Originally a businessman who wanted to make New York City a better place, Hall decided to take matters into his own hands and - inspired by centuries-old legends of the Ghost - altered his physiology to gain superpowers with the help of the Arquess gemstone. The process did not go as planned and Hall gained not just enhanced strength and the ability to fly, but also a charred, eternally-smoking body and a damaged mind.
In his new form, the Smoke tried to bring order to New York City by force. The US Army began an attack on the Smoke and New York and almost all of its people were obliterated in the crossfire. Once he destroyed the military, the Smoke was left as the ruler of what remained of the city. Those that had survived lived in fear of the Smoke.
The Twelfth Doctor, Grant, Lucy Fletcher, Jennifer Fletcher visited the remains of New York City as part of their quest to find the siblings of the Hazandra and encountered the Smoke. The Smoke attacked Grant, but was surprised when Grant's shirt ripped to reveal the symbol of the Ghost. He then stayed away from Grant for a while before returning to fight, during which the Smoke was able to bring Grant to the brink of death. (COMIC: Ghost Stories)