The half-Mohawk boy who would become Night Raven was born in Canada in 1900, and orphaned as a child. He was placed in an orphange until his uncle in New England took him in, and he grew up to be an idealist, determined to make the world a better place. In 1915 he lied about his age to sign up for the Canadian army, determined to fight in World War I, and proving a dangerous opponent during basic training, because, despite being of slender build, he would not yield in a fight so long as he was physically capable of continuing. Finally shipped to the Belgian front, the young soldier's idealism was shattered by the realities of trench warfare, and after Ypres he was shipped home with shell-shock, and spent some time in an asylum.
Towards the end of the 1920s the former soldier had become a vigilante in New York, Night Raven. preying on criminals who he branded with a chemical logo to inspire fear in them. He became infatuated with singer Inez Pearl, and tried to protect her when crooked congressman Harold Chase tried to force her into a relationship, using his connection with crimelord Tall Saul Konig to put pressure on her, despite the fact that she was already involved with one of Saul's enforcers, "Soldier" Jack. When Jack went against his boss for this, he was murdered, and Inez was delivered to a brothel run by Chinese crimelord Yi Yang's Dragon Tong to await Chase's pleasure. Night Raven rescued Inez, but not before Yi Yang gave her a lethal drug overdose.
After this Night Raven's war on crime stepped up, as he killed mob bosses, slew the protection racketeer known as the Taxman, and eliminated wheelchair-ridden mob boss Mr. Big and the Assassin that Big had hired to kill him, all the while evading capture by the police. These high profile incidents brought Night Raven to the attention of Sentinel reporter Scoop Daly, who soon encountered Night Raven face to face after beginning an investigation into the vigilante. In 1931 Night Raven clashed directly with the Dragon Tong, finally coming face to face with Inez's murderer, though he remained unaware of Yi Yang's part in the singer's demise. Secretly immortal, Yi Yang faked suicide to evade Night Raven, but remained enraged at his interference and her resulting loss of face, and so plotted a terrible revenge. She tricked him into unwittingly exposing himself to a poison that rendered him undying as she was, but also caused his flesh to corrode and waste away slowly and unceasingly painfully; Yi Yang wanted him to have eternity to suffer and go insane.
Initially Night Raven was unaware he had been exposed, as the poison acted slowly. He battled more colourful foes such as the Chess Master, the Armorer, the Death Master and the serial slayer the Numbers Killer, sometimes using Scoop, who now worked for the Daily Bugle, tipping him off to expose various crooks. But gradually Night Raven's condition worsened and his grip on sanity loosened. In 1941 he discovered Yi Yang had a cure, and ruthlessly pursued small time crook Willy the Lip, who had come into possession of it, leaving a trail of corpses in his wake. A terrifed Willy handed the cure over to Scoop, informing him that the cure carried a side-effect Night Raven was unaware of - it was also a deadly plague, which Night Raven would be immune to but which would kill millions if he used it. Learning Scoop now possessed his precious cure, Night Raven kidnapped the reporter's wife, Sadie, holding her hostage in return for Scoop handing the cure over. Realising he could not do so even to save his beloved wife, Scoop tried to reason with the vigilante, telling him of the plague, and when a disbelieving Night Raven attacked him, Scoop shot him. Night Raven fell into the river, and when only his mask surfaced, a guilt-stricken Scoop believed he had drowned, and hung on to the cure to his dying day, suspecting Yi Yang had lied about the plague as another step in tormenting her adversary.
An amnesiac Night Raven survived, living as a down and out until 1957, when psychotic collector Howard Bates, who had procured Night Raven's mask, began wearing it to commit a string of murders, gaining the moniker the East Side Strangler. Seeing pictures of the Strangler in the newspapers reawoke Night Raven's memories, and he killed Bates to reclaim his mask, and much of his sanity with it. Deciding to live with the pain, he again dropped out of sight. In 1965 a dying Scoop, now sure the cure was safe and desperate to make up for what he had done, placed personal ads trying to contact the vigilante. The day of Scoop's funeral Night Raven visited Sadie Daly, who forgave him for what he had done in 1941 and passed on a note from Scoop and the cure. Just in case Scoop was wrong, Night Raven travelled to Antarctica to isolate himself before taking it. Once he was sure it had worked and that he was not a contagious threat, he returned to civilisation to begin hunting down Yi Yang.
In the 1970s he clashed again with her Dragon Tony, and Yi Yang fooled him with a double into thinking she had been trapped inside liquid concrete in a trap she had set for him. In the 1980s he discovered her deception and resumed the pursuit, killing her assassin the Ghost Tiger. When he temporarily lost her trail, he returned to being a vigilante, determined to prey on modern criminals as he had those in the prohibition era, taking down Magia bosses and rogue ex-soldiers building their own private armies. Wanting to end his pursuit once and for all, Yi Yang lured him to Michigan, where she waited for him on a boat in the Lake, but Night Raven used a nuclear rocket launcher stolen from his recent paramilitary foes to destroy her vessel. Though the vigilante believed their vendetta now over, Yi Yang secretly survived, albeit badly burned down one side of her body.
Without the purpose that had ruled him for decades, Night Raven was aimless for a time, not actively seeking to fight crime but stopping any that happened in his vicinity. Eventually, however, Yi Yang captured him, but, now understanding something of his pain thanks to her own yet-to-heal wounds, she did not attempt to slay him, instead offering him a chance at a new life with his scars hidden beneath plastic surgery. Night Raven rejected this offer, and renewed his pursuit. In recent years he tracked her to Russia, where he slaughtered his way through local crime families looking for a lead to her exact whereabouts. To try and stop him, Yi Yang framed him for murdering a diplomat, which put SHIELD and the Black Widow on his trail, but Night Raven made an ally of the Widow and again confronted Yi Yang. The Widow lost track of both of them when a burning helicopter exploded on top of them, but both presumably survived, and Yi Yang subsequently resurfaced as part of Contagion's Unkillables.