A Milwaukee, Wisconsin native, Erik Josten was a mercenary who gained superhuman strength after exposing himself to ionic rays at the urging of The Enchantress from the request of Baron Zemo. These were the same rays that gave Wonder Man his powers. He and The Enchantress partnered up for a short while. He took the name Power Man. During this partnership, Power Man and the Enchantress attempted to discredit the Avengers by tricking them into causing property damage, whilst remaining unnoticed themselves. Thanks mostly due to the Enchantress's magic powers, this was successful, and the Avengers were ordered to disband by a court. However, Captain America later managed to clear the Avengers' names by recording a confession of Power Man's that he and Enchantress had set up the Avengers, and Power Man gave up the fight after Enchantress left him, not thinking that he possessed the "killer instinct".
Soon his partnership with The Enchantress would dissolve and his career as a professional supervillain began. At first, he teamed up with the Black Widow and the Swordsman. Eric often teamed-up with the Swordsman, even though these two were in constant competition with each other. The two men would often fight the Avengers or Captain America as hired help. After finding out that Luke Cage had been calling himself Power Man, Erik Joston decided to find him and force him to stop using the name. Luke Cage won the battle leaving Erik without his former moniker. He would go on to join many other supervillain groups such as several versions the Lethal Legion. Count Nefaria soon stole Josten's powers though, and left him to turn to commit crimes solo. He became the Smuggler and well, smuggled things. In his only appearance as the Smuggler, Josten was defeated by Spider-Man, and then later assisted by him in fighting the Maggia.
Atlas was created by Stan Lee and Don Heck and first appeared (as Power Man) in The Avengers #21 (1965). Although Atlas started out as the villainous Power Man, later Goliath, he later became a hero as part of the Thunderbolts team. His first appearance as Atlas, member of the Thunderbolts, was in Incredible Hulk Vol.2 issue 449 (1997).
Major Story Arcs
Criminal and acts of vengeance
Later on, Josten was given the ability to grow in size and strength from Pym Particles, administered by Dr. Karl Malus. Josten now called himself Goliath, and continued his solo villain career. He fought James Rhodes as Iron Man and the West Coast Avengers and the cosmically-powered Spider-Man. Josten even joined a team including Ultron, Man-Ape, Grim Reaper, and Nekra. After more unsuccessful criminal activities, Josten joined the fourth coming of the Masters of Evil, led by Baron Zemo. During his time there, Josten helped capture the Avengers Mansion as Goliath.
Josten would become Atlas after the founding of the Thunderbolts. After finding that being in the public image as a good guy, Josten decided to do away with his evil doings, even after his past was revealed to the public. As Atlas, he soon absorbed an ionic bomb created by Count Nefaria. He became an energy creature, and took refuge in the body of Dallas Riordan. This energy gave Dallas the ability to walk again. Dallas left with the energy, and Josten was once again powerless. The Fixer soon gave him a new round of Pym Particles to restore his powers. After an Avengers/Thunderbolts series, Josten had his Pym Particles taken from his body, but was able to reclaim the ionic energy from Dallas Riordan to become Atlas again. Dallas became an agent of Homeland Security, and she and Erik broke up.
The Thunderbolts Reassembelled
Lonely and seeking purpose, Josten joined MACH-IV's new Thunderbolts, serving as the team's one-man support staff. However, when the alien Genis-Vell aided them against Fathom's Five, an overprotective Erik was irritated by Marvel's obnoxious attitude and his obvious romantic interest in MACH-IV's girlfriend, Songbird. Unobserved by his teammates and acting on instinct, a furious Josten assumed gigantic size and beat Marvel senseless, tossing him in the ocean to cover up his crime. His powers restored, Erik rejoined the Thunderbolts as Atlas; but his teammates worried about his growing emotional instability, notably a capacity for violent rage which increased dramatically when he used his powers. Investigating, Songbird discovered that Dallas was wheelchair-bound again, and that Erik had unwittingly and possibly irreversibly drawn the ionic energy out of her and back into himself. Songbird also learned of Erik's attack on Genis, who had since recovered and joined the Thunderbolts as the semi-amnesiac Photon. Later, during an extended conflict with the mind-controlling Purple Man, the Thunderbolts battled the Purple Man's pawn, a mysterious new Swordsman who sliced Atlas open, causing Josten to explode. Atlas was reduced to disembodied energy for ten days, during which the Scarlet Witch created a temporary, mutant-dominated alternate reality in which Josten was reborn as a heroic military man. This alternate reality and its version of Josten soon vanished, but Erik's memories of the experience helped give him new confidence once he finally managed to reintegrate his dispersed bodily energies.
