Dr. Charles McNider had been a doctor for years. In his time, he had seen suffering and rejoicing. He had been present at amazing recoveries and tragic, sudden losses. In his costumed role of Doctor Mid-Nite, he had faced down Nazi agents, mobsters, costumed villains, aliens, and the occasional vampire.
His bride and aide Myra Mason McNider admired him deeply in addition to loving him passionately. The pretty blonde had a respect for her man in all of his roles. She’d never had any doubt that he could rise to the needs of any situation, be it medical or criminal in nature.
Still, the doctor and his wife were both hesitant as to what to say. They could not find the words, nor could they readily articulate the news to their current patient, who was anything but hesitant in nature. She tapped one booted foot and crossed her arms as he approached with papers.
“C’mon, Doc!” Power Girl demanded as she jumped off the examining table. “I know you like the night, but some of us have day jobs, too! What’s the report on my health? Superb as always, right? Maybe a bit fatigued from my duties, but otherwise perfect. Isn’t that it?”
“Kara, you are in perfect health…” he began.
“There! I knew it,” Kara Zor-L said, smiling. “These little checkups are fine for geezers like Wildcat, but we Kryptonians don’t exactly come down with the common cold.”
“That’s not all…” said Dr. McNider.
Power Girl adjusted her cape and said, “Thanks, anyway. I know JSA bylaws, et cetera, et cetera, routine check up for all members… yadda-yadda…”
“You’re pregnant!” shouted Myra.
“What?” Kara sputtered. “That’s impossible. I mean, even with the genetic problem between Earthlings and Kryptonians… I couldn’t be… I’ve never–!”
Dr. McNider touched her shoulder gently. “Kara, tests show you are in the early stages of pregnancy,” he said. “I can only assume the boons played a role.” (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See Justice Society of America: Ragnarok, Epilogue: Odin’s Boon.]
Power Girl shrugged free of his touch. “You’d better get a refund on your license. Or those specs need cleaning. I cannot be pregnant… unless — Odin!” she shouted. “That old wacko has meddled where nobody wants him or needs him!”
“Dick needs to know,” said Myra.
Power Girl held up one hand. “Nope,” she snapped. “Say nothing. I’ll settle things with that bearded loon, then see what happens. Just keep quiet.” She flew off at top speed as the hapless couple embraced.
“Well, she took it better than I anticipated,” said McNider with a rueful grin.
Power Girl’s mind raced even as her fabulous form soared toward Appleville. She could not be pregnant. She was not ready to be a mother. Her only experience with her own mother came from false memories created by her late father’s devices as a type of virtual reality to educate and protect her mind during the long trip to Earth.
As for romantic experience, before a year ago, the gorgeous blonde had flirted with the Star-Spangled Kid, Firestorm, and Andrew Vinson, but those relationships had been more or less one-sided. She thought of the men as friends, but nothing more. Vinson had, in fact, been responsible for the development of her Karen Starr identity, but his amorous intentions had never gotten the newsman more than a rare dinner or two.
A year ago she had fallen in love with Dick Grayson, and she felt confident that he was meant for her. She accepted his affection and had become engaged, though the two had not set a date for their wedding just yet.
Still, the old-fashioned Dick had been raised by the conservative and paternal Bruce Wayne, who despite his playboy image, had instilled firm values in his young ward. Thus Kara and Dick had agreed to wait until after the wedding to begin an intimate relationship.
None of that mattered now. Odin, king of the Norse gods, had felt obligated to Kara and her Justice Society allies because of the dangers they had experienced at the hands of his mad blood brother Loki. He had granted them remarkable magical favors or boons. Hawkman had grown actual wings, Doctor Mid-Nite had found the will to profess his long-suppressed love for Myra Mason, and Johnny Thunder had been given new youth, as had his lost love. More particularly, Kara’s Kryptonian cousin Superman had been given a child, or the ability to conceive one, with his wife Lois Lane Kent. They had long believed this to be impossible. (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See Justice Society of America: Ragnarok Aftermath.]
