Karma, by Georges Jeanty
|First appearance||Marvel Team-Up (vol. 1) #100 (Dec 1980)|
|Created by||Chris Claremont
|Alter ego||Xi'an Coy Manh|
Jean Grey School
Protection from mental attacks
Karma is a mutant endowed with the ability to seize control of another's mind, though she has sometimes been depicted with other more extensive psionic abilities. The origin of the character relates to the Vietnam War, as she and her family were among the boat people fleeing the country shortly after the advent of Communism and in the wake of violence. Her Vietnamese origin contributes to two of her main traits—her Catholicism and her mastery of the French language, both of which stem from France's strong historical influence in Vietnam. Karma, in fact, speaks English with a French accent rather than a Vietnamese one.
Karma was one of the five founding members of the New Mutants, along with Cannonball, Mirage, Sunspot, and Wolfsbane. Being several years older than the others, and the de facto mother of her siblings from a young age, she was the most mature member of the team. Karma is one of the first major lesbian characters in a mainstream comic book.
- 1 Publication history
- 2 Fictional character biography
- 3 Powers and abilities
- 4 Other versions
- 5 In other media
- 6 References
- 7 External links
Karma was the first of the New Mutants to see print, first appearing in Marvel Team-Up #100 (1980). She would join the New Mutants as a founding member in Marvel Graphic Novel #4 (1982), and appeared sporadically in New Mutants volume 1, from issues #1 through #5 (1983), and issues #29 through #54 (1985-1987), in which she left the team to search for her kidnapped siblings. Her search brought her to Madripoor, where she guest starred in Wolverine volume 2 issues #4 through #8 (1989) and #27 through #30 (1990). In 1994, she re-appeared in the Child's Play crossover between X-Force and The New Warriors, and featured in three limited series: Beast #1-3 (1997), New Mutants: Truth or Death #1-3 (1997-1998) and Mekanix (2002-2003). In New Mutants volume 2, she returns to the X-Mansion as a faculty member, and continued to appear irregularly as a supporting character when that title was rebranded as New X-Men. After M-Day, Karma retained her powers, and joins the main X-Men team when they relocate to Utopia. She is assigned to the New Mutants team of the X-Men and features in New Mutants vol. 3 issues #1-28, after which she leaves Utopia for the Jean Grey School as part of the Schism. Karma then serves with Wolverine's X-Men and is featured in Astonishing X-Men volume 3, starting with issue #49.
Fictional character biography
Xi'an (pronounced and nicknamed "Shan") Coy Manh was born in the central highlands of Vietnam. Xi'an's origins are rooted in tragedy. Her father was a colonel in the South Vietnamese army, who was forced to bring his wife and four children on missions. When Xi'an's twin brother, Tran Coy Manh, was attacked by a Viet Cong soldier, Xi'an's power of mind possession emerged to protect him. Tran soon exhibited the identical power, and relished using it cruelly. While Tran was rescued from the throes of war by their crime lord uncle, General Nguyen Ngoc Coy, Xi'an's father was shot and killed during the fall of Saigon. Xi'an escaped on a small, cramped, boat with hundreds of others, including her mother and her younger brother and sister, Leong and Nga. The boat was boarded by Thai pirates on the way to the United States; Xi'an and her mother were raped by the pirates and her mother died shortly thereafter.
Arriving in New York City, a program to help Vietnamese immigrants run by the Catholic priest Father Michael Bowen (Dagger's uncle), helped Xi'an find work and an apartment. However, General Coy insisted she use her powers in his service, as Tran was already doing, and kidnapped Leong and Nga when she refused. "Possessing" Spider-Man, she attempted to use him to reclaim the children from a party her uncle was holding, before the Fantastic Four intervened and Tran (without realizing she was in control of Spider-Man) forced her out of Spider-Man's mind in possessing him long enough for the Thing to knock him out. With technical aid from Professor X, the Fantastic Four and Spider-Man tracked her down. After an initial misunderstanding, they agreed to help her reclaim the children, but Tran possessed the Fantastic Four and set them against Spider-Man. With the wall-crawler outmatched by Tran's ability to use the Fantastic Four as a single cohesive force due to his greater experience with his powers, Xi'an finally lashed out, absorbing her brother completely and taking the name "Karma." Karma's powers doubled after absorbing her brother.
