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HARNESS

Real Name: Erika Benson

Identity/Class: Human mutant technology user (see comments)

Occupation: Terrorist

Group Membership: None

Affiliations: AIM, Alliance of Evil (Frenzy/Joanna Cargill, Stinger/Wendy Sherman, Tower/Edward Pasternak)

Enemies: Moira MacTaggert's Islanders (Legion/David Haller, Moira MacTaggert, Multiple Man/Jamie Madrox, Polaris/Lorna Dane, Syrin/Theresa Rourke-Cassidy), New Warriors (Andrew Chord, Firestar/Angelica Jones, Marvel Boy/Vance Astrovik, Namorita Prentiss, Night Trasher/Dwayne Taylor, Nova/Richard Rider, Silhouette Chord, Speedball/Robert "Bobby" Baldwin), X-Factor (Archangel/Warren Worthington III, Beast/Hank McCoy, Cyclops/Scott Summers, Jean Grey, Iceman/Bobby Drake), X-Force (Cable/Nathan Summers, Cannonball/Sam Guthrie, Boom-Boom/Tabitha Smith, "Domino"/Vanessa Carlyle, Feral/Maria Callasantos, Shatterstar/Gaveedra Seven, Warpath/James Proudstar)

Known Relatives: Gilbert Benson (son, deceased), unidentified younger daughter

Aliases: None

Base of Operations: Unrevealed;
                                  formerly mobile

First Appearance: New Mutants Annual I#7 (August, 1991)

Powers/Abilities: Erika Benson was a mutant who could generate an unknown type of energy from her hands. She could form them into simple forms and weapons like whips and lashes. She was also able to turn them into restricting nooses and relatively simple tethers and safety jackets. The energy hurt whoever came into contact with it. Benson claimed she was able to sense energy patterns on a global scale, though whether this is an actual mutant power or a function of her AIM supplied combat armor has not been revealed. The Harness armor allowed Benson increased strength, stamina and durability. It came equipped with several guns, rocket launchers and fire arms of unknown make. The armor could emit a repulsor ray that forcefully repelled anyone in her immediate vicinity. The armor's weaponry was controlled by an internal guiding and targeting system. It also contained two wrist mounted, 4 feet long skewers and a teleportation unit.

Height: 5'8" (by approximation)
Weight: 128 lbs. (by approximation)
Eyes: Blue
Hair: Red

closeup

History:

(New Mutants Annual I#7 (fb) - BTS) - Erika Benson mothered two children: a boy, Gilbert, and an unidentified girl. When he hit puberty, Benson learned Gilbert was a mutant capable of absorbing energy. Both mother and son were then recruited by AIM who needed Benson's mutant powers to collect the energies of the reality warping mutant Proteus that had dissipated around the world. To ensure Gilbert's cooperation, Erika was given a combat armor she could control her child with. As Harness and Piecemeal, the Bensons were sent around the world by AIM. To ensure they could work without any noteworthy resistance, it was arranged for the mutant mercenaries known as the Alliance of Evil to accompany them.

(New Mutants Annual I#7) - Piecemeal's senses eventually led Harness and the Alliance to the Saint Simons Academy in Vermont. Harness and her son remained in the Alliance's helicopter, parked on the grounds, while Tower, Stinger and Frenzy dealt with both the cops and the X-Terminators who had been enrolled at the academy. Harness then forced Piecemeal out, an energy noose tied around his neck. When Gilbert hesitated, he was lashed with an energy whip until he complied and absorbed Proteus' ambient energies. The process hurt considerably, but Erika did not care. She dragged him back to the helicopter, ready to head for their next target.

(New Mutants Annual I#7 - BTS) -  The Alliance's attack on the X-Terminators caught the attention of X-Force. They vowed to track down the villains.

