While traveling on the freeway, a mile outside of the Miami-Dade area, Nichole Martin was with her son, Johnny, when a code red news bulletin was broadcast over the radio; alerting civilians the Hulk (Bruce Banner) was battling the Abomination. Distracted by her concern for relatives that lived in the area, Nichole failed to notice a garbage truck was plummeting toward her until it was too late. Unable to dodge the truck, it landed directly on top of her car, pinning both Nichole and her son inside. The car burst into flames, and even though she struggled and prayed for the strength to save her son, Johnny was burned alive before her eyes. Recovering in the hospital, Nichole was visited by General John Ryker posing as a psychiatrist. He offered her a chance to overcome her extensive injuries and get revenge on the Hulk, who she held responsible for her loss. Agreeing to have cloned parts of the Abomination grafted onto the burned sections of her body, giving her power, Nichole joined Ryker's Gamma Corps under the codename Mess; an act she would later regret after seeing news footage revealing the Abomination was responsible for tossing the garbage truck that killed Johnny, leaving her son's killer bonded to her for the rest of her life.
Along with others: Grey, Mister Gideon, Griffin (Eliot Franklin) and Prodigy (Timothy Wilkerson), she first undertook a mission to kill Ryker's former gamma-experiment Flux before battling the Hulk during his assault on New York City. During the fight her arm was broken by Hulk twice, and Mess was left defenseless. Begging for Hulk to end her miserable life because he took her son from her, Mess was shocked when he offered a sincere apology for the loss of her boy. She followed Hulk to their base in the Staten Island dump but remained at a distance to recuperate. After Ryker's downfall, Mess abandoned her grudge against Hulk and left with the Corps, who became fugitives. She went into hiding and began a relationship with Grey. When Iron Patriot found them and offered the Corps employment with H.A.M.M.E.R., Mess accepted to become a bounty hunter and arrest unregistered superhumans.