Damage

Created by Bill Kaplan, Tom Joyner and Bill Marimon

NAME + ALIASES:
Grant Emerson

KNOWN RELATIVES:
Al Pratt (the Atom, father, deceased), Mary Pratt (mother, deceased), Walter Pratt (adoptive brother, deceased), John Henry and Katherine Emerson (adoptive parents, deceased)

GROUP AFFILIATIONS:
Teen Titans, Justice Society of America, JSA All-Stars

FIRST APPEARANCE:
Damage #1 (April 1994)

History

Damage was a tragic hero whose entire life was shrouded in ??. In Damage #1 (Apr. 1994), editor Jim Spivey wrote about the character's genesis. He was first proposed by Bill Kaplan as a hero called "Nuke." Marvel already had a character by that name, and after Kaplan left DC Comics, the project was handed to writer Tom Joyner and artist Bill Marimon. They fashioned Nuke into "Damage," who burst fully-formed onto the super-hero stage, but knew nothing about his own mysterious past.

Vandal Savage reveals Grant's true parentage. From Damage #12 (1995); art by Bill Marimon and Don Hillsman.
Grant meety Wyldheart and Iron Munro — and the Baron (Blitzkrieg). From Damage #4 (1994); art by Bill Marimon and Don Hillsman.
His tormentors, the Wahrman family of Symbolix: Dathan, Nadjia, and Abriam. From Damage #0 (1995); art by Bill Marimon and Don Hillsman.
A visit with Sandra Knight (Phantom Lady) fails to bring closure. From Damage #11 (1995); art by Jason Armstrong and Jordi Ensign.
Arsenal's New Titans. From The New Titans #123 (1995); art by J.B. Jones and Rich Rankin.

His story begins in World War II, in the laboratory of the Nazi scientist Klaus Schimmel. Schimmel was a biogeneticist for the Third Reich who created Baron Blitzkrieg, partly in response to the burst of super-heroes coming out of the United States. After the war Schimmel was taken in by the American secret service (the O.S.S.), and given the name Egrin Wahrman. Behind the scenes, the Justice Society's foe Vandal Savage funded Wahrman's work and he founded the Symbolix company.

Vandal Savage supplied Wahrman with DNA samples from JSA members. In one experiment, dubbed "Telemachus," DNA was infused into a naturally born child — a child with preexisting metahuman potential. This child was the son of Al Pratt (the Atom) and his wife Mary. Mary had worked at Symbolix, and while Al was away, she became a captive of Symbolix. Al never knew that Mary was pregnant, and was told that she had died; in truth Mary was killed after delivering their son.

The baby was named Grant was placed with Symbolix employees Henry and Katherine Emerson. When a new generation of heroes debuted, additional DNA samples were taken from the members of the Justice League and imposed on Grant's genetic structure — making him potentially the most powerful metahuman on Earth. When he was 7 years old, the Symbolix complex exploded, killing Wahrman. (Damage #12) His wife, Nadjia, was badly burnt, and their sons Dathan and Abriam suffered other injuries. Regardless, they carried on with Symbolix and sought a genetic cure for Nadjia's disfigurement. (#2)

Grant led a mostly normal life in Atlanta, Georgia, until his powers began to emerge. When angered by a boy at school, Grant found that he possessed great strength and totaled a car with a punch. He confided this to his parents, who phoned Symbolix to say that "Telemachus is active." Meanwhile, Grant was attacked by Metallo at school. The stress pushed his new powers to the limits, manifesting as invulnerability, atomic energy from his hands, and a massive explosion that ruined the school grounds and building. There was no respite at home, where he was pursued by agents of Symbolix, Megafire, Blunt, and Flak. (#1) Note: Mr. Emerson's first name was originally given as John.

Grant escaped and returned to Symbolix, just after his adopted parents were killed by Dathan Wahrman. Another fight with Megafire triggered a massive explosion and Grant destroyed most of the complex. Elsewhere, Sarge Steel of the Bureau of Metahuman Affairs began to take interest in matters concerning Symbolix and their creation. He reached out to two Golden Age heroes: Roy Lincoln (the former Human Bomb) and Iron Munro. (#2)

The Wahrman also used Abriam's adopted daughter, Gillian, as an operative called Wyldheart. She was sent to step in between Grant (now calling himself Damage) and the Symbolix monster Troll. In other dealings, Abriam Wahrman contracted with the Baron (Blitzkrieg), who was helping distribute an experimental drug called Stardust. (#3) Iron Munro tracked down the Baron about the same time that Damage and Wyldheart stumbled upon the same, looking for shelter. (#4)

