Chad Wilson was a talented hacker who lived with his parents, who were very restrictive and very against mutants, and his sister, Joni. He had a lot of odd medical problems, and one night when he had taken too many pain medications, he managed to stop an attack by the Palm, a supervillain who believed humans should die and be replaced by his AIs, who had been thought to be dead. Dr. Palm retaliated by blowing up Chad's house, which Chad avoided because he had collapsed and was in the hospital due to complications of his manifesting mutation, which included a high level of electricity in his body and the ability to control computers. When Dr. Palm sent a bomb to the hospital, Chad got out and was helped and recruited by John, an employee of the black ops wing of NEXT, a powerful computer company.
Problems in NEXT resulted in Chad being sent to live on the street for a while, as NEXT set up a fake death for Chad and renamed him Merry Powell, since his mutation had made him intersexed and looking female.