, Josten came to the mystical attention of the Enchantress, the Asgardian goddess who had been a former ally of Zemo. The Enchantress offered Josten the chance to submit to "ionic ray" treatment and he readily accepted. When the radiation treatment was through, Josten emerged with physical powers roughly equivalent to those of Wonder Man. The Enchantress produced a costume for him and dubbed him Power Man. Traveling to the United States, Power Man assisted the Enchantress in her scheme to discredit and defeat the Avengers.[5] When that plot failed and the Enchantress disappeared, the love-smitten Power Man surrendered to the Avengers.[6] The Avengers refused to press charges, however, and Power Man was released.

Power Man soon met and allied himself with the criminal Swordsman and the Russian spy, the Black Widow, who at the time had been brainwashed by the Red Chinese. In battle with the Avengers, Power Man and the Swordsman were defeated but not taken into custody. Shortly thereafter, they were pitted unsuccessfully against Captain America by the Red Skull. The Skull returned the two to where he found them and shortly afterwards the two partners were summoned by the Mandarin to aid him in his scheme of world conquest. Defeated by the Avengers in South America, Power Man and the Swordsman managed to escape while extradited back to the United States.[7]

Later the two were contacted by the criminal Grim Reaper and invited to join his Lethal Legion for the express purpose of exacting revenge upon the Avengers. Although the Legion managed to capture most of the active Avengers, Power Man was defeated by the Vision. Vision donned Power Man's costume and infiltrated the Legion headquarters to rescue his comrades. The Avengers escaped and subdued their captors. This time the Avengers pressed charges and Power Man and most of his teammates were tried and imprisoned.[8]


When Josten was released, he learned that the name "Power Man" had been assumed by the hero-for-hire Luke Cage. Battling Cage for the right to the name, Josten lost[9]. Inexplicably, the strength conferred upon him by Zemo's machine was on the wane. Disheartened by the defeat, Josten shelved his costume and took a job as a dockworker in order to renew contact in the smuggling profession. Count Nefaria, who offered him a chance to regain his former strength in exchange for special services, then sought him out. Josten performed Nefaria's errands and was subjected to a strength enhancing treatment. However, the bargain was all a scheme by Nefaria to steal the power of Josten and his other henchmen for himself. Josten managed to escape while the Avengers battled Nefaria.[10] He returned to the docks where under the name the Smuggler he set up a successful smuggling operation for black market goods. Spider-Man stumbled upon Josten's business, however, and with Josten's strength now a fraction of what it had once been, Spider-Man managed to defeat him in combat.[11]


When he was finally set free, Josten left the East Coast and headed toward California. While in prison, Josten had heard of a criminal scientist in Los Angeles who specialized in the study of superhuman powers, Dr. Karl Malus. Arranging a meeting with Malus, Josten again made a bargain to renew his lost strength. Unlike Nefaria, how ever, Malus did not renege on the deal and not only enhanced Josten's strength to its original level but also subjected him to an extract of extract of the growth formula created by Dr. Henry Pym, the original Giant-Man (as well as the original Ant-Man, Goliath, and Yellowjacket). Malus acquired it from a patient of his who had stolen it from Pym's one-time partner Dr. Bill Foster (also known as Black Goliath and the second Giant-Man). The Pym Formula reacted with the strength-enhancing treatment to give Josten far more physical power than he had ever known. Josten decided to take the Goliath, deriving satisfaction from stealing a hero's name even as a hero once stole his. Exhilarated by his new-found power. Goliath rampaged throughout Los Angeles in a bid to make his might known to the world. He was challenged by a contingent of West Coast Avengers (including Wonder Man, whose power he once imitated, and Hawkeye, who had also used Pym's growth formula under the name of Goliath), who barely managed to subdue him by making him overextend his powers. Goliath was held in a special laboratory beneath the Avengers Compound in Los Angeles.[12]

Allies of the Grim Reaper later freed Goliath. Goliath joined the Reaper in his battle against the West Coast Avengers, the Vision, and the Scarlet Witch. But after the Reaper and his allies were defeated, Goliath was returned to captivity.[13] Josten became something of a stalker of Wonder Man, who he thought got the better deal in the ionic process. He was defeated by Wonder Man in Los Angeles.[14] Later, Goliath attacked Hawkeye when Barton went back to his growing identity as Goliath II, once again challenging a hero for his name. He was beaten by Barton and Mockingbird.[15]

Josten was abducted by aliens of the extra-dimensional Kosmos, from which stemmed the source of his size-changing powers. He was tortured there for an undefined period before being rescued by Baron Zemo, who was building another Masters of Evil. With the help of Zemo's associate, the Fixer, Josten's body was purged of the Pym Particles, which had reacted negatively with his ionically-charged body to produce a mental strain.[16] This caused Josten's powers to stem from his ionic treatments alone.[17]