The conflict with the Baron was halted by the New Titans (led by Arsenal), who were called by the governor of Georgia to reign in Grant's perceived rampage. (#5) Damage joined the Titans, who were meant to serve as his mentors and guardians. (The New Titans #0, 115) He was with them for only a short time but fought Raven and her Dark Titans (#116–118), and went into space to help alien Jarras Minion. (#122-125)

In the so-called "Zero Hour," Grant, Munro, and the operative Steelhawk became trapped inside a bubble of timestream distortion. They witnessed glimpses from their pasts; Grant saw Munro speak to his long-lost wife, the Phantom Lady, who asked if Grant was their son. (#6) Iron Munro denied that he was Grant's father. The encounter set both heroes on paths to resolve their pasts. (Damage #0)

... (Zero Hour #0)

Grant surrendered to authorities and was due for an appearance in court, for his acts of public destruction. The super-hero community supported him; he was visited by Alan Scott (Green Lantern), and the Martian Manhunter testified on his behalf. But witness testimony was damning. After a visit from Sarge Steel, the judge banned Damage from the state of Georgia and remanded him to the supervision of the Titans. (#7)

Grant began the search for his true parents by returning to Symbolix. There he was further confused when they were attacked by Steppenwolf of Apokolips, who suggested he was a child of New Genesis (home of the New Gods). (#8) Damage moved on to interview his father's brother, Neal Emerson — aka Dr. Polaris — who was a prisoner at the Slab. His Titans credentials bought Grant the access, but he gleaned nothing from the visit, and Polaris escaped his cell. (#9)

The second of Symbolix's experiments, "Proteus," was a bioplasmic being creature called Splatter. (#5) They released it to recapture Damage (#7) and it kidnapped Grant's friends, Megan and Mandra. When Splatter killed Mandra, Damage to blew the creature to bits. (#10)

Grant's quest ultimately brought him to Washington, D.C. to visit the Phantom Lady, who now ran a school to train top operatives. He met her protégé, the second Phantom Lady, Sandra Knight did not confirm whether she was his mother and, truthfully, she did not know. Later an operative of the Baron, the psychic Kodrescu, claimed that Munro and Phantom Lady's child was turned over to Egrin Wahrman. This would confirm that they were his parents and Grant and Arn took his word for it. (#11)

Even after this news Grant kept digging to find out more about how Symbolix manipulated his life. In his final confrontation with them, he went to their new satellite, where he met the real engineer behind Symbolix: the Justice Society's foe Vandal Savage. Savage told Grant the whole truth, how he'd stolen the Atom's child and collected the JSA's DNA for Symbolix. Abriam Wahrman stepped up to oppose Vandal and was killed, but he set the satellite to self-destruct. Grant escaped in a ship. (Damage #12) Note: This issue featured a photographed cover.

Damage Done

Damage was built with the DNA of the JSA and the JLA! From Damage #15 (1995); art by Bill Marimon and Don Hillsman.
Under the watchful eye of the surviving members of the Justice Society. From Damage #15 (1995); art by Bill Marimon and Don Hillsman.
Grant can't take it anymore. From The New titans #127 (1995); art by William Rosado and Will Blyberg.
The original Titans reform as a team of mentors. From The Titans #1 (1999); art by Mark Buckingham and Wade Von Grawbadger.
The original Titans reform as a team of mentors. From The Titans #18 (2000); art by Adam DeKraker and Andy Lanning.

Damage continued to train with the Titans, but never quite fit in. He bristled at Arsenal's attempts to discipline him, and complained about unfair treatment. Despite this, he formed friendships with fellow Titans Green Lantern (Kyle Rayner) and Impulse. Green Lantern defied the Georgia court order and escorted Grant to the funeral of Mandra Darrow. (#13)Damage went with the Titans into space to help the Council of Zi Charam (#16, New Titans #124-125), but his attitude continued to cause friction with Arsenal, who sidelined him from a different mission. Grant threw a tantrum and quit the team. (New Titans #127)

Damage teamed with other heroes in his (unsuccessful) quest to find Dr. Polaris. The Ray tried to use his energy powers to track the villain, then handed the matter off to his teammates in the Justice League Task Force. (#14)

