A Kryptonian juvenile delinquent, petty thief, and Phantom Zone exile who briefly encounters Superboy, Krypto, and Jonathan and Martha Kent in a 1970 chronicle. Due to the effects of a chemical formula he develops and sprays on his skin and clothing, Cha-Mel gains mental control over the atoms of his body and clothing, enabling him to rearrange them at will and assume the appearance of virtually any person, whether male or female, humanoid or animal. Dubbed by Kryptonian authorities the "Lad of a Thousand Disguises", Cha-Mel is sentenced to exile in the Phantom Zone for committing a series of petty thefts and robberies that culminate in the attempted robbery of the home of Jor-El and Lara. During this attempted robbery, he makes the fatal mistake of disguising himself as Jor-El, but is caught in the act of looting the house by the scientist himself who had returned home before Cha-Mel could leave.
Cha-Mel first comes to the attention of the Boy of Steel when he attempts to ascertain whether any of the Phantom Zone exiles were behind the appearance of a dwarf star, or neutron star, within orbit around Earth, disrupting the planet's magnetic field and shifting the magnetic poles, causing the Aurora Borealis (or Northern Lights) to appear in the west and the Aurora Australis (or Southern Lights) to appear in the east. Upon activating the Phantom Zone monitor scanner in his laboratory workshop in the Kent basement, Superboy is shocked to see an image of what appears to be himself held inside the zone by inmates Jax-Ur, Professor Vakox, and Gra-Mo. The trio of prisoners claim to have used the momentary shifting of the Aurora Borealis to reach out and steal the hero's "...ethereal, immortal inner-self and snatch it back into our world...you are now a body without a soul!"
The criminals offer to make Superboy a trade...if he gets out the Phantom Zone Projector and releases the three exiles onto Earth, they will restore his stolen soul to him. Superboy, having no intention of setting the trio free, attempts to trick them by purposely banishing himself into the zone to rescue himself, not knowing that the "Superboy Ghost" is in actuality Cha-Mel disguised as the hero. As a failsafe, Superboy orders his foster parents while to wait fifteen minutes and then recall their son from the zone.
The projector, unknown to either Superboy or the criminals, is actually damaged by the alteration of the earth's magnetic field, and when Superboy attempts to send himself into the zone, he is only sent halfway, with half his body trapped in both dimensions. Realizing that he is unable to fix the situation since he can not pull himself free, the zoners use their combined telepathic abilities to invade the dreams of the sleeping Krypto, and convince the canine to help bring the device within grabbing distance of the trapped hero. Now able to grasp the projector with his one free, corporeal hand, Superboy makes the necessary adjustments to the device to send himself fully into the twilight dimension to attempt his rescue of his alter ego. Upon entering the zone, Superboy sees what he believes are the trio escaping further into the prison dimension with his "other self". Giving chase, Superboy goes further into the prison, not realizing that the wraiths he is chasing are actually decoys set up to lure him away while his foster parents set the disguised Cha-Mel free. While Jonathan Kent is setting the false Superboy Cha-Mel free, Martha Kent, watching the Phantom Zone on the monitor screen, sees the evil trio attempting to escape. Alerting her husband to this, Jonathan looks up to see his real son on the screen attempting to hold the trio back to no avail as his blows can not affect the other exiles. Superboy warns Jonathan of what is happening and to let go of the button so that the other criminals can not escape, as the released Cha-Mel backhands the elder Kent to the floor, effectively shutting off the criminals' only means of escape.
Cha-Mel attempts to free the others vainly, as something must have shorted out in the device. Jax-Ur urges the freed delinquent to fix the device, but Cha-Mel is unable to do so as he does not possess the technological wherewithal to do so. Superboy, laughing at the criminal trio's luck, offers a trade as they are at a standoff, but before anything can be offered, Jax-Ur has Cha-Mel grab the Kents and should the hero not assist in repairing the device, Cha-Mel is to turn his newly discovered heat vision on the Kents and destroy them!
Just then, before Superboy can decide, Krypto, still in a daze from the Zoners earlier telepathic assault, grabs the damaged projector and flies off into space to safeguard it. Jax-Ur orders Cha-Mel to pursue the canine and retrieve the projector. Catching up to Krypto, he snaps the Dog of Steel out of his stupor, and playing the part of his master as Superboy, attempts to grab the projector away. Unfortunately, the projector has been magnetized to the dwarf star that the real Superboy and Krypto had encountered earlier. Straining mightily with his super-strength, Cha-Mel inadvertanly pulls the projector apart, activating the device and re-banishing Cha-Mel back into the twilight dimension. Krypto, not knowing that this was not really Superboy, attempts to free his "master" by biting through the device's control-cable insulation, shorting out the damaged projector, causing the ray to reverse and freeing the real Superboy from the Phantom Zone in the process. Now free from his imprisonment, the hero and his canine companion return Earthward with the remnants of the broken projector to rebuild it with a non-magnetic control-section to prevent another misadventure like this from occuring again (SB No. 162, Jan 1970: "The Super-Phantom of Smallville!")