Jackson Day was a mere factory worker at a pharmaceutical company in Jamaica, Queens, when a fire stranded him inside. During the accident, he was doused with psychoactive chemicals, transforming him into a malevolent persona he called the Corruptor. Thor was helping in the rescue attempts, but the Corruptor attacked him instead, and he fell under the villain’s influence. A young Nova (Richard Rider) tried to stop the rampaging Thor, who was only freed once Jackson was able to revert himself to normal. Jackson battled with his alter ego, reminiscent of Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde, but Nova and Thor managed to track the Corruptor’s influence on the citizens of New York and finally defeat him.
Although Jackson underwent medical treatment, his Corruptor persona became dominant and he appeared unwilling or unable to revert. Escaping to Manhattan, he formed a criminal organization called the Inner Circle, placing many good-natured followers under his influence. One such individual was Charles Rider, Nova’s father. When investigating his father’s strange behavior, Nova uncovered the Inner Circle’s plans to ransack New York with armies of ordinary citizens under the control of the Corruptor. The villain hoped to tear down conventional justice to make way for his own rule, but Nova foiled his scheme by subduing his army.
The Corruptor escaped capture and turned his attention to more powerful superhuman beings. He managed to place the Hulk in his thrall but was thwarted by the Rangers. Afterwards, he fled the country entirely, setting himself up as a crime lord in Japan but was exposed and defeated by Sunfire.
Over the next several months, the Corruptor managed to create the Hope Foundation as a front for his corrupt business practices. The Foundation was in competition with Braggatello Construction, and the Corruptor placed an unwitting Richard Rider under his influence. Nova proceeded to attack the Daily Bugle offices to ward off Ben Urich’s investigations, and he attacked the construction site of a children’s hospital. Spider-Man and Ben Urich helped Nova come to his senses, and he destroyed the Corruptor’s offices of the Hope Foundation.
The Corruptor was later remanded to the energy research facility Project: PEGASUS for imprisonment. At some point, however, he managed to surreptitiously take over most of the personnel, including the Squadron Supreme, who were temporarily housed there. The Avengers had become suspicious of the Squadron’s activities, and upon confronting them, discovered that the entire Project complex was under the Corruptor’s influence. The Corruptor revealed he was working on behalf of Imus Champion, who wanted the Squadron to confront the Avengers so that both teams would prove worthy adversaries for himself. The Avengers freed the Squadron and the Corruptor was placed in a more secured prison, eventually being placed in the Raft.
Months later, the Corruptor was among those who managed to escape the Raft, despite the efforts of the new Avengers. He found his way back to his home town, Smyrna, Delaware, and began an elaborate plan to take over the city. Using flowers grown from water distilled with his own sweat, he managed to release his chemical influence over the entire town, quickly setting himself up as its mayor. His scheme was uncovered by the New Warriors, who were roaming the country helping small towns fight big villains, and the Corruptor was defeated once more.