Kara frowned and said, “Stupid, pigheaded male! He thinks every woman should be barefoot and pregnant. I’ll be a one-woman liberation movement for that one-eyed clown! He had no right to alter my body this way!”
She rushed inside a small house and startled a blond man in a loud green suit. His wife Daisy was sitting in his lap and cooing eagerly in his ear.
“Johnny, say the words!” she snapped. “I need magic travel now!”
“Well, I never!” cried Daisy Thunder. “Some nerve!”
Johnny Thunder got up and said, “Gosh, Power Girl! Sure thing. Say, you don’t need to get so worked up!”
The Thunderbolt who obeyed Johnny’s magical command appeared and smirked. “You’re pregnant!” he said.
Kara slammed her fist on the table. “I don’t need medical tips from a living spark plug!” she began. “I need you to–!”
“She’s got that sheen!” added Johnny.
“Sheen? I think that’s a term for the coat of a dog or cat. Nice fur!” said the T-bolt.
“Glow! She’s got that glow!” he corrected himself.
“She always looks kinda irritated. How can you really tell?” added Daisy.
“Please!” shouted Kara. “Order the T-bolt to send me to Asgard. Do your Abbot and Costello routine later!”
“Do it, T-bolt,” said Johnny, shrugging.
“Faster than a speeding bullet!” said the Thunderbolt, and with that, Kara was gone.
Power Girl found herself on a multicolored bridge that spread across space itself toward the golden, gated, gleaming city of Asgard. She knew the bridge was called Bifrost, and it led to a majestic city, truly spawned in the glory and grandeur of myth and magic. Still, she had no time to be a mere sightseer. Her anger grew as she approached the splendor of the city and its looming bearded guardian.
“Halt! Knowest thou not that none mayst approach eternal Asgard’s gleaming gates, be they flaming giant or lithesome gnat, without being detected by the far-seeing eyes and keen hearing ears of loyal Heimdall!” he said.
“I’d be really impressed, except for the fact that you’re Heimdall!” said Power Girl. “Sheesh! You guys really get off on your own press around here, don’t you?” She stiffened and stood up straight, then said in a mocking tone, “I, Kara of Argo City, late of Earth, demand entry to yon city!”
Heimdall snorted and stepped aside for the brash heroine.
“I heard that!” she snapped.
Power Girl frowned as she reached the huge mead hall that served as palace royal for Odin and his brood. No guards, she thought. That’s odd. That bodes ill, as they say here.
She gripped the sides of two towering doors, and with the Kryptonian might at her disposal, she shoved them apart and entered the hall.
“Odin’s raven guard Boy Scout unit look like they lost their lunch money to frost giants or something,” she said. “I’d better ask what’s wrong before I pull Odin’s beard.” Rushing forward, she demanded, “Where’s Odin? I seek audience with him!”
“Maid, you intrude at a time when hearts are heavy laden with sorrow unheralded in the very sagas of old. Begone!” said a noble man in silvery armor.
“You look like someone died,” Power Girl said as she scanned the hall where women wept and armored men brooded.
“Indeed so, fair one,” said the soldier. “Great Odin himself now rests in Hel’s cold domain!”
“Great! Then I’ll just have to go and get him out!” she vowed.
Balder, for such was the noble god’s name, said, “‘Tis folly. Odin gave himself to the dark mistress to save us all. He surrendered himself that she might return the Golden Apples of Idun. They alone give us vitality.”
Power Girl rolled her eyes. “Apples! Why don’t you say the Sea Hag took your spinach of vitality!” she joked.
A matronly woman with braids approached. “You are one of the Midgard guardians called the Justice Society,” she said. “Odin granted you all boons in hope that you might serve us someday as well.”
“Frigga, right? Odin’s wife?” asked Kara.
“Aye! Would you truly defy Hel to free our liege?” said Frigga. “None of us may do so, since we are bound by the oath Odin made when he exchanged himself for the enchanted apples Hela had been given.”
“I’ll help you,” said Power Girl. “I need Odin to undo something he did to me as well.”
“If you wouldst venture to the realm of the dead, you should wear the raiment of the Valkyrie,” said Frigga. She gestured, and Power Girl’s costume changed to a silvery breastplate and tunic with lace sandals. Her long hair was now braided in two long plaits.
