Crusher Creel's life was little more than that of any common criminal. Although he did spend some time as a boxer, he usually resorted to petty crime. It was on one such extortion racket that he was convicted of aggravated assault and remanded to prison. Loki, the Asgardian god of mischief, knew Creel would be the perfect unwitting agent to battle Thor, so he slipped an enchanted potion into Creel's drinking water in the prison commissary. Filled with power, Creel broke out of prison and soon found himself in conflict with Thor. He found he could absorb the properties of Thor's hammer as well as Thor himself, and Creel, calling himself the Absorbing Man, managed to force Thor to flee. In fact, Thor was told that his love, Jane Foster, had been kidnapped by Loki, and he left to rescue her. A braggart and lout to the end, Creel flaunted his "success" until Thor returned after making sure Jane Foster was safe. A violent battle ensued, but Thor managed to use his hammer's magic to alter the elements Creel had transformed into. Suddenly forced into the qualities of helium, the Absorbing Man drifted apart.
Loki wasn't finished with his lackey, yet. He helped Creel re-form his body and transported him to Asgard, in hopes that he would help him take over. But when the Absorbing Man dared to consider his power better than that of Odin's, lord of the Asgardians, he challenged Odin and was waved away, transported into space. Creel eventually managed to return to Earth by hitching a ride on a comet and immediately encountered the Hulk. The Absorbing Man nearly defeated his powerful opponent, lying him low and about to crush him with a huge boulder. But, in absorbing the Hulk's power during his transformation back into his alter ego, Bruce Banner, Creel was also transformed back to normal and buried by his own boulder. Loki freed him again so as to challenge Thor once more, but Thor tricked him into turning into water, and the Absorbing Man was dissipated. A short time later, Creel managed to reintegrate himself, fight Thor and later the Hulk, only to find himself defeated time and again.
Eventually reassembling his body after his last defeat, Creel was fed up at fighting and losing to super-human champions. He wanted to flee the country, but by taking a hostage, he alerted his presence to the Avengers. Even though he managed to keep the Avengers at bay, Creel escaped by diving into the ocean, transforming himself into water. He finally reintegrated himself on Easter Island but suffered from a deranged mind as a result of his body being so long intermingled with the ocean. Neurotically frightened of any one with a superpower, he was convinced that the normal Bruce Banner, who also happened upon the island when fleeing Japan as the Hulk, was a superhuman. It was only a matter of time before the Absorbing Man and the Hulk clashed, and Creel tried to absorb the entire island to defeat him. The Hulk swatted him away, and Creel's mental state made him think he actually was an island, floating mindlessly at sea.
Eventually coming to his right mind and returning to America, he stalked Dazzler to acquire her light-powers to use against the Avengers. He was defeated, however, when Dazzler sought aid from the Fantastic Four and found Black Bolt instead. Black Bolt's sonic powers combined with Dazzler to overpower the Absorbing Man.
Creel was abducted from prison by the omnipotent alien known as the Beyonder to fight in the so-called Secret Wars, after which he was restored to Earth. During this time, Creel met the villainess Titania (Mary MacPherran), and the two developed a relationship. Upon their return, Creel and Titania were contacted by the second Baron Zemo, who was forming a new Masters of Evil. After several independent assignments, they were defeated by the Ant-Man (Scott Lang) and the Wasp.
Creel continued to engage in various criminal activities, most often with Titania, although the two often ran afoul of one superhero or another, including his arch-enemy Thor. Perhaps again tiring of battling superhuman opponents, the Absorbing Man seemed committed to try to give up his criminal ways, earning a friendly respect with the hero Thunderstrike, but later abandoned such attempts.
After many months, Titania and Creel got married. Both villains had turned away from more malicious actions, preferring to quietly keep each other's company, although they never gave up bank robberies and other activities completely. Creel and Titania occasionally continued to come into conflict with superheroes, such as when the Black Widow (Natasha Romanova) was under a vendetta to dispose of all Avengers' villains, and she shattered Creel's altered form. Another time, Creel was duped by the villain Crossbones to keep Captain America busy while Crossbones ignited a bomb. Creel, however, claiming not to be a murderer, absorbed the properties of Captain America's shield to save the city from the explosion. Creel escaped to seek revenge on Crossbones, but the details of the outcome have yet to be revealed.
When Titania was diagnosed with cancer, the couple felt that they had nowhere to turn. They kidnapped a doctor but were confronted by Thor, who convinced them to seek professional care. About this time, Thor assumed the rule of Asgard and brought it into Earth's plane of existence. He attracted a religious following while helping humanity, and Creel became one of his followers.
At some point, Creel was imprisoned in a maximum-security penitentiary. He had also somehow developed a new aspect of his powers, allowing him to take over the mind of another. He used this ability to take control of the Hulk and make an escape. In the battle that followed, the Absorbing Man defeated the Hulk but was tricked into trying to take over the mind of a corpse. His real body withered and died. He was imprisoned again, serving time at Pym Experimental Penitentiary Number One, a prison that kept its super-powered inmates miniaturized, and participated in a breakout led by the Mad Thinker only to be thwarted by She-Hulk.