Cathy Webster was an honor student of impeccable character at Midwestern Hayden College, but her lack of physical coordination kept her from being a straight-A student. Her psychology professor, Dr. Polukort recommended that Cathy become a voluntary test subject for Dr. Deirdre Wentworth
of the school's Glasser Institute of contemporary Psychotherapy, but Cathy resisted, remembering her mother's advice about never taking shortcuts. Finally convinced the test could enhance her own innate skills, Cathy listened nightly to subliminal recordings designed to enhance physical and mental proficiencies in women. She found her stamina and coordination drastically improved in just one week. Dr. Wentworth assigned her a test of her new abilities, but the easily embarrassed Cathy designed herself a flag based costume from her roommate's aerobics outfits to disguise herself. The costumed Cathy easily outfought her fellow students, but she discovered that her programming was driving her to hate men. Overcoming this brainwashing, she sought out Wentworth, who had fled. Taking the name Free Spirit, Cathy tracked Wentworth to Castle Zemo, near Malpaso, Mexico. Breaking in, she battled several adhesive-based androids before meeting Captain America
(Steve Rogers) and his sometime partner Diamondback
(Rachel Leighton), and she learned that Wentworth was the feminist terrorist Superia. Cathy aided Captain America against Superia, Baron Zemo
(Helmut), and the Baroness
, but Superia escaped after Free Spirit was blindsided. When Diamondback abandoned Captain America, Free Spirit remained with him at Castle Zemo, training rigorously with him until he received a call about the Serpent Society
's activities in Arizona.