Marsha Rosenberg was born to a middle class Jewish family in Denver, Colorado. She spent much of her youth being the “chubby” compatriot to Mary “Skeeter” MacPherran. Both were basically outcasts in their school years and even physically picked on and beaten up on by the more popular girls. Each was their best (if only) friend.
Things were essentially completely uneventful for them aside from Marsha discovering that Mary had posed as the new superhero Spider Woman in order to impress and scare the popular girls. Little would either of them know that things were about to get quite interesting for them.
When the Beyonder (a God-like entity of almost infinite power) spirited away Denver (and all the people in it) to a planet called Battleworld, they both drew the attention of Dr. Doom who had also been brought along. After learning that there was a contest between the heroes and villains and that the winner would ultimately get whatever their hearts desired from the Beyonder, they accepted Dr. Doom’s offer of powers in exchange for allegiance. Marsha gained powers to control magma and heat and donned the codename “Volcana.”
Volcana was created by Jim Shooter and Mike Zeck and first appeared in Secret Wars #3 in 1985.
Major Story Arcs
Marsha sided with Doom against the heroes. In one of her first battles, she was a crucial combatant in defeating She-Hulk. It seemed there was no stopping her. During their stay on Battleworld, she fell in love with Owen Reece, the Molecule Man, and her feelings were reciprocated. Her encounters were varied and included the X-Men, Avengers, and even Spider Woman.
However, this love for Owen would ultimately be her weakness. After he was critically wounded battling the various heroes, and Captain Marvel (Monica Rambeau) accidentally aggravated Owen's wounds even more, she made a deal with the Enchantress to save him. When the Enchantress tried to cash in on the deal, the Lizard managed to interrupt the process in time.
Eventually Denver was returned to Earth and Marsha moved in with Owen. They were both content to lead normal and uneventful lives. When the Beyonder returned to Earth, they welcomed him into their home trying to prove there were no hard feelings. Believing that Owen’s powers rivaled that of Beyonder, Marsha convinced him to challenge the Beyonder. Owen did, and Marsha then participated in the Beyonder's defeat. Afterwards, The Avengers and the Fantastic Four needed Owen's help to fix the damage that the showdown with the Beyonder had wrought. Marsha wanted them to go away, as the battle left Owen very weak, but the heroes managed to convince Owen and Marsha to help just in time.
Later, Volcana accompanied the Fantastic Four and the Molecule Man to the Beyonder’s universe. She found herself on the side of the heroes for once and found enjoyment and a sense of fulfillment. Her life was devastated, however, as Beyonder and Owen merged (seemingly irrevocably) with a Cosmic Cube. Feeling like he was forever gone, she returned to Earth with the Fantastic Four.
While her friend Mary had gone on to become a villain, Marsha mostly stayed out of the spotlight but did do some heroic work. On a trip to New York City, she found herself battling the Wizard and Moonstone; she was able to drive away the Wizard and defeated Moonstone. She was also finding a way to move on from Owen.
Suddenly she found herself able to transform into a volcanic ash form. Unknown to her, this was because the Molecule Man had returned to Earth and was trying to repay her for her loyalty and love. While battling Klaw, Volcana learned that Owen “willed” a fraction of his powers to her, letting her transform into other forms as the needs arose.
Much to her dismay, he took back that power from her, revealing his darker side. Fearful of what he might do, not only to her but to the world, she called off their relationship. Not wanting to become part of that world, like Mary’s, she bid Owen farewell.
Reece didn't deal with the breakup well, and kept trying to get back with her. She has refused all such attempts so far. He built a giant futuristic construct in honor of her, and also reshaped Mount Rushmore to include her face. (Presumably it was changed back at some point.)
She currently resides with her friend “Roxy” in New York.
Powers and Abilities
Volcana's main and original power is to turn her body into plasma. She can also project blasts of plasma from her hands. She cannot fly like some other fire-themed characters like, for instance, the Human Torch. She was given this power by Doctor Doom.
She later gained additional, lava-oriented powers (which seem to be related more to her codename than to her ability to turn to plasma, since plasma is the matter that stars are made of, not what volcanic lava is made of). These powers came from a small degree of the Molecule Man's powers, which he gave to her. With these powers, she could turn to volcanic ash, disincorporating and reincorporating herself at will, and flying with the wind. She could blast a stream of ashes at an opponent, blinding or choking them.
She could also turn to moving stone, which gave her great strength, estimated by A.I.M. scientists to be around 40 or 50 tons. She was also highly resistant to injury. She was entirely stone in this form; A.I.M. said they wouldn't know she was alive if she wasn't moving.
She can turn into any of these three forms at will.