Cathy Webster was a shy, slight college coed whose GPA was being brought down by poor performance in physical education. She was introduced by one of her professors, Dr. Kincaid, to Doctor Deidre Wentworth to be a test subject for a series of self-actualization tapes that the doctor claimed would improve her physical performance. Cathy turned her down, telling Dr. Wentworth she didn’t believe in shortcuts as a substitute for hard work. Finding herself with nowhere to sleep after being expelled from college while covering for a friend, Cathy decided to change her mind and accept the offer. It would give her time to work up the courage to tell her parents she’d been kicked out of school. But Dr. Wentworth lied to her, secretly supplementing the subliminal tapes with a mysterious radiation treatment. When the week of treatments was over, Cathy was stunned -- she now had the physique and prowess of an Olympic-level athlete. The doctor, applauding her progress, offered her a job as a spokesperson for the new actualization therapy -- provided she could pass a small test.
Fashioning a costume out of dancing tights, on Dr. Wentworth's suggestion Cathy crashed a toga party and denounced everyone there for perpetuating the male myth of female servitude. When some of the men grabbed her, she violently lashed out, a mantra taking over her mind: “Hate men! Hunt men! Hurt men!” Horrified, she fled back to the lab -- now empty, the equipment gone. All that was left was a tape playing the message used to brainwash her. Doctor Wentworth, the genius who liberated her body, had actually sought to enslave her mind. She made a vow: “you have molded my body but my spirit remains free! You wanted me to be a champion of something. I will! But I’m the one who’ll determine how I put my new body to use -- I, the Free Spirit!”
Cathy first appeared in Captain America #431 (September 1994) and was created by Mark Gruenwald and Dave Hoover.
Major Story Arcs
As the self-titled Free Spirit, Cathy went off to search for Dr. Wentworth, which she found was an alias for the villainess Superia. She ended up at Castle Zemo, where she freed Diamondback. She also teamed up with her idol, Captain America, against Superia and Baron Zemo and aided him in later battles against the Serpent Society, Ultimatum, AIM, and the Red Skull. When last seen, Free Spirit was helping Jack Flag, Zack Moonhunter, and Fabian Stankowitz run Cap’s organization Stars and Stripes, a nationwide emergency hotline.
She is considered a possible Initiative recruit.
Like Captain America, Cathy has been augmented to peak human conditioning. She has reached a high level of martial arts prowess, including basic acrobatics and street fighting techniques