Grant agreed to Vandal Savage test his abilities and revealed that the Martian Manhunter was the primary DNA donor to his metagenic makeup. Savage made peace with the Justice Society long enough to escort Grant to the site of his parents' graves. Damage honored Al and Mary Pratt and met the surviving JSA members Alan Scott, Jay Garrick, Ted Grant, and Ted Knight. (#15)

Damage (a name Grant began to prefer rather than his given name) redeemed himself somewhat during a public fight against four experimental rejects Symbolix: Body Count, Razercut, Spindoc, and Uptown. (#17) A news crew was on hand to witness the ways in which Damage was drawn into conflict, and how he managed to finally channel his volatile energies safely into space. Damage was buoyed by his success and scheduled a meeting with Albert Rothstein, Nuklon, to learn more about his father Al Pratt. (#18-20)

Return to Titans

The Titans went through several more incarnations, and when the group reformed under the mentorship of its original five members, Arsenal nominated Damage for membership. (The Titans #1) Grant bonded with fellow teen Titans, Argent, over their experiences working with Arsenal. (#2)

Grant adjusted well to living in their new headquarters in New York. He was content not to take center stage and take direction from the team's senior leaders, on cases against the teen idol Goth, (#3-4) and the mermaid called Siren. (#5)

Still, Damage required coaching in order to control his outbursts of power. While visiting Argent's home, he accidentally destroyed her father's car. (#7) and after being shot with a dangerous drug. (#8)

Grant was called to testify in court against his uncle, Dr. Polaris. He was depressed and afterwards, Roy took he and his daughter camping in Arizona. Roy encouraged Grant to talk about his family, and his mood worsened. Ultimately he admitted for the first time to anyone that his adoptive parents had physically abused him as a child. (#17) Young Lian comforted Grant, but he confessed he'd always felt like he'd done something to deserve the abuse. This led again to a build up of his metahuman energies, but he successfully channeled their release — perhaps his best attempt. (#18) Roy prescribed some downtime for Grant. He was welcomed by Roy's Native American friends, Hoshimini, with whom Grant was welcome to stay for as long as he liked. (#19)

Damage did not return to active duty in the Titans but an encounter with strange glowing ghosts in the desert prompted him to call them for help. Jesse Quick responded, and the two of them uncovered a strange race of psycho-manipulative beings, the Phantasmoria. (#45) These beings were from Earth, but differently evolved. One of them went rogue and attacked the Titans. Grant's friend Sara and the Titans' Omen helped stop him. Grant chose to remain in Arizona; he still preferred not to be around familiar faces. (#46)

After this, Damage began to have more contacts with the super-hero community, especially those heroes with ties to the Justice Society. He visited the heroes' cemetery called Valhalla, and the grave of Sylvester Pemberton. There he met met the new Star-Spangled Kid. (DCU 2000 Secret Files #1)

When the intergalactic conqueror called Imperiex came to Earth, Sand recruited an army of All-Stars to venture to the planet Daxam. During this mission, Damage met the Freedom Fighters. (JSA: Our Worlds at War) He apparently joined up with that group briefly before the team was slaughtered by the Society in Metropolis. Although he survived, Damage's face was irreversibly disfigured by the speedster called Zoom, and left for dead. (Infinite Crisis #1)

Struggling with Legacy

Chip firmly on shoulder. From Justice Society of America v.3 #1 (2007); art by Dale Eaglesham and Art Thibert.
Damage is intent on revenge for the murder of his fellow Freedom Fighters. From Justice Society of America #8 (2010); art by Fernando Pasarin and Rodney Ramos.
Sonia's first kiss with Damage. From Blackest Night #4 (2009); art by Ivan Reis and Joe Prado.
Grant sent posthumous holographic reminder of his first kiss with Judomaster. From JSA All-Stars #7 (2010); art by Freddie Williams II.

This second great Crisis was a demoralizing time for the Justice Society. But the JSA's founders were urged by the Justice League to reassemble and train the new generation of heroes. As a hero working in the legacy of a JSA member, Damage was a prime candidate. He was recruited by Hourman and Liberty Belle in Philadelphia, after a battle with Rebel. (Justice Society of America v.3 #1)

During his time with the Justice Society, Grant's disfiguration greatly tarnished his personality. He was prone to outbursts and rebellion. The team helped him find justice for this, and pursued Zoom into Georgia—where there was restraining order against Damage. Green Lantern tried unsuccessfully to stopped Grant from entering the state. Damage took Zoom hostage and it was up to Liberty Belle to talk him down. She disabled Zoom by using her own speed powers to access the Speed Force. In the aftermath, the entire JSA stood behind Damage against law enforcement, who want to take him into custody. (#8)

