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Russ Broxtel was a janitor, a member of the custodial staff at Stark International who was barely noticed by the professionals around him. Broxtel took advantage of that fact and accessed the computers of his employer to obtain the Firebrand costume. Broxtel would extort money from a man named Mr. Munson who was sponsoring a fundraiser and charity ball for the homeless at the refurbished Poseidon hotel. Broxtel attended the fundraiser along with members of the Daily Bugle team and their friends including Jonah Jameson, Peter Parker, Mary Jane, Aunt May, Willie Lumpkin, Flash Thompson, Harry Osborn, Liz Osborn, Robbie Robertson, Kate Cushing, Glory Grant, Joy Mercado, Ben Urich, Felicia Hardy and Betty Brant. Broxtel would disappear when accidents started to occur in the ballroom and parts of the stage collapsed. The electricity went out and people began to panic as the crowd was getting out of control. Mr. Munson noticed Broxtel's cummerbund and tie on the floor when all of a sudden, Firebrand appeared outside a corridor. Firebrand terrified the people inside and started to burn the building down. Cloak and Dagger appeared on the scene because they were looking for a girl named Anna who was working at the Poseidon hotel and witnessed the carnage caused by Firebrand. The fire damage was extensive and parts of the hotel collapsed, trapping Spider Man, Anna and several Morlocks below the building.
A Morlock named Ent help free Spider Man and Anna but the entire ceiling collapsed afterward, killing Mother Inferior. Firebrand confronted Mr. Munson and told him that he was working for a crime boss named Bazin and he didn't like the idea of opening a homeless shelter on his turf. Munson gave the money from the charity ball to Firebrand but he decided to keep it for himself and wanted to demonstrate his full range of pyronic abilities to establish his new reputation. Members of the Daily Bugle were trapped inside the burning building and things got worse when Firebrand decided to attack the firefighters that arrived on the scene. Cloak and Dagger intercepted Firebrand so the firefighters could do their job. Meanwhile, Spider Man, Anna and the Morlock family reached the trapped victims inside and helped everyone escape with no casualties but some sustained minor injuries. Spider Man confronted Firebrand and used his webbing to manipulate his flame projectors. Spider Man flipped over Firebrand and caused him to short circuit his own costume with his chemical flames. Firebrand was completely helpless and placed under arrest.
Firebrand would become a member of the eco-terrorist group known as the Force of Nature. The group fought the New Warriors on a several occasions. After the Civil War event he fought the Patriot and Kate Bishop of the Young Avengers. Recently he teamed-up with King Cobra, Mauler, and Mr. Hyde who all had a contract to kill the Taskmaster. Broxtel barely escaped.