In gratitude, Josten offered Zemo his undying loyalty, and assumed the identity of Atlas when Zemo created the Thunderbolts, masquerading as heroes in order to carry out Zemo's plans of world domination.[18] During his time as a Thunderbolt, Josten had developed a relationship with the mayoral assistant Dallas Riordan, but when Zemo's true plans were revealed, Riordan rejected Josten. Against his loyalties, Josten ultimately betrayed Zemo with the other Thunderbolts and saved the world. Josten and other members decided they preferred fighting for justice, and the T-Bolts set out to make their way as a legitimate super-team.[19]

Later, however, he was kidnapped and controlled by Count Nefaria, who had found that he could mentally dominate people such as Josten who were powered by ionic energy. Wholly transformed into a being of ionic energy by Nefaria, Josten fought the Avengers and the Thunderbolts before the two teams united to defeat Nefaria.[20] Josten's body was unaccustomed to the stresses that were unleashed by Nefaria's manipulation and was forced to be hospitalized. Josten then became the target of the latest Scourge (a.k.a. Nomad) who was hunting down and killing various members of the Thunderbolts. Josten was forced to fight Scourge, but his powers over-extended, threatening to destroy the immediate area. Scourge helped confine Josten with the help of size-altering Pym Particles, but Josten seemingly perished in the explosion.[21]

However, since Josten was by this time a being comprised of ionic energy, he in fact did not die. His ionic essence was able to seek out Dallas Riordan, contacting her through their mutual love. With Riordan's help, Josten could suffuse her being with his energy, allowing Josten to share her body. When Josten is in control of her body, Riordan appears as a fully-charged ionic being.[22]

Josten was thus able to return to the Thunderbolts in their latest attempt to stop the villain Graviton, a battle which sparked an alien invasion. Ultimately, Josten/Riordan and the rest of the Thunderbolts were shunted by Graviton to the world of Counter-Earth after he closed the aliens' dimensional portal.[23] After initially embarking on a plan to return to their native Earth, the Thunderbolts agreed to try to use their powers to help save the people of the war-torn and catastrophic world.[24]

On Counter-Earth, the Thunderbolts were once again led by Baron Zemo, and they eventually encountered a spacecraft whose engines emitted a radiation that began eating the earth from the inside. The Thunderbolts embarked on a plan to combine their powers to punt the alien ship off Counter-Earth and sever its link between the real Earth. However, in order to complete this plan, the Thunderbolts needed to be inside the engine-spawned void and consume the ionic energies of Josten. In so doing, they reemerged from the void on the real Earth, forfeiting their roles and place on Counter-Earth. Moreover, Josten's energies seemed spent, and he bodily separated from Riordan, existing as separate beings. Josten's powers seemed lost completely, although Riordan's nervous system was repaired, allowing her to walk again and granting her superhuman abilities.[25]

Immediately upon exiting the void, the Thunderbolts confronted their former teammates Hawkeye and Songbird, who had formed another version of the Thunderbolts on Earth and were also trying to plug the real Earth's counterpart to Counter-Earth's spacecraft. The two teams of Thunderbolts combined forces to plug the void and shunt the alien ship from Earth. Josten was later accosted by the Thunderbolts' Fixer, who had broken into a weapons cache in Iraq and had found canisters of Pym particles. Being shot with an infusion of the particles, Josten found his size-altering powers renewed.[26]

Josten hesitantly followed Zemo in the Thunderbolts’ many acts of questionable heroism, where the ends justified the means. Zemo’s ultimate plan involved the creation of “the Liberator", a device that would drain abnormal uses energy throughout the world. The Thunderbolts hoped this would enable them to reduce global threats, eliminate superhuman terrorism, and stabilize the world’s status-quo. They were betrayed by Moonstone, however, who absorbed the powers that the Liberator had harnessed. Her emotional state combined with her near-cosmic power began to threaten the entire planet, and the Thunderbolts and the Avengers teamed up to defeat Moonstone. Afterward, the members of the Thunderbolts then agreed to go their separate ways, and Josten agreed to have the Pym particles purged from his system, returning him to normal.[27]

Later, when the Avengers formally disbanded, MACH-3 decided to re-form the Thunderbolts. He recruited Josten as a support member, even though his powers seemed to be gone. The team made their debut by saving Manhattan from the terrorist attacks of renegade Atlanteans, and during the battle Josten found his size-altering powers had returned.[28]

