Alexei Luthor pulled Power Girl to her feet. “I don’t know you, but I have a feeling we are going to become intimate friends very soon,” he said.
Kara Zor-L recoiled back and said, “I know enough about you to loathe you!”
“And I know enough about you to know that, as my machines detected, you are a Kryptonian,” the criminal scientist said, scowling. “That makes you powerful here under the lesser gravity and yellow sun of Earth. And that, in turn, makes you valuable to the brilliant mind of Luthor!”
“You plucked me from my time machine because I am Krytonian?” she asked.
“Time travel? How pedestrian? How Degaton,” he scoffed. “I will use your power to level my hated enemy — your father, perhaps? — Superman.”
“No! He’s my cousin!” she said, firing heat-vision at Luthor’s boots. But the heat-ray never reached the evil genius.
“Feel so weak! What’s happening?” she gasped as Luthor shoved her to the floor with ease.
“That draining sensation is due to the fact that my other little beauty — Redstar, here — is sapping your body by dosing you with red sun energy,” he said, pointing at a lovely redhead in a black and red body suit.
The super-villainess Redstar smiled wickedly. “Hello, Comrade.”
“Yes, she is the benefit of my helping the benighted Russian government with superhuman development. I appropriated her. Socialism works both ways, you might say!” He laughed.
The woman called Redstar poured on red sun radiation until Kara felt helpless in Luthor’s now much-stronger arms.
He strapped her into a machine and looked her over. “Odd, but you seemed older minutes ago. How old are you — ten or twelve?” he asked absently.
“Perhaps the red rays retarded her aging,” suggested Redstar.
“Bah! Let the thinking be done by one with a mind of worth. You do the grunt work,” he ordered.
Kara frowned. I have de-aged to a little girl! she realized. It’s not the radiation, but Peri’s spell.
“This device will create a perfect duplicate of any Krytonian,” said Luthor. “That’s why I wanted to snare you when I detected your alien body in our time. I assumed I’d have to use your cousin, but you’ll do nicely.” He laughed once more.
Kara strained against the device but could not move. Rays of a new sort bathed her young — and getting younger every minute — form.
“This machine will make a perfect duplicate of any Kryptonian,” explained Luthor. “Only it will increase your attributes, like power, speed… oh, and tendency for evil, I might add. Thus, you will serve me better.”
Kara gasped as the rays lifted their radiance to reveal… a baby.
“Bah! It produced an infant! What good is a Kryptonian infant to me?” he ranted in rage. “I can’t wait for her to mature! The machine is a failure!”
Kara smiled. It increased my attributes, as he said, and for now that meant not only powers but the de-aging magic of the Peri! she mused. That’s why it created a baby duplicate!
She easily slipped free as the bonds loosened due to her smaller adolescent size. For a millisecond she was surprised that she somehow retained all her powers despite being in the form of an immature Kryptonian. After all, she knew that Clark Kent didn’t gain his powers until he was in his teens, unlike the Kryptonians of the Earth-One or Earth-Prime universes. But she chalked it up to a side-effect of the Yellow Peri’s magic spell. Moving at super-speed throughout the room, she melted every machine in sight with her heat-vision. Redstar gasped as she was tossed out the window before she could fire her weakening red rays.
The youthful Power Girl was smiling in anticipation of victory when her rampage opened a cabinet of lead. A red rock fell in her lap and pulsed faintly. “Red kryptonite!” she gasped, and she knew no more.
Kara’s rampage had left Alexei Luthor’s lab in ruins, and he fled as the chaos attracted the police. He left behind his ruined machine, and in his haste he left the stunned Kara but snatched the baby duplicate.
“I’ll let the red K do its thing on you and take your infant twin for my own plans,” he shouted as he fled.
Kara awoke amidst smoke and fire, and she began to cough from the fumes. The heat was intense, and she crawled desperately away from the lab’s ruins.
