Chase Lawler and his older brother, Billy, were orphaned at a young age. Despite their grandmother's objections, the two boys were taken in by their grandfather, who passed away soon after. Their grandmother did not care for rambunctious children, and kept the boys in line with tales of evil spirits, including the Wild Huntsman, a primal force that hunted those who sinned against society. After her death, the boys moved to Star City, and were left in the care of their cousin. It was there that they discovered a mutual love for music.
Years later, Billy had become Billy Lawless, frontman of a punk band. His managers, Stanshall and McHenry, elevated him to stardom, providing all the money, fame, and drugs he desired. Chase took a different path, working as a session guitarist. It was then that he met Brenna Kampen, a talented backup vocalist, and the two began dating. Soon after, Billy reentered his brother's life, penniless, brain damaged, and abandoned by his agents. Brenna was contacted by Stanshall and McHenry, and though Chase warned her of Billy's fate, she ignored his words and walked out on him.
Hoping to protect her, Chase sought out Malig, a sorcerer, and the pair conjured up the mythical Wild Huntsman. The Huntsman murdered Stanshall and McHenry, but its force was uncontrollable, so Chase adopted the role of Manhunter to counterbalance the entity. Chase located Brenna, near death after an overdose, and now a target of the Wild Huntsman. As Manhunter, he helped prevent the Huntsman from claiming its prey, but became linked with the creature, absorbing a piece of it into himself.
Chase sought out Malig to save the dying Brenna, but came into conflict with a group of bikers called the Butcher Boys. The Butcher Boys had been hired to protect Malig from Bloodmoney, the enforcer of a local bookie. Manhunter stood his ground against Bloodmoney, who assigned Malig's debts to Chase. Malig emerged from hiding, but could do nothing for Brenna. During an attack from the Wild Huntsman, Malig seemingly took Brenna to safety, while Billy came to the aid of his brother. Chase was forced to kill Billy, to prevent Huntsman from corrupting his soul.
Chase learned of his newfound connection to the Huntsman, as he was now compelled to hunt any person outdoors and alone. Catching up to Malig, Chase was rendered unconscious, and found that the sorcerer planned to steal the power of the Wild Huntsman for himself. The essence would only transfer upon death, and Malig believed that Chase would be easier prey than the Huntsman itself, hence he had orchestrated events to present the opportunity. Chase foiled his plans, and hunted the sorcerer, though he refrained from killing Malig. Brenna finally received medical attention, and soon recovered, but she severed her relationship with Chase, as she felt that she should be allowed to make her own mistakes without his interference.
The Huntsman began having an effect on his personal life, as the compulsion to hunt and increased aggressiveness cost Chase session work. During an encounter with a Skinwalker (an ancient animal power inhabiting human skin), Chase met Beth, whose friend Laurie had been a victim of the Skinwalker. The two began dating, but Chase collapsed one evening while they were out to dinner. Beth and Brenna took him to see Malig, who informed Chase that if he ignores his drive to hunt, he will suffer crippling physical effects. Beth was distressed to learn what Chase really was, but the two reconciled soon after.
Victor Trang, a representative of the Mayor's office, visited Chase with an offer to make Manhunter the official hero of Star City. Across town, Bloodmoney tortured Malig for information on the Manhunter power, and later used this knowledge to capture Chase. He destroyed the Manhunter costume, since Chase could only access his full abilities while wearing it, and planned to kill Lawler, claiming the power for himself. Mutated by the Psycho Pirate, Mark Shaw (a former hero also known as Manhunter) rampaged onto the scene, and killed both Bloodmoney and Chase. The Wild Huntsman transferred to Shaw, and the shock returned him to normal. Shaw worked quickly to perform CPR on Chase, and successfully resuscitated him.
Facing Psycho Pirate for the second time, Shaw was overwhelmed by his new powers. Chase arrived in time to prevent Shaw from killing the Pirate, and explained to him the nature of the Wild Huntsman. Victor Trang again contacted Chase, offering him five thousand dollars every month to never become Manhunter again within city limits, as the damage caused during the fight with Psycho Pirate proved expensive. Chase accepted the pension, without informing Trang that he could no longer become Manhunter anyway, and planned to use the money to release his own album, restarting his musical career.
Some time later, Chase formed his own band, named 'Chase and the Manhunters', but a club fire caused by their use of pyrotechnics claimed several victims, and Lawler was forced to use his pension to compensate them. His musical career faltered, and he took to drinking regularly during the day. Chase has also stated that his most recent girlfriend was on methadone, but it is unknown if he was referring to Beth.
Long after his time as Manhunter, Chase was approached by a man in a Chicago bar. He told the stranger of his former life as a hero and his recent troubles. The man bought him a drink, but drugged Chase, leading him out of the bar. Lawler awoke in an abandoned warehouse, chained, beaten, and dressed in his former costume. His captor revealed himself to be Dumas (a former enemy of Mark Shaw), and then slit Chase's throat, killing him instantly. His body was placed in the Las Vegas hotel room of Mark Shaw, and later discovered by police, dumped beside an open storm pipe.
As Manhunter, Chase Lawler had increased strength, speed, and endurance. He was extremely difficult to kill, and his injuries regenerated quickly. He had limited control of wind, allowing him to use gusts as offensive weapons or to 'walk on air'. He could create Gabriel Hounds, by removing the souls of his victims, and direct existing Hounds through his will. He felt a compulsion to hunt those apart from society, which could only be satisfied by physical contact with his target, or else he would suffer ill effects, including nausea, blindness, paralysis, and a near comatose state. Since the Huntsman essence was split between Chase and the Manhunter costume, he could only access his powers while wearing it, though the compulsion to hunt was always with him.