Power Girl: A Lesson Before Dying, Chapter 1: Doctor Kryptonite

by Libbylawrence

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The facts were clear. Although she had faced and defeated many a foe in her young life, Kara Zor-L was rapidly losing the battle against perhaps the most insidious foe of all — boredom. She stifled a yawn with a gloved hand and crossed her legs restlessly. Power Girl was sitting among other notable women of achievement, or so the press release boasted. They had been selected from among the nation’s best and brightest to be honored by the Granddaughters of the American Revolution for civic contributions.

Kara smirked as she watched the other women in what almost amounted to their uniforms of walking shorts and dark hose. These bored society gals look like a team of preppy villains — Legion of the Izod, she thought.

The beautiful blonde had to amuse herself with such thoughts, since the actual awards ceremony was boring her to tears. She knew that appearing at such functions was part of her job in a sense, since the ticket sales went to good causes, and Power Girl could draw a larger crowd than the typical recipient. How does Clark stand this kind of thing? she thought. For that matter, how’d Dick put up with all those formal dinners when he was a kid? Bruce was always dragging him around like a miniature copy of himself, minus the pipe.

A perky brunette piped up as she crossed the stage. “Now, it is my distinct honor to present the Valerie Vaughn Award to… Power Girl!

“Where’s Brain Wave when a girl really needs him?” sighed the heroine as she stood up.

Kathie Lee Kane held out the clear crystal award and beamed winningly. Power Girl forced herself to smile and accepted the award as Kathie Lee hugged her and kissed her on the cheek. Power Girl then frowned as a wave of dizziness swept over her. The socialite gripped her cape from behind and held her up as Kara began to feel ill.

“What the? Kryp–!” Kara muttered as Kathie Lee leaned closer and brushed her cheek again.

“How typical. She’s got to go! Her super-senses detected trouble!” explained the perky woman to the audience as she led Power Girl behind the curtained stage.

“Your touch — your lips!” she gasped as her efforts to push the eager woman aside failed.

“I think you’re trying to say that my kiss is pure kryptonite!” chirped the woman as two burly goons arrived to carry the helpless Power Girl away. “How true. Don’t you just love it?”

Kara passed out and knew no more, and Kathie Lee Kane smiled coldly. “This one’s for you, Daddy!”


When Power Girl awoke, she found herself locked in a small cell in a narrow room. She tried to use her x-ray vision to determine just where she was being held, but her efforts to use the super-power met with failure. She stood up and grabbed the cell door. “This thing’s not going to hold me!” she scowled.

Kara Zor-L strained against the bars until her hand ached. She kicked the door in anger and felt keen pain in her foot. Great Krypton! That witch robbed me of my powers, she thought. Something odd is going on. Normally, exposure to the green stuff would weaken or even kill me in time, but would not leave me powerless out of proximity to the actual radiation.

Glancing down at her costume, she noticed that her belt and cape had been removed. She’s got to have a brain in that Barbie doll head of hers, after all, since she took my JSA signal device; I won’t be able to summon help, mused Kara. But why’d she abduct me? That whole dinner was a set-up designed to allow her to get close to me. That took money. Most crooks are in the game for wealth. She must have a grudge against me.

Clapping echoed through the room as a figure descended the narrow steps from above. Kara recognized Kathie Lee Kane as she minced down the steps. “Very, very good. And I thought you were the dumb blonde!” laughed the woman. She looked different as she brushed a hand through her brown hair and wiped her lips with her other hand. The flowing locks fell off as she revealed the long, green hair that had been concealed by the wig. Her lips gleamed a bright green as well. Her eyes had always shone with an emerald radiance.

“My father was Dr. Benjamin Kane,” she said with an unchanging, perky smile. “His underworld allies called him by another name entirely: Doctor Kryptonite. (*) He had the misfortune to cross paths with your cousin once or twice, and in his efforts to gain revenge, he experimented upon himself. Needless to say, the experiments damaged his body and eventually led to his recent death. They gave me mutant powers of my own. My touch is pure kryptonite, as you are feeling right now. I did a study on just what my abilities could do, and it seems that close contact with moi leaves you or your alien kind powerless for days.”

[(*) 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 Face of Fear,” Action Comics #349 (April, 1967).]

Power Girl sat down suddenly as her strength faded again as Kathie Lee walked closer to the cell. “You blame me for the fact that playing Luthor Junior killed your father and made you prom queen of the Kermet the Frog set? You’re crazy!” spouted Kara as her stomach ached and fever assailed her.

“Call me Doctor Kryptonite,” said Kathie Lee. “I am fully accredited as a doctor; that’s how I was able to stage this little charade. I knew I could capture you easily if I could just lure you close to me. Now that I have you, I intend to teach you about pain! I felt pain for years as my very body chemistry threatened to turn toxic.” She opened the cell door and said, “Bruno, Chuck, play with our pretty little guest!”

Two hulking thugs entered the cell and loomed over the weakened Power Girl. “It’ll be a pleasure, Ms. Kane!” said one. Power Girl swung a right hook at the nearest man, but her blow glanced off his chin harmlessly.

“While I’m near, you are as helpless as Father was!” said the bitter Doctor Kryptonite.

“Do your best!” said a defiant Kara as the two goons roughly grabbed her.

Kathie Lee Kane pulled up a stool, perched on the top, and crossed her legs demurely. “Not their best, my pet — their worst!” she laughed.


Later, a battered Power Girl groaned as she crawled to her feet. She had received a beating from the thugs and wondered if she’d suffered a broken rib or two. She felt sharp pain with every movement she made. She’d fought aliens, monsters, evil twins, and common thugs, yet few of her foes had inflicted lasting pain upon her. She felt something beyond the pain — she felt anger, a desire for revenge, and something new. She felt fear. Red Robin will find me, she thought. If I can just hold on, maybe my powers will come back.

Over the next few days, Kara Zor-L experienced additional torture as her wicked captor deliberately caressed Power Girl’s face while the two thugs pinned her arms. They were not needed since, in truth, her powers were still gone. The goons did not attack her again, but their mistress could inflict a worse kind of punishment upon the blonde bombshell merely by letting her poison touch bring illness to her prisoner.

“You know, I imagine you are feeling what my daddy felt as the chemicals seethed within his bloodstream,” cooed the madwoman. “The cause of his pain, the cause of my pain, all comes from one source. Superman robbed us of our peace. I want you to experience the same fear and pain before I use your poisoned corpse to kill him as well.”

“I won’t let you hurt anybody else,” vowed Kara. She staggered across the room and grabbed at the smiling face of Doctor Kryptonite. To her dismay, the woman merely slapped her with one hand, and she fell flat.

Doctor Kryptonite gripped her by her hair and lifted her face. “You have no choice, princess!” she hissed. Doctor Kryptonite then shrieked in anger as she noticed the pale features of her prisoner.

“Bruno, Chuck! She’s dead! I suppose her system could not take so much exposure to my touch! We’ll use her body as bait for her cousin, and then I’ll have avenged the name of Kane!” shouted the woman as she idly stroked Kara’s face with her delicate hands.

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