In the 30th century, a young girl named Charma Drisden lived with her parents on a space colony whose population was devastated by plague. Her parents were tragically killed in a food riot shortly after the outbreak, and the authorities sent the orphaned Charma into the care of a strict and prison-like girl’s school. Charma grew to adolescence at the school and eventually her mutant ability emerged, changing her skin to a pale yellow hue. She began emitting a powerful hypnotic aura that caused males to love and protect her and females to hate and attack her. But she had no control over her power and was in the worst possible place for it to operate, since there were no men in the school and she was surrounded only by other females. Charma's classmates and even her teachers began to constantly assault and torment her, making her experience in school a living hell from which graduation seemed her only hope of escape.
Charma was created in 1976 by writer Jim Shooter and artist Mike Grell. She became one of the more unusual adversaries ever faced by the Legion of Super-Heroes.
Original Continuity: New Earth
While in school, Charma survived the relentless abuse by her female classmates and teachers only by counting the days until she could graduate. However, the school's sadistic headmistress had grown too fond of abusing Charma and wanted to make the unfortunate girl her personal captive so she could continue to abuse her indefinitely. When the time neared for Charma's graduation, the headmistress called in Grimbor the Chainsman, a renowned master of creating fiendish traps and inescapable restraints of all kinds, in order to build devices that would keep Charma as her prisoner.
However, this plan completely backfired. Being the first male to encounter Charma, Grimbor was hit by the full force of her hypnotic power, causing him to immediately fall in love with her and break her out of the school. Together, the unlikely duo utilized their unique abilities to pursue a life of crime and extortion. Charma was now an exotically beautiful young woman and she created a revealing dominatrix-like costume for herself to add to her allure. By combining her mutant power with her physical attractiveness, she soon found that no man could resist her. It was child's play for her to lure wealthy men straight into Grimbor's traps, where they would be forced to pay hefty ransoms in return for their release.
Charma reappeared with a different name and a less tragic origin after DC's 30th century was rebooted during the Zero Hour event of the mid-1990's. Her given name was now Mara Grace, and she was not enrolled in a strict girl's school, but a public academy where future Legionnaires Lyle Norg (Invisible Kid I) and Jacques Foccart (Invisible Kid II) were her classmates. Mara's mutant power emerged while in school, turning her skin color to pale yellow as before. She quickly learned that she could make any boy in the academy unconditionally love her and do anything she asked. She donned the same dominatrix costume that she wore in original continuity and began calling herself "Charma" to reflect her power over men.
Major Story Arcs
Battle With the Legion
Eventually, Charma grew bored of ensnaring easy targets like business executives and space merchants. She hatched an ambitious plan to lure and imprison members of the Legion of Super-Heroes in order to extort vast sums of money from R. J. Brande, the Legion’s primary benefactor and the wealthiest man in the universe. Grimbor initially objected, pointing out that the Legionnaires were far more dangerous targets than any of their previous victims, but Charma's hypnotic power made it impossible for him to disagree with her for long.
At first the plan worked well: Charma’s irresistible power over men quickly ensnared the male Legionnaires, and though the female Legionnaires tried to assault her, the enthralled Legionnaire men would zealously subdue them in order to protect Charma, and Grimbor would then bind the women in his inescapable devices. Just when the Legion was on the verge of defeat, the Legionnaire Shrinking Violet used her shrinking power to elude detection and incapacitated Charma with a sneak attack. This nullified Charma’s hold over the male Legionnaires, who then defeated Grimbor.
Charma was taken into custody and sent to an all-female prison, the authorities failing to realize just how dangerous an environment that would be for her. There she was reportedly beaten to death by her fellow inmates, a victim of her own mutant power once again. Grimbor blamed the Legion for her death and escaped prison in order to seek revenge.
Powers & Abilities
New Earth: Charma's mutant physiology constantly emitted a powerful unconscious hypnotic effect on all beings in her vicinity. This caused males to unconditionally love and obey her, and they would strive to protect her from any harm, even to the point of violently attacking their own loved ones if Charma indicated they were a threat to her. But her power affected females in the completely opposite way, causing them to irrationally hate Charma and want to do her harm. Charma's power seemed to affect males and females of any sentient race or species. She apparently had to be seen or heard in order for her hypnotic power to take effect, but it did so almost instantaneously.
Earth-247: The rebooted Charma's power had the same effect as her New Earth counterpart, except that it was revealed to be pheromone-based rather than hypnotic. She also seemed to have a degree of control over her power, with the ability to repress her pheromone emissions when other females were present -- thus removing the fatal weakness of the original Charma. However, her power being pheromone-based also proved to be a weakness, since Lyle Norg (a chemical genius) eventually figured out how to defeat her by creating a protective 'second skin' for himself that blocked out pheromones.