Reed Richards referred Karma to Professor X, and she became his first recruit for his new team of mutant teenagers, the New Mutants. Karma had been working a full-time job to support herself and her siblings, and so agreed to work as Xavier's secretary to help him run the school in return for a generous salary.
Karma was the New Mutants' first leader, and along with them battled the Sentinels. Before long, however, the team believed her dead when she became separated from them after a fight with Viper and the Silver Samurai. Instead, another mutant telepath, Amahl Farouk, whose physical body was killed in a battle with Professor X on the astral plane, took Karma as a host body. Possessed by Farouk, she engaged in rampant criminal activity. She ran a gladiatorial arena, where she masterminded the Gladiators, and came to the New Mutants' attention when two of them (Sunspot and Magma) had been forced to participate in the high-stakes gladiatorial competition.
Under possession of the Shadow King, she took temporary control of the minds of the X-Man Storm and most of the New Mutants. However, the Shadow King's mind fled from Karma's body, and she defeated him in psychic combat. Eventually she was rescued by the other New Mutants, but a side-effect of the possession had left her grossly obese, as Farouk was a large eater in life and had continued his voracity when using Karma's body. The New Mutants and Storm took a vacation on a small Grecian island. Karma isolated herself, not even wanting to eat and angrily berating Storm, then crying in her arms.
Due to a previous defeat at the hands of the X-Men, the Asgardian Trickster God Loki sends the Enchantress to kidnap the X-Men. Thinking, because of Storm, the New Mutants were the X-Men, the team and Karma are taken. Magik attempts to teleport everyone away, but her powers interact badly with the Enchantress' spells, and everyone but Magik is tossed through space and time. Karma ends up in a desert wasteland, where she decides to lay down and die. However, she is happened upon by a young child fleeing from a monster native to the wasteland. Driving the monster away with her powers, Karma decides that she must live for the child's sake. Using her powers to stun the wildlife for food, and scrounging weapons and shelter from the remains of other travelers through the wasteland, Karma provides enough for the both of them to survive and reach more fertile land. By the time she meets up with the other New Mutants again, she had lost all the additional weight (and in fact was shapelier than ever) and her hair had grown to waist-length. The child had vanished, a twist of fate manifested by the Norns. When the team rejected the offer to remain in Asgard, Loki arranged for them all to be returned to Earth without the weapons or equipment they had gained in their time in the realm, but allowed Karma to retain her new appearance. After an encounter with — and temporary death at the hands of — the Beyonder, she and her fellow New Mutants were briefly transferred to the Massachusetts Academy, and joined the Hellions. Alongside the other New Mutants, she battled the Avengers and then returned with the New Mutants to Xavier's school.
Father Bowen, Karma's confessor, cared for Leong and Nga during Karma's absence, but she resumed caring for the youths upon her return to the New Mutants. During the Mutant Massacre, though, Karma fears for her siblings' safety after witnessing many Morlock casualties at the hands of the Marauders. Leong and Nga had in fact gone missing and Karma's apartment was mysteriously bombed — in fact, she was nearly killed by the Marauders' bomb. The Xavier School’s current headmaster, Magneto, was unable to locate the missing children, even with the resources of the Hellfire Club at his disposal. Believing she must be more proactive in finding the kidnapped children, Karma left the New Mutants to return to General Coy's service to find her missing siblings.
Searching for Leong and Nga
Karma reluctantly accepted work for her uncle, General Nguyen Coy, in Madripoor in exchange for help in locating her siblings. In Madripoor, she officially opposed, but often covertly helped the X-Man Wolverine who she knew from her days at the X-Mansion. She saved Wolverine and Tyger Tiger from Roughouse and Bloodscream. General Coy strung Karma along for several months with promises of finding the children, but she eventually left him for his lack of scruples.