(New Mutants Annual I#7) - Piecemeal brought Harness and the Alliance to the Niagara Falls. Following protocol, the Alliance scared away civilians before Piecemeal was forced to "sniff out" the location of the residual energies. When he concluded it was halfway down the falls, a slightly annoyed Harness whipped up an energy tether for him and tossed the child off the ledge until he was at the right location. Piecemeal reluctantly absorbed all the energy present, gaining so much additional mass he almost pulled Harness down. She recovered her stance and brought the boy back up, unaware X-Force had arrived to take down the Alliance. She was momentarily besieged by Boom-Boom, but decided to escape by jumping off the ledge with Piecemeal, activating her armor's teleportation mechanism to get to safety.

(New Warriors Annual I#1 - BTS) - Harness continued her mission for AIM without the Alliance's support. She kept forcing her son to absorb Proteus' energies, which eventually turned him morbidly obese.

Harness' powers

(New Warriors Annual I#1) - On their latest stop, appearing outside a Roxxon oil refinery in Anchorage, Alaska, Harness realized her armor's teleporter unit had given out. Frustrated and blaming AIM for supplying her with shoddy technology, she tore the mechanism out. Already annoyed, she had no patience with Piecemeal who once again showed reluctance at absorbing the energy present. Benson ensnared the rotund preteen in her energy leash and reiterated the deal they'd made: he would deal with the pain, while she made all the money. To emphasize her point, Benson popped out the massive skewer from her armor's left wrist and poked the terrified Gilbert with it until he agreed to "eat". There turned out to be a major amount of Proteus energy in Anchorage, which made Gilbert noticeably larger as he cried out in pain. Delighted to see he "ate every last bit of food on his plate", Harness then went looking for a plane that could carry them to their next location: Tokyo, Japan. On top of the Kodansha Building, Piecemeal absorbed the final pieces of Proteus. Harness then announced they'd finished with the "appetizers" and that the time had come to go for the main course in Edinburgh, Scotland.

(New Warriors Annual I#1 - BTS) - At the same time, the New Warriors and X-Force had realized AIM was trying to recreate Proteus. Before heading to Edinburgh, Cable decided to inform Moira MacTaggert on Muir Island that someone was trying to bring her son back to life.

(Uncanny X-Men Annual I#15) - Harness and Piecemeal made their way to Edinburgh. Hiding in a rented van, they searched the primary concentration of Proteus' energies. She didn't even have to force her already engorged son to absorb the power. Gilbert had already become so infused with Proteus' energy it flowed into him automatically, causing him to grow even larger. They were interrupted by some local police officers who ordered Piecemeal to surrender, in response Harness laughed and mowed them down with the armaments in her armor. She then used her scanners to determine that the final, largest amount of energy could be found near the castle overlooking the city (which had been the site of Proteus' original destruction).

(Uncanny X-Men Annual I#15 - BTS) - Harness and Piecemeal were spotted in the city by the Weird Happenings Organization. Brigadier Alysande Stuart put in a call to Muir Island to inform Moira MacTaggert who was just meeting with X-Force and the New Warriors. The heroes immediately realized the superbeings Stuart described were Piecemeal and Harness and took off to stop Benson.

(Uncanny X-Men Annual I#15) - The three teams engaged Harness, with Shatterstar taking the lead by hitting her with a concussive blast from his blade. Nova and Cannonball pressed the assault with two high speed blows, which Boom-Boom followed up with one of her explosives that sent Harness right into the hands of Warpath, Polaris and Namorita. Annoyed, Harness charged her armor's repulsor ray that sent her three opponents flying. Using the heroes' momentary confusion, Harness activated her weapons array and attacked. Her opening volley took out Siryn, Boom Boom and Feral. Before she could shoot Cable through the head, Nova and Namorita grabbed Harness and pulled her along, scraping the armor on the ground at top speeds, before delivering her to Polaris and Warpath who hit the villain with all their might. Cable and Cannonball got their shots in, bringing Harness to her knees. One final blow smashed Harness' helmet, revealing she was really a woman. Just as the young heroes tried to take that revelation in, they were alerted to Piecemeal's distress. Gilbert Benson had become so infused with Proteus' energies that he was about to rupture. Benson called out to her son, demanding he kept it all inside, shocking all those who realized Harness was the boy's mother. Piecemeal was unable to obey his mother, his form collapsed and merged with the energies of Proteus that still contained the essence of Kevin MacTaggert. The two personalities incorporated a new energy form and announced themselves to the world before warping reality with explosive results.

