Martha lives with her mother and two brothers in the Cabrini Green projects in Chicago. They live in poverty. Though Martha is a decent student, she has a teacher who inspires her to try harder. When she discovers him murdered in his classroom, she's able to distract and injure his killer, the Ice Man (the thug of a local crime lord, the Pope), who dies before he can catch her. Martha is placed in a psychiatric hospital, where she learns that children there are being experimented on, secretly, genetically altering their brains. She's left homeless when budget cuts force the closure of the facility. She joins the PAX Peace Force, and that is where her adventures truly begin...
Martha was created by Frank Miller and Dave Gibbons. Her first appearance was in Give Me Liberty #1, June 1990.