Karma continued her search independently, and as it turned out, the children had been abducted by Shinobi Shaw and sold to Viper and Spiral, intent on sending the children through the “Body Shop”. With the aid of Cannonball and Beast, Karma finally located and freed Leong and Nga, while learning that her brother's essence was still alive, though dormant, within her.
Karma reunited with the original New Mutants for a minor adventure in which they met their past selves traveling to the present. Karma evidenced expanded telepathic powers in this appearance, specifically removing the memories of the older New Mutants from the minds of the younger ones.[volume & issue needed] These abilities have not been seen since. Karma later met many New Mutants friends, in the form of X-Force at a desert rave, where she had dyed hair, body piercings, and revealing clothing, a surprising difference to the image held by many of her former teammates.
She soon moves to Chicago with Leong and Nga and took a job as a librarian for the University of Chicago while attending classes. There, she ran into Kitty Pryde and assisted her in her mission against the anti-mutant hate group, Purity.[volume & issue needed] Around this time she publicly came out as a lesbian and confessed her undying love to Kitty.[volume & issue needed] According to Xi'an, she had tried to speak to Kitty about her feelings, but desisted when she felt that Kitty could not reciprocate her feelings.
Teacher at Xavier's
Months afterwards, Danielle Moonstar, another ex-New Mutant, dropped by the University of Chicago while trying to recruit Prodigy to the renamed Xavier Institute. Karma decided to return to Xavier's, where she served as the librarian and mentor to the students less than fifteen years of age (thus too young to be assigned to squads). She was specifically chosen as a mentor by the younger student Anole. She had also returned to a much more modest change in both her appearance and attire to better reflect her new position.
When Rahne Sinclair left the Xavier Institute due to a romance with a younger student, her position as advisor of the Paragons squad was left to Karma. Upon the (temporary) death of Northstar, Karma also became the advisor to his squad, the Alpha Squadron. Magma eventually took over duties as the advisor of the Paragons, yet that still left Karma as the librarian, French teacher, and advisor to the Lower School and Alpha Squadron.
Karma retained her powers after M-Day. The school's population was drastically reduced and the squad system was abolished. She continued to reside at the Xavier Institute for Higher Learning, though she was not part of an X-Men team.[volume & issue needed]
Karma moves to Utopia along with the X-Men and trains with Emma Frost in the use of her powers and the control of her emotions. She served with the X-Men on several missions, including acting as bait to lure out the Hellfire Cult and opposing the Sisterhood in its attempt restore Psylocke to her original body.
Reforming the New Mutants
Karma accompanies Mirage to a small Colorado town to investigate reports of a dangerous young mutant. After they turn up missing, Cannonball obtains permission from Cyclops to track them down, teaming up with old New Mutants members Magma, Sunspot and Magik, who reappeared at the X-Men's base after teleporting off into the future after the events of "X-Infernus." Magik informs Cannonball and Sunspot that Karma and Mirage are in danger which would result in their deaths. As it turns out, Karma's consciousness is trapped inside Legion's mind, and she is ultimately rescued by Magik with the aid of her Soulsword.
Due to their success in reigning in the dangerous Legion, Karma and the other former New Mutants on the mission are sanctioned as an X-Men squad by Cyclops.[volume & issue needed]
In the aftermath of Utopia, Xi'an goes to see Kavita Rao with Magik where they inform her of what went on in Legion's mind. When Kavita mistakes Marci for one of Legion's personalities, Xi'an corrects her and reveals that Marci was a real person but when she exited his mind, Legion revealed Marci doesn't have a body to return to and explains how his powers work. She then reveals that one of Legion's personalities killed her after she bought Legion water and played together when he got back from the Age of Apocalypse. Feeling angry, Illyana offers her soulsword to Xi'an who kills the alternate personality. However Xi'an lies to Kavita about what happened as does Magik, both claiming Magik killed him.