A handsome man rushed up the driveway, followed by police officers. “Look! A girl!” he cried, quickly carrying her to safety.
“Poor kid,” muttered a cop.
“I’ll bet she lived with that kook who moved in as well,” said the man carrying Kara. “He turned me down for a job, even though we are both scientists.”
“Where am I? Who am I?” muttered an amnesiac and powerless girl formerly known as Kara. The red kryptonite had robbed her of her memory, and with it knowledge of her powers.
“Honey, you were in a fire with your dad… I guess,” said the scientist. “But my wife and I will take care of you till he can be found.” His friend, the police chief, nodded.
“Fred, you and Edna take her in for a while,” said the Midvale police chief. “Her old man may be missing… or worse.”
Fred Danvers nodded. “Sure. How about staying with us for a while. What’s your name?”
Kara’s memories were gone, but she weakly recalled only this much.”Kar… unh…”
“Karen?” asked Fred Danvers. The girl didn’t respond, merely staring back at him. “Karen it is!” he said.
The childless but loving Fred and Edna Danvers took in the amnesiac, powerless, and now-twelve-year-old Karen in March, 1959, and raised her with love for the next three years.
The red kryptonite normally would not have affected her for more than two days or so, but the Yellow Peri’s spell, along with the weird rays of Redstar and the bizarre machine of Luthor’s, all made the effect last longer.
Thus Karen Danvers lived happily as a normal girl with the family until one day her memories and powers all returned in a moment, along with her real age. Her adoptive parents were shocked, to say the least, when their fifteen-year-old daughter was suddenly a fully grown woman. But she explained her situation as best she could to the Danvers, and Fred immediately declared that he would help her track down the missing duplicate Kara, who would also have aged about three years by then.
“Luthor is no fit parent for any child, much less a super-powered one,” Fred Danvers declared.
“Thankfully, the other Kara won’t get her powers until she matures fully, like my cousin did,” explained Kara. “I thank you both for everything. You’ve given me a life I might have had if my rocket had landed much earlier, and I had lived a normal youth on Earth with a normal identity.”
They hugged her tearfully, and she and Fred put together a device to track the energy constantly emitted by Redstar.
Using the tracking device to lead them to the Rocky Mountains, Power Girl and Fred Danvers landed in a wooded area in Colorado near a hidden cabin.
Without another moment’s delay, Power Girl burst into the cabin, slapping Redstar down as Alexei Luthor yelled in dismay. He fired a sonic blaster at her, and she stomped the floor hard enough to make the cabin shake and the gun fall away.
Redstar fired a red solar flare at her, but Power Girl dodged the first blast. Still, the mere proximity of the red sun energy weakened and slowed her until Luthor could toss a net over her struggling body.
“This net uses kinetic energy. Your own strength holds you firm!” he laughed.
Then Fred Danvers crashed inside with a gun. “Leave her alone, you monster!” he shouted. Power Girl struggled with the net to provide assistance, but as the evil genius had said, her own power held her tightly in the net.
Danvers and Luthor struggled with the gun, and a shot shattered Redstar’s belt device. She screamed as she lost the one thing that allowed her to contain her energized body intact. She vanished in a miniature red solar flare as Luthor slipped away in the night.
Once the solar flare died down, Kara’s powers surged through her at once, and she now had enough raw might and speed to rip through the net before it could use her own power against her.
Fred Danvers cradled the infant duplicate of Kara made by Luthor’s bizarre machine.
“She’s an angel, but for some strange reason she’s not much older than she was three years ago!” said Kara. “I guess her aging must have slowed.”
“Edna and I will raise her as our own, since she is all alone here,” vowed Fred. “We’ll call her Karen Danvers. Her powers won’t kick in until she grows up, after all.”
Kara kissed them both and flew off in Per Degaton’s time machine.
