Josh Carver was created by Warren Ellis and Juan Jose Ryp in No Hero #1.
Following the mysterious deaths of Front Line members Judex and Doctor Shift in an explosion equivalent to the detonation of 11 tons of TNT, the Front Line's leader, Carrick Masterson, gives the order for replacements to be found as soon as possible to convince the world that the Front Line was still holding together. His second-in-command, Jack Marsh, tells him that the best candidate they've been monitoring is Josh Carver, a young man from New York who's "doing everything but sending up flares to get our attention."
For months, Josh had worked as a night-time vigilante in Manhattan, stopping thieves, rapists and would-be killers with nothing but his fists and his brains. Working diligently with the sole intention of catching the attention of the Front Line, whose ranks he hoped to join, Josh kept his nose clean. He had no criminal record of any kind; no arrests or suspensions, not a single bad word against him, and he didn't even use weapons to fight crime.
One night, after Josh accidentally kills a mugger, Carrick and the Operator invite him inside a parked Stretch Hummer to discuss his future. Carrick interviews Josh to judge his suitability for the Front Line and ascension to superhumanity, while the Operator sits back, waiting to erase Josh's mind with her tech if Carrick didn't like his answers. Fortunately for Josh, Carrick takes a liking to him and tells Mandy to disarm her device. The two Front Liners then bring Josh back to Carrick's mansion, the first step in his induction into the Front Line.
Upon arrival, Josh meets Marsh, who warns Carrick that they've never done a transformation on such a tight schedule before. Carrick brushes aside his concerns, reminding him that the Front Line is under strength following the deaths of Judex and Doctor Shift, and orders that Josh be turned superhuman that very night. While the Front Line's medics examine Josh before the procedure, Mandy pulls Carrick aside and urges him to reconsider his decision, telling him she senses that something's not right about Josh. Carrick dismisses her concerns as well, vouching for Josh's suitability.
After Josh is cleared by the medics, Carrick places him in a room and hands him the top-secret drug FX7, the key to every Front Liner's superhuman abilities. As Carrick leaves the room, Josh swallows the pill without a second thought, and his transformation begins. It proves to be a torturous process, causing mind-bending hallucinations and leaving Josh screaming in pain as his body and mind morph to the pill's influence. While Josh undergoes transformation, Mandy is killed when her car explodes in the parking lot outside the mansion, and upon inspection of the body Carrick detects the presence of disgel, a lethal flesh-dissolving substance used by Russian black ops teams. Marsh asks if the Russians could be behind the spate of killings of Front Liners, but Carrick points out that Judex was taken apart by someone with intimate knowledge of FX7-physiology, which points the finger at the Chinese. It is suggested that someone might be trying to make it seem like the Russians and Chinese are targeting the Front Line.
The next morning, Ben Chisholm (the Front Liner codenamed Redglare) checks in on Josh to see how his transformation worked out. It did not go well; Josh's skin and hair had all fallen off, leaving him with scabby, purple-gray skin, bulging eyes, and no genitals.