Justin's little brother Peter was always into super-heroes. Since they lived in New York, they always saw something on the local news about heroes. One day Justin was taking his brother and his brother's friend Alex on a trip to Manhattan when they saw a battle between Justice Inc and a super-villain. Peter and Alex ran off to get a better look at the fight and Justin chased after them. The kids managed to sneak into the nearby S.T.A.R. Labs building which had been damaged in the battle. When the battle again approached the lab an experimental energy source was damaged and Justin and the other two were bathed in an unknown extradimensional radiation. Just before the energy source exploded they were rescued by members of Justice Inc.
A short time later, the three kids discovered the radiation had given them super powers. Torch could project searing hot flame from his hands. When Tarantula of Justice Inc learned the kids had powers, he asked his friend Alex Hawkins (Sandy the Golden Boy) to train them. The three of them formed a part-time super-team called the Justice Subs along with other kids Alex was training and Justin started using the code-name Torch. Justin soon started dating one of the other students, Amplifier.
During the Revelations crisis, Torch was one of seven young heroes selected by the Source to battle the evil Daemons as the 7 Thunders. When Justice Inc was exiled into space by Vandal Savage, Torch joined with Metalmorph to form a new super-hero team in New York which they called Generation 2000, or Gen 2K for short. When Amplifier refused to become a full-fledged super-hero and join this team, Torch ended their relationship. After Justice Inc returned, Metalmorph and Torch became college roommates and continued as Gen 2K while attending school in Chicago.
When the Genesis Wave passed over Earth again, Torch found his powers were greatly increased. He could now fly and exert control over fire. After he and Metalmorph helped Justice Inc battle H.I.V.E. they were both invited by Mindblade to become members of Justice Inc. Torch remained with Justice Inc for a short time before leaving to join Tazer, a fellow Thunder, in the newly reformed Guardians.
Originally, Torch merely had the ability to project a bolt of flame from his hands that was hot enough to melt steel. After Genesis, his powers increased and he gained the ability to fly, could control the intensity of any flame and even cause a flame to move.