As fate would have it, the Danvers ended up raising Karen in England, where he had found a job at a laboratory there. They loved her dearly, but the bizarre machine that had created her had also instilled evil tendencies within the infant, which surfaced fully when she reached maturity at her slower rate of aging in the mid-1980s. Gaining super-powers at the same time, she became a super-powered menace who used her powers to do whatever she felt like, but she lacked any interest in committing truly evil acts such as murder. Her crimes were mostly theft and destruction of private property. Despite not knowing her true origins, she called herself Nike after Power Girl’s temporary transformation by Garn Daanuth in 1977, since Karen Danvers had noticed her strong resemblance to the supposed short-lived super-villainess. Thus she was the same Nike whom Power Girl fought and met for the first time only a short while before she took the time trip that would lead to the young woman’s creation. Such was the paradoxical nature of time travel.
As Power Girl continued her journey through time in search of a magically displaced Superman, she did not realize that poor Hocus had wrongly keyed in on the fact that the talisman had been displaced to the 1890s in order to work, but nothing had guaranteed that Superman himself had been sent through time.
Back on the phone between Metropolis and Smallville, Jimmy Olsen and Lois Kent exchanged more information.
“The only thing taken from my place was the talisman, so it’s a sure bet Colonel Future used it to get rid of Superman. But in what way?” said a puzzled James Olsen.
“Tell me more about your use of it back in the 1950s,” said Lois.
“Well, gosh, first I used it to create a magical Super-Girl to be his sweetheart,” Jimmy explained. “Sorry about that, Lois! It’s funny, because I remember making that wish after seeing how happy you and Clark were, and I wanted Superman to find the same happiness. Little did I know at the time, huh? Anyway, she was blonde and had all his powers and a costume like his, too. Of course, she didn’t work out, for obvious reasons. He had me just cancel the wish, and she went back to where she came from. She was a real doll, though. Second, I accidentally caused him to lose his powers for a time. And third, I finally did something right and let him go back to Krypton to meet his folks. That used up the magic for this century.” (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: Although a version of this story takes place on Earth-Two, the original story takes place on Earth-One, as seen in “The Girl of Steel,” Superman #123 (August, 1958).]
Lois snapped her fingers. “So the holder of the talisman can cancel the wishes at any time?”
“Right! So if we find it, we can bring back Superman!” said an eager Jimmy.
“Thanks, Jim! I’ll keep you informed,” said Lois, hanging up the phone.
Meanwhile, Power Girl was headed back in time again in the Per Degaton time machine when she felt a familiar strong tug at the machine.
It must be keying in on Clark, but since he was alive in the 1950s will it be the younger one or the modern one? she mused. Funny, it didn’t pull me to him in Luthor’s time.
She spun to earth and once again tumbled out of the machine onto the ground. Looking up, she saw red boots like Superman’s, except for the fact that they had high heels on them. The bare legs in them were definitely not male, and the blue minidress with the S emblem fit curves that were decidedly female.
“Supergirl?” she gasped.
“I am the Super-Girl and the perfect mate to Superman!” said the blonde beauty. “You won’t take him from me, you cheap hussy!” She kicked Kara in the face, and the fight began.
Power Girl slipped aside and tackled the Super-Girl in front of her. She rolled her to the ground, and they tumbled down an embankment.
She scanned the sky and once more saw the signs of 1950s America, though a year earlier than when she was adopted by the Danvers. From a calendar she discovered it was June, 1958. Can’t be the Earth-One Supergirl, she thought. Wrong time, different boots, a little bigger, romantic attachment to Superman! This is so weird.
They split the ground in their struggles and came racing upward again in an explosion of dirt.
“I am made for him! You can’t come between us!” hissed the angry Super-Girl. Heat-vision lanced out to tear across Kara Zor-L’s costume.
Power Girl belted Super-Girl in the chin and followed up with two strong punches. Ted Grant would be proud… in his sexist pig way, she thought.
