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Professor Andre LeClare worked on methods on drawing energy from other dimensions. His life work was stolen by Felipe Picaro, an engineer, who sold the process to a South American dictator. Andre seeked the help of Coast Guard Lieutenant Monica Rambeau, a family friend. She took the mission on her own, without notifying her superiors.
In the conflict that resulted Monica tried to disable the dimension-tapping device with her bare hands--a brave act that physically put her in the interface of the machine and caused it to overload. The result was that Monica was endowed with mass/energy exchange powers that she at once used to defeat Picaro and his henchmen. Her new powers started her career as Captain Marvel, later codenamed Photon.