The man known only as the Ghost is an industrial saboteur who claims to have once been a business executive. Under unexplained circumstances, he came to despise corporations and began to use the identity of the Ghost so that he could destroy them. He believes that corporations destroyed his life, and has no ultimate concern for what a company's actual goals might be, nor how humanitarian their cause, caring only for their destruction. Although he presents the front of a mercenary, receiving most of his targets from employers who wish to see their competitors ruined, the Ghost will forgo payment simply for the opportunity to perform acts of sabotage. The Ghost will travel anywhere in the world to pursue his objectives. The Ghost's existence remained unknown to all save his employers. Carrington Pax of the Roxxon Oil Corporation hired him to destroy Accutech Research & Development. The Ghost was charged to drive Accutech into bankruptcy so that Roxxon could acquire a beta particle generator, which the company had refused to sell them. The Ghost's tactics included starting a brush fire on Accutech property. Believing the Ghost was behind these incidents, Accutech technician Abraham Zimmer shared his suspicions with Tony Stark, who was in the process of purchasing Accutech himself. As Iron Man, Stark discovered the Ghost while he was in the midst of another act of sabotage, but the Ghost escaped, leaving a warning that he would now target Tony Stark in retaliation. Unimpressed with the Ghost's personal vendetta, Pax fired him and hired Spymaster to complete the job, but the Ghost kept trying to kill Tony Stark. Invading Stark Enterprises' facilities, the Ghost assaulted what appeared to be Stark but proved to be Spymaster, making his own attempt on Stark's life. Spymaster managed to get the Ghost within his power, but Tony Stark arrived and prevented him from killing the Ghost. Switching to his Iron Man armor, Stark fought Spymaster and the Ghost simultaneously. During the battle, the Ghost lent one of his intangibility devices to Spymaster, seemingly so that he could escape; however, the Ghost removed the device while Spymaster was halfway through a wall, solidifying Spymaster inside the wall and killing him. Iron Man subsequently set a trap for the Ghost at Accutech, using a holographic generator to project an image of Stark to draw the Ghost out. When the Ghost attempted to destroy the beta particle generator, Iron Man activated the device; the electrical charges began to disrupt the Ghost’s battlesuit, and prolonged exposure threatened to kill him. Heedless of the danger to himself, the Ghost continued to move in close to the generator until the heat of his battlesuit caused him to melt through the floor. Iron Man could find no trace of the Ghost afterward.
The Ghost survived his collapse and escaped, then resumed his career of sabotage. When he began to target the Italian company Electronica Fabrizzi, a property of Stark's rival Justin Hammer, Hammer's agents Blacklash (Mark Scarlotti), Blizzard (Donald Gill) and Boomerang attacked the Ghost, but were unable to harm him. Hammer made a deal with Stark for his help against the Ghost, and Iron Man was nearly killed when the Ghost attached an intangibility device to his armor, intending to leave him unable to obtain food or drink, but Iron Man deactivated the device using an electromagnetic pulse. The Ghost threatened Hammer in person that he would complete his mission against his company, so Blacklash, Blizzard, Boomerang, Iron Man and Jim Rhodes joined forces to fight the Ghost when he came to sabotage Electronica Fabrizzi again; however, the Ghost still succeeded in bombing the property. When he went after Hammer to gloat and attempt to kill him, Hammer temporarily confined him within a room surrounded with a synthetic material he could not phase through. The Ghost vowed that he would eventually destroy Stark and Hammer.
In his next known assignment, the Kingpin (Wilson Fisk) hired the Ghost to investigate Roxxon, who were then developing a synthetic Vibranium that the Kingpin wished to acquire. Fisk charged the Ghost to steal their data and destroy their facilities so that they could not continue their experiments. Eager for another opportunity to interfere with Roxxon, the Ghost was hampered in his mission by the Black Panther, Iron Man, Spider-Man and Roxxon's own Sunturion (Arthur Dearborn). When the killer robot Ultron became involved, the Ghost abandoned his assignment and alerted the Kingpin to Ultron's presence. The Kingpin ultimately made an alliance with Ultron to further his interest in the synthetic Vibranium. In another of his assignments, the Ghost targeted energy research company Tricorp. Attempting to sabotage one of the company's energy tests, the Ghost ran afoul of Spider-Man and the time-traveling historian Cassandra Locke. Locke shut down the Ghost's bomb and temporarily shorted out his intangibility devices, enabling Spider-Man to strike him down. The Ghost was taken into police custody.
Later, the Ghost was hired by A.I.M.'s leader MODOK to commit various acts of sabotage using a bombing strategy where the receipt of a "You da man" e-mail at a targeted company would activate the bombs the Ghost had planted within the computers at the building site. A.I.M.'s ultimate goal was to eliminate rivals for their new corporation, Omnitech. The Ghost adopted false identities so that he could pose as an employee of the targeted companies while planting his bombs. He successfully demolished the company Microwear using this plot. In the guise of John Morley, he infiltrated the company Askew Electronics, where Iron Man had assumed the identity of "Hogan Potts" in a brief attempt to escape his life as Tony Stark. Unaware of each other's true identities, "Morley" and "Potts" became friends. The Ghost led Iron Man away from Askew, making him think that the bomb was planted within his own armor so that he would not be present when the bomb detonated. Iron Man eventually tracked the source of the bombings to Omnitech and fought MODOK and the Ghost. During their clash, the Ghost accidentally drove his hand inside MODOK's head, incapacitating him. The Ghost then ran his hand into Iron Man's heart, paralyzing him long enough for him to escape. Afterward, Iron Man resumed his identity as Tony Stark, acquired what remained of Askew, and set a trap for "Morley". Confronting him with the knowledge of his true identity, the Ghost attacked Iron Man again and once more plunged his hand into Iron Man's heart, but Stark had anticipated this action and rigged his armor to cause a feedback that rendered the Ghost unconscious. The Ghost was taken into police custody.
Recently, the latest Spymaster (Sinclair Abbott) learned that the Living Laser was in Tony Stark's custody and sought to capture him so that he could be turned into a terrorist weapon. Contacting the Ghost, Spymaster tried to persuade him that, as super-villains, they were part of a brotherhood and should seek Iron Man's destruction, but the Ghost was unmoved and interested only in the acts of sabotage which he would have an opportunity to commit while kidnapping the Living Laser. In his first attempt, the Ghost fought Iron Man and incapacitated him with explosives, incorrectly believing that he had killed him. Furious that the Ghost did not complete his assignment, Spymaster used a device that could overload the Ghost's battlesuit in order to force him back to complete the mission. When the Ghost came back for another attempt, he found that Iron Man had set up a new security system using disruptors that would render his intangibility useless. The Ghost barely managed to escape Iron Man and fled, abandoning the assignment.