When Zemo attempted to take control of the Wellspring of Power, Josten, now going by the name Atlas, fell into a coma while stopping up the energies from spreading on Earth.[29]

Atlas eventually recovered from his coma and temporarily joined the Defenders.[30]

Atlas later joined up with Wonder Man's Revengers.[31] Atlas' reason for joining the group was that he was rejected many times to join the Initiative.[32]

At some point, Atlas was captured by S.H.I.E.L.D. and incarcerated at Pleasant Hill. S.H.I.E.L.D. used the Kobik project on Atlas which turned him into an unnamed Pleasant Hill mailman.[33]

Following the Pleasant Hill incident, Atlas joined up with Winter Soldier's incarnation of the Thunderbolts with the goal to prevent S.H.I.E.L.D. from continuing the Kobik project.[34]

Atlas was later approached by Baron Zemo and his third incarnation of the Masters of Evil in order to recruit him. When he resisted, the Masters of Evil attacked him as Jolt showed up to help him. During the fight against the Masters of Evil, Atlas and the Thunderbolts were defeated and captured.[35]

During the "Opening Salvo", Atlas, Moonstone, and Fixer defected to the Masters of Evil after Baron Zemo used Kobik's abilities to send Winter Soldier back in time. After Kobik shattered, Atlas assisted in searching for her fragments in order for Baron Zemo to put her back together.[36]


As Power Man, Josten had phenomenal superhuman strength and resistance to injury due to his body being suffused with radiation from "ionic rays". As Goliath, Josten's invulnerability and strength returned to their normal levels, and he could also increase his size to upwards to 50 feet due to a formula based on the size-changing Pym Particles.

The ionic and Pym Particle formulas played havoc with his body's physiology and his mental state, until his body was purged of Pym particles. As Atlas, Josten maintains his former levels of strength, invulnerability, and size-changing ability due to his ionic treatments. Similar to the hero Wonder Man, Josten became "fully metamorphosed" into "unspecified superhuman flesh-like substance nourished by ionic energy" (Official Handbook Deluxe Edition). Eventually his body overextended itself, and Josten's body seemed to explode. He briefly existed solely as ionic energy, which he could infuse into the body of Dallas Riordan. In so doing, Riordan would becomes endowed with the strength, invulnerability, and size-changing powers of Josten. During an escape from Counter-Earth, Josten again overextended his body's ionic energy, seemingly burning himself out and creating a new body for himself separate from Riordan.

After Counter-Earth, Josten returned to using an infusion of Pym particles to fuel his size-changing powers.

  • Josten has become a being of pure ionic energy similar to Wonder Man after reforming himself from the effects of an ionic bomb made by Count Nefaria. His ionic energy makes him virtually immortal as well as no longer requiring food, air, water, or sleep. His perceptions and reflexes are also well above those of a normal human's.
  • Possesses great strength even in his normal form. As he grows in size, his strength and durability increase. While in his ionic state Erik also has the ability to fly, much like Williams and Nefaria could pre and post transformation.
  • Atlas' limit, when he used Pym Particles, was a height of 60 feet. However, since his ionic form allows him to grow without Pym Particles, he may be able to reach greater limits.

Strength level

In excess of 100 Tons (at height of 60 feet); 20-30 Tons at normal height

Discover and Discuss


  1. 1.0 1.1 Thunderbolts: From the Marvel Vault #1
  2. Thunderbolts #10
  3. Thunderbolts #-1
  4. Avengers #9
  5. Avengers #21
  6. Avengers #22
  7. Avengers Annual #1
  8. Avengers #78-79
  9. Power Man #21
  10. Avengers #164-165
  11. Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man #49
  12. Iron Man Annual #7
  13. West Coast Avengers Vol 2 #1
  14. Wonder Man #1
  15. Avengers West Coast #92
  16. Thunderbolts Annual #1997
  17. Thunderbolts #6
  18. Thunderbolts #1
  19. Thunderbolts #12
  20. Thunderbolts #42-44
  21. Thunderbolts #47
  22. Thunderbolts #56-57
  23. Thunderbolts #58
  24. Thunderbolts #62
  25. Thunderbolts #74
  26. Thunderbolts #75
  27. Avengers/Thunderbolts #1-6
  28. New Thunderbolts #1
  29. Thunderbolts #109
  30. Last Defenders #3-4
  31. New Avengers Annual Vol 2 #1
  32. Avengers Annual Vol 4 #1
  33. Avengers Standoff: Assault On Pleasant Hill Alpha #1
  34. Thunderbolts Vol 3 #1
  35. Thunderbolts Vol 3 #10
  36. Thunderbolts Vol 3 #12
  37. Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A-Z #1
  38. Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A-Z #1

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