In Deatlok’s reality the Heroic Age ended in 1983, when Roxxon Oil Company’s Nth Command enacted Operation: Purge, using their Nth Projectors to banish Earth’s super-humans to lethal extra-dimensional realms. Having exhausted their Projectors, Roxxon attempted to conquer America via conventional means, which degenerated into mass chaos and worldwide war, with mysterious explosion devastating Manhattan and a dozen other American cities. The U.S. military eventually retook America, but C.I.A. and various splinter groups fought for control.
Luther Manning had joined the Army several years prior to Operation: Purge, but in 1985 he was torn apart by a concussion bomb during a training exercise. Wishing to preserve Manning’s knowledge and experience, Simon Ryker selected him for Project: Alpha-Mech when Manning did not survive surgery. This C.I.A. project, spearheaded by Simon and his brother Harlan was designed to build armies of cyborg super-soldiers. However, each Ryker had his own agenda, causing them to split from the C.I.A. Simon wished to use the cyborgs for world domination, while Harlan saw the cyborg form as perfection and wanted an army of his Homo Ascendent to replace humanity with cyborgs. After five years in stasis, Manning’s body was reanimated as the cyborg Deathlok. He was named so, because he can be locked in a death-like state. Harlan Ryker directed Deathlok’s construction but soon went off on his own, converting himself into the cyborg Hellinger and continuing to design his own Alpha-Mech warriors.
Simon Ryker oversaw Deathlok’s training and early missions, but the cyborg began to rebel against his programming as his human memories returned. Escaping Ryker’s control, Deathlok learned that he was legally dead and that his wife had since married his old friend Mike Travers. Despondent, but incapable of suicide due to his internal programming, Deathlok devoted himself to ruining his former master. Having been transformed into a cyborg himself by Harlan after suffering injuries during the Heroic Age, Simon sought to merge with the Omni-Computer with oversaw the city, becoming the powerful cyberspace entity the Savior Machine. However, Deathlok forced him out of the Omni-Computer with the aid of C.I.A. agents, leaving Ryker hopelessly incoherent from the rapid reversals he had suffered. The C.I.A. tried to restore Deathlok to life by transferring his mind into a clone of Manning, but succeeded only in duplicating his memories in that body, leaving Deathlok essentially unchanged.
Deathlok worked for the C.I.A. (focusing on the threat of Hellinger), but shortly after encountering the time traveling Spider-Man of Earth-616, he met the enigmatic Godwulf. A rebel working to liberate America, Goldwulf was actually a repentant former member of the Nth Command. Trying to prevent Hellinger from locating Deathlok, Godwulf displaced him across time prior to Operation: Purge. Arriving on Earth-616, Deathlok aided the occult agent Devil-Slayer against the demon-worshipping Cult of Vera Gemini. Goldwulf tried to restore Deathlok to his own time, but Hellinger had observed his banishment and tried to lock onto Deathlok himself. However, Deathlok was instead pulled back to Earth-616 by the Fixer and Mentallo, who implanted a control device into him and used him in a plot to assassinate the U.S. President. Foiled by the Fantastic Four and shape-changing alien Impossible Man, Deathlok was captured and his control device eventually disengaged by London’s top cyberneticist and bio-geneticist, Professor Louis Kort. Remaining stuporous, Deathlok was taken into S.H.I.E.L.D. custody and later stolen by agents of Roxxon.
Deathlok was studied by Earth-616’s Harlan Ryker at Roxxon’s Brand Corporation subdivision, who designed a robotic Deathlok which was destroyed by the Thing and Quasar while invading Project: PEGASUS. The original Deathlok was re-programmed as an agent of Nth Command, who had been developing their Operation: Purge. Meanwhile, in Earth-7484’s year 1993, Godwulf sent the Luther Manning clone back to Earth-616 to locate Deathlok. Deathlok slew him, but the dying Manning’s touch somehow restored his memories and neutralized his programming. Deathlok led Captain America to a portal to his time, where they joined with Godwulf and his Redeemers (Big Man, Gentle Sam, Iron Butterfly, Sage and Swashbuckler) in defeating Hellinger before his army of Doomsday-Mechs could attack humanity. Hellinger took control of Deathlok’s cyborg systems, but his human mind resisted and he slew Hellinger. Captain America returned to Earth-616, using his new knowledge to shut down Nth Command and prevent Operation: Purge, diverging the two realities. While working at Cybertek, Earth-616’s Harlan Ryker later designed his own Deathlok for the U.S, military, into which was placed the brain of soldier John Kelly. However, when Kelly disputed mission orders, the onboard computer lobotomized him. A computer copy of Kelly’s mind subsequently operated the Siege cyborg, also designed by Ryker. The next Deathlok was pacifist Michael Collins, whose brain was placed into the cyborg against his will. He escaped Cybertek’s control, becoming a heroic vigilante for a time.
Back in Earth-7484, Deathlok and the Redeemers followed Godwulf against foreign monarch Timestream, who, unbeknownst to all save Godwulf had been empowered during Operation: Purge and had supported Hellinger’s defeat. Timestream’s base was destroyed, but the Redeemers died and the assault sparked retaliatory nuclear attacks from three sides. Deathlok abandoned Godwulf after learning he had been withholding information. Deathlok subsequently worked alongside a rehabilitated alien Deviant Lord Tantalus, but ultimately failed to lead the world to a better future. Learning that the Red Skull (Johann Shmidt) had backed Nth Command and that his agents were rebuilding Operation: Purge in Earth-616, Deathlok revisited that reality, where his systems suddenly shut down and S.H.I.E.L.D. captured him. Believing him under their control, S.H.I.E.L.D.’s Dr. Parker repaired and upgraded him, but Deathlok suddenly rebooted and escaped, destroying the Purge technology and returning to Earth-7484.
In 2011, eighteen years after Hellinger’s defeat, the cyborg Manning fought for survival as the Demolisher, his computer having long since crashed. He was recruited by Timestream (secretly the foreign monarch he had fought years before) and agreed to help him in exchange for altering time so that he would never have become Deathlok. In reality, Timestream’s mad plot endangered Earth-616, Earth-7484 and all of time itself, leading the regulatory Time Variance Authority to send Godwulf to stop him. Timestream recruited the Luther Manning of Earth-616 to assist his agents, while Godwulf enlisted Earth-616’s Siege (John Kelly) and Deathlok (Michael Collins). After various time travel expeditions, the Demolisher learned Timestream’s secrets and turned against him and Michael Collins destroyed Timestream. Still disgusted with Godwulf, the Earth-7484 Deathlok stole one of his time gauntlets and traveled to Earth-616, where he lived in solitude in Manhattan’s sewers after briefly working with the Tunnel Dwellers society. He was later drawn into a massive struggle involving the heroes Daredevil (Matthew Murdock), Blackwulf (Lucian), the Tunnel Dwellers and the long retired Peacekeeper against agents of the Kingpin (Wilson Fisk), the mercenary Bushwacker, the mad King of the Sewers and his cult and the Mayan Devourer. After saving the innocents living beneath the streets, the Demolisher wandered off, to contemplate his existence.