Apprehending Zoom was the first step toward healing, but Grant could not have predicted that the Third World god named Gog would soon restore his face to normal as well. (#16) The JSA was skeptical of Gog's good deeds, but Grant was buoyed, even finding the confidence to flirt with his teammates, Cyclone (#17) and Judomaster. (#18) Damage and others began evangelizing about Gog's powers which put him at odds with the rest of the JSA. When he was confronted by Stargirl, he turned on her and Atom-Smasher stepped in to stop him. Atom-Smasher (Al Rothstein) had the benefit of growing up with the original Atom, and took it upon himself to educate Grant about his father's legacy. Al took him to the former home of Al Pratt, in Civic City, but this only angered Grant and he destroyed the house. (JSA Kingdom Come Special: The Kingdom)

Eventually Earth's heroes had to take down Gog. The angry god reclaimed all his "gifts," including Damage's facial restoration. ((Justice Society of America v.3 #21) Despite his disfiguration, Judomaster gave him a kiss. (#22)

Soon after this, Damage was killed by a Black Lantern (Jean Loring). (Blackest Night #4) The power of the Black Lantern was to raise the dead and so Damage himself rose again—like a zombie—to plague the JSA. Damage created a diversion and broke into JSA headquarters. (Blackest Night: JSA #2) Damage and the other Black Lanterns were destroyed by a bomb constructed by Mister Terrific. (#3)

At his funeral, Damage was eulogized by Judomaster. She was strengthened by Grant's last words to her, which he had recorded before his death. Judomaster honored him by finding a way to pay for the medical bills of all Damage's victims in Georgia. (JSA All-Stars v.2 #7)

+ Powers

Damage was born with the potential for metahuman powers, and his genes were infused with the DNA of many of the members of the Justice Society and the Justice League. The primary genetic donor from these groups was the Martian Manhunter. It was said that he had the potential to be the most powerful metahuman of all.

His main powers functioned like a fusion reactor, building up energies over time. His cells always retained a constant low-level charge. When the energies reached critical mass, his strength could increase a hundredfold. He emitted no heat; instead it was released as concussive force. Damage also added mass as his power levels increased.

Appearances + References

» FEATURED APPEARANCES:

  • Blackest Night #1, 4, 5
  • Blackest Night: JSA #1-2
  • Brave and the Bold v.3 #7
  • Checkmate v.2 #24
  • Darkstars #28-32, 34
  • Day of Judgment #1, 5
  • Deathstroke #45, 48, 49
  • Final Crisis #3, 4
  • Final Crisis: Requiem #1
  • Flash: Rebirth #1, 4
  • Green Lantern v.3 #57, 59, 65
  • Green Lantern v.4 #24
  • Guy Gardner: Warrior #29
  • Infinite Crisis #1
  • JLA #5
  • JLA: Gods and Monsters
  • JSA #35, 37, 49 , 50, 51 , 73
  • JSA Kingdom Come Special: Magog #1
  • JSA Kingdom Come Special: The Kingdom #1
  • JSA: Classified #27
  • JSA: Our Worlds at War #1
  • Justice League America #100
  • Justice League of America v.2 #8
  • Justice League Task Force #25, 26, 30
  • Justice League Wedding Special #1
  • Justice Society of America 80-Page Giant #1
  • OMAC Project #6
  • Power Girl v.2 #2
  • Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E. #8
  • Superboy v.3 #65, 74
  • Tales of the Sinestro Corps: Superman-Prime #1
  • Teen Titans v.2 #17
  • Teen Titans v.3 #66
  • Titans v.2 #2 (July 2008):
  • Trinity #13–16
  • Underworld Unleashed #2, 3
  • Young Justice #49-51
  • Young Justice: Sins of Youth #1, & Secret Files #1
  • Zero Hour: Crisis in Time #0

» SERIES:

  • Damage, 21 issues (1994–95)
  • New Titans #0, 115–127, Annual #11 (1994–96)
  • JLA/Titans, 3-issue limited series (1998–99)
  • The Titans v.1, #1-19, 45-46 issues (1999–2003), & Titans Secret Files #1
  • Justice Society of America v.3, #1-33 (2007–10)
  • JSA vs. Kobra, 6-issue limited series (2009)
  • JSA All-Stars #1–7 (2010)