Alexander Woolcot was the son of Fritz Woolcot, an abusive father and research scientist. One day, of Alex's teachers saw the bruises on his body and confronted Alex's father, threatening to report him to the authorities. Fritz however threatened to report the teacher as the one who had been abusing Alex if he didn't back off.
While Fritz met with his lawyer in order to transfer Alex to another school, Alex felt himself drawn to the light of his father's experimental incineration device, and put his hand into the glowing energy that emanated from it, the resulting energy discharge of which caused the machine to explode while leaving Alex relatively unharmed. When he returned home, Fritz was furious over the destruction of his machine and was about to take out his anger on Alex until Alex's teacher came with reporter Joy Mercado to confront him. Enraged, Fritz punched out the teacher, the stress of which caused a flareup in the energy Alex had absorbed. Spider-Man's spider sense warned him of the flareup when he came nearby, but the warning passed when Fritz forced the teacher and Joy to leave his home and Alex calmed down.
The Woolcot family ended up moving into a new school district in order to escape the abuse investigation, but when Fritz tried to beat Alex in a drunken rage, Alex released the energy that had been building inside him and accidentally disintegrated his father.
Fearful of what would happen if anyone found out what he'd done, Alex ran away from home.
Ashcan was created by Peter David and Mark Beachum, and first appeared as Alexander Woolcot in The Spectacular Spider-Man #112 as a side story which progressed up until issue #118 where he was supposedly killed. He later resurfaced in Incredible Hulk #339 with the name Ashcan.
Major Story Arcs
Ashes to Ashes
Unsure of who to trust, Alex ended up using his powers to defend himself from various people, including a pair of police officers whose car he blew up when they tried to take him in because they thought he was skipping school. The officers reported the incident as a mutant attack, thereby drawing the attention of SHIELD.
Worried about Alex's safety, his teacher contacted the Daily Bugle with the hope that Peter Parker could contact Spider-Man and have him rescue Alex. Donning his costume, Peter managed to find Alex, but initially found himself under fire from the panicked boy. However, when SHIELD Mandroids arrived to capture Alex, Spider-Man protected him, and they teamed up to defeat the Mandroids. Unfortunately, just when it seemed Alex was in the clear, he ended up being shot by a rogue SHIELD agent and he apparently died.
As it turned out, the SHIELD agent had actually used tranquilizers and other non-lethal rounds on Alex, and delivered him to SHIELD where he was left in the care of Nick Fury. However, the stress of Alex's experiences had left his mind a wreck, and it was therefore decided he be be relocated to Boulder, Colorado where he would be placed under the care of a semi-retired SHIELD agent, Dylan Pattinson. Alex, now codenamed Ashcan, had some of his memories submerged, and he came to believe that Pattinson was his real father.
When renegade SHIELD agent Clay Quartermain was searching for missing Gamma Bombs, he attempted to hack into SHIELD's central database from Pattinson's home. Quartermain easily overpowered Pattinson with the help of the grey Hulk and Rick Jones, but when Alex met the Hulk, he was so terrified that he accidentally used his forgotten power and blasted the Hulk, hurting him significantly. After recovering from the pain, the enraged Hulk went after Alex, but he quickly calmed down when he heard of Alex's past with an abusive father. Having had similar experiences, Alex and the Hulk became friends.
With his powers and even his memory restored, Alex knew Pattinson wasn't his real father, but he remained in his care all the same. Alex did remark to his "dad" that it was time to renegotiate his allowance.
Powers and Abilities
Alex has the power to generate and project an unknown form of energy that can disintegrate almost any form of matter that it comes into contact with. This energy has shown to be able to easily disintegrate an entire human being, and has also proven capable of severely hurting someone as superhumanly strong and durable as the Hulk.