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Selena Slate was a laboratory assistant to Dr. Charles Warren Fong. The two were experimenting on a synthetic diamond. Unknown to Fong, Selena had personal problems. Her boyfriend Garth was a drug addict who had trouble financing his habit. Selena, madly in love with him, agreed to steal the diamond. Hoping it was worth enough to keep Garth happy.
Unexpectedly, the diamond had an effect on Sleepwalker. Its light attracting him like a moth to a flame. With the alien hovering around in the lab, Selena had problems concentrating on her work. While Garth hesitated to burglarize the place. Selena figured that Sleepwalker only appeared at nights. Arranging for Garth to enter the lab during daytime.
Their plans turned wrong because of Sleepwalker's increasing addiction to the light. He arrived earlier than expected and became violent in his attempt to get to the diamond. In the general confusion, Fong set up an illusion of himself getting shot by Garth. Selena was angry and hurt, figuring Garth had broken his promise that nobody would get hurt. In an impulsive moment, Selena touched the diamond with bare hands while it was still connected the lab's power grid. A flow of energy passed through her body. Transforming her into Spectra, an energy being.
Spectra quickly grabbed the diamond and Garth before fleeing. However, her physical transformation was soon followed by an emotional one. She re-evaluated her beloved boyfriend and viewed him in a new light, as a "good-for-nothing junkie". She rejected him and then blasted him with solid light. Then she was confronted with another junkie, Sleepwalker still searching for the diamond. They fought intensely before Spectra discovered her own light had hypnotic effects on him. He was left hallucinating in a drugged state while Spectra flew away.
Spectra resurfaced later as a vigilante most critical of Sleepwalker's faults, real and perceived. Meanwhile, he was more interested in kissing her. The two did team-up against Psyko. The villain tried to manipulate them into killing each other. He failed.
Spectra has superhuman agility, speed and the power of flight. Her body is effectively a living rainbow of energy, generating light at different frequencies and for a variety of effects. Among other things, her various light frequencies could burn through solid steel, cut through artifacts, overheat of chill the air around her, produce solid light with physical effects, project images, hypnotize and attack the nervous systems of others with waves of pain.
She can cause hallucinations specifically to Sleepwalker and certain frequencies of her light are addictive to him. Whether she can cause similar effects to other individuals is unknown.