Surviving his abusive father who abandoned him, Dirk Garthwaite grows up filled with resentment and anger and quickly turns to crime. He uses a crowbar as a reminder of his father, destroying each place he robs.
The son of construction worker, Burt Garthwaite, an abusive crowbar-wielding drunk, Dirk swears never to be a victim again. Burt abandons his family when Dirk was four, leaving his mother, Anne, to raise Dirk and his younger brother. Dirk grows up to become a demolitions company laborer, but his violent temper gets him fired. Turning to crime, he becomes the costumed burglar the Wrecker, armed with a crowbar like his hated father. He sends stolen money to his ailing mother to pay for her medical expenses, unaware that she considers the money dirty and refuses to use it. Spotting Loki Laufeyson, AKA Loki, inside an apartment where the Asgardian trickster god dwelled after he and his hated brother Thor were depowered by their father Odin for disobeying him, Wrecker breaks in and knocks the trickster out. Loki had just summoned the Norn Queen Karnilla to grant him new power, so when Wrecker dons Loki’s golden helmet, the arriving Karnilla mistakes him for Loki and imbues him with Asgardian mystical energies. Reveling in his new power, Wrecker rampages. The depowered Thor intervenes but was soon defeated and nearly slain. Animating the mystic Asgardian Destroyer armor with her spirit to save Thor, the goddess Sif confronted Wrecker; his crowbar shatters with his first strike against the armor, and the Destroyer blasts him unconscious.
The police keep Wrecker sedated, but he eventually becomes resistant to the drugs and revives. Breaking out, he reclaims his apparently reassembled crowbar from police custody and tracked down Thor for a rematch. When the fight moves to the subway, Thor throws Wrecker onto the third rail, then uses his Uru hammer, Mjolnir, to drain Wrecker’s enchantment out through the crowbar, depowering him. Imprisoned, Wrecker escapes with help from three other inmates: Dr. Eliot Franklin, Henry Camp, and Brian Calusky. Retrieving his crowbar, Wrecker shares his power to turn them into Thunderball, Bulldozer, and Piledriver, respectively, his Wrecking Crew.
An Enchanted Crowbar
The Wrecker possesses superhuman strength that has fluctuated greatly over time: Initially, he’s able to lift 40 tons; 10 tons after sharing his powers with the Wrecking Crew; 2 tons at his lowest powered level; and over 70 tons at his highest. He is also superhumanly durable—even at his weakest, he is impervious to small caliber bullets; at his standard levels, he can withstand rocket launchers.
He wields a 4-foot cast iron crowbar; even without powers, he can throw it with uncanny accuracy. With his powers he can propel it hard enough to penetrate several inches of steel, and it will fly back to his hand. It has sometimes housed his powers, and at other times merely been normal metal, acting only as a focus. When powered by Asgardian magic, Wrecker can use his crowbar to share his power, generate force waves to block bullets, paralyze people with a word, teleport himself and others by ripping open space warps, track people and objects, transform normal clothes into his costume, control the minds of people touching the crowbar, generate illusions, and fire powerful energy bursts. Wrecker can sometimes absorb various energies to boost his power levels.
Having received powers meant for Loki, Dirk finds himself up against the trickster god Loki and his brother Thor. Though his powers are equal to the Asgardians who have difficulty defeating him. With the Wrecking Crew, he also goes up against Thor’s allies and teammates, the Avengers, the Warriors Three, and the Fantastic Four.
Trusted Yet Tenuous Teammates
Since Wrecker shares his powers with his fellow inmates and dubs them the Wrecking Crew, he’s quite proud of being their leader and will act violently to ensure that position stays his. Most of the Crew are loyal, even like brothers to Wrecker, save Thunderball who desires his power for himself. They end up in a feud throwing punches, but it eventually cools down. Often, when they lose their powers, they work together to get them back.
Wrecker with his Crew joins the Frightful Four, Helmut Zemo, AKA Baron Zemo’s Masters of Evil, Edward Lansky, AKA Lightmaster’s Masters of Evil, Initiative, Lethal Legion, and Legion Accursed when their goals align.
Like a Wrecking Ball
While trying to blackmail New York City, they fought the The Defenders and were defeated, and Sorcerer Supreme Dr. Stephen Strange, AKA Doctor Strange, teleported Wrecker’s crowbar to another dimensional plane, again depowering him. Later, seeking to hurt the Fantastic Four, Phillip Masters, AKA Puppet Master, constructed a Wrecker doll, complete with crowbar; his mystic clay somehow teleported the real bar to the imprisoned Wrecker, who escaped, but was recaptured by the F4. Unaware Wrecker had transferred the Asgardian enchantment back into himself, the police assumed him powerless without the crowbar, enabling Wrecker’s swift escape; hereafter, the enchantment was frequently transferred back and forth between Wrecker and his crowbar. Wrecker broke the Crew out, but Steve Rogers, AKA Captain America, and Danny Rand, AKA Iron Fist, recaptured them. Imprisoned, Wrecker mentally linked to his crowbar, compelling a guard who carelessly touched it to return it to the Wrecker, facilitating the Crew’s escape. They rampaged in Manhattan’s Lincoln Center to draw out Thor, but during the battle an elderly female bystander was accidentally slain by shrapnel Wrecker directed at Thor. Enraged, Thor used Mjolnir to overload and incapacitated Wrecker with Asgardian energy.