Super-Girl spun around and around at super-speed, and the whirlwind she created knocked Kara flat. Before she could move, an icy sheath caused by super-breath covered her legs and pinned her to the ground. She shattered it with a punch and fired her own heat-vision at the blonde fury. The Super-Girl flinched in pain and flew off. Kara chased her into the sky but saw no one.
“Where’d that super Sandra Dee go?” she muttered.
A whizzing wind announced her supersonic return as she hit Kara in the stomach like a bullet. They fell to earth, and Kara lay still. Her foe drove a high-heeled boot into her side.
Power Girl pretended to be stunned as she used her other senses. She heard a laugh from the distance and scanned that direction to see a wild-haired, balding, middle-aged man. His facial hair was curled and old-fashioned, even for the 1950s, and he wore old-style spectacles. She slammed both legs into Super-Girl, and when she fell, Kara flew toward the little man.
He frowned and said, “You fear me!”
Suddenly, she did. Kara shook in fear of the little man as he smiled in malice.
“You fear me, and you can’t stand up when I am near you!”
Power Girl dropped to her knees at his feet.
He looked her over carefully. “My, my, my! What a beauty! You love me! You want to kiss me!” he crowed.
She kissed him passionately, even as her mind rebelled.
Super-Girl landed suddenly. “Who are you? Why did you order me to be jealous of this woman? She is a stranger to me!”
The little man’s name was Charley Halstead, and he was a former newspaper linotyper who called himself the Psycho-Pirate and fought the Justice Society of America more than a decade ago in the 1940s. (*) Back then he used psychology and hypnotism to turn men’s hearts to despair, but since then he had learned other ways of controlling people’s emotions more forcefully. “Can’t hold two such super-powered women at once,” he muttered.
[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Plunder of the Psycho-Pirate,” All-Star Comics #23 (Winter, 1944) and “The Return of the Psycho-Pirate,” All-Star Comics #32 (December, 1946-January, 1947 ).]
Super-Girl approached him menacingly, and Kara caressed him. “You hate her! Kill her!” screamed Halstead.
Power Girl’s anger grew, and she slammed Super-Girl to the ground in raw fury. She pounded her while her mind raced. The Psycho-Pirate? Not the one I met. He obviously controls our emotions. I still don’t know who this Super-Girl is, but she is as helpless as I am. Unless… Kara rolled back from Super-Girl and aimed a deadly punch at the blonde with a wild, sweeping swing.
Super-Girl easily ducked it and said, “I don’t want to hurt you. We don’t need to fight!”
When Super-Girl ducked, Kara blew with her super-breath over the blonde’s head. The air hit the Psycho-Pirate directly and tossed him a mile away.
Power Girl quickly recovered and said, “Get him before he can speak!” They raced to him and slapped him into a stunned state.
As their minds cleared from the hypnotic spell, they talked.
“I am Super-Girl — the perfect mate for Superman,” said the high-heeled blonde.
“Did you also come from Krypton?” asked Power Girl.
Super-Girl frowned and said, “I… don’t have a past. I only know I am Superman’s ideal mate and partner. See the costume?”
Power Girl grinned as she thought, This Barbie doll has nothing going for her but looks, heart, and power. She really has no past. She must be magic. Maybe whatever or whoever zapped Clark also made her, and that’s what drew me here. I can’t use the talisman here, or it’ll mess up time. I guess I must go deeper into the past. She started to climb back into the machine and head for the past, when Super-Girl stepped inside, too.
“The shielding stuff is melting!” cried Super-Girl. “Is that bad? The fight must have damaged it!”
Then a flash blinded both super-blondes.
When Super-Girl looked up, she saw a sign that read, Duran Duran in concert tonight on MTV. “Where am I?” she said sadly.
Power Girl frowned as she cleared herself from the wreckage of the time machine. Our fight messed it up! Great. Just great, she mused.
She looked up and saw a sign that read, Bing Crosby in concert tonight at Radio City Music Hall.
Where am I? she wondered.