(X-Factor Annual I#6 - BTS) - The newly resurrected Proteus created a new world for himself in the ruins of Edinburgh. He trapped X-Force, the New Warriors and Moira's islanders in this abstract, green tinted world but couldn't decide where to place his two mothers. He figured it'd be for the best to keep them at his side while he ruled over his creation. At the same time, on the outside world, Proteus' resurgence had superheroes worried. X-Factor leader Cyclops, having previously faced the threat, stepped forward to deal with the crisis. The team rushed to Edinburgh, assured by the knowledge both the Avengers, Excalibur and the People's Protectorate stood ready to assist them.

(X-Factor Annual I#6) - As soon as X-Factor arrived in Proteus' reimagined Edinburgh, they were absorbed into his new reality which was based on the calming logic of a mathematical equation (an idea Kevin MacTaggert had which he hoped would soothe the tormented Gilbert). The team briefly spotted Harness and Moira, forcibly stuck at Proteus' side, before they were cast into his realm where they met the other trapped heroes. While X-Factor and their compatriots formulated a plan of attack, Harness and Moira were stuck with Proteus who steadily worked to expand his new, logic based reality until it would incorporate the entire planet. MacTaggert tried to appeal to the better angels of the villain's nature, only to be told that both she and Harness were terrible mothers who treated Gilbert and Kevin horribly. Moira continued to plead, while the annoyed Benson simply wanted to be left out of it, even when it became clear that the reason Proteus was reforming existence into an equation was to eventually find bliss by subtracting it into perfect nothingness. When the heroes tried to stop him, Benson briefly tried to manipulate Proteus into attacking them. In the end, Proteus figured he could never be happy in an imperfect world and simply decided to leave that plane of existence to look for someplace better. Proteus returned the world to normal as he vanished, leaving Harness in the hands of the heroes.

(X-Factor Annual I#6 - BTS) - Harness was handed over to the local authorities, she was charged in Scotland for the insurrection that led to the "strange events in Edinburgh". Her fate was discussed by her AIM bosses who agreed to break her out of jail eventually. The loss of Piecemeal wasn't mourned, they had Benson's seven-year-old mutant girl in their care, which would also assure Erika's eventual cooperation.

Comments: Created by Fabian Nicieza (writer), Guang Yap (pencils), Dan Panosian (inks)

Guess who won't be winning any mother of the year awards... Man, the Bensons' mother-son relationship was just messed up. It reads like she got off on hurting and humiliating her own child. Definitely not cool.

The extent of Erika's mutant powers remains unrevealed. She claims she was able to sense the energies her son would absorb, that might just as well be thanks to her armor's built-in scanning technology though.

Profile by Norvo.

CLARIFICATIONS:
Harness should not be confused with


images: (without ads)
Uncanny X-Men Annual I#15, p23, pan2 (main image)
New Mutants annual I#7, p8, pan5 (closeup)
New Warriors annual I#1, p12, pans2&3 (uses powers and forcefeeds Piecemeal)
Uncanny X-Men Annual I#15, p32, pan3 (unmasked)


Appearances:
New Mutants Annual I#7 (August, 1991) - Fabian Nicieza (writer), Guang Yap (pencils), Dan Panosian (inks), Bob Harras & Suzanne Gaffney (editors)
New Warriors Annual I#1 (August, 1991) - Fabian Nicieza (writer), Mark Bagley (pencils), Jeff Albrecht (inks), Danny Fingeroth (editor)
Uncanny X-Men Annual I#15 (August, 1991) -  Fabian Nicieza (writer), Tom Raney (pencils), Joe Rubinstein & Art Nichols (inks), Bob Harras (editor)
X-Factor Annual I#6 (August, 1991) - Fabian Nicieza (writer), Terry Shoemaker (pencils), Al Milgrom (inks), Bob Harras (editor)


Last updated: 07/18/15

Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.

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