Real Name: Erika Benson
Identity: Known to Authorities
Occupation: A.I.M. Operative
Citizenship: American Citizen, With Criminal Record
Place of Birth: Unknown
Known Relatives: Gilbert Benson (Son, Deceased), Daughter
Group Affiliation: A.I.M.
First Appearance: New Mutants Annual #7 (V1)
Erika Benson was an abusive mother, both physically and mentally, to her son Gilbert Benson. Interested in only her quest for power, Erika Benson who was born a mutant, with the ability to create “psi-shackles” (telekinetic shackles), with the assistance of A.I.M. (Advanced Idea Mechanics) was given a suit of armor that enhanced her control over her mutant powers; as well as gave her an assortment of other forms of attack (numerous weapons) and defenses (including teleportation). With this, she physically, mentally and verbally abused her own son, Gilbert Benson (who became ‘Piece Meal’), who was able to absorb ambient energy signatures.
A.I.M. (though manipulation by both Gideon and Toad) had given Erika Benson (who adopted the name Harness) the armor, so that she could use her son to absorb the residual energy of the mutant known as Proteus, who had the ability to bend, manipulate and control reality.
It all began with three members from Alliance of Evil (Tower, Stinger and Frenzy) attacked the Saint Simons Academy.Three young mutants named Taki, Leech and Artie had tried to stop the Alliance of Evil but failed. It was here that Harness first had her son, who looked like a normal young boy, absorb the first part of Proteus’ essence. Harness would next appear with the Alliance of Evil at the Niagara Falls, where she forced Gilbert to absorb more of Proteus’ energy. When the New Mutants showed up to confront them, Harness grabbed her son and teleported away, leaving the Alliance of Evil to be captured by the New Mutants.
When the New Mutants track a clue that leads them to Genetech, they’re confronted by The New Warriors. During the confrontation, both sides learn that it appears that Genetech was hiring to create a DNA matrix for a cellular mix which would become self-reproducing, self-replicating growth culture; unaware of the true intentions.
When Harness and Gilbert appeared next in Anchorage, Alaska; Gilbert’s appearance had greatly changed. He appeared considerably older, and extremely bloated. Once again, Gilbert pleads for Harness to stop; and once again, Harness physically, verbally and mentally assaults Gilbert until he does as he’s told; absorbing even more of Proteus’ energy; once again, bloating Gilbert’s appearance.
The New Mutants and New Warriors piece together what Harness is doing and realize that she’s using Gilbert to absorb Proteus’ residual energy. Cable suggests everyone head to Muir Island to talk to Proteus’ mother, Moira MacTaggert. However, they find themselves under attack by Moira, Multiple Man, Siryn, Legion and Polaris (all under the influence of the Shadow King, though unbeknownst to Cable and the others).
In the meantime, in the streets of Edinburgh, Scottland; Harness and Gilbert arrive where he’s forced to absorb even more of Proteus’ energy; so defeated and broken, that Gilbert doesn’t even resist.
Moira’s team joins with the New Mutants and New Warriors to try and take down Harness. They managed to get the upper hand, and this is when Warpath hits Harness and shatters her helm, revealing her – to everyone’s surprise – to be a woman – and where they learn that Harness is Gilbert’s mother. Gilbert is unable to contain the energy and literally explodes, releasing an energy form of Proteus.
X-Factor, composed of the original X-Men (Cyclops, Jean Grey, Iceman, Beast and ArchAngel) hear of the situation and get involved, just as Proteus begins reshaping the world. With the help of X-Factor, they manage to convince Proteus that he only knew peace when he was dead. Gilbert/Proteus decides to sacrifice their life, rather than reshape the world, restoring everything back to normal.
Harness is captured and handed over to the local authorities. Her whereabouts remain unknown. The board members of A.I.M. are certain that Erika will not talk, and discuss how they still have her daughter; who is only seven years old, but already detected to be a mutant.
Weight: 138 lbs.
Powers: Erika Benson was born a mutant who was able to create telekinetic shackles.
Armor: Harness wore a set of armor that she seemed to have a cybernetic connection to. The armor had an assortment of various weapons and arsenal. The armor also contained a teleportation device that would allow her to teleport great distances.