Joshua Foley was born in Flushing, Queens, where he grew up with his parents and two brothers. Josh was a follower by nature, more interested in fitting in and being popular than developing his own beliefs. When Duncan, his best friend since elementary school, invited Josh to a Reavers meeting, Josh readily agreed. Josh and Duncan met with Donald Pierce, the mutant-hating cyborg in charge of the Reavers, and became part of his team. The Reavers intended to target Sofia Mantega, a young mutant who made the news when she accidentally destroyed her absentee father's supermarket. Sofia moved to the Xavier Institute after the incident, home of Pierce's old enemies the X-Men. When Pierce learned Sofia was coming into New York City to see her father, he planned for the Reavers to intercept the girl.
Josh and Duncan went with the Reavers to the hotel where Pierce planned to capture Sofia. They ran into Sofia and her three friends from the Xavier Institute, Laurie, David and Kevin. The four mutants were too much for the two armed Reavers, and Josh and Duncan were beaten and tossed aside. Sofia's sharp wind blasts had cut open Duncan's chest and, when Josh instinctively reached out for his friend, his mutant powers manifested and healed Duncan's wounds. Duncan saw what Josh had done and called him a freak, forcing Josh to knock Duncan out in his panic.
Donald Pierce arrived before Josh could flee, pushing him back into the Reavers' ongoing battle with the young mutant students. Pierce used his cybernetic blade to impale Laurie Collins, leaving her for dead. Josh stepped in again to use his healing powers, saving Laurie's life but revealing himself to Pierce and the mutants. Pierce and the remaining Reavers fled after the arrival of Mirage and Karma from the Xavier Institute. They had been in New York to recruit Josh after he registered on Cerebro, but only found him after the Reavers did. Despite the evidence in front of him, Josh rejected the idea of being a “freak” or “mutie,” and refused Danielle Moonstar's offer of sanctuary at the Xavier Institute. When he returned home, though, Josh found Duncan and his friends waiting for him. His lifelong friend cruelly denounced Josh for being a mutie, and his group beat Josh severely on his front steps. For their part, Josh's parents had already spoken to Duncan, and turned away from their freak son's plight without a backwards glance. Josh made his way to the Xavier Institute and reluctantly accepted Moonstar's offer, having nowhere else to go. Josh was given a room with Sofia and Laurie's friend, David Alleyne, but David had no interest in teaching Josh how to not be a bigot anymore. [New Mutants (2nd series) #5-6]
As he always did, Josh soon fell in with the obviously popular crowd, Julian Keller and his friends. He continued making poor decisions while trying to be liked by everyone around him. After hearing about Dani's friend Magma in a coma at the infirmary, Josh and Julian snuck in to see her. Josh used his abilities to try and coax Magma out of her coma, with explosive results. The geothermal mutant nearly destroyed the infirmary and then fled the Institute in her confusion. Julian wanted to run before they got caught, but Josh stayed behind to heal Nurse Annie from the blast he inadvertently had caused. Josh's good intentions didn't save him from a reprimand by Professor Xavier, and some seriously hurt feelings from Moonstar, who now feared for her friend's safety. Josh thought his problems were over when his parents arrived at the school, apparently in response to a letter he had written them. However, the Foleys were there to turn over legal guardianship of Josh to the school, fully abandoning their son. [New Mutants (2nd series) #7]
Josh's friendship with Julian Keller took a nose dive after Julian learned Josh used to be a Reaver. Julian and Santo lashed out at Josh for being a racist, beating him up on the lawn. Josh was in tears as he fought back, swearing he wasn't like that anymore. David, Laurie and Sofia heard the commotion and stepped in to defend Josh from the others. Josh and Julian were separated by Karma, and Josh ended up with still more detention on top of his previous restrictions. Still, his relationship with his roommate improved after this. Josh saw that David was willing to stand up for him when it counted, despite his judgmental attitude. David, for his part, started to see Josh's behavior stemmed from his desperate need to fit in, rather than any true racism or malice. [New Mutants (2nd series) #8]
When their favorite barista Luna from the Grind Stone Cafe was found electrocuted, Josh noticed a homeless girl near the scene. She demonstrated electrical powers before rushing off, leading Josh to realize Luna's accident may have been caused by a mutant. Meanwhile, Laurie Collins had developed a crush on Josh ever since he saved her life from Donald Pierce, although he was largely oblivious. Before she could make her feelings known, Josh's attention was diverted by the arrival of Rahne Sinclair, Dani's old friend and teammate from the New Mutants. Older but rebellious, Rahne was ready to defy curfew and run off looking for "Surge" like the good old days, and Josh was eager to tag along. They succeeded in bringing the girl Noriko back to the mansion, but Dani was furious at Josh and Rahne for disobeying her rules.