Some time later, the Wrecking Crew was among several superhumans abducted by the Beyonder to fight on his Battleworld. During his time there, Wrecker befriended fellow criminal Carl Creel, AKA Absorbing Man. Back on Earth, Wrecker served in Mephisto’s Legion Accursed to attack the Beyonder, and invaded Marvel Comics’ office with the Lethal Legion. While Wrecker came to view his three teammates like brothers, Thunderball concluded their powers waned when away from Wrecker’s crowbar and plotted to steal the power; learning his mother was dying, the distracted Wrecker failed to notice Thunderball’s machinations. The Crew joined Baron Zemo’s Master of Evil to invade Avengers Mansion; during the Avengers’ counter-attack Thor used Mjolnir to transfer the rest of the Crew’s powers back to Wrecker but failed to drain Wrecker before he escaped. Unable to visit his ailing mother because her house was under police surveillance and fearing she would die hating him because of his criminal lifestyle, Wrecker considered going straight; he still broke the Crew out of jail but made excuses for not repowering them as he pondered his options.
Meanwhile Julia Carpenter, AKA Spider-Woman (later Arachne) hunting Wrecker, visited Anne Garthwaite, who died after asking the heroine to deliver a letter to Dirk. In the Crew’s hideout, Thunderball assaulted Wrecker, draining half the Asgardian power into himself before Peter Parker, AKA Spider-Man, and Spider-Woman interrupted; during the ensuing fight, Wrecker reclaimed his power by sheer force of will, but Spider-Woman stopped his attack by passing Anne’s letter to him. Learning she had hoped he might still redeem himself and stunned she had died before he could see her again, the Wrecker quietly departed. During the so-called “Acts of Vengeance” conspiracy, Wilson Fisk, AKA Kingpin, hired Wrecker to murder Tony Stark, AKA Iron Man, but the hero magnetized Wrecker’s crowbar, causing nearby vehicles to smash into the villain. Retrieving and repowering the Crew, his feud with Thunderball temporarily forgiven, Wrecker attacked Damage Control, but Thunderball secretly sabotaged them due to his friendship with Damage Control’s John Porter. Perhaps because of this, Wrecker’s anger towards Thunderball reignited. His powers again drained, Thunderball went into police protective custody, but Wrecker collapsed the tenement where police had hidden Thunderball, uncaring of innocent civilian deaths. Nonetheless viewing Thunderball like a brother, Wrecker elected to merely hospitalize him, but Ben Grimm, AKA the Thing, intervened and captured Wrecker. He was imprisoned alongside the Asgardian troll Ulik, who told him how to utilize his Asgardian powers in new ways. The rest of the Wrecking Crew intercepted their prison transport, but only to steal Wrecker’s crowbar and thus his power. Revealing himself as the source of power, Wrecker broke free and violently reclaimed his leadership.
Deciding it was time to avenge himself on Wrecker, Loki drained Piledriver, Thunderball and Bulldozer’s power and kidnapped Wrecker, torturing him as he painfully extracted the Asgardian power, but Thor’s intervention forced Loki to let Wrecker live, exiling him to another dimension. Finding an unrevealed new power source and somehow learning his father lived, Wrecker teleported back to Manhattan to find Burt. Deducing that Wrecker needed to concentrate to stay anchored in Earth’s dimension, NYPD SWAT team Code: Blue let Wrecker reach Burt but prevented him from attacking. After insisting he should have beaten young Dirk more, an unrepentant Burt died from a heart attack. Raging at his denied revenge, Wrecker was pulled back into the exile dimension. Using a “Trans-Dimensional Power Siphon,” Thunderball retrieved Wrecker and restored the entire Crew’s powers. Forced to accept Thunderball as the Crew’s new leader, Wrecker covertly tried to make him look bad when the Crew clashed with Alpha Flight, and was subsequently reinstated. Shortly after serving as best man at Absorbing Man’s wedding to Mary MacPherran, AKA Titania, Wrecker noticed the Crew’s powers were again fading; using his crowbar to track the mystical energy drain, he discovered the Egyptian/Heliopolitan death god Seth, who easily hospitalized Wrecker for interfering with his plan to instigate Ragnarok, the death of the Asgardian gods.
Rogue geneticist Arnim Zola restored the Crew’s powers to battle the Thunderbolts for him; fighting on Liberty Island, Wrecker tried to destroy the Statue of Liberty before being defeated. Kerwin Korman, AKA Doomsday Man, subsequently recharged their powers; now able to absorb different energy types, the Crew fought the Avengers and were inadvertently teleported to extradimensional Polemachus (Arkon’s realm), which they swiftly conquered before the Avengers pursued and overthrew them. Wanting to drain Asgardian energies to permanently restore their powers, the Crew ambushed Thor and the Warriors Three nearly slaying Hogun before being defeated. Their powers seemingly stabilized, the Crew again fought the Avengers while working for sorceress Morgan le Fay, and Wrecker later reluctantly split the Crew’s power a fifth way to turn Piledriver’s son into Excavator.
