Mister Negative was a Snakehead, a smuggler of Chinese immigrants into the United States, and crew member of the Golden Mountain. When the ship nearly crashed onto the New York shores, he stole the identity of one of the deceased Fujian slaves, Martin Li, who was heading to America to join his wife. "Martin Li" so came to his snakehead gang in Flushing only to discover them dead, and was himself eventually captured by the Maggia crime family member, Silvermane, who forcibly delivered "Martin Li" to the criminal chemist Simon Marshall.
Marshall was developing a new synthetic designer drug for the Maggia, testing it on runaway teens and illegal immigrants, often with fatal results, in order to create a cash crop for the crime family. Miraculously three kidnapped victims, Tyrone Johnson, Tandy Bowen, and "Martin Li", survived the experimentation and escaped.
Thanks to the drug and their unique biologies, all three developed super-powers related to Darkforce and the Darkforce Dimension; transforming Tyrone and Tandy into Cloak and Dagger and "Li" into Mister Negative. The drug also created two distinct identities within the one man: the kind-hearted Martin Li persona and the villainous Mister Negative persona. The Mister Negative side dedicated himself to becoming Chinatown's Kingpin of Crime, intending to erase the Maggia for what it had done to him.