Josh and Rahne left campus together and bonded with one another. For his part, Josh genuinely listened to Rahne's problems, having to deal with her mother's death and her wolf powers being neutralized. When they got back to campus, Josh offered to heal Rahne with his abilities, hoping to restore her powers just like he jarred Magma out of her coma. The two of them fell into each other, kissing while Josh's healing touch worked on Rahne. When her wolf side returned, however, Wolfsbane was momentarily overwhelmed by her feral urges and sliced open Josh's guts.
Laurie saw what happened and chased Rahne away with her pheromones, but Josh was unconscious from his injuries. Archangel and the X-Men's other healers were off campus, and Doctor McCoy and Nurse Annie could barely stabilize Josh in his traumatized condition. David and Nori came up with the idea to shock Josh awake so he could heal his own injuries. Beast had run out of options, and reluctantly agreed to this plan. Noriko's jolt brought Josh awake long enough to turn his powers on himself. The surge of energy triggered a secondary mutation, causing Josh's skin to take on a golden color and texture. Josh thanked Laurie for saving him and made peace with Wolfsbane for the attack. In the aftermath, Dani Moonstar came forward and told Josh how much she cared for him as her student, and more. A school couldn't take legal guardianship of a child, and so when Josh's parents gave up custody, it was Dani who officially became Josh's adopted parent. [New Mutants (2nd series) #9-12]
Shortly after Magneto's attack on the school, Donald Pierce escaped from custody and came after Josh again with Duncan and the Reavers. Josh volunteered to serve as bait for the Reavers once he found out, and Danielle reluctantly agreed. She made Josh promise to remain in a safe place once Pierce was drawn out, allowing the reunited original New Mutants to do the fighting. Just this once, Josh did what he was told and the New Mutants recaptured Pierce. Danielle was proud of Josh for keeping his word, and their relationship as teacher and trainee continued to grow. [New Mutants (2nd series) #13]
The attack of Magneto convinced the X-Men that the students needed more combat training, even if the individual students didn't want to one day join the X-Men. Dani's advisory students were reorganized into a training squad under her direction, one of many squads assembled for the new school year. Josh was codenamed Elixir, joining Laurie (Wallflower), Noriko (Surge), and the team's co-leaders Sofia (Wind Dancer) and David (Prodigy). The sixth member of their squad was Kevin Ford (Wither), who had fled the school weeks earlier after nearly hurting Laurie with his death touch. Josh and Julian Keller remained at odds, though, and this quickly translated into a rivalry between the New Mutants and Julian's squad, the Hellions.
Meanwhile, Josh and Rahne had continued seeing each other in secret since he restored her powers. Their three-year age difference wasn't insurmountable, but Rahne wanted to be taken seriously as a member of the teaching staff. After a lecture from Cyclops about her maturity, Wolfsbane realized she needed to stop seeing a student if she was going to act as a teacher. Josh wanted to keep seeing each other, however, and was hurt by her rejection. Laurie had been interested in Josh since they met, and he started showing her attention in part to make Rahne jealous. This, in turn, strained his relationship with his new teammate Kevin, who had his own feelings for Laurie. With their powers of life and death (respectively), Josh and Kevin were almost instinctively at odds with each other. Wither soon transferred to Julian's Hellions, which only furthered their rivalry. And, in spite of her protests, Rahne nevertheless continued hooking up with Josh occasionally after becoming a faculty assistant. [New X-Men: Academy X #1-6]
Josh's healing powers put him in high demand. He was given authorization to help the X-Men on search-and-rescue missions, was put to work healing injuries around the mansion after crises, and also lent his power towards helping restore Gambit's blindness. However, his healing proved ineffective at neutralizing the Hope cure injected into Wing the same way he restored Wolfsbane's power. [Astonishing X-Men (3rd series) #5, 11; X-Men (2nd series) #165] Josh and Laurie's dating became more serious after he went to dinner at her mother's house. Rahne saw how much healthier Josh was being dating someone closer to his own age. She finally ended things with Josh permanently, telling him he was better off and that she couldn't do anything that would hurt Laurie. Josh sulked for a time, but ultimately moved on from Rahne and dedicated himself to being a good boyfriend for Laurie. [New X-Men: Academy X #7-9]
However, Kevin Ford had overheard Rahne and Josh's good-byes. He first tried to blackmail Josh into breaking up with Laurie. When that didn't work, Kevin went ahead and told the headmasters what he had overheard. Rahne was disgraced and left the school while Laurie was heartbroken after hearing Kevin's version of events. Josh tried to explain himself to Laurie, but she was in no mood to listen and turned her pheromones on Josh to frighten him away. David also rejected Josh because of this, assuming the worst about his roommate's intentions with the two women. Josh quickly became persona non grata on his squad afterwards. [New X-Men: Academy X #11-12]