He regained physical form in time to rescue Songbird from the Purple Man's pawns and help the Thunderbolts defeat the Purple Man himself. Songbird, now team leader, told Erik what she knew about the Genis incident, but she assumed the Purple Man had mind-controlled Erik into doing it, and asked only that Erik apologize to Genis. Erik soon did so, but Genis pointed out that the Purple Man's powers are ineffective against ionic beings, and that Erik must have attacked Genis on his own. Josten admitted this was true, but Genis still forgave him and agreed to keep Erik's secret. This was partly because his own history of madness made him sympathetic to Erik's instability, and partly because he found it useful to have Erik in his debt. In the meantime, Atlas continues to serve with the Thunderbolts, who have begun working more closely with government officials. As a result, Erik has gotten amicably, albeit awkwardly, reacquainted with Dallas. She belatedly informed him of his brother Conrad's fate after learning of it through government records. Though that changed when Conrad was returned alive by Baron Zemo allowing the two brothers to begin their journey of healing their relationship. Following the aftermath of the Wellspring of Power battle, Erik used his powers to seal off the Wellspring but in doing so left him in a frozen and coma like state. The CSA is currently trying to revive him with Conrad at his side. Eventually, he was revived again by the CSA and had found that the ionic powers inside his body were divided between he and Dallas allowing her to continue to have her ability to walk and enhanced skills she once had as Vantage. Erik decided to sign up with the CSA but as a temp hero, working stores for the CSA until he was recruited by Nighthawk to be on his second team of Defenders along with Junta and Krang. He took another job as a blue collar worker following the disbanding of the team. He has been in constant contact with MACH V over rejoining the Thunderbolts.
Standoff and Return of the Thunderbolts
More recently, it was revealed that Atlas had been arrested by S.H.I.E.L.D. and was brought into Pleasantville, a seemingly nice and small community. This however turned out to be a 'prison' created with fragments of a Cosmic Cube, which had instantly given every (former) villain a new identity as a respectfull country-loving citizen. Atlas too had no recollection of his true self and lived in the community for a couple of months. When Baron Zemo managed to revive the whole supervillain community, Atlas fled the scene and soon rejoined the Thunderbolts.
Thunderbolts and Secret Empire
He had some happy moments with the Thunderbolts and his old teammates, finally feeling right for the first time in a long time. However, these good times where not meant to last, as Baron Zemo eventually struck against the Thunderbolts and informed the team that Hydra, the altered (Nazi) Captain America and he himself where staging a coup to take power in America. While Songbird and Match-VIII refused Zemo's offer to join his new team of evildoers, Erik found himself questioning and eventually sided with Zemo, defeating both Songbird and Match-VIII. He was of no further role during the Secret Empire and most likely felled very bad about his actions.
War of the Realms
When the evil Dark-Elf known as Malekith invaded Earth, the Norse Godess Frya recruited Erik, alongside other Giant-sized heroes such as Ant-Man, Goliath and Giant-Man, to help defeat the evil invading forces. Erik, feeling he had to do something right after his terribble deeds during Secret Empire, joined the team and did his part against the invading forces, which even brought him face-to-face with former teammate Moonstone, whom first had joined Malekith. Erik however managed to talk her into joining forces with the heroes.
- EYES- None; replaced by containment spheres for unknown energy
- HAIR- Red
- WEIGHT- 225 Ibs
- HEIGHT- 6 ft - 60 ft due to size manipulation (as he gains his height, he gains more strength. Josten also has super strength in his normal form. The mass comes from an alternate dimension, and is put back there when he returns to normal size. If he changes too quickly, he can suffer severe consequences, such as coma.)
In this reality Atlas is Major Erik Josten of the legendary Howling Commandos and does not have any of his powers. Here he is also working with the Human Underground Resistance. In an attempt to combat Private Vell and stop him from tearing apart their reality he come in to possession of an Atlas-Class Sentinel. After stopping Vell Josten is last reported driving a stolen vehicle outside of Phoenix.
In Other Media
Erik Josten appears in the episode "Adapting to Change" as Goliath, with his voice provided by Jesse Burch. He is part of the Masters of Evil, but is defeated by the Hulk when the Avengers arrive. He later becomes Atlas as part of the Thunderbolts, and is one of the villains who eventually decides to become an actual hero.
Iron Man and X-O Manowar in Heavy Metal
Goliath appears in the game as a boss character.