Born over 3000 years ago in Northern Africa, N'Kantu was the son of the chieftain of the now extinct Swarili tribe. N'Kantu grew into a strong, wise young man, proving himself a worthy successor to his father shortly after turning twenty-one. Not long after, Egyptians abducted the entire Swarili tribe despite N'Kantu's valiant efforts. In Egypt the Swarili were enslaved, serving Pharaoh Aram-Set and his corrupt priest, Nephrus. After completing a monument to Aram-Set, N'Kantu led his people to slay the Pharaoh. Nephrus, however, ambushed the chieftain, paralyzing him with a special liquid. N'Kantu was then mummified alive and entombed for millennia.
In recent times, N'Kantu finally burst forth from his prison. Half-mad from the lengthy immobility, he rampaged in Cairo, tracing the energies of Dr. Alexi Skarab, a descendant of Nephrus. Finally brought down after a massive battle with local police, N'Kantu was rendered immobile and shipped to a New York museum. He soon awoke and attracted the attention of the Elementals (Zephyr, Hellfire, Hydron and Magnum), who used him as a pawn in their attempts to control the Ruby Scarab. During this period, he became an ally of Skarab, a thief known as the Asp (Richard Harper), the Asp's partner Miles Olddan, and two of Skarab's students, Ron McAllister and Janice Carr. The group eventually defeated the Elementals and parted ways.
N'Kantu became a wanderer, befriending Ulysses Bloodstone and observing the Grandmaster's Contest of Champions. He also helped the Thing rescue Alicia Masters from Gamal Hassan, another descendant of Nephrus, who sought the Spirit Gem of Nephrus. Later, N'Kantu sought to use a fragment of the Bloodgem to restore his humanity. He eventually gave the fragment to Captain America during the hero's quest to prevent the shards from falling into the hands of criminals. Once more adrift, N'Kantu briefly found acceptance as part of Doctor Druid's Shock Troop, a group of mystic-oriented heroes, battling the Antibodies alongside Quasar. Since then, he has aided Elsa Bloodstone and the Frankenstein's Monster against the necromancer Rakses. Of late, he has served as guardian to a mystical artifact known as the Orb of Ra. He also briefly recruited against his will to S.H.I.E.L.D.'s team made of mythical and monstrous individuals called Howling Commandos until he rebelled against them.
He was captured by S.H.I.E.L.D. as unregistered superhero and was then sent to the Negative Zone Prison Alpha. He was held in special cell that had fire always burning around him, as it was his known weakness. His jail time was short lived as the Captain America's anti-registration forces invaded the prison to free its inmates. N'Kantu was among the inmates who decided to fight against Iron Man's forces. When the battle was winding down N'Kantu slipped away and traveled back to Egypt. He also retrieved the Orb of Ra that he used to call Nephrus from the afterlife to get himself turned back to human. This didn't go unnoticed by Anubis who arrived shortly after Nephrus with his familiar Khet and some others. Khet ordered N'Kantu to surrender the Orb of Ra and release Nephrus. When N'Kantu refused to do so Khet and the others attacked him. N'Kantu won and asked them to restore him back to life but was told its impossible for Anubis and Nephrus. Realizing he was doomed to live forever as he was now devastated him but Anubis made him an offer. Anubis would let him die if he would serve him and collect souls that other religions and gods had stolen from him. N'Kantu decided to accept the offer but only agreed to kill people who were evil. It will be seen where this deal will take N'Kantu and will he finally get his eternal rest.