In New Mutants #12 (Second Coming Chapter 3) Karma is sent with her teammates to engage The Right and Cameron Hodge at his facility. During the battle, she attempts to take psionic control of Hodge, but he proves immune to her powers and impales her through the leg with his metal projectiles. Hodge is defeated, but as a result of her injuries, Karma's left leg is amputated above the knee. She then gets a new prosthetic leg from Madison Jeffries.
Following the events of the Age of X, Karma leaves the New Mutants squad to focus on rehabilitating Face. Like many other mutants, Karma leaves Utopia for Westchester after the Schism, where she joins a team of X-Men under Wolverine.
Karma joins an ad hoc team of X-Men who find themselves under attack by the Marauders. The Marauders are controlled by Susan Hatchi, a successful weapons developer who wished to test out new nanotechnology that her company had developed.[volume & issue needed]
After seizing control of Karma, it is revealed that Hatchi also had ulterior personal reasons for targeting the mutant. Born Da'o Coy Manh, she is the illegitimate half-sister of Karma. Da'o's mother had sought out their father for protection and for Da'o to be recognized as his daughter. Instead, he shot and killed her mother. He then abandons Da'o to work at a sweatshop.
Da'o eventually manifested low-level telepathic powers, changed her name and began building her weapons development company. She later discovered that their father had used his influence to smuggle his legitimate family to the US, which made her resentment grow. This was further compounded when her powers were lost during M-Day.[volume & issue needed]
In a later confrontation with the X-Men, Hatchi uses her nanotechnology to seize control of the team and orders them to takeover Madripoor or she will use her technology on New York and kill the population.[volume & issue needed] She wants to not only demonstrate the effectiveness of her weapon but to draw out their father from hiding by publicly using Karma as bait.[volume & issue needed] While she is able to locate her father in Madripoor, the X-Men are able to counteract the technology.[volume & issue needed] Karma uses her own mutant abilities to forge a psychic link with her half-sister and show her the struggles she's had in her own life, despite the fact that their father acknowledged her.[volume & issue needed] While the two sisters reach reconciliation, their father takes advantage of their engagement and shoots Hatchi.[volume & issue needed] He is arrested by the police for her murder.[volume & issue needed] After Hatchi's death, Karma inherits her company as the only eligible relative of age and effectively becomes a billionaire.
Powers and abilities
Karma is a mutant with the ability to take possession of the minds of other people or animals. She projects a psionic energy surge that overwhelms the consciousness of another; this renders the victim unconscious while placing her own mind in command. It allows her to alter the victim's perceptions and memories, command people to fall asleep or divulge information, and operate their bodies as if they were an extension of her own.
Formerly when Karma first took possession of someone, she could only move her subject's body awkwardly until she acclimated herself to her new host. If she remained in possession of a host for too long she would begin to think and act as her host would, and eventually her own personality would become subordinate to one identical to the host's. Although Karma can possess multiple subjects simultaneously, her control over her subjects is fragmented as she shifts her attention from one to another.
Karma had also begun developing other telepathic abilities that were either latent or triggered by her possession by the Shadow King. By possessing others remotely, she can mentally "see" through their eyes. She is also able to use her power to disrupt other psi-signatures, protecting her from all manner of psychic assault.
Karma is also a capable combatant with medieval weapons (particularly swords), due to the extended period of time she spent in Asgard. She is also familiar with first aid and firearms owing to her time in Vietnam.
Age of Apocalypse
In the Age of Apocalypse reality, Karma was Angel’s assistant, helping him manage his nightclub called Heaven, and keeping a neutral stance in the civil war between Apocalypse’s loyal followers, openly resistant mutants, and the human population. Part of Karma’s job was to use her mental powers to gather information from their guests, and also to make sure none would remember anything suspicious they might have witnessed. Eventually, Karma is kidnapped by Apocalypse’s troops to be interrogated on matters regarding the X-Men. Karma keeps quiet as long as she can, but when the Shadow King is released on her, she gives away the desired information. She is then discarded outside Apocalypse's stronghold.
