CIA interrogation expert William Cross was already building his own rogue covert operations when he romanced federal corrections officer Rozalyn Backus with whom he developed ultrasonic brainwashing technology. Backus was unaware of Cross' illicit activities, and they were engaged to be married until Cross stole the technology and disappeared. In his disappearance he faked his own murder and framed Backus for the murder. Surviving an attempt on his life, which cost him his left eye and his left ear, he replaced them with cybernetic implants and became a prosperous high-tech freelance subversive as Crossfire. Plotting to make the growing superhero community exterminate each other via ultrasonic mind control, Crossfire abducted the Thing to test his technology. Moon Knight (secretly Cross' ex-CIA colleague Marc Spector) interfered and Crossfire was defeated.
Crossfire secretly rebuilt his operations at Cross Technological Enterprises (CTE), founded by his cousin, Darren Cross. When Hawkeye and Mockingbird investigated, Crossfire first tried to eliminate them using the assassins Bombshell, Oddball, and Silencer. When his three assassins failed, Crossfire decided Hawkeye would make an ideal test subject for his super hero mind control plot, because Hawkeye was prominent enough in the super hero community to attract them en masse at his funeral and weak enough to be an easy target. Hawkeye thwarted the brainwashing, captured the criminals and rescued Mockingbird, whom he married shortly thereafter.
A vengeful Crossfire subsequently stalked the newlyweds to the estate of former film star Moira Brandon who was declared an honorary Avenger after she helped the heroes recapture Cross. The criminal mercenary jugglers known as the Death-Throws freed Cross from police custody, but when he proved unable to pay them, they held Cross for ransom until Captain America, Hawkeye, and Mockingbird captured the whole gang. Crossfire later escaped and placed a bounty on Hawkeye's arm, hoping to destroy the hero's archery skills and break his spirit. Cross and his small army of superhuman bounty hunters were defeated and captured by Hawkeye, Mockingbird, and Trickshot.
At some point during one of his prison stays he befriended Vector of the U-Foes whose secret power nullification technology Cross had hoped to exploit. Recaptured following an encounter with S.H.I.E.L.D., Cross was imprisoned in the Vault where Rozalyn Backus (long since exonerated) was a member of the Vault's Guardsman force. Seemingly aiding and then foiling an escape plot by the U-Foes and Crossfire, Backus turned the criminals against each other, faked her own death, and stole a fortune in cash and goods from the criminals, including Vector's power nullification chamber (which Backus later claimed she secretly destroyed since she felt it was too dangerous to preserve). The criminals were later transferred to the new Raft super-prison , and all escaped during Electro's mass breakout, with Crossfire leading a gang of his fellow mind-manipulators: Controller, Corruptor, Mandrill, and Mister Fear (Alan Fagan). Pursuing Backus, the chamber and their grudges against each other, the U-Foes and Crossfire's gang fought a super-powered gang war in New York until the Avengers broke it up. Crossfire and his gang were recaptured (except the Corruptor) and Backus surrendered herself to the authorities.