I look like Heidi turned heavy metal! she thought.
“You have a heart like that of noble Thor himself, if you wouldst risk all for us!” cried Frey.
“I will help you,” Power Girl said. “I’d do so freely, anyway. It’s the family business, you might say.” She smiled.
Following Balder’s words of warning, she flew toward her destiny.
Elsewhere, the three Norns — Urth, Verthandi, and Skuld — watched and commented on the life of the heroine in question.
“Her passion threatens to consume her, yet she ever triumphs,” said one.
“She carries a heroic legacy and forges one all her own,” said the second.
“Her future is one of greatness and hardship,” said the third.
Power Girl, dressed as a Valkyrie, entered the domain of the dead. She walked with the manner of one who feared nothing. In truth, she did fear something. She worried about her ability to mother a child should Odin be unable to remove his spell.
I’m moody and demanding… and some would say spoiled and pouty, she thought. Still, I never had a normal adolescence. I went from baby to babe while under virtual reality in the Symbioship. I am a child in some ways, myself. Still, I’ve earned my place as a JSAer. I’ve shaken off Clark’s shadow, and we’ve reconciled after I was such a witch when I fist came to Earth. Now, I’m growing. Thanks to Dick and my own career, I’m becoming a woman I can respect and like.
But she still felt motherhood was beyond her means. Mary is a trip! she thought. I love her. Even her dirty diapers aren’t so bad, now that I’ve had some practice, but it’s easy with someone else’s kid. When it’s my own, what can I do?
A huge hound bounded forward to snap at her with slavering jaws.
“Cerberus? No — Garm!” she gasped as his huge jaws closed around her hips. “It’s sooo hard for a girl to keep her mythical hounds straight! Look, Scooby, I’m not your snack or a chew-toy!”
Power Girl struggled and kicked, and with raw power ripped open his jaws and flew out. “Man, what does that dog eat?” she said as she kicked him in the snout and raced over his back to fly through the gates of the city of the dead.
There, she saw misery and pain and skeletal warriors. They charged her as she landed.
Her reaction was to stomp hard with one sandal-shod foot. The impact rocked the ground and sent the warriors falling forward. As they drew nearer, she slammed both palms together, and the sheer sound waves shattered their boney forms.
Too easy, she thought. They’ll re-form by magic, but by then this gal’s going to be back in Asgard with the big man!
Then she saw Odin. Even in the despair of this fabled land, his regal might made himself known.
“Power Girl, you come for me?” said Odin. “Truly, I mistook your fair form for that of one of mine own shield maids!” He was weighted down with chains of a dark metal that defied the little light that flickered around the hall.
“I came for you,” she said. “Now, let me snap those chains, and we’re out of here!”
“Nay! I say thee nay!” said a deep voice. “I wouldst have a life price, and it be beyond your means to pay, maiden of fire!”
Power Girl saw a tall woman whose body was divided between stunning beauty and burnt skeletal remains.
“Hel!” breathed Kara in awe.
Power Girl faced the queen of the dead and said, “I’m not bound by your hokey rules and codes of conduct. I’m freeing Odin, and you can’t stop me!” She posed with both hands defiantly placed on her hips. The uniform of the Valkyrie suited her well, and as Odin himself marveled, she looked truly noble.
However, Hel merely laughed. “Child of a dead world, I will grant that you possess a warrior spirit. Still, you presume much. Thus, I offer you a fate not entirely free of doom. Give life for life, and he may go.”
“I won’t kill, even for him,” said Power Girl. “I don’t take life, but I can mess up your decor!” she snapped as she slammed into Hel.
She chilled to the bone and fell to her knees. “Great Krypton! She froze me,” she said, shuddering. “Very insides so cold. Worse than frostbite!”
“Leave her be!” roared Odin. “You have me. Let that be enow!”
Hel chuckled like wind in a graveyard. “Too little, too late. I shall sport with this maiden ere I’m done! I shall take not her spirit, but her life!” And she touched Kara’s forehead.
Power Girl fell forward and knew no more.