After escaping from prison with fellow convict, Leroy "Hammer" Jackson, Johnny Anvil came upon a dying extraterrestrial. Hammer inadvertently saved the alien's life, and both men were rewarded when the alien transformed their shackles into an Energy Synthecon; a golden manacle which gave them tremendous power when it absorbed kinetic energy from the area around it. Anvil and Hammer were of the same mind and returned to the penitentiary they just escaped to enact their revenge. The Hulk arrived soon after, accompanied by "Crackajack" Jackson, and was initially surprised by Anvil's strength coupled with the unfamiliar sensation of pain whenever his emerald skin touched the Energy Synthecon. However, with Crackajack's accidental death when he came into contact with the Synthecon, Hulk tore the manacle in two, causing Anvil and Hammer to lose their power and shatter their psyches.
Nearly going insane from that encounter, Anvil eventually recovered and was hired by the Deterrence Research Corporation (DRC); a weapons manufacturing company at odds with many in the hero community. DRC repaired and retooled the Energy Synthecon, claiming Anvil would regain his power without having to be permanently bonded to his partner or the possibility of suffering the same psychic backlash as before. While in the employ of DRC Anvil sparred with Spider-Man, members of the Guardians of the Galaxy and Spider-Woman. Sometime later, Anvil was lured to New Mexico where the Hulk was waiting. Anvil and Hammer wanted payback for their first defeat at his hands, but they discovered Scourge of the Underworld was the man responsible for bringing the villains out in the open. Scourge shot Hammer in the face with an explosive bullet, and a distraught Anvil apparently forgot he could remove his end of the Synthecon, preventing him from suffering the same fate as Hammer. Anvil's life slipped away seconds after his partner's.