Percy van Norton was an S.S.R. spy sent to infiltrate HYDRA's ranks during World War II, but was discovered by the Red Skull and imprisoned alongside several other S.S.R. spies who tried to do the same thing. He was thus sent to the HYDRA labs and subjected to experimentation with a recreation of the Super Soldier Serum, giving him the same powers as Captain America but driving him mad and disfigured due to all the repressed anger and hatred he had inside him. Percy became the Strongman, one of HYDRA's top super soldiers, and was brainwashed by the Red Skull through the Tesseract into attacking Captain America and the Howling Commandos.