Robert Markham was born in New York City. He had an unprecedented viral infection that caused competitive inhibition of certain segments in his DNA in the process of replication. He consulted Dr. Peter Alraune, who prescribed an experimental, untested drug. The drug reacted with Markham's DNA, causing a freakish appearance and the inability to sleep. Markham discovered that he no longer needed sleep, and that he developed a highly destructive psionic ability. He names himself Morpheus, after the god of dreams. Crazed, Morpheus sought to punish Dr. Alraune, which brought him to the attention of Moon Knight, a wealthy vigilante. In the resulting fight, Morpheus was defeated.
Under heavy sedation, Morpheus was taken to the Seaview Research Hospital. He was given an artificially induced sleep period every day. Which, for a time, resulted in normal dreams. Morpheus' brain underwent further mutation, and he established a mental link with Alraune. Through him, Morpheus projected nightmares into the minds of the unwilling. He eventually escaped from Seaview and sought revenge on Moon Knight and Alraune. The doctor sacrificed himself in a successful effort to cancel out Morpheus' powers. He was returned to Seaview under heavy guard.