While Reina Alvarez was pregnant with Victor, her criminal husband, "Shades," was imprisoned. Upon release, Shades became a costumed super-villain, frequently battled Heroes for Hire Power Man (Luke Cage) and Iron Fist (Danny Rand), and left Reina for another woman. Later, when teenage Victor was attempting reconciliation with now-reformed Shades, their old tenement building was destroyed in a super-hero battle between Daredevil (Matthew Murdock) and Bullseye, killing all present except Victor, who survived because Shade's energy-projecting visor shattered, embedding Victor's skin with bioelectric energy absorbing crystal shards which let him permanently absorb every resident's chi (life force) and erect a force field; from Javier De Paz, former student at Iron Fist's School of Thunder, Victor absorbed mastery of K'un-Lun martial arts. Cage having long since abandoned the soubriquet, Victor later marketed himself as Power Man, Spanish Harlem's hero for hire.
When Daredevil (Matt Murdock) used Hand ninjas to police Manhattan, Victor saved a prostitute from Cornell Cottonmouth and three ninjas that sought to punish her. The dishonored ninjas recognized Victor's fighting style as Iron Fist's and confronted Fist about it, alerting Fist to Victor's existence. Believing Victor was using Shade's optic visor, its creator Nightshade (Tilda Johnson) sent a super villain Flashmob to retrieve it, but Victor fought them off with help from Cage and Iron Fist. The ninja trio discerned Victor's identity from a news article and kidnapped his cousin Sofia to lure him to Daredevil's fortress for vengeance. At that time, Nightshade offered Victor a job in her criminal organization, but Victor rejected her then journeyed to Shadowland where the three ninjas sacrificed themselves to summon a giant demon warrior. Shade's spirit appeared and made Victor aware he could absorb chi from multiple sources simultaneously, which allowed him to grow to giant proportions, defeat the demon and save Sofia. Victor then accepted Fist's offers of martial arts training and employment at Fist's philanthropic Rand Foundation. Victor subsequently stopped advertising his services after helping Spider-Man (Peter Parker) defeat the Looter and a hostile extraterrestrial entity; and at some point, began attending the Alison Blaire School for the Performing Arts.
When Muhammed Zebari founded private prison security firm Penance Group, he assembled a super-hero board that included reformed criminal Crime-Buster (Eugene Mason). Founder of Aryan prison gang Divine Right, Gerry Kammill, killed Zebari as part of a plot to expand his criminal empire through taking over Penance Group and running Rykers Island penitentiary through it. Crime-Buster recognized Kammill, who sent Crime-Buster overseas before he could reveal Kammill's identity to the board. There, Crime-Buster ran afoul of European assassins Commedia Dell'Morte but kidnapped member Columbina to escape back to the States. After somehow gaining possession of Columbina's enchanted mask, Kammill gave it to Jennie Royce, Heroes for Hire's former secretary and Crime-Buster's lover, possibly knowing Columbina's spirit would possess Royce and likely murder Crime-Buster; Kammill then gave the mask to crimeboss Pokerface to hide Kammill's involvement. While investigating Crime-Buster's death, Victor and Fist encountered Darkforce wielding Noir (Sa'ida Zebari), seeking to avenge her father. Victor learned of a black market auction for Columbina's mask at Pokerface's undersea casino some time before Kammill's Penance Group ambushed him and took him to Rykers. Fist allied with the Commedia Dell'Morte, who sought vengeance for the mask’s misuse, and worked with them to free Victor and defeat Kammill's organizations. Noir shot Kammill while he tried to escape, apparently killing him, but Victor convinced Fist to not turn her over to authorities, as her powers were needed to help protect Manhattan; Commedia Dell'Morte regained control of the mask. Victor later aided Amadeus Cho against the Asgardian fear god Serpent (Cul)'s forces in Hawaii and enrolled as a part-time Avengers Academy student in California.