Back in prison, Wrecker entrusted his brother with his costume and crowbar, but when he escaped after a mass breakout from the Raft, Dirk learned they had been sold to a collector, Ed Gross. After Patrick Mulligan, AKA Toxin, stopped him from retrieving his spare crowbar, Wrecker broke into Gross’ home, but was recaptured by the Avengers. Dirk later reportedly killed the criminal Jeff Hagees, AKA 8-Ball, with a rocket-propelled grenade to claim a bounty, but later he was captured by the Thunderbolts. With the passage of the Superhuman Registration Act, the Crew ran to Canada, where the Great Beast Tanaraq reached out to Wrecker; Tanaraq boosted the Crew’s powers, intending for them to help destroy Earth and free the imprisoned Beasts, but Omega Flight and Beta Ray Bill thwarted this. Thunderball broke the Crew out of prison, but Wrecker took this as another leadership challenge and brutally reasserted his authority.
Back in the United States, the Crew joined Parker Robbins, AKA the Hood’s Super Villain gang, clashing repeatedly with the Avengers and others, and took part in Norman Osborn, AKA Green Goblin’s siege on Asgard. With the dissolution of Hood’s gang in the aftermath, Wrecker took a solo job from apartment building owners to drive the residents out; however, perhaps because one resident, an old Polish lady, reminded him of his mother, he became their defender instead.
When Wade Wilson, AKA Deadpool, was hired in turn to remove Wrecker, he and Dirk struck a deal, tricking the owners into selling the building to the tenants at a massively reduced price. The Crew joined Baron Zemo’s new Masters of Evil, based in Bagalia, but ventured out to work for Lightmaster and his Masters of Evil, battling Selah Burke, AKA Sun Girl, Dr. Otto Octavius, AKA Doctor Octopus, in Peter Parker’s body, as Spider-Man and his Superior Six; and fought Road Force. Wrecker subsequently joined Wizard's (formerly Bentley Wittman) Frightful Four alongside Thunderball, and Bulldozer (Marci Camp, Bulldozer’s daughter), their powers boosted by evil scientist John Eden to clash with the Fantastic Four and their stand-ins, such as Jennifer Walters, AKA She-Hulk, Scott Lang, AKA Ant-Man, and Darla Deering, AKA Miss Thing. Though, thanks to the Fantastic Four using Johnny Storm, AKA Human Torch, as a lure since he had lost his powers, his sister Susan Storm Richards, AKA Invisible Woman, trapped the Wrecker, the Wizard, and the Crew with a force field and they were captured.
The Wrecker with his Crew took a job to steal James Howlett/Logan, AKA Wolverine’s valuable remains at their employer’s request, Nathaniel Essex, AKA Mister Sinister. To do so, they traveled to Paradise, Nevada and faced off with others seeking the sought-after adamantium skeleton—members from Weapon X and the Wolverines, which included Raven Darkhölme, AKA Mystique, Akihiro, AKA Daken, Victor Creed, AKA Sabretooth, Yuriko Oyama, AKA Lady Deathstrike, and Laura Kinney, AKA X-23 (later Wolverine). While Sabretooth, Lady Deathstrike, and Sharp, AKA Shogun, kept the Crew busy, Daken, X-23, and Daniel Silva, AKA Junk, came upon Wolverine’s skeleton. Suddenly, Sinister teleported in and after disparaging his lackeys, he attacked Daken, taking his arm and eye, along with the skeleton. Shortly thereafter, Mystique offered the Crew more money than Sinister could to back off and threatened to go after their loved ones should they continue to beat up her people. While Thunderball was ready to continue the fight, the Wrecker agreed to her terms, and they departed.
After working for Norman Osborn, AKA Green Goblin, and following the end of the Superhuman Registration Act (SHRA), the Wrecker, along with the Crew, was captured and incarcerated at Pleasant Hill by S.H.I.E.L.D. There, Kobik, a sentient Cosmic Cube, tried to rehabilitate them by altering their memories, but the Wrecker’s ally and fellow prisoner Zemo was able to break free and restore everyone to their former criminal selves. Together, they freed the other Super Villains and attacked the village of Pleasant Hill. When the Avengers arrived, they fought them off.
The Wrecker and his Crew joined the Wizard and others to discuss how to deal with former villain turned Iron Man, Victor Von Doom, AKA Doctor Doom’s recent lifestyle change, but the newly minted hero took them down. The Wrecker led the Crew to join an ambush with Hood’s gang to steal Doom’s money and defeat him. Facing Doom’s Doombots, both Bulldozer and Piledriver were defeated, while Doom as Iron Man took down Thunderball and the Wrecker, the latter of which warned him that the Underworld would take their revenge, and sure enough Hood’s gang did so immediately.