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 significant as one of the first major lesbian characters in a mainstream comic book
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 entranced opponents to divulge information, and/or operate their bodies as if they were an extension of her own.
When Karma first takes possession of someone, she can only move her subject's body awkwardly until she acclimates herself to her new host. If she remains in possession of a host for too long she will 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 use by the Shadow King. She is also able to generate a psionic deflector shield that disrupts incoming psi-signatures, protecting her from all manner of psychic assaults.
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.