Norton G. Fester was an unappreciated scientist. His theory of microscopic life forms in meteorites was not conducive to receiving funding. He flunked science at high school, and many thought that he was a crack-pot.
One day during a field trip, he discovered a freshly-fallen meteorite, but without funding he was forced to perform his own crude investigations. Upon opening the meteor, gas escaped and began to choke him. He later learned that the meteor had given him superhuman powers.
His focus immediately turned to crime. He started with grand theft, stealing from banks and other institutions. As his powers started to lose their potency he realized that he had to steal another meteor in order to regain his superhuman powers.
He then barged into a local museum only to be confronted by Spider-Man. During the fight Norton managed to escape, but during their second encounter the Looter was defeated by Spider-Man and was taken into custody by the police. When Ben Reilly , who was acting as Spider-Man at the time, was investigating a robbery a mysterious figure in stilts snatched him away. Later it was revealed that Norton has stolen weapons used by various criminals in order to fund his research. He even stated that S.H.I.E.L.D. agents were after his work because of its importance. After Spider-Man beat Norton again S.H.I.E.L.D. agents arrived and took Norton away on board their helicarrier. The Looter's current whereabouts are unknown.