The criminals Brothers Grimm began with curio dealer Nathan Dolly, who wielded an African witch doctor's pain-inducing voodoo doll as the criminal extortionist Mister Doll (also know as Mister Pain in some reports). Defeated by Iron Man and stripped of his doll, Nathan later bought two skull-faced dolls carved from the mystical wood of Wundagore Mountain by Django Maximoff. Each doll could be animated by an outside consciousness; but while trying to animate one of them later, Nathan accidentally mind-linked with both dolls and trapped his consciousness inside them. Aided by his wife Priscilla, he later transferred his spirit into a pair of full-size mannequins and committed crimes as the mystically empowered Brothers Grimm (or sometimes as a solitary Brother Grimm). Priscilla crafted civilian identities for the Brothers as her supposed sons Jake and William Dolly. After clashes with Spider-Woman and the Hangman, Nathan tried to usurp the body of Drew's associate Jerry Hunt but the sorcerer Magnus foiled this plan and Nathan's spirit apparently dispersed.
A broken Priscilla soon died, and her Playhouse Theatre base of operations was bought by realtor siblings Barton and Percy Grimes, who found the inert Brothers Grimm mannequins and discovered that their costuming somehow retained Nathan's conjuring powers. The siblings began leading a super-criminal double life as the new Brothers Grimm, even besting the new Iron Man (Jim Rhodes); however, Tony Stark uncovered incriminating evidence which led to their exposure and arrest. Escaping, the Grimes brothers joined the Night Shift criminal gang. Unknown to the gang, their leader, the Shroud, was really an altruistic vigilante posing as a criminal to infiltrate the underworld, so the Night Shift preyed almost exclusively on other criminals, though they sometimes came into conflict with heroes such as Captain America and the Avengers. Meanwhile, the Brothers continued to freelance as a duo. When Crossfire placed a bounty on the archer Hawkeye's arm, the Brothers were part of a small army of criminals who tried unsuccessfully to collect the reward, defeated by Hawkeye, Mockingbird and Trickshot. Later, the Brothers were twice manipulated into battling Spider-Man and twice defeated, the second time alongside Goliath (Erik Josten), Graviton, Titania (Mary MacPherran) and Trapster. The Night Shift eventually split with Shroud to follow a genuinely criminal leader, the new Hangman, Jason Roland, who led them against the Avengers and tricked them into serving the demon Satannish in exchange for fame and enhanced powers; but the Night Shift turned against Hangman and Satannish after learning the bargain would cost their souls. Captured by the Avengers, the Brothers escaped in time to attend the wedding of Absorbing Man and Titania. Recaptured and imprisoned in the Raft, they escaped during the mass breakout sparked by Electro and remain at large.