Philip Wallace Sterling was the last member of an old, wealthy and prestigious family that had lived in America for centuries. He turned to crime, and conducted his first criminal activities under the alias of the Exterminator. He constructed a "time displacer ray" ("T-ray") which could teleport its target into another dimension, hinted to be Limbo. The Exterminator recruited the Ani-Men and led them in a series of criminal activities, until they crossed paths with Daredevil. When fighting with the Exterminator and his agents, Daredevil destroyed the T-ray, accidentally bombarding the Exterminator with the ray and seemingly killing him.
In reality, Sterling found himself trapped between two dimensions, able to return to Earth at will but only for a few hours at a time; furthermore, the mutation gave him the ability of not being able to be touched by any other being. Instead, whenever someone tried to touch him, they would come through an empty space and feel a cold sensation, paralyzing them. Sterling then stole a pair of gloves from A.I.M. that gave him a "death-grip," which with one touch would make his victims also feel a horrible cold sensation that would slow down their heart-beats, leading them to a near death experience. Calling himself now Death-Stalker, Sterling became a virtually unstoppable super-villain who would try to kill Daredevil in several opportunities.
He also fought Dr. Strange and Nighthawk while trying to obtain even more advanced weapons technology.
Philip Sterling was created by Stan Lee and Gene Colan, and he first appeared in 1968 as The Exterminator in Daredevil #39. He was later turned into the Death-Stalker by Steve Gerber and Bob Brown and first appeared in 1974's Daredevil #113.
A new, female Death-Stalker has recently appeared in 2011's Villains for Hire #1.
Powers and Abilities
Philip Sterling was an accomplished inventor and scientist, as well as a brilliant criminal mastermind.
After being accidentally exposed to "T-radiation," Sterling's physiology was altered and he became the Death-Stalker. As the Death-Stalker, Sterling ordinarily existed in an inter-dimensional realm congruent to Earth's dimension. From this dimension he could observe Earth without being seen. Through sheer force of will, he could shift into Earth’s dimension to varying degrees, becoming visible, invisible, tangible, and intangible as he pleased. Those passing through his intangible form sometimes felt a freezing cold within them, and they were generally unnerved to some degree. He could also "teleport" by moving quickly through his inter-dimensional realm and then reappearing on Earth an equal distance away. He could materialize on Earth for up to five hours, but he'd have to rest in his inter-dimensional realm for the same amount of time before returning.
Death-Stalker was also able to see Dr. Strange's astral form, which is unusual, perhaps because of his own inter-dimensional capabilities.
As the Death-Stalker, Sterling also has "cybernetic death-grip" devices that he'd stolen from A.I.M. and wore in his gloves. These devices emitted a powerful dose of microwave radiation when activated by mental command, and could kill any living thing they came in contact with. He would have to fully materialize on Earth in order for these devices to be effective. (Although described as microwave radiation, the energy from Death-Stalker's gloves seemed to have properties of both lightning and intense cold.)
Death-Stalker has shown super-human strength, being able to toss heavy machinery around with ease.