The first Asylum was an unnamed mental patient who was imbued with Darkforce energies that converted her body into a psionic mist which caused hallucinations in anyone who touched it. She was later able to use her Darkforce energies as an offensive weapon. She was vulnerable at the one solid part of her body, a golden mask. After being defeated while fighting solo against the New Warriors Nova, Firestar and Speedball, she seemed to dissipate except for her mask, and has not been seen in action since.
Asylum was created by Fabian Nicieza and Mark Bagley in 1990 and first appeared in New Warriors # 4.
Henrique "Henry" Gallante was a drug-addicted youth left abused and abandoned from his home and whose burgeoning mutant powers were driving him insane. He was placed in the Smythers drug rehabilitation clinic, but the doctors held little hope for him. Unknown to the doctors, Gallante's mutant powers allowed him access to the dimension of Darkforce, an extra-dimensional energy resembling tar. Although the energy possessed no true sentience, Gallante displaced his feelings of darkness and despair to it and allowed it to mimic an empathic sentience that fed off and perpetuated Gallante's dark feelings.
Through Gallante, the Darkforce was able to access his dimensional plane, as its natural tendency was to fill the relative vacuum of darkness such a dimension of light created. Soon, the Darkforce began to use Gallante to allow it to seep into his world, kidnapping those who could access Darkforce, such as Cloak, Shroud, and Quagmire, and trapping them within its dimension. It also began to flood New York City and envelope those with dark or violent tendencies, unleashing that side of them. Gallante grew mad as the power of the darkness increased, and he succumbed wholeheartedly to the Darkforce, desiring to destroy the world.
With an army of Darkforce-controlled individuals, Gallante, calling himself Darkling, was confronted by an assemblage of Earth's heroes, including the New Warriors, Spider-Man, and Doctor Strange. The New Warriors' Firestar and Dagger were able to use their powers to disrupt Gallante's access to the Darkforce, and the heroes were ultimately able to convince Gallatne of the error of his ways. Deciding that to understand himself meant to live with his darkness, Gallante disappeared into the Darkforce dimension, taking its residual energies with him.
Gallante was able to return to Earth by way of a mask once used by the villain Asylum. A gang member found the mask and donned it, overwhelmed by the perception it gave him into the darkness within the psyche of those around him. As the Darkforce exuded from the mask and consumed him, Gallante had taken his place. Taking the identity of Asylum for himself, Gallante sought out the former Asylum’s teammates, Psionex, and took on the role of their new leader. The team was determined to use their abilities to clean up New York City as their newest superhuman champions.
Unfortunately, Asylum led Psionex to attack a group of supposed gang members that merely turned out to be youth playing with toy guns. Before realizing this mistake, Asylum forced a child into the Darkforce Dimension to face the darkness within him, and the boy emerged dead. Distraught that his powers would accidentally cause the death of an innocent, Gallante fled and was pursued by this teammates, who were determined to make Gallante face justice (although most were pursuing him so that they themselves would not be implicated in the charges). During their conflict, they were confronted by the New Warriors, who managed to disrupt Gallante’s connection to the Darkforce Dimension in order to capture him. They convinced him that vigilantes shouldn’t be above the law, and he needed to be accountable even for an accidental death. Asylum was remanded to the police, and Psionex was given over to its creators, the company Genetech, for custody.
Months later, Baron Zemo sought out Gallante in his mental ward, sending members of the Thunderbolts to recruit Asylum so that they could use his access to the Darkforce Dimension to rescue the Smuggler. Since the Thunderbolts support of the Superhuman Registration Act, Asylum remained with the team.