Publication Date: 7th Aug 2020
Written By: Monolith.


Raised by his parents William and Marion, Christopher Bradley grew up in a normal suburban household in Duchess County, New York with his folks and his younger sister, Cindy.  He was an average kid living an average life: his buddy Jeff had been his best friend since kindergarten, and his biggest worry was working up the nerve to ask Donna Funaro out on a date. In his freshman year of high school, however, Chris began experiencing an intense headache one morning... the onset of his mutant powers. An electrical outburst from him fried all the circuits in the house and left Chris severely drained, driving his mother to keep him home from school. The next day, he noticed two strange people keeping a keen eye on him on the way to school, and even parked out front after he got there. Still, he kept his focus and managed to ask out Donna.

However, in his first period class, sparks began shooting from his fingers. He excused himself to the restroom, but the sensation only got worse and he began pumping out enough electricity that it began shooting through the entire school.  His mysterious observers, Gambit and Phoenix of the X-Men, made their way into the school and delivered him home to his parents. While Chris lay recuperating on the family couch, Phoenix tried as gently as possible to explain his situation to his parents. Chris freaked out at hearing this and ran out of the house. He went to see his best friend Jeff for support, only to be rejected outright just for being a mutant.

Eventually, Chris calmed down enough to agree to visit the Xavier Institute and meet with Charles Xavier. He did so a few days later and, after a good first impression by the professor, Chris's parents agreed to temporarily enroll him in the Institute for observation and training. He began working closely with the X-Men, especially Iceman, trying to learn how to activate his powers at will, and control them once he did. More than that, he became friends with his fellow mutants, and became more and more accepting of his new position in life. After passing his "graduation tests" in controlling his mutant powers, Chris felt he was capable of going home and living a normal life again without worrying about hurting anyone with his powers.

Unfortunately, that night, some blood work Beast had done on Chris his first day came back to the lab, revealing that Chris was already suffering from the Legacy Virus, the incurable and lethal disease spreading through the mutant population. Despite some initial denial, Chris came to accept his diagnosis after talking with Iceman. He still wanted to return home, and the X-Men promised to keep in touch

with him regarding whatever they learned about the Legacy Virus. Still, things weren't all bad – as he returned home, Chris found Donna had been waiting for him, and cared enough about him that it didn't matter if he was a mutant or had the virus... she wanted to be with him anyway. [X-Men Unlimited (1st series) #8]

Unfortunately, the X-Men fell out of contact with Chris: the Onslaught situation, the assassination of Graydon Creed and various other threats occupied their time. Chris and his parents began searching for alternatives for treating the Legacy Virus and found a clinic willing to try to treat the virus. However, the front entrance was blocked off by angry protesters, so they went around the side, only to be confronted by a Friends of Humanity group readying a bomb. They were saved from the bigots by Maverick, another infected mutant who was coming to the clinic for treatment. After Maverick drove off the thugs and Chris helped him disable the bomb, the two of them became friends: each of them knew all too well what the other was going through.

Maverick told Chris how to find him if he ever needed to and, before long, Chris indeed needed Maverick’s help when some Friends of Humanity torched his parents' house to the ground. As Chris ran off into the night to find Maverick, the Bradleys got in touch with Iceman, hoping he could find their son for them. After they all had another confrontation with the Friends of Humanity, Chris blamed the X-Men for abandoning him and letting him down and Iceman couldn’t bring up much in their defense. As he no longer trusted in the X-Men, Maverick decided it might be best for Chris and his family to relocate. He offered the use of his connections to establish new identities for them down in Altamonte Springs, Florida. [X-Men Unlimited (1st series) #15] He agreed, and Chris Bradley thus became “Brian Johnson” of Spring Lakes High School.

North also gave Chris a "chatterbox," a communicator with a heavy encryption sequence that made it a completely secure line just between the two of them. Chris had some early troubles adjusting though; he had moved hundreds of miles away from everything he'd ever known, and was now trying to rebuild a whole new life while also dealing with the inevitable flare-ups of his power caused by the virus. [Maverick #1]

After being unable to reach Maverick for over a week, the troubled teenager decided to make his own plans and ran away back to New York, hoping to see his girlfriend Donna again. In Manhattan, Chris met up with Donna in the West Village, but they were immediately attacked by some Friends of Humanity, who had been tapping Donna's phone lines ever since Chris disappeared, looking for a trace of him. Maverick had been unavailable because he was taken captive by a Russian crime lord but, as soon as he got free, he contacted the “Johnsons” and found out about Chris's disappearance. He arrived just in time to help protect the kids from another attack by the Friends of Humanity, and they ended up faking Chris' death, fooling both Donna and the anti-mutant group so that no one would come after them nor continue to harass Donna. [Maverick #3-4]

He continued to see a former Navy SEALs doctor friend of Maverick's named James Keller while down in Florida, to keep track of his condition. Maverick was also a patient of the doctor and, during one visit, Chris accidentally learned that Maverick was no longer dying from the Legacy virus as his infection had gone into remission. At first, Chris couldn’t understand why his mentor would keep such information from him and angrily asked if he really thought that Chris couldn’t be happy for him. However, over the next days, he came to understand Maverick’s reasons much better, when he found himself in a similar situation with his younger sister. For her own protection, Chris had kept his power flare-ups from her, but he could no longer deny it when she witnessed one. The incident made him realize that he too kept things from his family and that not everything that Maverick did or did not do was about him. [Maverick #6-8]

A couple of weeks later, as Chris was leaving from one visit to Doctor Keller, he noticed some local punks from school casing the clinic. He stayed behind to see them break in looking for drugs and assault the doctor. Chris decided to try and play hero, calling himself "Bolt" and using his electrical aura to distort his facial features so that he wouldn't be recognized by the other teenagers. He succeeded in disabling the thugs with Keller's help, and started to develop a serious interest in using his powers as a hero. Having already learned a bit from Maverick, he asked Doctor Keller to show him some moves from his SEAL training as well. [Maverick #9-11]