David Charleston

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David Charleston
Born ~18 years before Steelheart
Titles Steelslayer[1]
Groups Reckoners
Residence Newcago
World Earth (Reckoners)
Featured In The Reckoners

I’ve seen Steelheart bleed. And I will see him bleed again.

—David Charleston.[2]

David Charleston, an orphaned teen living in Newcago, is a member of the Reckoners on Earth. After his father was killed by the notoriously godlike High Epic, Steelheart, all David could think about was revenge. In order to enact his revenge, David compiled an insurmountable amount of information on Epics, including their history, abilities, and weaknesses. He would later join the Reckoners, a group of ordinary people that are humanity's only chance of combating the Epics, and concoct a plan in taking Steelheart once and for all. After successfully taking down the High Epic, all David had to worry about was all the other Epics wreaking havoc.

Attributes and Abilities[edit]

Before having powers, David fights with a variety of guns[3] and with Prof's gifted tensor and shielding abilities.[4][5] He generally uses rifles, preferring them over handguns since they are more accurate.[6][3] He is good at thinking on his feet during an operation, and later runs point once he gains the experience to do so.[7][8]

After capturing David, Regalia convinces Calamity to give David Epic powers. However, because David faces his fear of water, he prevents Calamity’s influence from sending him on a destructive rampage. Once Calamity leaves their realm, David can use his powers freely without becoming evil. David’s power set is identical to that of Steelheart’s.

Epic Powers[edit]

  • Wind Manipulation: David can move anything in the wind, including himself.
  • Flight: David can propel himself through the air under his own power. When used by Steelheart, it was mentioned separately from his wind manipulation.
  • Steel Transversion: Assumedly like Steelheart, David can spontaneously transform non-living matter around him to solid steel, spreading out from him in a sphere. Steel and iron have the ability to "insulate" against the transfersion, but other metals are transformed to steel. As this ability is tied to his emotions, he sometimes uses it without intent.
  • Invulnerability: Assumedly like Steelheart, David is impervious to harm from all known sources, including bullets, edged weapons, blunt force, suffocation, radiation, electricity and fire.
  • Super Strength: An ability David is still developing.
  • Energy Beams: Like Steelheart, David can project energy beams from his hands that can vaporize people and melt steel with ease.

Unconfirmed Epic Weakness[edit]

  • The Ocean: David used to fear the depths, but he has brought his fear under control; in practical terms, what David describes as an uneasy truce. It was revealed that this fear was exaggerated by Calamity when he gave David the powers of Steelheart, but after confronting it, his fear returned to normal. It is unclear if this would affect David anymore, with Calamity gone.



David was a child living with his widowed father when Calamity occurred. All he and his father had to worry about were typical financial problems, when Calamity appeared. When David was eight years old, he witnessed his father, Blain Charleston, being murdered by the High Epic Steelheart on the Day of Annexation. After a year of living homeless and alone in the city of Newcago, David was taken in by Havendark Factory, where he, along with many other children (including Roy), worked in exchange for food and board.[9] During this time David became obsessed with researching Epics and finding their weaknesses, particularly that of Steelheart.


Tracking the Reckoners[edit]

David manages to track down the Reckoners, a rebel group fighting against the Epics, and finds Megan Tarash, a member of the Reckoners, in Newcago. David encountered Megan while the Reckoner was planning a hit on the High Epic, Fortuity. When another Epic named Curveball appeared, David assumed that the plan was going awry and he intervened, ruining the entire plan. After Megan and David take down the two Epics, Megan takes the eager newcomer to her team. David eventually convinces them to let him join. He tells them that he had seen Steelheart bleed, and convinces them to target Steelheart next.

Making their Move[edit]

After planning the hit, David manages to integrate himself into the group and befriend all of the members of the group.


He later finds out that Megan was an Epic named Firefight, an Epic with reincarnation and "illusion-based powers" who was part of Steelheart's innermost circle.

The Fall of Steelheart[edit]

While fighting Steelheart, Prof comes to aid David, revealing that he himself was a struggling High Epic trying to remain sane. Together, the Reckoners successfully execute a plan which results in the destruction of Steelheart's government and the eventual death of Steelheart himself.[10][11]


After the death of Steelheart, the Reckoners have to defend the city of Newcago against Epics from another place in the world. An Epic with replicating powers known as Mitosis arrives in Newcago and confronts David after hearing that he had killed Steelheart. Upon fighting Mitosis, David realizes that Epic weaknesses always have to deal in some way with the Epic's past.


Journey to Babilar[edit]

The Reckoners learn that Epics, including Mitosis, were being sent to Newcago by a High Epic known as Regalia in Babilar, formerly New York City. David, Prof, and Tia travel to Babilar to take on Regalia; but David's primary reason for going to the city is to find Megan after hearing that she killed a Reckoner based in Babilar known as Sam. Throughout the book, David struggles with finding a new purpose and changing his perspective on Epics after meeting Prof, Megan, and even Dawnslight, an Epic responsible for the nourishment of the people residing in Babilar.

A Familiar Face[edit]

In Babilar, David meets more members of the Reckoners and finds Megan camping out in the city. There, David learns that Megan is illusory powers are really reality warping powers and that she struggles to fight the corruption resulting from the use of her powers. After sharing intimate moments with Megan, a bond between the two of them grow and a potential romantic relationship begins to bud.


Regalia reveals to David that Calamity is an Epic or some sort of higher being that gifts people with powers and then attempts to turn him into an Epic. Because David refuses to accept the powers and confronts his fear of the ocean, Regalia believes she failed to turn him into an Epic. She then reveals to David that she intends to make Prof succumb to the corruption of his powers so he can succeed her. This, with Megan's revelation of her fear and weakness to fire, leads David to the conclusion that confronting your fears can fight the corruption resulting from your Epic powers.

An Unexpected Twist[edit]

David eventually succeeds in bringing down Regalia and Newton, another High Epic in Babilar, but loses Megan after Prof lures her into a burning building to "save" David. After repeatedly convincing Prof to accept his Epic status and that he too can fight the corruption, Prof fails and wreaks havoc. Prof's destruction leads to the deaths of both Val and Exel. Because Megan confronted her fears by running into the burning building, and had died by remote-fire sniper suicide rather than flames, her death was not permanent and she managed to save David.


With Prof turned, David must lead the Reckoners on a desperate chase to recall their mentor, destroy Calamity, and save the world. David comes to the conclusion that not all Epics are evil and adopts a philosophy similar to the Faithful. The book begins with David, now the leader of the Reckoners, leading them through a mission to steal equipment from Knighthawk to fight Prof. There, David reveals that he intends not to kill his former leader, but free him from the corruption and use him to fight Calamity. He eventually attempts to save Tia from Prof but this leads to Prof accidentally killing her. This breaks Prof and the Reckoners. In his final face off with Prof, he and Megan find out that Prof's weakness is failure and manages to defeat him. Obliteration teleports David to Calamity's glass base in space. David later finds out that he himself is actually an Epic with Steelheart's powers but he subconsciously blocked his ability to use them. He uses his powers to save Prof, Megan, and himself from crashing to Earth after defeating Calamity. After Calamity leaves, Epics no longer go dark and David shows his acceptance of the powers gifted to him.



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