Learning of his assistant’s fate, Angel goes searching for her. Warren is blinded by rage at the time, and when an Infinite guard calls out to him, he shoots the guard with his gun. Too late, though, he recognizes the guard's voice as Karma's. As he pulls her dying body from the suit of armor, she apologizes for having let him down.
Age of X
Days of Future Past
In the Days of Future Past continuity, Karma is part of Pete Wisdom’s resistance force in Great Britain in the year 2013. She only answers to her codename, and has apparently suffered terrible losses. Trying to cope with her situation, Karma displays a dark sense of humor and has refined her powers to the point where she can perceive things through a person's eyes without really possessing him or her.[volume & issue needed]
House of M
In the House of M reality, Karma is a teacher at the New Mutant Leadership Institute. She is officially noted with S.H.I.E.L.D. for her pro-human sentiments, an unpopular opinion with the mutant ruling class. Karma and Cypher discover Laurie Collins and Sean Garrison are really working for S.H.I.E.L.D. as double agents and Tag takes him down before he tries to kill them.[volume & issue needed]
In the Ultimate Marvel continuity, Xi'an Coy Mahn is seen as a much darker character, working as one of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s Black Ops agents, codename: Karma. She is called in by Nick Fury to find out whether or not the President was being mind-controlled by Charles Xavier, based on his recent pro-mutant stand. Upon the request of the President, she is added as the final member of the government sponsored New Mutants to observe the group. She is later instrumental in gaining evidence against a high-ranking government official who is the head of the anti-mutant conspiracy, arresting both high-ranking officials involved in attacks on the 'New Mutants' on the Capitol steps. Whenever she uses her powers, her eyes glow a dark pink color.
X-Men: The End
Karma is seen fighting alongside the X-Men when Warskrulls invade the mansion.[volume & issue needed]
In other media
- Karma could be seen in the X-Men animated series of the mid-1990s as one of Apocalypse's captive psychics in the final episode of the multi-part storyline, Beyond Good and Evil, wearing her green costume.
- X-Force vol. 1 #33-34
- The New Warriors vol. 1 #45-46
- The New Mutants vol. 2 #3
- New X-Men vol. 2 #5-32
- X-Men: The 198 Files (2006)
- Uncanny X-Men vol. 1 #501-516
- Marvel Team-Up #100
- Marvel Graphic Novel #4: New Mutants
- New Mutants #2
- New Mutants #5-6
- New Mutants #30-31
- New Mutants #32-34
- New Mutants Special Edition #1; Uncanny X-Men Annual #9
- New Mutants #38-40
- New Mutants #46
- New Mutants #54
- Wolverine #4
- Beast #1-3
- New Mutants: Truth or Death miniseries
- X-Force #75
- Mekanix #1
- New Mutants (2nd Series) #4
- X-Men: The 198 #1
- New X-Men #20-23
- X-Men #183
- X-Men: Manifest Destiny #1
- Uncanny X-Men #501-502
- Uncanny X-Men #508-511
- "New Mutants Vol. 3 #1"
- New Mutants Vol. 3 #4
- Dark Avengers/Uncanny X-Men: Utopia #1
- New Mutants Vol. 3 #5
- New Mutants #12, April 2010.
- Uncanny X-Men #524
- New Mutants #25
- Astonishing X-Men #41
- Astonishing X-Men #48
- Astonishing X-Men #55
- Astonishing X-Men #56
- New Mutants: Truth or Death #2
- X-Men Alpha (1995)
- Amazing X-Men #2 (1995)
- X-Men: Omega (1995)
- X-Men: Legacy #276
- "New X-Men Academy X" #16 (Sept. 2005)
- Ultimate X-Men #42-45